Friday, August 17, 2012

  • Lawyer: Raid on Embassy to Arrest Assange Would Be "Unprecedented" Breach of Diplomatic Immunity

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    Britain is refusing to give Julian Assange of WikiLeaks safe passage out of the country even though Ecuador has granted him political asylum. On Thursday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Assange would be arrested if he left the embassy. Britain has also threatened to raid the embassy in order to arrest Assange. "Under British law we can give them a week’s notice before entering the premises and the embassy will no longer have diplomatic protection," a British foreign spokesperson said. In response, Ecuador has asked the Organization of American States to hold a meeting Aug. 23 to discuss the diplomatic crisis. "The latest announcements by the British government are alarming," says Jennifer Robinson, legal adviser for Julian Assange. [includes rush transcript]

  • Daniel Ellsberg: I Congratulate Ecuador for Standing Up to British Empire to Protect Julian Assange

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    Daniel Ellsberg, the most famous whistleblower in the United States, praises Ecuador for granting political asylum to Julian Assange to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning over sex crime accusations. "I congratulate Ecuador, of course, for standing up to the British Empire here, for insisting that they are not a British colony, and acting as a sovereign state ought to act," says Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, the secret history of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. On Thursday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Assange would be arrested if he left the embassy, saying Britain is "under a binding obligation to extradite him to Sweden." Ellsberg adds: "[Assange] has every reason to be wary that the real intent here is to whisk him away to America, where it really hasn’t been made as clear what might be waiting for him." [includes rush transcript]

  • Judge Upholds Penn. Voter ID Law; GOP Admits Law Designed to "Allow" Mitt Romney to "Win the State"

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    On Wednesday, a Pennsylvania judge upheld a controversial voter ID law that critics say could disqualify hundreds of thousands of voters. Republican lawmakers have openly admitted the law was designed to impact the result of the November election. In June, Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai listed off a number of legislative accomplishments. "Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania: Done," Turzai said. Meanwhile, Florida, New Mexico and other states are being accused of purging voters ahead of the election. "Whenever states determine that they want to purge their rolls or clean up their rolls, it takes time. It has to be done efficiently and effectively. And waiting to do so so very close up to an election always raises concerns about why a state is doing it so close to an election," says Nicole Austin-Hillery of the Brennan Center for Justice. "We’re always concerned about errors and the fact that innocent people, individuals who are indeed eligible registered voters, we’re always worried about whether those people may be erroneously kicked off the rolls." [includes rush transcript]

  • Pussy Riot Members Sentenced to 2 Years for Anti-Putin Protest; Feminist Rocker JD Samson Responds

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    Three members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot have been sentenced to two years in prison for staging an anti-Putin protest inside a Russian church. On February 21, several members of Pussy Riot rushed before the altar of Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour where they danced, genuflected and issued a "punk prayer," exhorting the Virgin Mary to "get Putin out." Three group members have been behind bars for five months, and their imprisonment for the peaceful protest has sparked a massive outcry around the world, with protests taking place today in dozens of cities. Speaking to Democracy Now!, a representative for Pussy Riot’s legal defense team called the case a "political put-up job." "It’s impossible to understand for people living in democracy how it is possible to live in the system of disregard of the law," said Alisa Obraztsova, an assistant to the lawyers representing Pussy Riot. "[The] only way is to believe the society and not the government, because there is no common sense in such legal trials, and only the society’s reaction may describe the real situation in Russia." Obraztsova said they plan to appeal first in Russia and then to the European Court of Human Rights. As protesters were arrested outside the courthouse in Moscow, we speak with JD Samson, a punk rock musician with the bands Le Tigre and MEN who has been organizing Pussy Riot solidarity actions in New York City. "As a feminist musician, as well, you know, we’re all interested in freedom of expression, and, as artists, we can all stand behind them," Samson says. "Russia clearly has no separation of church and state, and this is something that has been definitely important for us to think about." [includes rush transcript]