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With the end of the Trump presidency, let’s push Assange Pardon up

WASHINGTON – Allies of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange have stepped up efforts to secure a last-minute pardon from President Trump, enlisting a lobbyist with ties to the administration, trying to rally supporters from all political backgrounds, and filing a petition for mercy from the White House.

The effort comes at a delicate time for Mr. Assange and during a time of tension between the United States and Britain over a case that his supporters say has substantial implications for press freedom.

The Justice Department announced last week that it would appeal a UK judge’s decision blocking Mr Assange’s extradition to the United States to stand trial on charges of violating the law. espionage and conspiracy to hack government computers. The charges stemmed from WikiLeaks’ 2010 publication of classified documents related to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Supporters of Mr Assange were optimistic about the prospect of a pardon from Mr Trump, who has issued dozens of contentious pardon concessions since losing his reelection bid. But they are now worried that the pressure on his supporters’ rampaging of the Capitol last week could derail further leniency plans before he leaves office on January 20.

As unlikely as the prospect of a pardon from Mr. Trump may be, Mr. Assange’s supporters are eager to try before President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. takes office.

As vice president, Biden called the founder of WikiLeaks a “high-tech terrorist”. Some of his best advisers blame Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks for helping Mr. Trump win the presidency in 2016 by posting emails from Democrats associated with Hillary Clinton’s campaign, which U.S. officials say were stolen by Russian intelligence to undermine his candidacy. Mr. Trump has long played down Russia’s role in the 2016 election.

For Mr. Assange’s supporters and press freedom advocates, however, the issues at stake transcend either him or politics.

“It’s so much bigger than Julian,” said Mark Davis, a former journalist who worked with Mr. Assange in Australia, where they are from. If Mr Assange is prosecuted, “it will have a chilling effect on all national security journalism,” Mr Davis said, adding: “If we can get Julian out, then the precedent has not been set. If Julian breaks down, it’s bad for all of us.

Mr Davis, who is now a national security and whistleblower lawyer, sits on the board of directors of Blueprint for Free Speech, an Australia-based non-profit group that advocates for press freedom and the protection of whistleblowers. The group, which was started by Suelette Dreyfus, a former journalist who is an old friend and collaborator of Mr Assange, signed a pro bono contract with lobbyist Robert Stryk on Saturday to ask Mr Assange’s forgiveness.

During Mr. Trump’s presidency, Mr. Stryk, who is well connected in Trump administration circles, developed a lucrative business representing foreign clients in precarious geopolitical situations.

He worked for a jailed Saudi prince who had fallen out of favor with his country’s powerful de facto ruler, as well as for the administration of President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, whom the Trump administration considers illegitimate. Mr Styrk also worked for Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of the former Angolan president, accused of embezzling millions of dollars from a state-owned oil company she once ran, as well as the government of Angola. former Congolese President Joseph Kabila, who had faced US sanctions for human rights violations and corruption.

Mr Stryk said he was representing Blueprint for Free Speech to apologize to Mr Assange without pay for his belief in free speech, and that he would continue to push for forgiveness in the Biden administration if Mr. Trump didn’t grant. he.

“This is not a partisan issue,” Stryk said.

The contract, which he said he disclosed to the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, calls on his company, Stryk Global Diplomacy, to “facilitate meetings and interactions with the president and administrations. President-elect ”to“ obtain a pardon ”for Mr. Assange.

Mr Davis said Mr Stryk was chosen in part because of his entry into Mr Trump’s administration, which the group sees as his best chance for a pardon.

Mr Davis noted that Mr Assange, 49, had been indicted during Mr Trump’s presidency. “We are shamelessly reaching out to the Republican Party on this matter in the past few weeks to correct something before it is too late, and before it becomes part of Trump’s legacy,” Davis said.

He said, “If Joe Biden is nice, that’s fine, and we sure hope he is.” But, he added, “it’s a much simpler process for an incumbent president than for an incoming president.”

Mr. Assange’s cause has been echoed by various human rights and media freedom organizations, government officials and celebrities, including the actress. Pamela Anderson.

Blueprint for Free Speech is working to tap some of that support, including from Ms Anderson, a friend of Mr Assange, who said in an interview that she tried to connect with Mr Trump to plead the case. “I just hate to see him deteriorate in prison right now,” she said of Mr. Assange, describing the pardon request as “a last-ditch effort for all of us who are supporters of Julian Assange”.

Asked about Blueprint’s efforts, Jennifer Robinson, a lawyer representing Mr. Assange, said she “is encouraged by and supports the efforts” of various prominent supporters around the world.

Mr Davis pointed out that Blueprint’s push was independent of the parallel efforts of Mr Assange’s family and his lawyers, although Mr Stryk had been in contact with Barry J. Pollack, Mr Assange’s lawyer based in Washington, which represents him against the criminal. charges.

Prosecutors claimed Mr. Assange illegally obtained secret documents and put lives at risk by revealing the names of people who provided information to the United States in war zones.

Lawyers for Mr. Assange have called the accusation a political attack on press freedom.

Last month, Mr Pollack filed a clemency petition with the White House attorneys office, which reviewed leniency requests against Mr Trump, arguing that Mr Assange was “being sued for his collection. news and the publication of truthful information ”.

Mr Pollack declined to comment on the petition, which was obtained by The New York Times, except to say it was on hold.

