Saturday 22nd of February 2020

the british justice is based on stinking arseholes in the UK and the US...

sins   Another slot of judicial history, another notch to be added to the woeful record of legal proceedings being undertaken against Julian Assange.  The ailing WikiLeaks founder was coping as well as he could, showing the resourcefulness of the desperate at his Monday hearing. 

At the Westminster Magistrates Court, Assange faced a 12-minute process, an ordinary affair in which he was asked to confirm his name, an ongoing ludicrous state of affairs, and seek clarification about an aspect of the proceedings.

Of immediate concern to the lawyers, specifically seasoned human rights advocate Gareth Peirce, was the issue that prison officers at Belmarsh have been obstructing and preventing the legal team from spending sufficient time with their client, despite the availability of empty rooms

“We have pushed Belmarsh in every way – it is a breach of a defendant’s rights.”

Three substantial sets of documents and evidence required signing off by Assange before being submitted to the prosecution, a state of affairs distinctly impossible given the time constraints.

A compounding problem was also cited by Peirce: the shift from moving the hearing a day forward resulted in a loss of time. “This slippage in the timetable is extremely worrying.”

Whether this shows indifference to protocol or malice on the part of prosecuting authorities is hard to say, but either way, justice is being given a good flaying.

The argument carried sufficient weight with District Judge Vanessa Baraitser to result in an adjournment till 2 pm in the afternoon, but this had more to do with logistics than any broader principle of conviction. 

As Baraitser reasoned, 47 people were currently in custody at court; a mere eight rooms were available for interviewing, leaving an additional hour to the day. 

In her view, if Assange was sinned against, so was everybody else, given that others in custody should not be prevented from access to counsel. (This judge has a nose for justice, albeit using it selectively.)

As things stand, Peirce is aiming to finalise the exhibits for submission to the prosecution by January 18.  The government deadline for responding to those documents will be February 7. The case proceeding itself was adjourned till January 23, and Assange will have the choice, limited as it is, of having the hearing at the Westminster Magistrates Court or Belmarsh.

Supporters outside the court were also of same mind regarding the paltry amount of time awarded Assange.  

The rapper M.I.A, showing how support for the publisher can at times be sketchy, managed to have a dig at the state while also acknowledging thanks from it.  (An announcement had just been made that she would be receiving an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.)

I think it is important to follow this case. I am off to get a medal at Buckingham Palace tomorrow and I think today is just as important.  To give somebody an hour to put their case together is not quite right.” Assange supporters would agree with her view that, for “a case of this scale, having only access to two hours to prepare, is illegal in itself.”

The atmosphere around the proceedings has thickened of late, and the WikiLeaks argument here about CIA interference and surveillance conducted by the Spanish firm Undercover Global S.L. while Assange was in the Ecuadorean embassy in London is biting.  

Prior to Christmas he gave testimony to Spanish judge Jose de la Mata claiming he was not aware that cameras installed by the company in the Ecuadorean embassy were also capturing audio details.

Leaving aside the broader issues of free speech, an argument has been made that CIA meddling might well be the fly in the ointment that impairs the prosecution’s case.  

This might be wishful thinking, but this is a line of inquiry worth pursuing. The WikiLeaks legal team is keen to press the matter in February during the extradition hearing.

In the well-considered view of James C. Goodale, former Vice Chairman and General Counsel for The New York Times, “After reading El Pais’s series, you would have to be a dunce not to believe the CIA didn’t monitor Assange’s every move at the Ecuadorean embassy, including trips to the bathroom.”

Goodale cites the Pentagon Papers case as an example that the defence may well draw upon.  

Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked classified Pentagon reports to The Washington Post and The New York Times, had the office of his psychiatrist broken into by President Richard Nixon’s notorious “plumbers”, led by former CIA agent E. Howard Hunt.  

The conscience-stricken analyst was also facing charges under the Espionage Act of 1917. When it came to the trial judge’s attention that government misconduct, including the FBI’s interception of Ellsberg’s telephone conversations with a government official had characterised the entire effort against the whistleblower, the case was dismissed with prejudice.  Ellsberg’s treatment had “offended a sense of justice” and “incurably infected the prosecution”.

As with Assange, the footprint of the CIA in Ellsberg’s case was far from negligible.  It assisted in the muddled break-in. It penned a clumsy psychiatric profile of Ellsberg and assembled a full identification ensemble for the plumbers: Social Security cards, disguises, drivers’ licenses, speech alternation devices. 

