Not Asking Permission for Abortion & New Hope for Assange

Featuring Amelia Bonow and Kevin Gosztola

by Kate Horgan
Published: Updated:
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Not Asking Permission for Abortion & New Hope for Assange
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In the first half of the show, Cofounder and Executive Director of Shout Your Abortion Amelia Bonow joins Eleanor Goldfield to highlight the shifting times and paradigms on abortion access. Amelia points out that Roe v Wade was never enough, that everyone deserves safe and easy abortion care, and that refusing to comply with laws that threaten human rights is fundamental to freedom. Next up, Kevin Gosztola returns to the show to discuss with Mickey Huff the latest news on – and hope for – Julian Assange. Kevin outlines new barriers to access for journalists trying to cover one of the the largest attacks on journalism and a journalist in our time, how Assange and Gaza are connected, how the US sets the agenda for press freedom – or lack thereof – worldwide, and more.

 

Video of the Interview with Amelia Bonow

Video of the Interview with Kevin Gosztola

Below is a Rough Transcript of the Interview with Amelia Bonow

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Eleanor Goldfield: Thanks everyone for joining us at the Project Censored radio show. We’re very glad to welcome to the show Amelia Bonow, who’s the co founder and executive director of Shout Your Abortion, a nationwide organization working to normalize abortion and elevate paths to abortion access regardless of legality.

She also proudly serves as the co chair of the board of directors of Abortion Care Network, a national organization that represents independent abortion providers.

Amelia, thanks so much for joining us.

Amelia Bonow: Thanks for having me.

Eleanor Goldfield: Absolutely. And full disclosure to folks listening, my abortion story is also on Shout Your Abortion. So I appreciate and really support the work that Shout Your Abortion does both personally and professionally.

So, Amelia, to start off here, there are books written about this topic, so I don’t mean to ask such a broad question to get started with, but I think people might have a little bit of a vague understanding of some of the absurd restrictions on abortion access outside of the outright ban that happened after Roe v. Wade was overturned.

Could you give just a few examples of these sadistically creative ways in which abortion access is restricted as a part of, or instead of an outright ban?

Amelia Bonow: Yeah, so, you know, even before Roe fell, abortion was quite difficult to access for many millions of people. Some of that is just purely logistical. There were like upwards of 95 percent of counties with not a single clinic. And of course that number is like in the high nineties now.

There are parental notification laws for minors in many States. There are waiting period laws, which are essentially just, especially in States where they know that someone is probably having to travel for hours, many hours in order to get to a clinic, they’ll make it so that a person has to have an appointment, wait 24 or 48 hours, and then come back for their procedure.

So if a person is working class, they’re a parent, they’re having to make arrangements in order to travel hundreds of miles. It’s just another way of making the procedure be out of reach.

And ultimately, I think it’s just important to frame up any conversation like this with the fact that Roe versus Wade was not ever enough.

Access has always been out of reach for poor Americans, predominantly black and brown Americans, undocumented folks, the same people that this country is always disenfranchising, just really did not ever have easy access to abortion.

The first thing that I think made it worse, or the first thing that really undermined the power of Roe was, of course, the Hyde Amendment, which happened just a few years after Roe and made it so that people couldn’t use federal insurance to pay for abortion.

So, access has always been pay to play. It’s not ever just been a right that one could use if they chose to. It’s been a commodity that a person could purchase if they could afford it. And we know that the way that that plays out is, is racist and classist and just fundamentally unjust.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for framing that in that way, because I think a lot of people feel that if we could just get Roe v. Wade reinstated, then all the problems will be solved. And they were never actually solved in the first place.

And I want to get into a bit of a microcosm story here, because in the past month, Louisiana lawmakers who had already made abortion illegal at all stages of pregnancy, voted to continue to require child rape victims to carry their pregnancy to term.

In other words, children who have been raped have to give birth to children. The legislation was introduced by Representative Delisha Boyd and originally proposed exceptions for rape and incest in general. But when she realized that that bill wouldn’t pass, she narrowed it to propose that persons 16 and under could get an abortion if they were victims of rape or incest.

And that also failed. Now, I’ve lost my ability to be shocked, but I never lose my ability to be disgusted. And this remarkably cruel, mentally unhinged and sadistic legislation is not unique. Some 14 states have outlawed abortion at all stages of pregnancy. Others have banned it after six weeks, which by the way is before many folks even realize that they’re pregnant.

So I’m curious, Amelia, do you feel that Louisiana is the most restrictive and most sadistic in terms of abortion care access, what states are you watching right now that are pushing to go the same way or might’ve already gone this way?

Amelia Bonow: So, you know, when it comes to these just mind numbingly, as you said, sadistic scenarios like you just described in Louisiana, something that has no exceptions for rape or incest. .

I have no idea why Republicans from a political standpoint would be trying to do those kinds of things. Because obviously we’re just seeing affirmed over and over and over again that Americans want abortion access. And this sort of thing is just such a bad look that I like genuinely don’t understand the political calculus.

