The government of China has arrested and imprisoned an Australian journalist for his groundbreaking reporting which exposed Chinese war crimes. A farcical show trial is currently underway to present the illusion of justice to the world, and a UN special rapporteur attests that the journalist has been subjected to torture.

Oh sorry, did I say China? My mistake, I meant the US and UK. I get them mixed up sometimes.

No, what China did was attempt to question two reporters, Bill Birtles from the ABC and Michael Smith from the Australian Financial Review, in relation to another Australian journalist named Cheng Lei who is being held by Chinese authorities and facing a six-month detention on unknown charges. Lei was a reporter for Chinese state media outlet CGTN, but her online profiles for the network have since been deleted.

Thanks to a prompt “diplomatic standoff” from the Australian government against Beijing, Birtles and Smith were able to take shelter in diplomatic compounds and have now been successfully returned to Sydney. Two Australian journalists appeared to be at risk of suffering the same fate as Lei, and their government immediately took action to protect their citizens, as governments are supposed to do.

There was no abandonment and proclamation of guilt against those journalists like the one Australian Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard made against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in 2010, prior to any conviction, trial or due process of any kind. There was no gibberish about how Birtles, Smith and Lei need to “face the music” in China so that the Chinese legal process can “run its course”, like the nonsense spouted about Assange last year by Australia’s current LNP Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Canberra saw Australian journalists facing a potential injustice, and they wasted no time leaping to action.

And the Australian commentariat, which has completely abandoned Assange amid his grueling persecution at the hands of the US empire, are currently tweeting huffily about this latest flair-up in Australia’s idiotic participation in Washington’s cold war escalations against China.

“Yikes. This means there are no journos left in China covering the country for Australian media outlets,” tweeted the ABC’s Ashlynne McGhee of Smith and Birtles’ exit.

“China gets what it wanted – it has forced out or denied visas to Australian correspondents meaning there are now no Aussie accredited journos working in China for the first time since this 70s,” tweeted Latika M Bourke of the Sydney Morning Herald.

Australian MP Penny Wong called the event “highly disturbing”, saying “the media play a vital role in fostering understanding.”

“Given the forced departure of last two Aussie journalists from China, the Australian Govt should review visas of PRC state media representatives @XHNews,” tweeted South Australia Senator Rex Patrick. “If Australian journos can’t report from China, why should CCP propagandists operate here?”

Where has all this mainstream passion for Australian journalists been hiding for the last decade?

A statement from Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne on the occurrence reinforced a previous government advisory that Australian citizens who travel to China face the risk of “arbitrary detention”. It is funny to see that phrase popularized in relation to Australian journalists today, because arbitrary detention is exactly what a 2016 UN panel found Julian Assange to under in his de facto imprisonment at the Ecuadorian embassy at the time.

“WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arbitrarily detained by Sweden and the United Kingdom since his arrest in London on 7 December 2010, as a result of the legal action against him by both Governments,” reads a February 2016 statement by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

Where was the concern over arbitrary detention then? Assange is an Australian citizen and is a journalist by any conventional definition of the term–an award-winning journalist at that. Why has his home country abandoned him so outrageously while he faces torture and ailing health for years, yet even the slightest hint of a mainstream reporter potentially suffering a fraction of that injustice sends all the alarm bells ringing?

The answer to these questions, as with so much else, boils down to power and imperialism. For all the huffy, self-righteous indignation, this is about nothing more noble than imperialism and oligarchic control.

Australia is a part of the US-centralized empire, the tight network of allies which functions more or less as a single entity on international matters, while China is the most powerful of the remaining nations which have successfully resisted absorption into that empire. The UK, Sweden, and Ecuador–the other nations responsible for Assange’s persecution–are also a part of this empire.

As a leaked 2017 State Department memo by neocon Brian Hook patiently explained to then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, human rights are only ever a concern for the US empire when they can be leveraged against nations like China which are not a part of the power alliance. With regard to US allies (read: member states of the empire), they are to be ignored. Hook’s “human rights” guidelines are followed by the member states just as much as they are in Washington.

And now Assange is subject to a ridiculous Kafkaesque show trial at the hands of this empire, where he is seeing his attorneys for the first time in six months and watchdog groups are being banned from witnessing the proceedings, facing a 175-year prison sentence if successfully extradited to the United States.

Where is the passion for protecting Australian journalists here?


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54 responses to “Australia Suddenly Cares About Its Journalists When They Get In Trouble In China”

  1. Free Press
    Free Julian Assange
    The War on Journalism: The Case of Julian Assange
    A film by Juan Passarelli

  2. Bringing the truth right out into the light is probably the single, and most important, thing that humanity can do for itself, right now.