As Goodale rhetorically poses, “Can anything be more offensive to a ‘sense of justice’ than an unlimited surveillance, particularly of lawyer-client conversations, livestreamed to the opposing party in a criminal case?” It remains for the British courts to consider whether that degree of offensiveness has been achieved in this case.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

 

Read more:

https://off-guardian.org/2020/01/16/short-of-time-julian-assange-at-the-westminster-magistrates-court/?

 

 

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assange is kept illegally in prison...

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is not getting the time he needs with his legal team to discuss his fight against extradition to the United States, causing delays to the case, his lawyer has told a British court.

Key points: 
  • Assange's lawyer said difficulty in getting time with her client had delayed the case
  • Assange is being held in a British jail pending the US extradition case, having served a sentence for skipping bail
  • If extradited to the US, he will face 18 charges including conspiring to hack government computers and violating an espionage law

 

After skipping bail in the United Kingdom, Assange spent seven years holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London before he was dragged out by police in April last year.

He is being held in a British jail pending the US extradition case, having served a sentence for skipping bail.

The US wants him extradited to face 18 charges, including conspiring to hack government computers and violating an espionage law. 

He could spend decades in prison if convicted.

The 48-year-old Australian appeared for the hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court wearing glasses and a dark blazer over a light top.

He spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth to the judge and saluted his supporters in the public gallery at the beginning and end of the hearing.

 

Read more:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-14/wikileaks-founder-assange-needs-m...

 

 

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killing him with illegal emprisonment...

On Tuesday, 14 January, world-famous filmmaker Emir Kusturica appeared at the Kustendorf International Film and Music Festival in Serbia wearing a t-shirt with the image of Julian Assange.

Kusturica has called for the release of the WikiLeaks founder, who faces 175 years in prison for his role in publishing classified documents, some of which expose alleged war crimes committed by US forces in Iraq.

“Serbia is one big province. There has been no news about Assange in Serbia since he was in what would be called 'top news' in Belgrade. The only media talking about him is Sputnik, because you have a Russian spirit, and Russia cannot be left without information", he said.

The filmmaker appeared at the 13th Kustendorf Festival wearing a t-shirt saying “Freedom for Julian Assange", which aroused great interest in those present. According to Kusturica himself, his intention was to remind everyone that it has happened throughout history: there are people who really make a difference, and then the world neglects them when they cease to be important.

“Instead of news about him, there is a far-fetched idea in Serbia that there was once a man who revolutionised information and gave us all that information – both about our people and about various events we didn’t know about. Now this man is dying, but there is no news about this. We are bombarded with our local junk information, which spins day by day and constantly suggests that life is dangerous, lest we accidentally think we could change it", the founder of the Kustendorf Festival added.

“Today, everything is a trend. Trendsetters today establish a topic, but in two days it’s gone. But there are people who have deeply gone down in history, and I think that, despite the fact that we don’t remember them, despite the fact that we forget about them so quickly, their trace will remain in history and their legacy will continue", Kusturica concluded.

On 13 January, a hearing on Assange's extradition to the United States began in Westminster Magistrates' Court in London. The WikiLeaks founder attended the hearing in person.

At the hearing, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that the next session would take place on 23 January and that Assange would take part via a video conference.

In December, the court ruled that Assange's extradition case would consist of three separate stages, with hearings scheduled throughout January and February.

 

Read more:

https://sputniknews.com/europe/202001161078047463-kusturica-assange-is-d...

 

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disappearing lawyers...

Julian Assange, now more than ever threatened with extradition to the United States, found himself once again before British magistrates on 13 January for a hearing. Sputnik discussed the issue with Aymeric Monville, the author and publisher of the book “Julian Assange in Danger of Death".

Sputnik: What is the latest news concerning the case of Julian Assange?

Aymeric Monville: "Routine hearing" is the correct term, despite the fact that the hearing was brought forward by one day. Routine has formed. According to friends of the WikiJustice committee who were present at the hearing, the defence of Julian Assange is becoming increasingly inaudible. We expected a request for release and it didn’t happen. At the hearing, the defence, for the most part, requested to have more time with their client.

All this is very small compared to all that should have been done. Where are the requests to release him for health reasons? Where is the claim for political prisoner status? Where are the complaints of torture? Let me remind you that even the UN inspector, in the person of Nils Melzer, asked that light be shed on this last point. Moreover, his sentence for breaching the terms of his parole has expired and he is still imprisoned only because he risks being extradited to the United States.