And from our perspective it’s really easy to get just as my dad would say wrapped around the axle about these insane, sadistic laws but at the end of the day any person who is forced to continue a pregnancy, whether they’re a child ora well off adult, whether the sex was consensual or not, any person who is forced even to struggle in order to end a pregnancy, to me has been utterly disenfranchised by the state, and that is a complete violation of their human rights.

And so, which state has the worst ban? Well, you know, ask any of the tens of thousands of people who have either struggled or failed to end a pregnancy in a state with restrictions, they’ll probably say theirs is the worst one. You know what I mean?

And I feel the same way about this conversation as I do about like, when the left sort of tends to argue for abortion rights on the grounds of really exceptionally difficult situations: rape, incest, fetal abnormality. That to me is inherently stigmatizing. It’s a very, very limited sort of philosophical framework to work from. And ultimately I want every single person to have access to abortion, at any point in their pregnancy at any time for any reason, and that’s the goalpost and arguing for less than that to me is part of how we gave the game away a very long time ago.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah, thank you for that. I think we can oftentimes veer into this kind of trauma porn space, and forget that if you want to have an abortion, it’s really nobody’s business as to why or what the specifics are. If you choose to share it, like, I think the platform Shout Your Abortion did a lot of things for people.

When people would sometimes feel guilt, like, well, I just want an abortion because I don’t want a child. Is that a good enough reason? And then this platform shared so many of those stories, like, I just don’t want a kid and I shouldn’t have to have one. Oh, okay. I don’t have to have been through this horrific situation. I can just not want it. And that’s okay. That’s enough.

Amelia Bonow: Like not wanting a child is an inherently excellent reason to have an abortion. My abortion actually happened 10 years ago yesterday. And, me speaking out about my own experience was like the catalyst for this whole hashtag and outpouring of tens of thousands. I don’t know, maybe hundreds of thousands of stories at this point.

And, it was really interesting because my experience was so positive. It was galvanizing in a positive way. I was so aware of how lucky I was and I was so angry thinking about how many people were not lucky.

And I was so grateful for the people who took care of me. And I also was aware that the goodness, the profound goodness of their work was kind of a secret. And, ultimately, I just felt this intense level of relief that ultimately was like a celebration. I was like, oh my God, I don’t have to become a parent!

It felt good in the way that autonomy feels good. And in the way that being supported by people who are like, I believe in you to make choices, and I’m going to help you live your best life. It was a galvanizing experience in all of those ways.

And I realized that I never heard people talk about it that way. The vast majority of stories that I’d ever heard referenced were generally, if they weren’t just a huge bummer, they were at the very least sort of prefaced with like, I wasn’t in a good relationship. I wanted to finish school. I I didn’t have money. And I didn’t want to do any of that exactly because of what you just said. Like the reason was that I didn’t want to have a kid. And that to me was so self-justifying.

So when I, spoke about my own experience in a way that was not buffered by rationalizations or like any kind of tragedy, and it was in fact just me celebrating having had this access and the people who took care of me, I think that that was part of the reason why it felt novel.

People just, I think, weren’t really used to hearing that. And for the first few years, the most common thing that people would always say to me was like, Oh my God, I didn’t feel bad. I never felt bad, but I felt bad that I didn’t feel bad. And, I think that now because of S.Y.A. and a lot of other similar projects, a lot of space has opened up that just wasn’t there before.

And it’s now quite common, like if I was talking to you 10 years ago and you just casually mentioned that you had shared your abortion, I think that most listeners would be like, Oh, wow, Eleanor had an abortion.

Now people don’t give a shit. I guarantee you, most of the people listening to this show already forgot that you had an abortion. And, because it’s just very common to hear people talk about their reproductive lives, and abortion being a part of that. Ten years ago, or nine years ago now, I was on the front page of the New York Times for talking about my abortion. That’s wild. That’s wild. And that will never happen again. So that’s progress.

And it’s also, it’s part of the reason why I feel hopeful in a long game kind of way. Because, you can’t put this back in the bag. People actually have abortions, all kinds of people, all day, every day, for every kind of reason, of all political stripe.

It just happens, and most people feel deeply okay with it. And we’re coming around to see that voters feel deeply horrified at the way that the right is doing this horrific minority rule. This issue’s being legislated and being dealt with in the courts in a way that’s just so out of step with how people actually feel, what they want, what they need in terms of healthcare, and it’s not going to work out well for them, you know?

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah. And you touched on so many good things, but I think one of them is also that it’s creating threads to other conversations like, okay, well, we don’t have access to abortion. Why don’t we have access to healthcare in general? Because if that’s part of healthcare, then why can’t I go to a doctor when I need to? Why aren’t teeth considered part of my body?

And I think another offshoot of that, that I feel personally really is really important because now I do have a child, and I felt that I would never have a child unless I could answer the question, why do you want a child? Because I feel like so often the question is, why don’t you want kids?

And I got so tired of answering that question. It’s like, shouldn’t we flip it? Because you make it sound like it’s, oh, why don’t you want a bicycle? This is a life that I’m bringing into the world. It’s not like, why don’t you want to try paddle boarding? This is a serious conversation! That is also shifting a little bit where people are having a lot of more deeper and important conversations about, okay, but do I want a kid? Not why don’t I? And I think that’s really powerful and important as well.

