Assange in Court 856

UPDATE I have received scores of requests to republish and/or translate this article. It is absolutely free to use and reproduce and I should be delighted if everybody does; the world should know what is being done to Julian. So far, over 200,000 people have read it on this blogsite alone and it has already been reproduced on myriad other sites, some with much bigger readerships than my own. I have seen translations into German, Spanish and French and at least extracts in Catalan and Turkish. I only ask that you reproduce it complete or, if edits are made, plainly indicate them. Many thanks.


I was deeply shaken while witnessing yesterday’s events in Westminster Magistrates Court. Every decision was railroaded through over the scarcely heard arguments and objections of Assange’s legal team, by a magistrate who barely pretended to be listening.

Before I get on to the blatant lack of fair process, the first thing I must note was Julian’s condition. I was badly shocked by just how much weight my friend has lost, by the speed his hair has receded and by the appearance of premature and vastly accelerated ageing. He has a pronounced limp I have never seen before. Since his arrest he has lost over 15 kg in weight.

But his physical appearance was not as shocking as his mental deterioration. When asked to give his name and date of birth, he struggled visibly over several seconds to recall both. I will come to the important content of his statement at the end of proceedings in due course, but his difficulty in making it was very evident; it was a real struggle for him to articulate the words and focus his train of thought.

Until yesterday I had always been quietly sceptical of those who claimed that Julian’s treatment amounted to torture – even of Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture – and sceptical of those who suggested he may be subject to debilitating drug treatments. But having attended the trials in Uzbekistan of several victims of extreme torture, and having worked with survivors from Sierra Leone and elsewhere, I can tell you that yesterday changed my mind entirely and Julian exhibited exactly the symptoms of a torture victim brought blinking into the light, particularly in terms of disorientation, confusion, and the real struggle to assert free will through the fog of learned helplessness.

I had been even more sceptical of those who claimed, as a senior member of his legal team did to me on Sunday night, that they were worried that Julian might not live to the end of the extradition process. I now find myself not only believing it, but haunted by the thought. Everybody in that court yesterday saw that one of the greatest journalists and most important dissidents of our times is being tortured to death by the state, before our eyes. To see my friend, the most articulate man, the fastest thinker, I have ever known, reduced to that shambling and incoherent wreck, was unbearable. Yet the agents of the state, particularly the callous magistrate Vanessa Baraitser, were not just prepared but eager to be a part of this bloodsport. She actually told him that if he were incapable of following proceedings, then his lawyers could explain what had happened to him later. The question of why a man who, by the very charges against him, was acknowledged to be highly intelligent and competent, had been reduced by the state to somebody incapable of following court proceedings, gave her not a millisecond of concern.

The charge against Julian is very specific; conspiring with Chelsea Manning to publish the Iraq War logs, the Afghanistan war logs and the State Department cables. The charges are nothing to do with Sweden, nothing to do with sex, and nothing to do with the 2016 US election; a simple clarification the mainstream media appears incapable of understanding.

The purpose of yesterday’s hearing was case management; to determine the timetable for the extradition proceedings. The key points at issue were that Julian’s defence was requesting more time to prepare their evidence; and arguing that political offences were specifically excluded from the extradition treaty. There should, they argued, therefore be a preliminary hearing to determine whether the extradition treaty applied at all.

The reasons given by Assange’s defence team for more time to prepare were both compelling and startling. They had very limited access to their client in jail and had not been permitted to hand him any documents about the case until one week ago. He had also only just been given limited computer access, and all his relevant records and materials had been seized from the Ecuadorean Embassy by the US Government; he had no access to his own materials for the purpose of preparing his defence.

Furthermore, the defence argued, they were in touch with the Spanish courts about a very important and relevant legal case in Madrid which would provide vital evidence. It showed that the CIA had been directly ordering spying on Julian in the Embassy through a Spanish company, UC Global, contracted to provide security there. Crucially this included spying on privileged conversations between Assange and his lawyers discussing his defence against these extradition proceedings, which had been in train in the USA since 2010. In any normal process, that fact would in itself be sufficient to have the extradition proceedings dismissed. Incidentally I learnt on Sunday that the Spanish material produced in court, which had been commissioned by the CIA, specifically includes high resolution video coverage of Julian and I discussing various matters.