Sputnik: You are concerned about the effectiveness of Julian Assange’s defence…

Aymeric Monville: We are starting to wonder about his lawyers and their relationships… American journalist Lucy Komisar recently published an article highlighting the fact that some of Julian Assange’s lawyers work for firms that have already worked for the US government and sometimes were engaged in cases of extradition…

We see that Julian Assange’s defence devotes much time to negotiate with the English justice, which is not necessarily bad in itself. But that raises a lot of questions. Besides, at the hearing on 13 January, it was clear that Assange’s lawyer annoyed him. There have been several scandals in the Assange case: the first concerns his arrest, the second is about the media silence and the third is the inaudibility of his defence. I don’t accuse them of collusion.

Negotiation is a strategy. But then you have to negotiate essentially: the physical and moral integrity of the client. This is not the case here.

Just look at the previous hearings, where Julian Assange demonstrated signs of exhaustion. On several occasions, he could hardly pronounce his identity or his date of birth, not to mention concentration problems. Last November, 60 doctors warned of Julian’s condition, saying they were afraid he might die in prison. Not to mention the fears of the UN. Whether it is physical or psychological torture, it remains torture as defined by the United Nations.

If they get nothing and the whole thing ends badly, the question will be asked: “What do we do with his lawyers?” On 13 December, a British judge asked Gareth Peirce, one of Assange’s lawyers, if she wanted her client to appear in person at the Court on 19 December. She said no, knowing that it would have given her the opportunity to spend several hours alone with Julian Assange. It is incomprehensible… There are also questions regarding the environment of Julian Assange…

Sputnik: Like?

Aymeric Monville: Take the case of Renata Avila. She is a Guatemalan lawyer and activist who has been defending Julian Assange and WikiLeaks for years. She somewhat plays the role of his spokesperson. This lady heads the Foundation for Smart Citizenship, an organisation based in South America. This organisation is supported by the Open Society Foundation of George Soros, and also by the National Endowment for Democracy, which is an American organisation that's often accused of being a tool of American imperialism.

Sputnik: Newsweek journalist Tareq Haddad assured on Twitter that Julian Assange appeared to be in better shape than some reports might have feared. Is the WikiLeaks founder feeling better?

Aymeric Monville: According to my information, he appeared limping and didn’t seem to be in great shape. It is true that he looked a little more concentrated, but we are far from talking about a man who has all his faculties. Saying that Julian Assange is doing well would be a lie. I remind you that we have been accumulating alarming signs for several months. Even [former] British diplomat Craig Murray, who is known to have exposed torture by secret services – namely MI6, – was alarmed by the case of Julian Assange.

Sputnik: To what extent could Brexit affect the fate of Julian Assange?

Aymeric Monville: Would a UK regaining some sovereignty be good news for Julian? When we hear the statements of Boris Johnson, who justified the mass surveillance which cost the British billions of pounds, I start to wonder… Especially since I think that the United Kingdom is leaving Europe to strengthen its alliance with the United States. What is certain is the need to alert the public to Julian Assange’s case.

Sputnik: A hearing is scheduled for 24 February regarding Julian Assange’s possible extradition to the United States. We seem to be approaching the outcome of this affair… What has the WikiJustice committee planned to help Julian Assange?

Aymeric Monville: We have just submitted a third request for release to the British authorities, as well as a medical report. And our role is also to educate the public because there is not much time left to act. We should shout out loud that Julian Assange is innocent, that the UN is asking for his release and that he is locked up for having done his job as a journalist.

 

We must do so because the mainstream media speak very little about it. Le Monde has hardly spoken about Assange since his arrest in April 2019. It is very symptomatic when it comes to the fate that awaits him.

 

Read more:

https://sputniknews.com/analysis/202001151078040995-assange-case-lawyers...

 

 

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bad faith in UK, USA, sweden, australia...

Professor Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, says that the governments of the US, Sweden and the UK have shown “bad faith” in failing to address evidence that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been subjected to torture.

Julian Assange's main extradition hearings will be split into two parts, with the first set of hearings due to start on 24 February. The publisher faces up to 175 years in prison in the US on charges relating to his role in publishing classified US documents, which exposed alleged war crimes committed by US and UK occupation forces in Iraq. After examining Assange in Belmarsh prison Professor Nils Melzer, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and two other renowned experts in examining torture victims, concluded that the journalist and publisher showed symptoms of “psychological torture”.