I want to talk a little bit about S.Y.A. in particular because it’s such a rad platform with a lot of different resources for folks. But I’m also curious, because the issue is, regardless of legality, where do y’all fit?

I mean, are you the modern day outlaws? Like, here’s how you access this increasingly impossible healthcare?

Amelia Bonow: You know laws are not a description of what is moral or what is possible, and we are really committed to helping people understand what their options are, no matter what the law says.

So let me back up there. There’s been some really interesting research post Dobbs. We’re now almost two years out from the Dobbs decision. Like you said, we’ve had 14 states pass total bans, seven states severely restrict abortion. And what is completely fascinating is that the abortion rate has not dropped. Now, simultaneously, the birth rate in deeply red states has increased in a way that makes us know that some people, of course, the most marginalized people in this country, are giving birth to babies that they did not want to, pregnancies that they could not find a way to end.

But simultaneously, because abortion pills by mail have become so much more widely available due to sort of this like convaolescing bunch of factors that was COVID and telemedicine advancements and FDA relaxing in person prescription requirements and all of these activist networks, both in the states and overseas getting teed up for this to happen and creating networks of distribution, both above and below ground.

Pills are now very, very widely available by mail in all 50 states, and hundreds of thousands of people have used abortion pills to safely end their pregnancy since the Dobbs decision, many of whom did so in restricted states.

So, the combination of the increased availability of pills and also just, I think, activists who work for abortion funds and practical support organizations and independent clinics who are just fighting tooth and nail to expand their services and their capacity in blue states, and work to get patients there who need to be seen for an in-clinic procedure. Really this constellation of relentless freedom fighters have been working around the clock to build this decentralized, sort of cobbled together system of access.

And what we’re seeing is that it’s working. So, it’s kind of good news and bad news. The bad news is, of course, that some people are falling through the cracks, right? And we don’t even know how many, because generally the people who fall through the cracks are so deeply marginalized that they are probably invisible to the people that are trying to look for that data, and to society in general. And that is so heartbreaking. And it’s absolutely, it means that we have to continue pushing more into the most marginalized places.

But also what we’re seeing from this data is that all of us working together have the power to undermine the impact of abortion bans, and that the law does not have to determine whether or not we have access to abortion, and that we can go out and say, Guess what? No matter where you live, you still have options. And we will be saying that all day, every day, forever.

I think that culture has like a really back alley abortion, like illegal, unsafe abortion view from the previous before Roe era, which I think caused a major cultural trauma stain on our collective memory.

And, one thing that S.Y.A. really wants to work on changing is helping people to understand that they can have a safe abortion in a state with an abortion ban. And there are people and organizations out there who are going to help you know exactly how to do that with support from medical hotlines and funding and emotional support and just people surrounding you and helping you through it.

And we’re gonna keep doing that no matter what. That’s just that.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah, absolutely. And I’ve been so glad that there are folks out there doing that work.

And I’m curious, kind of looking at it from the other side too, because I understand, and I’ve read that some doctors and some abortion care providers are afraid , not just because of their own personal safety, like being attacked by extremists, but also being fined, being put in jail.

For instance, I’m in Maryland. So there are so called shield laws that protect abortion providers from investigations from other states. But this is a thing, like they’re going after doctors, which feels so remarkably dystopian. I mean, all of this does, but could you talk a little bit about looking at abortion care from the side of the provider and how things are scary on that side as well?

Amelia Bonow: Yeah. So, I mean, first off, as you said, beyond being afraid of legal consequences or being disbarred or whatever, the anti choice movement has murdered 11 people since 1994, and every provider that I know faces constant harassment and is targeted. People are targeted in their homes, people are terrorized for doing this work, and I have such a deep respect and admiration and love for abortion providers.

And I want to specifically shout out independent abortion providers. Most people when we think of providers we think of Planned Parenthood. That’s where I got my abortion, you know, they provide tons of excellent healthcare. But, indie providers are really the unsung, chronically undersupported, they’re indies.

They’re like indie anything. They’re like just a small group of people in a little building, with no security system and no big fundraising or communications apparatus, just like making it happen. And these guys are very often the last clinics hanging on in hostile states.

They are the folks that do the vast majority, almost 100 percent of care later in pregnancy. And they just need to be explicitly named because they need folks’ support. And if people are curious, they can go to abortioncarenetwork.org to learn more about the Indies in their area and how to support them.

But yeah, so as you said, there is a lot of apprehension from providers in terms of like, you don’t see people stepping out and doing like conscientious objection. The best example I think of this is SB8, which hit the books like what, a year before Roe, and SBA was wildly unconstitutional, and it also effectively ended in-clinic access to abortion in the state of Texas, while Roe vs. Wade was still intact.

And that was ultimately, to be frank, it was because the big organizations in the repro landscape that would have had the institutional power to mount a coordinated challenge or like a we’re doing it anyway kind of approach, they’re all lawyered up. The big orgs, just like everywhere else, are all lawyered up and lawyers are risk averse in this line of work because what we’re doing, we’re in a totally unprecedented situation, right?