  3. Caity, your revelations have dampened my long-time hope to, someday, visit, Australia. I have a terminal condition – it is simply that I cannot stop talking about abuses and sharing the information. Even as a visitor to Australia, I’d have no desire to have to triple check every word I say or write and even a lesser desire to spend my declining number of years in an Australia prison.
    PS If I can afford it, I might try Denmark some day, but Sweden has been removed from my bucket list.

  4. Well said my friend!

  5. Republicofscotland Avatar

    The contrast by Australia in protecting its journalist citizens is staggering Assange is thrown to the US/UK wolves, whilst others are quickly protected.

  6. The United States has for years been objecting vividly and voraciously against this pipeline. Trump: “Why should we pay for NATO to defend Germany, when Germany buys gas from Russia and makes herself dependent on Russia?” – He added, “We offer Germany and Europe all the gas and energy they need.” Yes, the US is offering “fracking gas” at much higher cost than the Russian gas. There are countries in Europe whose Constitution would not allow buying fracking gas, due to the environmentally damaging fracking process.
    Is it possible that this was another one of those brilliant acts of the CIA or other US intelligence agencies? – Or a combination of CIA and the German Bundesnachrichtendienst (German Federal Intelligence Service) – or an EU-NATO trick? By now it’s no longer a secret that NATO runs Brussels, or at least calls the shots on issues of US interests concerning the European Union or its member states.
    Is it possible that Angela Merkel was chosen by the deep-deep state to combat President Putin and Russia? This time by bashing and smearing them with lies – lies as gross as poisoning an opposition activist? To kill the pipeline? What will it be next time?
    Today, the first time, official Germany through Mr. Heiko Haas, Foreign Minister, has questioned and threatened the Nord Stream 2 German-Russian joint venture – “if Moscow does not collaborate.” Mr. Haas knows very well, there is nothing to collaborate, as Russia was not involved. It is the same argument, if Moscow does not collaborate (in the case of the Skripals) that was used by Theresa May, then British PM, to punish Russia with further sanctions.
    Indeed, all is possible in today’s world, where the Washington empire is faltering by the day and the Powers that Be are desperate that their international fraud base – the US-dollar – may be disappearing. Because, not only are Nord Stream 1 and 2 delivering Russian gas to Germany and Europe, but the gas is traded in euros and rubles and not in US-dollars.
    Think about it. Killing (or – so far – poisoning) a Russian opposition leader to demolish the German-Russian Nord Stream 2 project? – This is certainly a crime within the realm and “competence” of the US Government and its western allies.
    This article can be read here:
    Russia – Nord Stream 2 vs. Poisoning of Alexei Navalny By Peter Koenig

    1. Last week the German government announced that a Bundeswehr military laboratory had detected Novichok in the body fluids of Sergei Navalny. That promptly led to charges that the Kremlin was responsible for the attempted murder of Mr. Navalny using the Soviet-era nerve poison.
      The trouble for the German side was that their narrative soon ran into contradictions from the Russian toxicologists who first treated Mr. Navalny when he apparently fell ill on a flight from Siberia to Moscow on August 20. The Russian medics said they had tested Mr. Navalny for a whole range of poisons, including organophosphate-type chemicals which attack the nervous system. The Russian doctors affirmed they found no poison traces. They concluded Mr. Navalnys coma was induced by an existing medical condition, presumably diabetes. Furthermore, the doctors at the hospital in Omsk where Mr. Navalny was taken to on August 20, said they have original samples of his body fluids.
      It is the latter detail which seems to have obliged the Germans to elaborate their narrative with the new element of a poisoned bottle of water. If indeed the Russians have Mr. Navalnys biological samples showing no presence of toxins then the German version falls apart as a fabrication. That could only mean that the claimed detection of Novichok by the Germans was the result of deliberate contamination of his body fluids while he was being treated in the hospital in Berlin where he was airlifted to on August 22 from Russia.
      This article can be read here:
      Navalny False-Flag Authors Invent New Twist to Cover Lies by Finian Cunningham!

    2. Navalny is nothing but a ‘serial’ pest !!

      Russia’s gold exports in the last 12 months have outstripped their CNG sales to Europe !!

      China buys a million luxury German cars a year – Germany’s inability to produce these, due to a lack of Russian resources will be their economic death !

  7. Judge Vanessa Baraitser

    The musical.


    Vanessa is the magistrate who told Julian Assange that he’ll be removed from court if he can’t keep his thoughts to himself while American prosecutors deliver what they call evidence. Here Vanessa Baraitser is discovered singing in an old high school music video.