It was recently revealed that the US government is now claiming that protections for a free press and free speech under the US constitution don't apply to foreign journalists.

Professor Melzer, talks about how his mandate as an independent UN expert has compelled him to speak out, when Britain, the US, and Sweden failed to properly address his concerns in Assange's case.

Sputnik: Define torture for me, legally speaking. How is it distinguished from "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment"? 

Nils Melzer: Well, obviously there's a long treaty definition, but the long and the short of, it in a nutshell, torture is when you instrumentalise, deliberately, the infliction of pain and suffering in order to other coerce or intimidate or punish or discriminate against someone.

[The full title of my position says] torture or ‘other cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’, which means that torture is one form of cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment. And so what distinguishes torture from other forms is simply that it is purposeful and deliberate. That you can, for example, a have negligent infliction of severe pain and suffering, by, you know, just forgetting to feed prisoners. And that would not necessarily be torture because you're not pursuing a particular purpose with it. It's still cruel, inhuman or degrading and is still prohibited, but it's not torture. 

Sputnik: I heard you recently say that all forms of torture ultimately have an emotional and a psychological component or they are ultimately targeted towards mind and emotion. Can you explain what you meant by that?

Nils Melzer: Because it is purposeful. It means you're instrumentalising pain and suffering in order to achieve something. You don't just want to break someone's body, you want to make them do something or not  do something and you want to intimidate them or force them to comply with your will. You want to break their will. So ultimately you're always targeting someone's will. You can either go through the avenue of inflicting physical pain and suffering, in order to influence the will, or you can pass through the psychological realm without causing physical pain and suffering.

Sputnik: And this is what you found? I mean, what is it exactly that you found in the case of Julian Assange? 

Nils Melzer: Well, Julian Assange clearly was exposed to a cumulative kind of a torturous  environment where you have an intense campaign, a concerted and systematic and state sponsored campaign of defamation in relation, certainly, primarily to the rape allegations - that were never substantiated and never even led to criminal charges. And it just disappeared in history without any form of accountability.

You had the increasing isolation. You had  intense surveillance and then also very serious threats including death threats. 

Sputnik: And is isolation part of what led to your conclusion that Assange has been psychologically tortured?

Nils Melzer: Well, certainly, I mean it is a classic component of psychological torture. The first step is basically that you start to isolate the person from the normal environment. You start to expose them to the, to an increasing control over all his aspects of his daily life by… imposing, torturing power. And then you start deconstructing and destabilising their psychology and their mental stability in various ways. 

Sputnik: So can you explain why this particular case has been so important for you, that you’ve found yourself going on the news, quite a bit, and speaking events, even rallies. How has this case.. I mean, do you behave the same way in other cases that you also deal with?

Nils Melzer: No, well, obviously I wouldn't have the resources to pursue every single case with the same type of energy. I think this one is particular in that it is emblematic, it shows a systematic failure in Western democracies to adhere to the Rule of Law and to their own or human rights commitments. And that's what I think is so worrying because it sets a precedent, also muzzling the free press and criminalising, you know, saying the truth in a way that is fundamentally threatening to the future of our democracies. So I felt that this particular case, obviously Julian Assange’s suffering is as important as anyone else's, you know any migrant child somewhere in Mexico. But the precedent that this case sets is of overwhelming importance.


Sputnik: Can you speak about your mandate as the UN special rapporteur on torture? What exactly is your mandate? 


Nils Melzer: I'm mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to report to the UN member States about their compliance with the prohibition of torture and to make recommendations on how to improve that compliance. I can do that by visiting their countries and evaluating their prisons. I can intervene on behalf of individual victims every day and I can write thematic reports, such as I did on psychological torture now.


Sputnik: I've been told by someone that there are some people at the UN who believe that you've exceeded your mandates. In the case of Julian Assange. That speaking out the way you have, makes you look partisan, and might actually even not assist his case. Can you understand those concerns and how do you respond to them? 

Nils Melzer: Well, I initially was reluctant to get into the case and I was, if anything, I was partial on the other side, against Julian Assange, because I suspected somehow that he wanted to manipulate my mandate. Because I had been poisoned by the same type of public… narrative about him as anyone else has. What I have realised through that investigation is that we have a systematic problem that needs to be addressed.