And all of these laws are unconstitutional, there’s no precedent for how they’ll be interpreted because people are just throwing stuff at the wall and, ultimately I want to say that I do not expect any provider, let alone a provider in Texas, I don’t expect any individual to like, go, I’m not trying to set this up as some moral imperative like, you should go do this.

But I would love to see providers who are, you know, towards the end of their career, they’re people of privilege, they’re people with a lot of institutional power, they’re people who practice in blue states, maybe go down to Texas. And go perform some abortions and break the system. We simply cannot just comply.

And like, obviously, I’m an activist. I’m in a totally different situation. I don’t have a medical license. I don’t have a family to feed. And again, I’m not trying to say this is what any one person should do. But, you’re totally correct that in broad strokes, we are not seeing the medical establishment push back and challenge what are ultimately, like, illegal laws.

Like, SB 8 is an illegal law. It ended abortion access while the federal right to abortion access was still intact, and it’s because people caved, and that is devastating.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah, absolutely. And it speaks to the importance of activism being not something that you just see people doing, like, on a street, but activism is something that we have to do in whatever spaces we find ourselves in, whatever professions.

So, Amelia, we could probably talk for days about this and, I would love to, but with the time we have left, I want to talk a little bit about specifically Shout Your Abortion, because it seems to be one of the loudest and most unapologetic places for people to go and to have access to information about abortion.

So if, hypothetically, if I’m a person in a state that has a total ban on abortions and I need help, what would be your, I guess, order of operations in terms of finding what to do?

Amelia Bonow: So if you go to S.Y.A.’s website and you go to our resources page, we have the resources to support someone who just needs information about sort of their range of options. We have information about how to find pills, how to use pills at home safely. How to find funding, how to find emotional and medical support.

And if you are a person who is in a red state and you’re pregnant and you don’t want to be, the main thing I want to say is you will always have options.

And it kind of just depends whether you want to try to leave the state and have an in-clinic procedure or you want to receive pills by mail and have an abortion at home, which again is super safe, super effective. It’s all possible. So, I would say go to our resources page.

And, going back to the thing that you just said, like, that we all can be activists in, I see this moment that we’re in as somewhat post institutional, right? Like we’re no longer in a world where, okay, I’m pregnant. I can just go to a doctor’s office and get what I need. And we’re no longer in a place where the law about what I’m allowed to do with my body corresponds with what I want to, and I’m going to do with my body.

And in the same way, the ways to get involved, I think, and actively work in support of abortion access or even to just help push this conversation forward about the fact that you can still have an abortion no matter what the law says, there are resources, there are people to help you. Here’s where to start. Everyone can do that.

I think that for a very long time people, reproductive rights supporters, thought what I do to be a supporter is to write a check to probably a big national organization or to a candidate, and, you know, vote blue and whatever. At the end of the day, none of those things prevented this current situation from happening. Really, the elected Dems are not offering, I want to see so much more from them. And at the end of the day, there are so many ways for people to just decide to be part of the solution and find a way to plug in.

And, I think that if you go to SYA’s website and sort of just mess around, you’ll find something that might inspire you to go have a conversation, go put up a poster, go just learn more about what the post-Dobbs access landscape looks like. And learn how to make yourself a resource for that information and become a person in your community who people know they can turn to for help.

To me, that’s the like baseline of being a supporter of abortion access is knowing how to do it and sharing that information with people who need it.

I’m of course horrified at the legal landscape and at the fact that our rights have been negated. And I also was never asking these people for permission and I don’t respect the authority or the legitimacy of this court, and I refuse to comply and for the rest of my life, I will work to engender a culture of defiance and of people who understand how to circumvent and just fully break the law if that’s what they want to do in order to live free in their bodies, and exercise their autonomy.

So, I’m very undeterred and I’m mad, but we’re going to do it no matter what. So I think that that’s a hopeful place for people who are used to thinking about this as a political battle for rights that we are losing. I encourage you to reorient yourself in this place of, yeah, that’s really messed up.

And we have to fight. We have to continue fighting this out electorally in the courts, et cetera, because criminalization is bad and that will happen. And it will happen to the most marginalized people. But in the meantime, we’re not waiting around and asking anybody for permission. We’re doing it anyway.

There’s safe ways to do it. There are people everywhere who are part of this new system of abortion access and you can be one of them.

Eleanor Goldfield: Beautifully put. And I think what’s so powerful about that too, is that I think the conversation again has shifted. Like when I had my abortion, it was, you’ll never stop people from having abortions. You’ll just stop them from having safe and accessible abortions. And now it’s like, you’ll never stop people from having abortions. Also, you can have safe and effective abortion.

Amelia Bonow: Yes, exactly. Exactly. Yeah, totally. And the idea of safety and legality are like, so intertwined and it’s just no longer the case, you know what I mean?

And that said, the idea of struggling to end a pregnancy, sometimes the stats are talked about as if like, Oh, if that person was able to leave a red state and ultimately access care weeks later in some other state for thousands of dollars, but that’s not okay.

That’s a level of struggle that can change and derail a life. I mean, I really worry for activists and folks who are working for abortion funds, for example, people who are working directly with patients and clients all day long and the vicarious trauma that is being absorbed and held and I worry for people who are struggling to access care, even if they ultimately do.