The evidence to the Spanish court also included a CIA plot to kidnap Assange, which went to the US authorities’ attitude to lawfulness in his case and the treatment he might expect in the United States. Julian’s team explained that the Spanish legal process was happening now and the evidence from it would be extremely important, but it might not be finished and thus the evidence not fully validated and available in time for the current proposed timetable for the Assange extradition hearings.

For the prosecution, James Lewis QC stated that the government strongly opposed any delay being given for the defence to prepare, and strongly opposed any separate consideration of the question of whether the charge was a political offence excluded by the extradition treaty. Baraitser took her cue from Lewis and stated categorically that the date for the extradition hearing, 25 February, could not be changed. She was open to changes in dates for submission of evidence and responses before this, and called a ten minute recess for the prosecution and defence to agree these steps.

What happened next was very instructive. There were five representatives of the US government present (initially three, and two more arrived in the course of the hearing), seated at desks behind the lawyers in court. The prosecution lawyers immediately went into huddle with the US representatives, then went outside the courtroom with them, to decide how to respond on the dates.

After the recess the defence team stated they could not, in their professional opinion, adequately prepare if the hearing date were kept to February, but within Baraitser’s instruction to do so they nevertheless outlined a proposed timetable on delivery of evidence. In responding to this, Lewis’ junior counsel scurried to the back of the court to consult the Americans again while Lewis actually told the judge he was “taking instructions from those behind”. It is important to note that as he said this, it was not the UK Attorney-General’s office who were being consulted but the US Embassy. Lewis received his American instructions and agreed that the defence might have two months to prepare their evidence (they had said they needed an absolute minimum of three) but the February hearing date may not be moved. Baraitser gave a ruling agreeing everything Lewis had said.

At this stage it was unclear why we were sitting through this farce. The US government was dictating its instructions to Lewis, who was relaying those instructions to Baraitser, who was ruling them as her legal decision. The charade might as well have been cut and the US government simply sat on the bench to control the whole process. Nobody could sit there and believe they were in any part of a genuine legal process or that Baraitser was giving a moment’s consideration to the arguments of the defence. Her facial expressions on the few occasions she looked at the defence ranged from contempt through boredom to sarcasm. When she looked at Lewis she was attentive, open and warm.

The extradition is plainly being rushed through in accordance with a Washington dictated timetable. Apart from a desire to pre-empt the Spanish court providing evidence on CIA activity in sabotaging the defence, what makes the February date so important to the USA? I would welcome any thoughts.

Baraitser dismissed the defence’s request for a separate prior hearing to consider whether the extradition treaty applied at all, without bothering to give any reason why (possibly she had not properly memorised what Lewis had been instructing her to agree with). Yet this is Article 4 of the UK/US Extradition Treaty 2007 in full:

On the face of it, what Assange is accused of is the very definition of a political offence – if this is not, then what is? It is not covered by any of the exceptions from that listed. There is every reason to consider whether this charge is excluded by the extradition treaty, and to do so before the long and very costly process of considering all the evidence should the treaty apply. But Baraitser simply dismissed the argument out of hand.

Just in case anybody was left in any doubt as to what was happening here, Lewis then stood up and suggested that the defence should not be allowed to waste the court’s time with a lot of arguments. All arguments for the substantive hearing should be given in writing in advance and a “guillotine should be applied” (his exact words) to arguments and witnesses in court, perhaps of five hours for the defence. The defence had suggested they would need more than the scheduled five days to present their case. Lewis countered that the entire hearing should be over in two days. Baraitser said this was not procedurally the correct moment to agree this but she will consider it once she had received the evidence bundles.

(SPOILER: Baraitser is going to do as Lewis instructs and cut the substantive hearing short).