That there are three ways in which my mandate is affected:

·        Julian Assange has a disclosed, exposed torture that has not been prosecuted systematically;

·        He has been tortured himself; and

·        If extradited to the US he likely to be tortured until the day of his death.

Sputnik: Before you became a UN torture expert, you had a number of years of experience, including working with the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross). Could you briefly tell me about your background in terms of your legal experience and your work, how that prepared you for what you currently do at the UN? 

Nils Melzer: Well, I, yes, I studied the law in Switzerland. I worked at the district court, for a couple of years. And then I joined the ICRC. I became a legal advisor there, spent 12 years with the ICRC in war areas in the Balkans, in the Middle East. And also then in Geneva I led an expert group expert group, evaluating the adequacy of international humanitarian law in the ‘War on Terror’. So that's kind of the background in terms of humanitarian law. I then also, when I left the ICRC, I became a Professor of international law in Geneva and in Glasgow, and then was appointed [UN] Special Rapporteur on torture in 2016.

Sputnik: To what extent is the opinion by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention [that Assange was being arbitrarily detained by the UK, US and Sweden and should be allowed to leave the embassy and go to Ecuador] merely persuasive or binding on the United Kingdom?

Nils Melzer: Well, all the special procedures mandates of the United Nations… their decisions don't have a binding force, because that's how UN member States wanted to frame this. But they have given official mandates to these bodies to, you know, make recommendations and observations on these cases. So if you're appointing a panel of experts and submitting evidence to them, in the expectation that they will then render decision, I think it borders on bad faith, then, if you don't like the decision that comes out of it, you just say, ‘Oh, it's not binding anyway’, and just ignore it.

Sputnik: When did you decide that you were going to start speaking out in a way that is more irregular compared to how you normally do - to how you normally work as a UN Special Rapporteur?

Nils Melzer: Look, I come from very conservative institutions like the International Committee of the Red Cross. I was a national security advisor for the Swiss government, Swiss [Federal Department of] foreign affairs. I've worked for conservative think tanks like the Geneva Centre for Security Policy and that's exactly how I conducted my mandate. So I stick to my procedures, in good faith, and I submitted my observations and my recommendations to the governments involved in various cases, including now the Assange case.

Obviously, then, if states don't react in good faith, if they ignore my recommendations, they don't even, I mean they don't have to agree with me, but at least have to respond. I mean that's my function. They mandated me to investigate cases and submit my observations and make recommendations and ask questions in the expectation obviously that they then would respond and we can clarify these issues.

But when I see the government simply ignore my recommendations and refuse to engage in a dialogue then I have to move to different forum, because then there we have bad faith in play and bad faith in the implementation of the prohibition of torture is not a good thing for anyone.

Sputnik: And do you normally get a proper response when dealing with other countries, like Iran or Russia?

Nils Melzer: Russia, remarkably, has a tradition of sending very elaborate responses. Not in every single case, but I have to say they are certainly much more consistent than what I've received from the UK in the last year.

 

Read more:

https://sputniknews.com/analysis/202002041078224983-assanges-treatment-t...

 

 

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state oppression in slow motion...

It is being increasingly larded with heavy twists and turns, a form of state oppression in slow motion, but the Julian Assange extradition case now looks like it may well move into the middle of the year, dragged out, ironically enough, by the prosecution.

Curiously, this is a point that both the prosecutors, fronted by the US imperium, and the WikiLeaks defence team, seem to have found some inadvertent agreement with. This is the biggest case of its kind, and will determine, for an era, how journalism and the publication of nationally classified information is treated.  Neither wish to misstep in this regard.

The last procedural hearing ahead of the full extradition trial of Assange over 17 counts of espionage and one of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion was trained on the issue of logistics.  The prosecutors seemed to be bellyaching in their discontent, lamenting matters of availability for their staff. 

One striking example concerned the US government’s chief barrister, James Lewis, who would be taken up with a trial in Northern Ireland of “a great deal of substance and importance”.  This would make him unavailable for up to three months after the commencement of the extradition case.

Clair Dobbin, representing the US, was the first to make an application that the substantive hearing be split.  Various legal rulings, she argued, would have to be made subsequent to the full February proceedings, including the ticklish issue of whether certain witnesses were to remain anonymous or not. 

WikiLeaks wishes that they remain so; the prosecution would like that cloak removed.