That’s not enough. And, and I think that it’s a good time to shout out support your local abortion fund. If you do have money to kick somewhere, that’s a great place to do that because there’s definitely been a drop off of post-Dobbs rage donations and this current network that I’m describing in intentionally very hopeful terms, and I do feel hopeful about it, but it’s not sustainable, both in terms of human beings doing this kind of work and also financially.

So, we need more. We need more folks. We need more hands on deck. We need more folks to understand that abortion is a community responsibility.

We can have it to the degree that we work to make it happen. And it’s on all of us. We can do it, but we need more participation.

Eleanor Goldfield: Yeah, absolutely. And as you pointed out, it’s not this crazy taboo thing. Like everybody knows somebody who’s had an abortion. We walk amongst you.

Well, Amelia, thank you so much again for taking the time to sit down with us and really especially offer some different perspectives to what we so often hear about. Again, shout your abortion is where folks can find all of this information.

Is there anywhere else that you’d like to shout out for folks to check out?

Amelia Bonow: I would encourage people to follow the abortion care network. If you want to support independent clinics, you can go to keepourclinics.org. And you can follow my personal Instagram if you’d like. I’m at Amelia Maris and thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it. And thanks for shouting your abortion.

Eleanor Goldfield: Well, thank you for providing the platform for me to do so.

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Below is a Rough Transcript of the Interview with Kevin Gosztola

Mickey Huff: Welcome to the Project Censored Show on Pacifica Radio. I’m your host, Mickey Huff, with co host Eleanor Goldfield. Today on the program, we welcome back regular guest and contributor Kevin Gosztola. He’s author of Guilty of Journalism, the Political Case Against Julian Assange, with a foreword by Abby Martin.

Kevin Gosztola is also the curator of the Dissenter Newsletter, among many other things that Kevin does. And of course, the Project Censored universe is very familiar with Kevin’s work, because we have him on the program regularly giving us updates regarding the case of Julian Assange, who is still in prison, in Belmarsh Prison in the UK.

But there have been some recent developments, and I just want to make sure everybody knows that it is Thursday, May 23rd. Because the world doesn’t stop for us to take its temperature and these are pre recorded and the program airs the following week so we just want to make sure that people know when Kevin and I spoke.

Kevin, welcome back to the Project Censored Show.

Kevin Gosztola: Hey, it’s good to talk with you again.

Mickey Huff: Absolutely, and Kevin, there have been some updates. There’s been some development on the case of Julian Assange, and you were going to write about these things, but there are some, some other interesting things that happened that, that intervened and we’re going to be talking about your colleague Mohamed Elmaazi who wrote for the Dissenter “US Effort to extradite Assange hits roadblock as a British high court grants Appeal,” sounds like some decent news for a change Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola: Yeah, so typically I would be the one reporting and i’ve done everything that I could to cover on proceedings these hearings in London I would say present a whole range of issues for independent journalists.

It’s expensive. It’s cumbersome. It’s resource intensive to try and get yourself there. It’s a one day hearing. And so it is my belief that international journalists shouldn’t have to travel thousands upon thousands of miles around the world to get to these hearings. When it is an international case of importance, a high profile case that the courts recognizes of importance, and especially when it has stakes for the countries of Australia and the United States, I would say that anybody in those countries should be able to have access to proceedings.

However, the High Court of Justice in London has taken a position abruptly in the last few months and for the last two hearings, that if you are not located in England or Wales at the time of the hearing, you do not get to access proceedings through a video link. And you do not get access to a video link with, with your press credentials.

Because if you are not in those jurisdictions, the court doesn’t have the ability to enforce the rules against you. They can’t stop you. You know, they can’t jail you or hold you in contempt if you take a screenshot or you record audio or video in violation of the court rules. So you just aren’t going to get access unless you can get yourself to England or Wales, which, which means that I no longer can follow these proceedings remotely the way that dozens upon dozens of international journalists were doing before.

I know that’s not really the issue we want to spend the entire broadcast or, or, or, interview, conversation discussing, but it is an important one because I want people to just recognize that it’s not lost on me that in a case where this is of high importance for journalists. You basically have the court saying that their default position is going to be that journalists present a threat to the security of the court.

That, you know, that, you know, as there targeting a journalist, Julian Assange, and trying to extradite him and bring him to the U. S. for a trial any journalist that covers these proceedings, it’ll just be presumed that the court didn’t have the ability to jail you and threaten you with penalties. You probably wouldn’t obey their rules, and it’s just absolute nonsense that they can’t enforce the court rules.

If I did something that the court did not approve, they could just never grant me credentials again to proceedings. And they could also say that I never get to cover a single case beyond Julian Assange’s case. And since I cover global press freedom cases, I don’t want that to happen. So I’ve, I, you know, I don’t need to prove to anyone that I followed the rules, but it just, it’s absolute ridiculousness that they think that they can’t enforce their court order.

So I hired Mohamed Elmaazi. I’m glad that he’s able to come on and continue the Dissenter’s indispensable coverage. And people who were donors and also subscribers of the newsletter stepped up and helped me raise a bunch of money so that we could pay him well for doing this work and I’m glad to be able to share his reporting with you and just very basically say that he was able to report on the first positive decision in a long time for Julian Assange.