Baraitser then capped it all by saying the February hearing will be held, not at the comparatively open and accessible Westminster Magistrates Court where we were, but at Belmarsh Magistrates Court, the grim high security facility used for preliminary legal processing of terrorists, attached to the maximum security prison where Assange is being held. There are only six seats for the public in even the largest court at Belmarsh, and the object is plainly to evade public scrutiny and make sure that Baraitser is not exposed in public again to a genuine account of her proceedings, like this one you are reading. I will probably be unable to get in to the substantive hearing at Belmarsh.

Plainly the authorities were disconcerted by the hundreds of good people who had turned up to support Julian. They hope that far fewer will get to the much less accessible Belmarsh. I am fairly certain (and recall I had a long career as a diplomat) that the two extra American government officials who arrived halfway through proceedings were armed security personnel, brought in because of alarm at the number of protestors around a hearing in which were present senior US officials. The move to Belmarsh may be an American initiative.

Assange’s defence team objected strenuously to the move to Belmarsh, in particular on the grounds that there are no conference rooms available there to consult their client and they have very inadequate access to him in the jail. Baraitser dismissed their objection offhand and with a very definite smirk.

Finally, Baraitser turned to Julian and ordered him to stand, and asked him if he had understood the proceedings. He replied in the negative, said that he could not think, and gave every appearance of disorientation. Then he seemed to find an inner strength, drew himself up a little, and said:

I do not understand how this process is equitable. This superpower had 10 years to prepare for this case and I can’t even access my writings. It is very difficult, where I am, to do anything. These people have unlimited resources.

The effort then seemed to become too much, his voice dropped and he became increasingly confused and incoherent. He spoke of whistleblowers and publishers being labeled enemies of the people, then spoke about his children’s DNA being stolen and of being spied on in his meetings with his psychologist. I am not suggesting at all that Julian was wrong about these points, but he could not properly frame nor articulate them. He was plainly not himself, very ill and it was just horribly painful to watch. Baraitser showed neither sympathy nor the least concern. She tartly observed that if he could not understand what had happened, his lawyers could explain it to him, and she swept out of court.

The whole experience was profoundly upsetting. It was very plain that there was no genuine process of legal consideration happening here. What we had was a naked demonstration of the power of the state, and a naked dictation of proceedings by the Americans. Julian was in a box behind bulletproof glass, and I and the thirty odd other members of the public who had squeezed in were in a different box behind more bulletproof glass. I do not know if he could see me or his other friends in the court, or if he was capable of recognising anybody. He gave no indication that he did.

In Belmarsh he is kept in complete isolation for 23 hours a day. He is permitted 45 minutes exercise. If he has to be moved, they clear the corridors before he walks down them and they lock all cell doors to ensure he has no contact with any other prisoner outside the short and strictly supervised exercise period. There is no possible justification for this inhuman regime, used on major terrorists, being imposed on a publisher who is a remand prisoner.

I have been both cataloguing and protesting for years the increasingly authoritarian powers of the UK state, but that the most gross abuse could be so open and undisguised is still a shock. The campaign of demonisation and dehumanisation against Julian, based on government and media lie after government and media lie, has led to a situation where he can be slowly killed in public sight, and arraigned on a charge of publishing the truth about government wrongdoing, while receiving no assistance from “liberal” society.

Unless Julian is released shortly he will be destroyed. If the state can do this, then who is next?


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856 thoughts on “Assange in Court

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  • Winston

    Assange created a breach in the paradigm they were trying to built and it’s too late for them to fix it. These are just demonstrations of the frustration and impotence of the so called rulers of the world. Yes they can’t!

  • patricia m ryan

    If you do not save the oppressed from injustice, when injustice comes calling who will save you? (This may not be original but is fitting in the circumstances of abuse of power over-riding human rights and dignity of the innocent.)

  • Mary

    There was this good two part article in New Matilda referring to Professor of Global Health at Queen Mary University, David McCoy.

    ‘A health agenda for peace
    Given the undisputed and pervasive impact of war on human health, McCoy writes, “health professionals should now re-engage with peace-building and the prevention of war”.