Despite already furnishing the court with a meaty affidavit, Dobbin claimed that more needed to be done in responding to the defence evidence. (Good of them to give a sense of formality that are doing so.) Besides all that, experts sought by the prosecution were “extremely busy practitioners and academics with very full diaries”, many still chewing over the issue of where Assange fitted in the security paradigm.  

This statement of itself is odd, as is so much of the entire effort against the WikiLeaks publisher.

Procedural dragging was also a matter of importance for the Assange team.  Despite working with manic dedication over Christmas, the issue of access remains crippling for the defence. We simply cannot get in as we require to see Mr Assange and to take his instruction, argued one of Assange’s lawyers, Edward Fitzgerald.  “Frankly, we require more time before calling the main body of our evidence.”

The point of journalism, and its legitimate pursuit in this nasty, brutish and rather long encounter, lies at the heart of the battle.  The framing of the US indictment purports to negate journalism as a factor in the case, with the prosecutors honing in on the issue of espionage and hacking. 

Spies cannot be journalists, so goes the claim; espionage and publication should not be seen as comparable or even linked matters. This very claim suggests that any form of national security journalism, the sort that exposes abuses of power, is illegal.

This round of submissions merely confirmed the point, though it is one sharpened to specifically exclude foreigners.  In other words, press protections enshrined by the First Amendment of the US Constitution cannot apply to non-US nationals, a daringly dangerous assertion.

As WikiLeaks’ editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson crisply put it

We have now learned from submissions and affidavits presented by the United States to the court that they do not consider foreign nationals to have a first amendment protection.” 

To the AAP, he surmised that the US had also 

decided that they can go after journalists wherever they are residing in the world, they have universal jurisdiction, and demand extradition like they are doing by trying to get an Australian national from the UK from publishing that took place outside US borders.”

The US case also insists that, should the extradition be successful, Assange will be subject to that troubling euphemism of “special administrative measures”.  Even in a bureaucratic penal system, such language entails a formal and legal disappearance of the subject.

Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi suggests with understandable gloominess that “Pandora’s box will open” if the prosecutors make their case fly in court.  

The extradition of an Australian or Italian journalist by the US would just as easily justify the same action by Saudi Arabia and Russia.  This terrifying precedent is reiterated as a distinct possibility across the spectrum of commentary, an extra-territorial extension of US power to punish the world’s scribblers, bloggers and publishers.

The outcome of this set of stuttered proceedings seemed to irritate District Judge Vanessa Baraitser, who conceded to the split, but sternly spoke of disfavour regarding any other requests for moving dates.  She did relent to another case management hearing scheduled for February 19.  

The full extradition hearing is now set to open on February 24 at London’s Woolwich Crown Court, adjourning after one week, then continuing in May 18 with a three-week hearing.  The chess pieces in this critical encounter have again been moved.

In this dark turn, a smattering of light seemed to shine through.  Having been held in withering solitary confinement in the prison medical wing of Belmarsh, news came that Assange will be moved to an area with other inmates.  

Joseph Farrell of WikiLeaks described it as a dramatic climbdown“a huge victory for Assange’s legal team and for campaigners, who have been insisting for weeks that the prison authorities end the punitive treatment of Assange.”

The same could not be said about legal and medical access, both of which have been sorely lacking.

The decision to initiate the move seems to have sprung from prisoners within Belmarsh itself.  The prison governor has been petitioned on no less than three occasions by a group of convicts insisting that the treatment being afforded Assange smacked of injustice.  Human rights activist Craig Murray subsequently reflected on this small victory for basic humanity – and it took criminals to teach it to the British state.

Such victories in penal terms do tend to be mixed.  Assange will hope that those inmates he keeps company remain sympathetic to his cause.

The new quarters will house some 40 of them, and the risks to his being remain. Even in prison, Assange’s case and plight never ceases to astonish.

 

Read more:

https://off-guardian.org/2020/01/31/split-hearings-the-assange-extraditi...

 

 

 

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it's about us... his life. our justice...

Nearly 1,000 attendees gathered in London to show support for the Wikileaks founder on Tuesday evening, just weeks before the detained activist is set to begin attending two crucial court hearings ahead of a final extradition request ruling later this year.

Key speakers at the rally included UK shadow chancellor John McDonnell, Julian Assange defence team member and barrister Jennifer Robinson, Wikileaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson, UN special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer, UK shadow justice minister Richard Burgon and New Left Review editorial committee member and renowned activist, Tariq Ali.