  8. Free Assange. Just finished some street art. Truth . Peace. Justice. Pass the word. Kevin Zeese Memorial Sat. Sept. 19th 3 pm EST(US) Utube Popular Resistance.

  9. Caitlin, you have a way with words. Loved your first paragraph analogy. The entire world is duplicitous and farcical. However to be real it has always been this way. Nelson Mandela spent 26 years in jail for basically the same thing, going against the established power structure. He was ignored just like assange. Unfortunately I dont think he will last that long with failing health. Expect to hear any day now that he has come down with Covid and died.

  10. I was thinking this morning about the human mind and, therefore, possibly all minds, or at least mammalian minds. I read an article the other week or so ago about photosynthisis and quantum mechanics. If it weren’t for tunneling, which is explained via the imaginary quantum wave probability theory, photosynthesis would be much slower than it actually is because left simply to the probability that any one photon would have enough energy to overcome the energy barrier neccesarily to accomplish the photosynthesis is so small, that for the most part it just wouldn’t happen. The mind, it appears functions in a similar fashion, but also by adding in the duel nature of the photon as both a particle and a wave which is to say that we know that on the most rudimentary basis the magnetic field that travels along the electric charge as it flows through the nerve cell to the synapses demonstrates both the particle and wave nature of the mind functioning simultaneously. That for this particular species especially, but for others as well, they are capable of something called self-introspection; also, referred to as cognitive abilities, either knowingly or otherwise. So, when one hears things such as, ‘they hear, but they don’t hear; they see, but they don’t see’, is that what is being addressed, individual cognitive abilities? Which would pretty much explain the sentence, ‘forgive them, they know not what they do’. And, in the end, also explains, the underlying abilities and disabilities of psychopaths, that this duality of the mind which is often referred to, especially as in group think institutions, as the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing; addresses another nature of quantum mechanics, the Heisenberg theory of uncertainty, that we can’t know everything about a particular thing or event. I observed it in my sister when I visited her, and I see it in my friend up here. Observing this, an interesting, corollary comes to mind of the barbershop mirrors reflecting one might notice reality into adinfinitum Which then comes down to the question of self-awareness and cognitive abilities; at what point are we no longer aware, or we chose to ignore? And, is this the point that we refer to as empathy? That last image in the mirror when we decide to mentally look away and ignore? Is that the point that can also be described as mental ability? Can we and all of civilization be described in quantum mechanical terms? What about all of the ramifications of such a thought, if such a thing would be true? That if we, and everything that humankind has ever created and done throughout history can be described in mathematical terms, if so; then could it not also be possible to use math to create a better human and a better civilization? Perhaps even going so far as to using math to create better philosophies and religions? Einstein showed that he was especially, concerned about the junction of theology and math when he said that God doesn’t play dice (craps). But, does it really matter if in fact that everything in this world, including us, and God, is nothing more than a roll of the dice? Looking around at all the wonders of nature, the creations of artists and scientists; it seems to work very well. While the science of thermodynamics would predict a universe of chaos, our own observations tell us otherwise. That we are even capable of such cognitive introspection proves one of two possiblities; either God is in fact a manifestation of numbers, or numbers are intact a manifestation of God. Which, if one ponders the implications of that, the only thing that separates us from God is our understanding of numbers.
    In the final analysis it would appear that the old adage, “the future is ours to make of it as we will’, could never be so more true as it is today, if only we could ever fully understand the numbers.

    1. interesting. It is mans desire to understand he world around us. Each of us come to our own understanding. I believe we are spiritual creatures in a physical world. I believe our cognitive powers come from that. We have physical pathways that express that ability in this world. When they are disabled by stroke, dementia etc, I believe they are still intact with just the pathways disabled. At death the cognitive soul is freed from the body and continues on back to its spiritual home aka God. Once the soul leaves the body life is no longer possible. The soul is the literal spark of cognitive life.

      1. Cognition is a layered concept. Consciousness itself is unchanging universal aspect that is present before birth and persists after death. Life is opportunity for consciousness to experience itself. Personal cognition is the impersonal constant hijacked by the mechanism of its self recognition. There are no diseases of consciousness. Cognition is fraught with such.

  11. Another of these ” they are worse than us ” articles Ms Johnstone seems to be wont to cobble together these days in avoiding the horror show of repression unfolding in her our country. A strategy that has been done to death , by those who make their living flaming the fears and passions of the sheeple.

