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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  • craig Post author

    Hi folks. Sorry, have been a bit depressed by all this and found it hard to concentrate on anything else. But I hope to post again today.

    • glenn_uk

      I’m not surprised – it _is_ depressing. Nobody wants to see cruelty piled on top of injustice, particularly to a good person doing important work, and most especially when it shows the contempt our own country has for due process, law and the sovereignty the Establishment keeps always banging on about. Where are the Brexiteers when it comes to taking orders from the Americans all the time, being no better than a stooge for their imperialist thuggery?

      • Doghouse

        Where are the Brexiteers? Presumably you go on to answer your own question therefore in relation to the rest of your statement it makes no sense. Nor does its relevance to the situation of Assange make any sense when you consider some of those most ready to denigrate Assange are Labour party Blairite remainers who amongst them have ranted some of the most vicious untruth about this poor man. Do you think the likes of S.Kinnock would not be tugging their forelocks to the Americans at every opportunity?
        Until people remove the blinkers of their own personal desires there’s little hoep. I give up.

        • glenn_uk

          Nice bit of whataboutary from you there. It’s a simple point, even you should have understood it. Where are those swivel-eyed anti-Europeans when it comes to America? What happened to their precious sovereignty every time a Yank says “jump” ?

          • Doghouse

            Your bias coupled with the irrelevance of your statement verges on insanity, a mighty set of blinkers indeed. If you can’t see it there really is no hope. You arrogantly infer that after I have repeatedly tried to state Assange’s case that I am a simpleton whilst you yourself cannot refrain from whittering on about your Brexit obsession which really does bear no relevance other than the fact that our European allies are doing about as much to help the man as you are. Quite the distasteful little person, I can’t help you further than that.
            And no I am neither Brexiteer nor Remoaner couldn’t give a toss beyond having to endure you lot at one another’s throats every tedious opportunity. Try saying something constructive to aid Assange stead of bitchin’….

          • glenn_uk

            My Brexit obsession? Heh! I mentioned it in passing, as a question to Brexiteers, and you leapt upon that side-note and have been raving on about it ever since.

          • Doghouse

            No Glenn, you didn’t mention it in passing. What you did was use the awful, horrendously dire position this man finds himself in as a platform to vent your chip with a cheap shot at people who hold a different opinion to you – and you know it. It’s there plain for all to see. And that my old mucker is what I find distasteful in extremis.

          • glenn_uk

            If you still don’t understand how central this all is to our subservience is to the US, and how poorly that sits with BS about freedom and sovereignty and supposedly being ruled by the EU (from the Prime Minister on down), then you’re even more stupid than you appeared to be. Which is a lot.

          • Iain Stewart

            Your bias coupled with the irrelevance of your statement verges on insanity

            That sounds almost like a quote from your chum Loony, apart from the ‘verges’ bit of moderation.

        • Forthestate

          “Where are the Brexiteers when it comes to taking orders from the Americans all the time, being no better than a stooge for their imperialist thuggery?”

          Please consider this: Doghouse and all Brexiteers are not only entitled but, I’m sure most will agree, including Craig Murray, if he’ll forgive the presumptuousness, very welcome indeed to come on here and express their concern for Julian Assange and, in doing so, for everyone so concerned for him, whilst at the same time supporting Brexit. What a shame to have to introduce this most divisive of issues, with predictable consequences, into a discussion which, as much as any, ought to unite us (and for the most part clearly does), with the clear insinuation that those supporting Brexit -“where are the Brexiteers” – are somehow complicit in this thuggery, thereby insulting many who have posted their comments here.

          Stop it. Do it somewhere else. It’s not appropriate. We’ve all had a bellyful of this crap.

    • pete

      I have just trawled though Monbiot’s tweets and the tweet referred to is still there. Just keep heading down the page a bit more.