Groups supporting the rally included the Stop the War Coalition, Socialist Equality Party, Campaign to Defend Julian Assange, Julian Assange Defence Campaign, among others.

Members of the panel spoke out against the whistleblower's arbitrary detention at Belmarsh Prison, where the activist could receive up to 175 years in a US federal prison following an extradition request from Washington.

The following are highlights from speeches delivered at the rally.

 


Kristinn Hrafnsson, Renowned Journalist and Editor-in-Chief for Wikileaks

Discussing the future of journalism amid the ongoing Assange case, which could set dangerous precedents for future journalists: 

"We're dealing with political corruption [and] persecution. This has nothing to do with justice. But we need to fight and tear down this wall around Julian and free him.

I remember shortly after he was arrested, we asked him what to relay to the journalists outside. He replied: "Tell them, it's not about me, it's about them!"

It's about the future of journalism. It's the gravest attack on journalism in my lifetime and a serious attack on journalism in latter times. If this extradition goes ahead, we will enter into a new Dark Age. We have to fight and work together, everywhere.

 


Jennifer Robinson, Member of Julian Assange's Defence Team and Barrister for Doughty Street Chambers

Speaking on the impetus to defend Julian Assange's work, which has led Wikileaks to international acclaim:

"I always think it's important to remember what these publications were and their significance. The publications for which he now sits in a high-security prison, over in Belmarsh.

[Revelations on] collateral murder. Evidence of war crimes. The killing of journalists in a conflict in which they posed no risks. The Afghan and Iraq war logs. Evidence of torture. Mistreatment of political detainees. The killing of civilians far beyond what the US government was reporting on its own.

Cablegate, diplomatic cables which revealed the true nature of US imperialism. The fact that the United States was ordering the spying on UN diplomats. Corruption, torture, human rights abuses the world over.

These are the publications for which he sits in prison. This is the very same material for which WikiLeaks and its media partners have been recognised the world over with journalism awards.

 

For that reason, we've been saying for years that the media needed to stand with WikiLeaks to defend against the precedent being set, because it would have a chilling impact on investigative journalism the world over."

 


Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Swiss Academic

Speaking in metaphor on the focus of the media narrative surrounding Julian Assangeand the significance of his work with Wikileaks:

"Julian Assange has taken the flashlight in that dark room and pointed it at the elephant. The elphant of war crimes, of misconduct, under the colour of law [...] of serious violations of human rights.

But despite his spotlight, the elephant, as a deer in the headlights, was frozen for a couple of moments, and for a couple of weeks, everyone was discussing these revelations.

But then the elephant snatched the spotlight, turned it over, and pointed it at Julian Assange. The room became dark, and the only thing we could see was Julian in the corner with the spotlight on him.

And now everyone discussed his character, his private habits, does he wear shorts or long pants during his video conferences, was he skateboarding at the embassy, what was he feeding his cat, was he smearing things on the embassy walls... absolutely trivial things compared to the revelations he made.

Who has the spotlight? It's certainly the governments and the media. The media are supposed to serve and inform us to empower us, not just to entertain us.

We won't look at the elephant in the dark. And this is what this is all about."

 


Richard Burgon, Shadow Justice Minister for The UK Labour Party

Speaking on the role of the Conservative UK government, which signed off on the US request to extradite Julian Assange to Washington:

"Just imagine how poorer our understanding of the barbarity of the Vietnam War would have been had those who exposed US atrocities had been subjected to prosecution for doing so.

Are we really going to hand over someone to spend 175 years - the rest of their life - in prison for exposing killings and abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the killing of journalists?

It's wrong that the Conservative government signed the extradition warrant to the United States. It not only appears as yet another example of kowtowing to US foreign policy, but it seems to me to be a complete failure to respect the basic principles of journalistic freedoms.

This issue goes way beyond the case of Wikileaks. It's a clear attack on all of those who wish to expose abuses of state power, and an attack on journalists who report on them."

 


John McDonnell, Shadow Chancellor for The UK Labour Party

Discussing the need to protect journalists and whistleblowers exposing government crimes and corruption:

"The reason why I'm here is in an act of solidarity. I'm a member of parliament, and the role of an MP is to supposedly stand up for democracy and democratic rights of individuals, as well as protect the rights of those democracies from threats, wherever those threats come.