    But what has Wikileaks got to do with it? While peacebuilding may have diminished as a subject of concern for many, not so Wikileaks. Despite fierce opposition, including Julian Assange being placed on a “manhunt target list”, Wikileaks has continued to expose the truths of contemporary war, from war crimes to torture, to the corporate motives behind regime change. This provides the raw factual materials for others to oppose war, as The Lancet and the WHA are urging health professionals to do.’

    SICK OF DYING (PART 1): How The Health Community Is Failing Julian Assange, The Victims Of The Douma Attacks, And Three Women Struggling To Feed Their Kids
    By Dr Lissa Johnson on April 19, 2018

    followed by Part 2
    SICK OF DYING (PART 2): Why The Skripal Poisoning, Foreign Interference Legislation And Legality Of US Interventions Are The Business Of Health Professionals

    • Tintin Quarantino

      Ah, that’s excellent Nick.

      I was just about to link to that article! Kudos. From the article:

      “..intelligence agencies are behind the US government’s prosecution of Julian Assange for publishing secret documents. Darktrace has also had access to two former UK prime ministers and former US President Barack Obama.

      The revelations raise further concerns about potential conflicts of interests and appearance of bias concerning Lady Arbuthnot and the ties of her family members to the UK and US military and intelligence establishments. Lady Arbuthnot’s husband is Lord James Arbuthnot, a former UK defence minister who has extensive links to the UK military community.

      As far as is known, Lady Arbuthnot has failed to disclose any potential conflicts of interest in her role overseeing Assange’s case. However, UK legal guidance states that “any conflict of interest in a litigious situation must be declared.”

      And the link to the *Guide to Judicial Conduct*, here:

  • fred

    I just looked whether the New York Times had reported on this: I couldn’t find anything on Google but on I found two articles (“new york times assange”) that have since been taken down:

    Luckily, one of them is still available through the WaybackMachine:

    Since these reports stem from AP / Reuters, this raises the question why both news agencies seem to have pulled their reports? (Which would explain why so few media reported on the incident in the first place.)

  • Forthestate

    The more I read about the current probe into Russiagate by Bill Barr, Horowitz and John Durham, the more it becomes clear how central Assange is to the whole of the Mueller report, and the CIA/FBI/DOJ/DNI/UK and Italian intelligence services/Democratic Party/CNN/MSNBC conspiracy theory that Trump is a Russian agent. Mueller’s entire report is dependent on the claim that Russia hacked the DNC servers. William Binney, former technical head of the NSA and the man responsible for putting their surveillance system in place has repeatedly confirmed that the servers were not hacked, but leaked. Only one person knows better than him, and that’s Julian Assange. He agrees. In August 2017 Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican Congressman from California, met Assange at the Ecuadorean Embassy.

    ““I knew the one man who could prove that it was all baloney was Assange. So I went to see him in London, and he confirmed for me that the Russians did not give him the DNC emails. He had physical proof of that, and he was going to let me see that and have that, but only once I found an agreement so he wouldn’t get arrested when he leaves the Ecuadorian embassy in London,” Mr. Rohrabacher insisted.”

    The whole of the Mueller investigation assumes that the servers were hacked by Russia. Both the CIA and the FBI, quite apart from the Democratic Party and their associated media, have a massive interest in upholding the Russian hacking claim, as does the deep state and the media in this country, dedicated as they are to the new Cold War and the demonisation of Russia. Without this, most of the case against Trump falls apart even more than it has already, and lord knows what else comes crawling out of the woodwork (which appears to be happening anyway under Horowitz’s IG report and Durham’s criminal investigation). The indictment against Julian Assange was sealed in March 2018, throughout the Mueller hearing. Mueller submitted his report on March 22, 2019, finding no evidence of collusion. It was then announced that it would be made public. The indictment against Assange was unsealed on April 11. What would be most interesting would be evidence of any collusion over Assange specifically between those forces arrayed against Trump within the deep state in the US, including the CIA and the FBI, and the UK’s deep state. Christopher Steele, of course, whose dodgy dossier of misinformation which provided the ‘evidence’ for the FISA warrants was paid for by Hillary Clinton, is ex MI6. How much further does it go? And is there any possibility that, in unravelling what has clearly been a three year conspiracy to frame the US president, ghastly though he is, as a traitor, the forthcoming investigations in the US will expose the role of the deep state in the US and the UK in silencing Assange in order to maintain a fiction crucial to their purpose? John Durham must surely know all this by now.