  • David

    Shockingly, the Daily Express reports Craig’s points:
    No BTL “Comments Unavailable, Sorry, we are unable to accept comments about this article”

    CounterPunch has a go and also reports Craig’s points:

    Sydney has a try:
    The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) passed a motion at its national conference on Saturday calling for the Australian government to do “all it can” to bring Assange home and resist US attempts to extradite him.
    ALA national president Andrew Christopoulos said it was an important issue about the rule of law and protecting an Australian in a vulnerable position overseas.
    Sydney did briefly have BTL 114 Comments (now closed)

    ABC too report:
    North Queensland politician George Christensen says it is a “crazy situation” that Mr Assange charged under US laws when he is not a US citizen or resident
    No BTL

    Epoch Times does comment: (several paywalled .au lawyer sites also reported this)

    The Aus Age reports where UK media fears to go:

    Last month, he [Waters] sang Wish You Were Here outside the prison where Julian Assange is being held. “Not a single UK newspaper printed even a mention of it – and certainly none of the TV stations. I make a point of never watching any mainstream TV,” he snorts.

    there is an ongoing debate at [Aus film-maker]

    and an ongoing FOI to UK CPS from an Italian journalist, which she plans to take to ECtHR (early Summer)

    How come an Italian newspaper has an Assange shrine and goes for the truth?
    it is great to see their recording
    but where is The Thunderer, the paper of record…. et al

    some more links at assange

    to keep you going….. maybe this has all flashed by on Twitter, but HTML is my thing, thanks Tim.

    • Colm Herron

      I read this a couple of days ago and thought it both interesting and very relevant to what’s been happening to Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning:

      I thought of Trump going and Pence leading the ultra-right elites of the corporate media and our minds would be in their hands. They’d just keep using half-empty vassals like the British Bootlicking Corporation and supposedly left-leaning newspapers like The Guardian and The New York Times and The Washington Post to skew our heads. And before I knew it the worldwide web was under the control of spooks, spooks so cunning that they’d developed software which would make it near enough impossible for independent blogs to be read except by the bloggers themselves. But being disappeared from the web might turn out to be merely an entrée. How soon until Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are fully roped in by the corporates as associates of the administration – and resourceful bloggers who still manage to work their way back into the web are investigated and maybe even prosecuted by Washington’s Ministry of Truth for spreading fake news? And then they’ll come for the creators and the dreamers.

  • AJ

    I don’t understand this line:

    “… all his relevant records and materials had been seized from the Ecuadorean Embassy by the US Government”

    How can the US Government take things from the Ecuadorean Embassy?

    Thanks for any explanation…

    • N_

      Yeah – who’d have expected the ruling elite in today’s Britain to lie and cheat and steal and torture, on this same territory on which 800 years ago a few dozen of the biggest landowners stood up to the head landowner, paving the way for the growth of trade unionism, the granting of the vote to women, and the showing of many democratic Hollywood films in film theatres from one end of England to the other and in Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland too? Up until now the elite always believed in fair play, especially where Australian Aborigines and the servants who clean up after posh boys at Eton are concerned.

  • Crispa

    Whilst Assange is being persecuted here, in USA they have gone after Max Blumenthal with a bogus charge relating to his reporting of the trashing of the Venezuelan Embassy by anti – government right wing thugs. It gets more worrying.

  • Imogen Rex

    so very sad – unbelievably malicious and corrupt – my heart goes out to my fellow Australian – I am proud of you, sir!

  • Macky

    Tweet from John Rees who visited Assange today;

    “In Belmarsh today Julian Assange told me that in the concrete exercise yard the prison authorities have the slogan ‘feel the grass between your toes’. On the way to the yard a poster encourages prisoners to ‘choose freedom’. Taunting now official policy”

    • Ken Kenn

      Sounds like Wham’s ‘ Choose Life ‘ slogan to me.

      Very Orwellian although I’m sure George didn’t mean it that way.

      A very anti nuke guy.

      by the way I still don’t know why Julian Assange is not free to break the law.

      Should he choose to do so.

      He’s remanded for what exactly?

      The PTB could always tag him if they wished.

      He’s hardly a danger to society.

      I’ll re-phrase that – he is but not to ordinary society – just a selective part of society.