  12. “In other words, the weight of the evidence filtering down from the high brain-rooms of both the New York Times and the Washington Post seems to say we’re all fucked.”
    — Hunter S. Thompson, “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72”

  13. For anyone interested in eye-witness reporting on the Julian Assange hearings go to
    As Usual,

    1. You can also find Amb. Murray at

      1. Excellent summary. Thanks for the link.

  14. Whenever I read about journalists being persecuted by their governments, I immediately think they must be telling the truth about something their governments want to cover-up.

    Why is it that we rarely hear about right-wing journalists being imprisoned or evicted from a country they are “Reporting” about?

    Humanity seems to have a very short memory. The lessons from WWII are being ignored, and people who should know better are complacent in the face of the rise of nationalism.

    The world seems to be headed into a period of darkness; only this time, we have Nukes and a pandemic to add to the misery that I see coming.

    1. Because right-wing governments don’t harras right-wing fake journalists..
      For exactly the same reason that right-wing police don’t harass right-wing terrorists.
      Remember, the big threat to the world is those dangerous ‘eco-terrorists’, so dear people, please don’t pay any attention at all to a growing, fascistic, terrorist movement, because, well, nothing is happening there, so move along, move along.
      In other words, the same thing that happened in the 1930’s.
      How many people know that Hitler was arrested and thrown in jail for an armed coup against the government in the early 20’s. He literally walked on stage and kidnapped the Governor of Bavaria at gun point. For this crime, he got a comfy jail cell where he could write “Mein Kampf”, and within a decade he was a ‘respectable’ politician.

      1. Lest we also forget, WWII was a war largely instigated by socialist regimes. NAZI is an acronym for National Socialists, and Hitler definitely fit the bill. He just hated Jews.

        1. Socialism is an economic system that many dictators have hidden behind. Facisim is a political system inwhich the state is all powerful and can bend any economic system to its will. Hitler and Stalin were both dictators hiding behind different economic systems. Millions were killed by dictators, not economic systems.

          1. Ah, a bit of clarity thanks to Edward’s common sense, so uncommon these strange days.

    2. Probably because there are so damn few of them. Leftist is an employment requirement for “journalists” in the US.

      1. Please send that thought to Fox News.

      2. Wow, an obvious fuckwit. Hope that hip is coming along fine, old timer.

  15. Hi Caitlin,

    Sorry for duplication of my previous comment.

    Only want to let you know that this article is blocked from sharing via the FB logo with it. It says someone has reported content as abusive. Tried to share via my mobile, bypassed their block by using the sha re feature in my browser. Let you know if they try blocking in another way, like send off to a black hole so no one sees. I am beginning to think that is what they do with a lot of my shares and posts to FB.

    1. What is facebook?
      It is wise to block those facebook logos, because the code behind them contains trackers.
      There is a firefox plugin called “no-script” that lets you control such things.

      1. They have blocked me today for posting an article by award winning journalist Mark Davis, from the website. Here this article; I am so upset ATM, I wish I could stop crying, it’s weird . I have to get off the internet today. Losing it. Thanks for your reply and help I might ask you about it later, if that’s OK.

  16. Apparently Australia’s national security laws go further than China’s.

    1. What is now a couple of decades ago, I was up at night reading about the repression of protesters at a Republican National Convention. At some point, I decided to compare to Amnesty International’s reports on Cuba.
      So, while in America, opposing the corporate government got you arrested with a million dollar bond, in Cuba, if you opposed the government, you got called into the police station for a talking-to.
      Same recently. Protesting Der Trump’s inauguration was charged with a 75-year prison sentence. Only a DC jury stopped the federal prosecutors from obtaining this. But, oh, places like China are just so repressive.
      How many protesters have the Chinese police and government associated paramilitaries killed this year? Almost certainly less than America.

      1. You have some interesting points. For me, Cuba has always been an unanswered question. Why are we afraid of a small island with a different political system? I am not defending Cuba, about which I know very little, but I am asking if we are so wonderful, shouldn’t we open our doors and let the Cuban people see our greatness?

        It is time for the American people to wake up and see what fools we have been – under presidents from both sides of the isle.

        1. Like you I know little of Cuba. However Cubans that have escaped over the years hate Castro. They also vote pretty much Republican and hate socialism. I have always wondered why. It makes me suspect of the glowing reports I hear.

        2. I’m so tired of the relentless anti-Cuba propaganda and so should be every person who thinks for him- or herself. Here’s short, balanced assessment:

  17. Apparently Australia’s national security laws go further than China’s ones that they were all carrying on with.

  18. Great points as usual, but I don’t believe you go far enough. Imperialism has blame, but collectivism and submission are the cause. We rarely go rogue, and I say we even though I always side with the majority and you [CJ] are a rogue essayist on personal BS often expressed in the collective.