  • jmg

    Next Julian’s hearing in front of a judge — with video link — is tomorrow Monday 18:

    > The case management dates were set as follows

    > 18 November 2018 Call-over hearing (administrative hearing necessary to bring a defendant before a judge every 28 days)

    > 18 December 2019 Deadline for evidence

    > 19 December 2019 Case management [hearing] (to review the progress of the case, including evidence submitted)

    > 7 February 2020 Deadlines for bundle submission by both sides

    > 11 February 2020 Deadline for defence skeleton argument

    > 18 February 2020 Deadline for prosecution skeleton argument

    > 25 February 2020 Extradition hearing begins.

    WikiLeaks — Press Release Regarding Julian Assange’s Case Management Hearing — 21 October 2019

  • neeluberry
    Dear Governor Davis of Belmarsh Prison,

    This is a Public Demand for the Immediate Release of Australian Citizen, Julian Assange as a Free Man

    Julian Assange lawyers confirmed that the Chief Magistrate, Emma Arbuthnot has been recused from sitting in his Extradition (1). This is due to undisclosed conflicts of interests relating to her husband (2) and son (3).

    However, the Administrative Court may now also need to review her previous judgements issuing arrest warrants and deem them unsafe (4) (5)

    The controversial Uber decision by Lady Arbuthnot may also need to be reviewed

    Arbuthnot Out as Assange’s Judge, Says WikiLeaks Lawyer Jen Robinson November 16, 2019

    Julian Assange’s judge and her husband’s links to the British military establishment exposed by WikiLeaks
    By Mark Curtis and Matt Kennard• 14 November 2019


    The son of Julian Assange’s judge is linked to an anti-data leak company created by the UK intelligence establishment
    By Matt Kennard and Mark Curtis• 15 November 2019

    6th Feb 2018 before Chief Magistrate
    Assange, An Application By (Cancel an Arrest Warrant : Ruling No. 1) [2018] EW Misc B2 (MagC) (06 February 2018)

    13th Feb 2018 before Chief Magistrate
    Assange, An Application By (Cancel an Arrest Warrant : Ruling No. 2) [2018] EW Misc B3 (MagC) (11 February 2018)

    THE QUEEN on the application of UNITED

    Neelu Berry
    Private Investigator Volunteer
    for the Equity Monarchy Trusts for the Crown and Lord Bishops and the Royal Commissions managed by Equity Lawyer Edward William Ellis

  • Kathy Adamski

    This is Satan manifesting his power on the life of an unprotected man God created to love and be loved. He was a phenomenal example of the heights a human being could accomplish yet is being slowly allowed to die through neglect and mental and physical torture by petty jealous selfish nobodies.
    Is this an example of the evil nature of the court system that confines him, and the world that allows it to happen, like watching an animal in a zoo be tortured in front of spectators.
    Thank your creator that this is not you being persecuted in front of the world with the end game of being killed by dishonest demonic entities in human form who lack compassion in order to save their wicked selfish skins from undergoing what he is undergoing.
    It is a pathetic example of the production of humans who lack gratitude for their own lives given to them by a God who only desires love for one another as He loves us and we love Him.
    They have assurance that they will be spending their eternity in hell, their deserved punishment for their Nazi mentality of using humans ,who are higher than the angels, as fodder.
    And we have to watch it with our hands tied behind our backs. What a great example of how meaningless godless people are on this earth and are not wanted, loved or admired. Human trash. Demons dressed up in human bodies.
    Dear Lord bring someone into his life who can present influence by clear reason and power to release and heal him to compensate for the evil done to him, his family and the world. This is a spiritual battle.
    Society hasn’t advanced one iota if this is allowed to continue.

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