There’s a lot of optimism in the Assange camp as of May 20th because of the fact that the U. S. government now finds themself in this position where they have to unravel this mess that they created through their lead prosecutor, Gordon Kromberg, who said that Julian Assange would likely be denied access to any First Amendment protections if he was put on trial.

And what the High Court of Justice hears is that perhaps his rights to freedom of expression won’t be upheld, and that is a reason to bar extradition to the United States.

Mickey Huff: So

Kevin, that sounds like extraordinary news, good news or positive news around the Assange case, which which has just had one bad news or blow after another going back to 2021.

Right when, when, the extradition was paused, I mean, not for positive reasons, again, about around mental health issues, I mean, the whole case is a travesty of, of justice around the, around, all around, as you and I have talked about many times, but I’m, I’m, I’m optimistic that this might be a way of preventing the extradition, and so, just, just the whole story you told about how you couldn’t be, you can’t cover it, how they’re preventing other people from covering it.

I mean, that’s been, that’s been going on for quite a while. People not having access, right, to Julian Assange. So this is an ongoing concern.

Kevin Gosztola: Yeah. Yeah. Rebecca Vincent, contributed to your, your State of the Free Press book and, and tells a whole story about Reporters Without Borders not being given a seat and what she had to do is stand in line with Assange supporters, Assange supporters have been tremendous and helping those who want to sit in the public gallery and don’t have credentials.

They’ll hold your position in line for hours upon hours in the queue. And then you don’t have to wait overnight from like 3 to 10 o’clock in the morning, like you’re trying to get a Black Friday deal. And so, that’s, that’s good. And I think what’s important about this development is that it is an opening for Julian Assange to potentially walk free from jail.

We haven’t had that in a long time. We’ve had pressure from Australia that we thought might potentially force the Biden White House and the broader administration to reconsider continuing this case. It just hasn’t happened. They haven’t backed down. But now with the high court of justice, essentially saying, we think there’s a real possibility that Julian Assange will be prejudiced on the basis of his nationality at trial, that is a huge deal.

And we’re, and again, how they get to that point, before we move on to other topics is to say that Julian Assange is an Australian. And if you look at case law is this is even something that like the Supreme Court has decided. They say if you do not have ties to the United States, or if you are a foreign national, that you do not have first amendment rights necessarily for your speech.

That is to say that you can be prosecuted and you can’t claim first amendment protections as a defense against those criminal charges. And so, you you see that the prosecutors, this is what Mohamed reported on. They had to get twisted and pretzel knots to try to convince the high court that they were wrong to ask the US government to provide a promise to protect Julian Assange’s First Amendment rights. They made up this idea that citizenship is somehow different from nationality, and that this, these aren’t the same things, and it was just, you know, trying to confuse everyone with legal jargon. That was not accepted by the high court of justice.

And so eventually they just arrived at the obvious juncture where it was, we have to grant an appeal hearing. This is a serious matter. And so coming up, probably in the summertime, Julian Assange’s legal team will enter a court and, and they will argue out the First Amendment question. And it is a very narrow appeal.

This court rejected several grounds of appeal already. There are huge issues, there are tremendous issues with this case that the High Court of Justice is ignoring. So don’t get me wrong, I’m not giving the High Court of Justice too much credit in saying that they are now on Julian Assange’s side, that they, and I’m not saying that they aren’t going to help the U. S. government get out of the mess in which the U. S. government finds themselves. But this is a dilemma of their own making, and the easiest way for them to unravel it is to just drop the charges and not pursue Julian Assange’s extradition any longer. It’s what so many reputable organizations have demanded, and, and, and yet they insist on going through this in, in endangering press freedom around the world.

Mickey Huff: So Kevin Gosztola, Julian Assange’s wife and counsel Stella Assange said from the article, we spent a long time hearing the United States putting lipstick on a pig, but the judges did not buy it. And then you mentioned Rebecca Vincent earlier. Reporters Without Borders International Campaigns Director Rebecca Vincent called today’s result quote an important milestone, end quote, which opens up quote a vital new path to prevent extradition.

So just again, building on what you said, there are, there are very positive things connected to the most recent developments.

Kevin Gosztola: Yeah, and, it’s a technicality, but oftentimes that’s how these cases resolve themselves. You don’t have courts recognizing that Julian Assange is a journalist, and this is wrong for press freedom, but you do have judges along the lines saying, oh, well, he has, he has tremendous, he has these mental health issues and the US government hasn’t shown that its prison system would prevent him from committing suicide.

So, we need to block this extradition. And then there were a whole set of appeals and the US found a way out. And then now we’re here on another technicality and they’re saying, well, it looks like, you have some rights for freedom of expression for U. S. citizens, and then you give foreign nationals another set of rights for freedom of expression, and we think it should be uniform.

Because in, to end this topic, the European Convention on Human Rights has what is known as Article 10. It covers freedom of expression, and it is not an article that has a citizenship requirement. Any human being, it’s for human rights, any human being has universal human rights,

Mickey Huff: and that’s it. That’s a striking argument, and I think a profound one.