When this case came along and WikiLeaks happened, it seemed like a classic case of whistleblowing to expose wrongdoing, which was brutal, illegal, grotesque and something which many of us suspected was happening, but just couldn't get the proof of that brutality, the torture and murders from that point on.

 

So, it's a huge breakthrough, and the State in its usual role try to close down access to individuals like us and civil society towards that truth, and that's what this is about. It's about the individual, Julian Assange, but it's also the principle and the protection of democracy, but also the throw a light on the iniquity perpetrated in our name."

 


John Rees, National Officer for Stop the War Coalition

Urging attendees to campain for Wikileaks, Julian Assange, and the strength of such campaigns in successfully freeing the Australian publisher:

"The one thing that has improved Julian Assange's conditions in Belmarsh, which got him out of solitary confinement, was campaigning.

There was campaigning from ordinary activists and the legal team, but most impressively, it was three petitions by Belmarsh prisoners themselves demanding that his circumstances be changed because they were unjust and unfair. If they can do it, in the most difficult circumstances imaginable, you and I with much greater freedom can do it as well.

This legal process is corrupt. [Assange] will never be in front of a jury in this country. He will only be tried by a judge, and when he gets to the United States, he will only be in front of a jury who are to be selected locally in Alexandria, Virginia, where 80 percent of jurors are employees of the Pentagon, the National Security Agency or the Central Intelligence Agency. He will go to no jury to to bent jury, and you will never hear that voice again."



Tariq Ali, Member of the Editorial Committee of the New Left Review, Activist, and Journalist

Detailling the information in the Wikileaks revelations, including major war crimes from the US and UK as well as the need for states to silence dissenters

"Why, if we know the scale of massacres that took place? We know what happened in Fallujah in Iraq, when they were shooting wounded Iraqi prisoners in the head, saying "that's what you do to dying animals", according to a NYT report.

No prosecutions at all by any international body. Why? Because they're supposedly our wars, and our wars are good wars, and killing the enemy is part of our patriotic duty.

In any system which was genuinely impartial... I mean, why wouldn't Bush, Cheney and Blair [be in front of] an international court?

This is the context to understand what is happening to WikiLeaks, to Julian Assange, and why they're so determined to crush dissent. It's not simply Wikileaks, but other journalists are under fire. "Don't do it again", they say.

Who will prosecute them? It's an act of state terrorism, openly admitted. They say they have the right to do it. Why do they have the right to do it? We're the imperial power, and imperial powers can carry out atrocities as the European empire has showed over centuries."

 

Read more:

https://sputniknews.com/uk/202002051078236754-eating-the-elephant-highli...

 

 

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FREE ASSANGE TODAY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

PACE support assange's freedom...

The attitude of European institutions is changing after years of silence. In this case, it was Andrej Hunko and Gianni Marilotti that convinced the European Assembly to speak up.

The moment that press freedom advocates have been waiting for so long has finally arrived. The European institutions are starting to officially state that they don’t want Julian Assange to be extradited to the U.S.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has become the first one to step in and call for Assange’s immediate release, joining the call of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, who some months ago clearly stated that Assange should walk free.

The call was made on the 28th of January, 2020, when the PACE was debating on a resolution for the Member States included in a report on Threats to Media Freedom and Journalists’ Security in Europe.

Drafted by the Labour member of the British House of Lords, George Foulkes, the document opens stating that the Council of Europe and its Assembly are firmly committed to strengthening media freedom in all its aspects, including the right to access to information, the safeguard of editorial independence and of 'the ability to investigate, criticise and contribute to public debate without fear of pressure or interference'.

Several amendments to the report were proposed inside the PACE Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media, and Lord Foulkes, who is part of it, was happy to accept the one on Assange.

Lord Foulkes said:

“UK colleagues supported it because we don’t want to see him extradited by the UK Government to the United States and facing centuries in prison.”

The Council of Europe is the continent’s leading institution on human rights and includes 47 member states, 28 of which are also part of the European Union. What this Parliamentary Assembly, made up of members of national legislatures says about freedom of the press is something civil society should take notice of.

In this light, you would hope that the work of Wikileaks and his founder can hardly be forgotten. Or maybe it could — it seemed to be surprisingly off the agenda until some weeks ago, but January 2020 seems to have marked a change of course.

 

Read more:

https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/council-of-eu...

 

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