    Perhaps if we were more emotional secure and intellectually concerned, we might be more capable of making our own decisions and be less reliant on, or completely independent of those hierarchies that seek to define our understanding and dictate our behaviors.

    The option exists as it always has, but until we as a species stop playing power games with ourselves (submission, validation, inclusion) and ‘find our own respective ways’ in an effort to define what way(s) are unacceptable, there will always be pandering scumbags pitching soap from an elevated position, telling us we would be clean if we move on, rather than with, each other.

    1. Sorry but it is all about the benjamins. Always has been. Greed runs the world.

      1. For some, yes, but for at least one person I know better than I probably should, no. And if there is one, there will be more

  19. Julian may be facing a 175 year sentence if extradited to the Fatherland, but the Empire will be equally happy to see him remain in solitary confinement in a UK prison for the rest of his life, which won’t be that long if they get their way.

  20. Aha, once again for all to see is the ” double standards ” of governments and individuals. ” Justice ” for some but not for all. The status-quo remains the same. It it always us against them all of the time; not matter what the issue is. Right and wrong do not matter; integrity does not matter, only us against them matters. Sadly, this is the world that we live within.

  21. I too as an Australian, am ashamed of the attitude of our Government. I remember how badly treated Hicks was, when he was locked up by the Americans. There was little or no support for him either. Unfortunately we play from the same song book as the Americans. There are many Australians who feel very strongly about the injustice being meted out to Julian Assange. And feel strongly too about the vindictiveness of the Americans trying to get him to America so they can lock him up. He is not an American & as such has little or no safeguards. We owe so much to Assange. We need to know what is happening in the world & in particular what is being done in our name.He has shone a light in some dark corners.We also feel helpless with a right wing government such as ours who curries favour with the idiot incumbent, in the White House. And to you Caitlin from a fellow Melbournian, a bouquet. Please continue to bravely speak your truth.

    1. Well said my friend!

  22. Julian Assange has well-deserved acclaim and support from a few journalists and dissidents but the great majority of the populace sit complacent with Netflix, NFL games, beer and KFC, leaving the government to do what they think best. The truth we hate to admit is that even dissidents and protesters are relatively complacent with their circumstances and inadvertently (usually indirectly) support the status quo which they so aggressively criticize and this will continue for years to come because most are victims of Deep State propaganda, empowered by Big Money and Big Business.

  23. The hubristic hypocrisy of our sycophantic, corparasitic, arse licking leaders has no limits.
    We are being led down the blood soaked path to doom.
    And the tunnel visioned fuckwits can’t even see that they, and their offspring, will perish along with the rest of us.

    1. Talk about Leemings, Australians are just as bad.

  24. Words escape me when it comes to describing the despicable treatment of Julian Assange.
    As time goes on an overwhelming sense of despair and sadness seems to be taking hold.
    But we need to stay strong for Julian and hope there is some justice left in this upside down world.
    Thank you Caitlin for all you are doing.

    1. I feel about as sorry for Julian languishing in prison as I feel for Jesus suffering in Gethsemane. Both did what they knew was right, what they felt compelled to do. And both did so knowing the possible if not likely consequences. Jesus, we are told, received his eternal reward and ultimate vindication. So surely will Julian. Feel sorry not for him but for his oppressors and those who turn away their eyes. They, too, will receive their due “reward.” Call it God or Karma or whatever else you prefer, because it’s a much bigger deal than words. All words fail to do it justice, this context in which we live our lives.

      1. “And both did so knowing the possible if not likely consequences.”

        Quickly brings to mind MLK and JFK. When Martin extended his civil rights activism into a full-throated moral critique of the State and the war….he knew. When Kennedy made what I’ll call his “turn”, there was no turning back…and he knew as well. Profiles in courage, to be sure.
        “ The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”. —-MLK
        “A man does what he must—in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures – and that is the basis of all human morality.” —JFK

        1. Ha! My name changed and I became a much meaner looking creature.

        2. I’m afraid to have to say that morality, in the greater U.S. imperial empire has been murdered in the halls of power and only remains – barely – in the hearts and minds of the powerless who are seeing their freedoms eroded a little more each day. In Assange’s case – and soon for the rest of us – morality can only, now, be defined as doing whatever is needed to stay alive.

          1. Will that include forced vaccination?

            1. Just testing to see if it’s the link causing the censorship. William engdahl dotcom posed an interesting article about food production in Africa for those interested.

      2. Yes, Gregory. Also, RFK and MLK were assassinated in 1968, when they both were openly campaigning against the Vietnam War.

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