    • jmg

      “I visited Julian Assange in Belmarsh. He’s counting the steps he walks in his solitary confinement cell & imagining that he is walking across Europe. Asks future visitors to tell him distances between towns on route so he can keep track. #longwalktofreedom #DontExtraditeAssange”
      — John Rees, Oct 29, 2019 (@JohnWRees)

  • John M. Noble

    Is it possible to make the forthcoming general election all about Assange? This does seem to be the important issue.

    • jmg

      Chris Hedges warned about it as well:

      “The publication of classified documents is not a crime in the United States, but if Assange is extradited and convicted it will become one.

      “Assange is not an American citizen. WikiLeaks, which he founded and publishes, is not a U.S.-based publication. The message the U.S. government is sending is clear: No matter who or where you are, if you expose the inner workings of empire you will be hunted down, kidnapped and brought to the United States to be tried as a spy.

      “The extradition and trial of Assange will mean the end of public investigations by the press into the crimes of the ruling elites. It will cement into place a frightening corporate tyranny.

      “Publications such as The New York Times and The Guardian, which devoted pages to the WikiLeaks revelations and later amplified and legitimized Washington’s carefully orchestrated character assassination of Assange, are no less panicked.

      “This is the gravest assault on press freedom in my lifetime.”

      The Coming Show Trial of Julian Assange — Chris Hedges — Jun 17, 2019

  • Kathleen

    It is disgraceful to put it mildly what he is undergoing, a lot of people with power behind them are very corrupt it is a scandal and unbelievable what is being done to him.
    I only hope he is brought home to Australia soon and allowed to recuperate, so much for democracy.

  • DuckyLucky

    I’m sure that someone else has already said it, but Vanessa Baraitser is NOT a Magistrate – she’s the typical bastard District Court Judge (i.e. a professional lawyer and judge). These people are the scum of the earth and employed in their role because they’re complete sociopaths – and believe EVERYTHING state officials say and seem to enjoy persecuting the weak and law-abiding.

  • Rasal

    Please i pray that this sincerely peaceful man, who lives for the expression of truth, be set free and is greatly rewarded by the heavens. It is inconceivable that this outplay of pure fascism under our nose is happening and we can’t do anything about it..! Perhaps at least let Avaaz take this case on.. My God, what a criminals these governments!

  • Marion Coady

    What a total nightmare, how has England become a place of no justice. The Judge seemed devoid of human feeling. I can only send my prayers and positive thoughts to Julian he seems caught in a web of evil. May God help him

  • Onno

    If the state can do this, then who is next?

    Remember Dresden………..The normal state can’t do these things, but (succesfull adapted compensated) psychopaths who infiltrated the state (now a typical psychopathocracy), their alien mindset well camouflaged behind a “warm loving” mesmerising convincing “mask of sanity” (“free” democratic elections being a part of that) unrecognised as such…….CAN! No moral inhibitions…..none!

  • Roderick Russell

    Thank you for having the courage to write this article. All decent people, whether on the left or the right, must feel the same way. The abusive treatment of Assange by the British State is appalling.

    • jmg

      Roderick Russell wrote:
      > Thank you for having the courage to write this article. All decent people, whether on the left or the right, must feel the same way. The abusive treatment of Assange by the British State is appalling.

      Yes, just yesterday a new appeal from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) to the United Kingdom government, apparently a lawless government now:

      “‘However, what we have seen from the UK Government is outright contempt for Mr. Assange’s rights and integrity,’ Melzer said. ‘Despite the medical urgency of my appeal, and the seriousness of the alleged violations, the UK has not undertaken any measures of investigation, prevention and redress required under international law.’ . . .

      “‘Despite the complexity of the proceedings against him led by the world’s most powerful Government, Mr. Assange’s access to legal counsel and documents has been severely obstructed, thus effectively undermining his most fundamental right to prepare his defence,’ said Melzer.

      “‘The blatant and sustained arbitrariness shown by both the judiciary and the Government in this case suggests an alarming departure from the UK’s commitment to human rights and the rule of law. This is setting a worrying example, which is further reinforced by the Government’s recent refusal to conduct the long-awaited judicial inquiry into British involvement in the CIA torture and rendition programme.’ . . .

      “In his urgent appeal to the UK Government, the Special Rapporteur strongly recommended that Mr. Assange’s extradition to the United States be barred, and that he be promptly released and allowed to recover his health and rebuild his personal and professional life.”