The petition appears to be aimed at appealing to Mr. Trump, who has wielded the uncontrolled presidential clemency power to help people with personal connections to him or whose causes resonate with him politically, including a handful of people trapped in the investigation of the special council on Russia. interference in the 2016 election and ties to his campaign.

The petition pointed out that the charges against Mr. Assange stemmed from WikiLeaks’ publication of documents which “denounced wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan during wars started by a previous administration.” And he notes that the Democratic emails released by WikiLeaks in 2016, which showed that some in the party apparatus were conspiring to sabotage the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent and Clinton’s rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, resulted in the resignation of the party. officials.

The petition does not respond to the U.S. government’s findings on Russia’s role in email theft as part of its efforts to undermine Ms. Clinton, who has long been a sore point for Mr. Trump.

The petition notes that the conviction of Chelsea Manning, the former military intelligence analyst who provided WikiLeaks with the military and diplomatic documents that led to the charges against Mr. Assange, was commuted by President Barack Obama in last days of his term.

Like Mr Assange’s lawyers in Britain, Mr Pollack’s petition raises concerns about Mr Assange’s health, noting that the prison he is being held in has been closed after a coronavirus outbreak .

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Nice to meet you, mom. Now let’s go into quarantine.

The mother of the twins is now 85 on a farm in rural South Korea with dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

“When I heard this I was very worried,” Ms. Doerr said. They became more worried when their June trip had to be postponed. Her condition is still mild, they think, but the fear is that “her memory will be less and less available as she ages.”

Their biological brother, who speaks a little English, told the twins that their father wanted sons rather than daughters.

“Accepting all of this,” Ms. Doerr said, “has been an interesting adventure for me.”

Undeterred by the prospect of spending two weeks in a hotel, Allison Young, 38, traveled in August from her home in Frederick County, Maryland, South Korea with her husband and three biological children. . She was returning both as an adopted and as a future adoptive mother.

The purpose of the trip was to adopt their fourth child, now almost 2 years old. Ms. Young and her husband had planned an extended stay to help their new son adjust to the family. But the weeks leading up to their custody at the end of September also gave Ms. Young a second try to meet her birth mother.

Two decades earlier, Ms. Young had studied abroad as a college student. She had reunited with her birth mother and scheduled a meeting, but two days earlier her mother had canceled.

“Soo Eun Lee, don’t cry,” her Korean social worker told Ms. Young, using her Korean name. “You have to understand Korean culture.” The stigma of single motherhood is at the root of many adoptions, which are also still viewed unfavorably. Her mother’s family did not know her – and still do not ignore her -.

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Video: ‘Let’s move forward,’ says Philadelphia mayor

What the president has to do is put on his big boy pants frankly. He has to recognize the fact that he lost and he has to congratulate the winner just like Jimmy Carter did, just like George HW Bush did. And frankly, just like Al Gore did, stop this and let us move forward as a country. And that’s my feeling. I doubt he’s listening to me, but that’s it. So, in the days to come, remember that this is not about the victory of a single candidate or a single political party. It is truly a victory for our democracy. It may sound cliché, but today it is so true. Votes will continue to be counted until all valid postal ballots, postal votes and provisional ballots are counted. So while some, including the President, continue to spew out unfounded fraud allegations, allegations his team failed to produce an iota of evidence for, what we have seen here in Philadelphia is pure democracy and simple. Our founding fathers who designed the system just a 15 minute walk down the street, I know, would be proud – 233 years after the Constitutional Convention we stand in this convention center and proclaim the system still works, people have speak.

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Has President Trump kept his first term promises? Let’s look at 5 of them

In fact, Mexico is not paying for it.

The barriers that have been built along the border so far have been paid for by US taxpayers.

Keep up with Election 2020

The fact that Mr. Trump is raising the wall as part of his ‘Promises Made, Promises Kept’ campaign speech doesn’t seem to bother his most loyal supporters, who see him more as the motto of a sports team they love. “I consider ‘building the wall’ symbolic,” said Amad Zarak, 20, a student in Gainesville, Fla. “It is a physical manifestation of the policy of restricting immigration. Overall, “he tries to keep his promises.”

Alan Sanchez, 57, a defense contractor from Maricopa, Ariz., Admitted the president had not. But he said he did what he could.

“He could have done better,” Sanchez said. “It would have needed the support of Congress. He did what he could. I am happy with what he did only because he had to fight tooth and nail and go to the Supreme Court to build a few kilometers.

The Department of Homeland Security argued that the new barriers have reduced the staff needed to staff certain areas and reduced unauthorized immigration. In Mr. Trump’s first year in office, illegal border crossings declined to the lowest point since the 1970s, but then increased to the highest point in a decade during the fiscal year 2019 before declining again this year during the pandemic.

With three Supreme Court justices and 25% of the federal judiciary now made up of people appointed by Trump, according to data from Russell Wheeler, a forensic expert at the Brookings Institution, the president has done better on this campaign pledge than maybe other.

His campaign boasts of having reversed the scales of three federal courts of appeal and shifted nine courts of appeal to the right. His appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett in the weeks leading up to the election could reshape abortion rights, immigration law and the regulatory power of government. Confirming a Supreme Court justice so close to an election was unprecedented, and Democrats billed it as an illegitimate takeover by Republicans.