And look, we can go back to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and Article 19. You know, there’s there’s global precedent for this kind of to protect freedom and you your work, Kevin. You know, I know we’re going to talk more about press freedom and other whistleblower cases and some things coming up.

But again, this, this is a pinnacle case. And to see this, to see these developments just in the past week, after we’ve just seen nothing but a raft of, of things, not, not just going against Assange, but as you, again, always point out, the absurdity of the courts not being concerned about press freedom. You know, there’s a tech, weird technicality that we need to get into the weeds about, but protecting press freedom, protecting whistleblowers, protecting journalists, protecting publishers, protecting sources.

Nah, not, not so much. Seems very backward to me, Kevin.

Kevin Gosztola: Yeah, and then, you know, these prosecutors who stand before the court and, and actually raise even further alarm. The, James Lewis is the lead prosecutor and he stood before the court and he said, oh, okay. It doesn’t matter whether Julian Assange is a foreign national.

If he was a U. S. citizen, it would still be illegal what he did. We would go after, the U. S. government would go after U. S. citizens for publishing illegally obtained classified information that, and then they add this caveat of that, exposed confidential sources to harm. But the fact is that that’s not the status quo within the United States, the news media and the U S government for the longest time has had this unspoken understanding that they get to publish any information that they obtain.

If there’s going to be any prosecutions, it’s the sources that get prosecuted. Those are the whistleblowers or the leakers, however you want to refer to them. But journalists have been off limits. And if you look at the history of the Espionage Act, the people who were threatened, they never had criminal charges brought against them.

So like James Bamford, who’s done a lot of work on the NSA, Seymour Hersh, Beacon Press was threatened, their, their, staff or their management was threatened by the Nixon administration because they wanted to put out a book with the Pentagon Papers. But there were never any prosecutions.

Mickey Huff: Kevin, we’re going to now segue into some, and of course we can still bring up issues around Assange or the case, but we wanted to focus a little bit of time today too. May 3rd was, World Press Freedom Day, and I know we’re coming up on the end of May now, but I, I think every day should be World Press Freedom Day.

So we’ll go ahead and pretend that that’s the case. Kevin, what else is happening? What are, what are some other key developments? Look, there’s been a lot of things we’ve been talking about on the show about the crackdown of media, of reports, whether it’s social media, or journalists on the ground, or literally killing of journalists in Gaza. So we’ve been talking a lot about Israel Gaza, and I know you have some things to say about this. The AP, the Associated Press, recently had materials taken by Israel. We know that Israel has recently banned Al Jazeera. And also, speaking of the Press Freedom Index, right, the United States slid to 55th.

On a globally in terms of press freedom and Israel is now at 101. So Kevin Gosztola weigh in.

Kevin Gosztola: Yeah, I’d like to just bring up what happened over the last week, and that is in the last week we saw, as you just said there that the Associated Press had their equipment seized by the Israeli government on the, because the government says you are sharing your footage from a live shot of northern Gaza with Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, the Arab News Network, which has had its journalists basically assassinated in Gaza.

They’ve been targeted by the Israeli government, was banned under a media censorship, media censorship law that was passed on April 1st by the Knesset. No fooling. Goodness. It, it gives, it gives Benjamin Netanyahu and his government this broad authority to designate any media organization operating in Israel as a national security threat. And if they are designated a national security threat, they’re banned for 45 days, every 45 days, they can review it. And then they can re resume the ban. They can really, they can renew the ban. And so it now is very clear, as these press freedom organizations had warned, like Reporters Without Borders, the National Press Club in DC has actually been pretty fairly principled on this matter, Committee to Protect Journalists, what they have said is that it’s not going to stop with Al Jazeera.

They can go after any news media organization that is broadcasting images and sharing content about the truth of what’s happening in the war on Gaza and ensure that those images and that reporting does not reach. They don’t want this kind of information to reach the Israeli people. I mean, fundamentally, what this is, it’s an enforced media blackout for the Israeli people so that they can continue what they’re doing in Gaza.

And they’re also, this is all part of the censorship regime, excuse me, the censorship regime where they are blocking international journalists from going into Gaza. So you’re only allowed to embed with the Israeli military forces if you would like to go cover any of the death and destruction. You must do it through the eyes of the Israeli military.

And so, this is all part of that. But the reason why it’s part of my focus as, you know, the resident Assange expert is because the U. S. did end up contacting the Israeli government to say, give the Associated Press back their equipment. And they did this in less than 24 hours. And the Israeli government listened.

They have not taken this kind of action to get the Israeli government to reverse their ban on Al Jazeera. And the U. S. government has their own history of targeting and going after Al Jazeera, and in fact, a great, a documentary that is marking its 20th anniversary that I recommend is called The Control Room.

Yes.

That shows this, what, what was going on during the Iraq war, the second Iraq war. And so, it just shows you though, that the U. S. government truly determines and has the power to set what global press freedom is. and to prevent threats to global press freedom. So if they don’t want Israel to attack journalists, they could do a lot more to stop it.

If they don’t want censorship, they could do a lot more. If they didn’t want Julian Assange to be extradited, they could do a lot more.