      OHCHR | UN expert on torture sounds alarm again that Julian Assange’s life may be at risk | Geneva, 1 November 2019

  • lysias

    As Tertullian said, the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church. In the end, Assange’s persecutors will lose.

  • Truth

    Unlike the criminals he exposed, his motives were neither wealth or power. If our rulers had even a drop of morality, Assange would be honored as a hero.

    But criminals don’t like being exposed, especially when it effects their livelihood. So instead, they seek revenge through a vast network of loyal pawns.

    Most blindly follow orders as payment for their position, others in hope of more wealth & power, and yet others simply out of fear.

    How else does one justify a year of 23 hrs/day solitary for breaching bail over false charges? The guilty don’t even receive this punishment.

    And now, after serving his sentence; they continue his treatment indefinitely? The lack of justice is both appalling and yet expected.

    I’m ashamed to belong to the same race of beings as these people. It’s blatantly obvious who the real criminals are.

    • Robyn

      I understand Julian’s sentence for bail jumping has been served and he is now being held on remand pending his extradition hearing/s.

      I can’t imagine any grounds on which solitary confinement could be justified in this case, and I can’t understand why there is no legal challenge to his being held in such conditions. Given that the PTB have Julian where they want him and in exactly the psychological and physical condition they want him (fast track to death), challenges are probably futile, but surely there are grounds for legal interventions. A few poorly attended demonstrations and a few articles by ethical journalists and bloggers have had zero positive effect thus far.

  • Node

    This RT interview is 10 days old but I don’t think it’s been posted on this thread yet. It’s an interview with the former foreign minister of Ecuador claiming that Moreno was blackmailed into selling out Assange. The US had discovered Moreno’s secret illegal bank account in Spain.

  • jmg


    “5 November 2019

    “Former Icelandic Interior Minister tells Independent Australia how he blocked U.S. interference in 2011 in order to defend WikiLeaks and its publisher Julian Assange. Sara Chessa reports.

    “A MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR wakes up one summer morning and finds out that a plane full of United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents has landed in his country, aiming to carry out police investigations without proper permission from the authorities.

    “How many statesmen would have the strength to say, ‘No, you can’t do this’, to the United States? Former Icelandic Interior Minister Ögmundur Jónasson, in fact, did this — and for the sake of investigative journalism. He understood that something wrong with the sudden FBI mission in Reykjavik, and that this had to do with the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks and its publisher Julian Assange. . . .

    “But this was not only about defending Iceland´s sovereignty. According to Mr Jónasson, during this process, he had been informed that the FBI showed up in Reykjavik with the aim of framing Julian Assange. . . .

    “Mr Jónasson says:

    “‘Kristinn Hrafnsson is highly respected in Iceland. But for WikiLeaks and whistleblowers in general, I think it will depend – as indeed anywhere – on the public, which in the end is the guardian of freedom, including the freedom of the press. You can have excellent laws and constitutions, and they are, for sure, needed, but it is almost non-relevant if society is asleep. You need people to speak up.’

    “This is for Mr Jónasson the main point also in Assange’s case:

    “‘WikiLeaks was bringing out the truth, revelaing crimes which should have been taken to court. This has been prevented. So the charges brought against the publisher are, in reality, charges against free speech and freedom of the press. The American police and secret services are trying to create an atmosphere of impunity, where they can do anything. Even when they landed here, they were showing contempt for democracy.

    “‘What they are doing to Assange is in opposition to the American Constitution and the principles of human rights, they claim they are protecting.’

    “He is not alone in his considerations, given what the UN Special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, said some months ago regarding Assange.

    “The former Icelandic Interior Minister is aware of this and quotes the statement by Melzer:

    “‘In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution I have never seen a group of democratic states ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonise and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law … The collective persecution of Julian Assange must end here and now!’

    “‘These are heavy words,’ Mr Jónasson says. . . .

    “‘All this for carrying out investigative journalism.’

