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United States Pushes the Envelope on Press Freedom, Nuclear Threat

© Sputnik / Russian Ministry of Defense / Go to the mediabankTesting the Burevestnik nuclear cruise missile
Testing the Burevestnik nuclear cruise missile - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.06.2024
One analyst sees parallels between the deterioration of press freedoms and the crumbling of the international framework designed to prevent nuclear war.
Press freedom advocates are celebrating the release of WIkileaks founder Julian Assange from Belmarsh Prison in London. The maverick journalist spent more than five years in the notorious detention facility with little contact with the outside world following seven years of isolation in the UK’s Ecuadorian embassy. His newfound freedom grants Assange the ability to rebuild his life, spend time with his family and, perhaps one day, return to his publishing activities.
But the ordeal has done significant damage to Assange’s health as well as the ability of journalists around the world to do their work without fear of state repression, said activist Dr. Margaret Flowers. Flowers offered insight on the development on Sputnik’s The Critical Hour program Wednesday, drawing parallels between the erosion of press freedoms and the deterioration of international norms designed to prevent the possibility of nuclear war.
“We should recognize that this is a victory,” said the co-founder of Popular Resistance of Assange’s release from prison. “The United States was hoping that they could bring Assange here or that he would die in prison in Belmarsh, and that they would send a chilling message to everyone around the world. It's because of the activism of so many people that Assange is today.”
“But forcing him to plead to a felony when he did not commit a crime… doesn't set a positive legal precedent that we need, which is that journalists, publishers, publish classified material all the time and that the Espionage Act should not apply to them,” she added. “Caitlin Johnstone, who wrote the article in the Greanville Post, makes some really valid points that Assange was tortured. His health has deteriorated. He has lost all of these years of his life, years of life with his children and his wife, and that he should also be compensated for what has been done to him.”
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“So justice has definitely not been served in this, but this was not something we expected, that he would be freed. So this is a victory.”
Flowers noted that activists in the United Kingdom are pressing lawmakers to pass legislation safeguarding against attempts by the United States to pursue journalists like Assange on British soil in the future.
The erosion of civil liberties takes place as the world fears it could find itself in a nuclear war amid armed conflict and the reemergence of tensions between Russia and the West. The United States has worked to weaken international agreements designed to prevent a nuclear exchange, host Wilmer Leon noted, going back to the George W. Bush administration allowing the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) to expire.
Leon also faulted the administration of former President Bill Clinton, who escalated tensions by expanding NATO after previous assurances by the United States it would not expand east of Germany.

“Of course [US President Joe] Biden has done nothing about the Iran agreement, which he promised that he would reinstate… during his campaign,” Flowers noted. “It was under the Obama administration that the US started this trillion-dollar program to upgrade the nuclear weapons. And there's actually a mindset in Washington, DC, that we could launch 'limited nuclear strikes' or tactical nuclear strikes. This is madness. If we began a nuclear war, it's going to be devastating for the world.”

“Russia kept saying, ‘these are our red lines. Let's talk about it. Let's work something out,’” she noted, claiming the current conflict between Ukraine and Russia could have been avoided. “It was the Western powers that prevented that from happening… We're not seeing any rational activity coming from the United States to back down and say, ‘oh yeah, you know, this is going in a bad direction. Let's do something to resolve this.’”
Assange with US flag covering his mouth outside Old Bailey on 29 September 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.06.2024
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