Mickey Huff: Well, Kevin Gosztola, we know they’re not going to do a lot more because it just doesn’t go along with the imperial agenda. And, I mean, you know, where did Israel get the ideas to do some of the things that they might, might be doing?

I mean, take a look at what happened in this country after 9 11. You mentioned Control Room, the great documentary that, that looks, juxtaposes, you know, these two different newsrooms, Western and Al Jazeera, right? And, and it’s an interesting film that people, I won’t do spoilers, but if people haven’t seen it, it’s timely as ever.

I’m glad you brought it up. But look, after 9 11, we were hardly beacons of press freedom, beacons of protecting civil liberties, beacons of following international law. You know, the United States has just run roughshod over all of those principles, and so we can’t be surprised when we see allies and other proxies, whether it’s Israel or elsewhere, doing these similar things, and then obviously doing them with impunity.

And we can see that it’s, you know, the Israeli government, the, the Netanyahu government in particular, you know, whenever Joe Biden or somebody over here, like, even, you know, even has a pause. It’s almost like their necks whip around and they’re just like, what? You know, like did you say something? Because there’s no real precedent except when we see these little tiny snippets of like you could have done something you could have done something but the overall historical record shows that the US isn’t going to do something and if they do it’s probably going to not be great. It’s not going to be to advance sovereignty, it’s not going to be to advance press freedoms. So you you know, and this is really big right now, riffing on the press freedom, issue, you know, we’ve been talking about congressional efforts to give unilateral authority to the, to the Secretary of Treasury to revoke non profit status.

I mean, look, if, if you ask me, I think that they’re really ramping up the ways in which that they can censor and de platform. The whole TikTok ban we found out between Anthony Blinken and, and Mitt Romney was about Gaza, was about information on TikTok. I mean, they came out and said it. They said it out loud that they’re trying to de platform it because it’s owned by a Chinese company, ByteDance, and they can’t really control the platform, which means they’re also tacitly admitting that they have control over the ones here that aren’t really any different, Kevin Gosztola.

Kevin Gosztola: Right. And the reauthorization of section 702 under the foreign intelligence surveillance act amendments, which, you know, President Barack Obama voted for after he said he was against it and that he wasn’t going to support retroactive immunity for warrantless wiretapping. That we find from Mike Turner, the Republican, he openly said that they were going to need to continue this authority because they want to figure out, like if Hamas or Hezbollah or any of these other Islamist militant groups are behind these protesters that are on campuses, they use that as the excuse or the justification for not letting it lapse and they continued it. And actually they ended up expanding the authority because now they can force other entities to become government spies. They, they added a data center requirement that allows them to rope in more people to serve the total surveillance function of the NSA and other US agencies.

Mickey Huff: So these are not positive developments for press freedom. These are not positive developments for transparency.

Kevin Gosztola, where can we push back? And what do you in with your experience, and I know the good work that you do. What are some things that that we might be able to do? And, can you also please mention what just happened in Australia? So we can see that, you know attacks against leakers whistleblowers and by proxy attacks on the press they’re they are ramping up and not just in Israel, but we just saw in Australia

Kevin Gosztola: Yeah, very quickly, as you were making the point, the U. S. sets the agenda, they set the tone, and client states, allies, people who work with the U. S., they take notes, and they learn from the United States, and in some cases, what we see happen in a country like Australia is probably being directed and encouraged by the U. S. government. So they ended up, they sent a whistleblower from the Australia military who exposed war crimes in Afghanistan by Australia’s soldiers.

They sent him to jail for five years. He was, he was sentenced. His name is David McBride. He was, he actually exposed this information to the Australia Broadcasting Corporation, which was raided by Australian police, in, in a, in a very alarming, kind of draconian act. And, so this is a huge attack on press freedom.

The media entertainment and arts alliance of Australia is a union of which Julian Assange is a part. They wholly condemned what has unfolded. So, as I sit here sometimes, it sounds like I’m giving credit to Australia for standing up for Julian Assange, and I am. That shouldn’t delude people into thinking that I believe that Australia is doing great when it comes to freedom of press and upholding whistleblower protections.

They aren’t. There are actually multiple whistleblowers who are facing trials in Australia right now. And could go to jail. So what we need to do to push back, what we can do to push back is to continue to take a stand and engage with this kind of reporting and news media coverage to make it an issue, and to raise it.

If you have any opportunities to interact with people who are in positions of power, whether they’re in Congress or a part of the executive branch, to let them know that you do care about this as much as any of the other issues that are regularly spoken about on the Project Censored Show. Because I think sometimes they think that, oh, you know, the average citizen doesn’t really care about freedom of the press.

What does it matter? I mean, it’s not like it affects their pocketbook because, you know, there are other things that are more important to people. And I think people truly do care. I think it is offensive what the U. S. does because they hold themselves out as a kind of supporter, a beacon to the free world, human rights and democracy.

And then they’re doing this and they’re encouraging a clamp down on freedom of expression

Mickey Huff: Kevin Gosztola, author of Guilty of Journalism, the Political Case Against Julian Assange, curator of the Dissenter dot org. Thank you as ever and always for joining us on the Project Censored Show today. We will have you back on in the near future.

Thanks for joining us, Kevin.