    “In 2016, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention also stated Assange should walk free. However, he is in a London prison, waiting for the U.S. extradition hearing scheduled for February 2020. Meanwhile, the sexual misconduct allegations in Sweden (never turned into charges) are not involved with his current imprisonment.

    “When Mr Jónasson is asked who can do something to make governments align with the UN request, he again brings into play the people:

    “‘All depends on us. There is not such a thing as spectators. Everybody is taking a part — sitting quiet is taking part!’”

    The FBI tried to make Iceland a complicit ally in framing Julian Assange,13277

  • J_

    Responding to your question, what makes the February date so important to the USA? February is the beginning of the primary election for the presidential candidates of the Republican and Democratic parties. The Democratic candidate selected is very important in this election. They’re trying to find someone who can beat Donald Trump. Even if impeached this year, there’s a chance he will be re-elected in 2020, as he still has the support of nearly half the country. The Republicans are creating a narrative that the Democrats, specifically Joe Biden, former vice president and so far the best candidate to beat Trump, were behind the hacking in the 2016 election, not the Russians. There was a story this year that Assange told Dana Rohrabacher, a former Republican congressman, that the hack was an “inside job” and claimed to have evidence that Russia was not behind the hacks. Perhaps they’re trying to get their hands on him to back up their story and gain the swing state votes in the 2020 election?

  • Tim Hart

    I was at the protest at Westminster Magistrates Court recently, but unable to get into the court proceedings. Your article provides an important insight into what happened. Thank you for writing it.
    Although I have followed the twists and turns of this abysmal affair I have not been as intimately involved as you and as many others have in the campaign. Therefore the suggestions I make here may be inappropriate in that may have already been considered and dismissed for good reasons. But because this is such an important issue I feel obliged to make the comments anyway and hope that you will accept them in the constructive light in which they are intended.
    Your article vividly illustrates the sham of a show trial that these proceedings represent. And, if it is a show trial, then there is no point in Julian’s defence team continuing to engage with this lawless process; especially when, as you point out, they are railroaded and treated with contempt. Because of this I feel that the focus should be on the behaviour of the judge and the misconduct of proceedings generally, rather than subordination to the procedural formalities and specific legal issues surrounding extradition; for example by mounting challenges by judicial review, or other mechanisms, to hold the state to account for its unlawful behaviour.
    The reports that I read at the time Julian was imprisoned – about the absence of appeal against the breach of bail sentence – indicated that this was in order for him to have the best chance of release on parole. I don’t know whether these reports were accurate, but if they were, it seems that this was a very rose-tinted view of the UK justice system. Both Julian’s situation, and Chelsea Manning’s in the US, demonstrates that the states involved in their persecution have no compunction about engaging in subterfuge and deceit and subverting the rule of law in order to get their way. They have no intention of releasing Julian. The outcomes they seek are either to have Julian succumb to his ill-treatment before extradition, or after it. The US and the UK have the power and determination to do this, together with the obsequious judicial systems by which to achieve it. Whilst the recent murmuring from states and non-state agencies and some quarters of the MSM in Julian’s support is encouraging, I would not want to rely on these being decisive in securing his release.
    If the continued focus is on the specific extradition proceedings ‘success’ would seem to me, at best, a series of minor wins, delaying the extradition by legal argument and case management tactics. This would simply prolong Julian’s incarceration in Belmarsh, with all the adverse consequences that this will mean for him. The justification for continuing such tactics must rest on the belief that justice will prevail in the judicial system and/or the current public campaign will exert sufficient pressure to halt the extradition; both of which seem tenuous possibilities at best. The state actors have unlimited time and resources to continue the war of attrition to achieve their ends. However vociferous the legal team are in defending the extradition, and however vocal the public campaign, they have none of these advantages and, in any case, Julian does not have time on his side.
    I feel the legal team and the campaign generally should discontinue their specific engagement with the extradition proceedings – publicly announcing this – by reason of it being a farce and fait accompli. Instead place the emphasis on mounting legal challenges in whatever domestic and international arena are available in regard to the unlawful nature of the proceedings, whilst also seeking to establish proceedings in the ICC against the perpetrators of the war crimes exposed by Wikileaks; reformulating the campaign on these broader issues.

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