Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day 1 233

Woolwich Crown Court is designed to impose the power of the state. Normal courts in this country are public buildings, deliberately placed by our ancestors right in the centre of towns, almost always just up a few steps from a main street. The major purpose of their positioning and of their architecture was to facilitate public access in the belief that it is vital that justice can be seen by the public.

Woolwich Crown Court, which hosts Belmarsh Magistrates Court, is built on totally the opposite principle. It is designed with no other purpose than to exclude the public. Attached to a prison on a windswept marsh far from any normal social centre, an island accessible only through navigating a maze of dual carriageways, the entire location and architecture of the building is predicated on preventing public access. It is surrounded by a continuation of the same extremely heavy duty steel paling barrier that surrounds the prison. It is the most extraordinary thing, a courthouse which is a part of the prison system itself, a place where you are already considered guilty and in jail on arrival. Woolwich Crown Court is nothing but the physical negation of the presumption of innocence, the very incarnation of injustice in unyielding steel, concrete and armoured glass. It has precisely the same relationship to the administration of justice as Guantanamo Bay or the Lubyanka. It is in truth just the sentencing wing of Belmarsh prison.

When enquiring about facilities for the public to attend the hearing, an Assange activist was told by a member of court staff that we should realise that Woolwich is a “counter-terrorism court”. That is true de facto, but in truth a “counter-terrorism court” is an institution unknown to the UK constitution. Indeed, if a single day at Woolwich Crown Court does not convince you the existence of liberal democracy is now a lie, then your mind must be very closed indeed.

Extradition hearings are not held at Belmarsh Magistrates Court inside Woolwich Crown Court. They are always held at Westminster Magistrates Court as the application is deemed to be delivered to the government at Westminster. Now get your head around this. This hearing is at Westminster Magistrates Court. It is being held by the Westminster magistrates and Westminster court staff, but located at Belmarsh Magistrates Court inside Woolwich Crown Court. All of which weird convolution is precisely so they can use the “counter-terrorist court” to limit public access and to impose the fear of the power of the state.

One consequence is that, in the courtroom itself, Julian Assange is confined at the back of the court behind a bulletproof glass screen. He made the point several times during proceedings that this makes it very difficult for him to see and hear the proceedings. The magistrate, Vanessa Baraitser, chose to interpret this with studied dishonesty as a problem caused by the very faint noise of demonstrators outside, as opposed to a problem caused by Assange being locked away from the court in a massive bulletproof glass box.

Now there is no reason at all for Assange to be in that box, designed to restrain extremely physically violent terrorists. He could sit, as a defendant at a hearing normally would, in the body of the court with his lawyers. But the cowardly and vicious Baraitser has refused repeated and persistent requests from the defence for Assange to be allowed to sit with his lawyers. Baraitser of course is but a puppet, being supervised by Chief Magistrate Lady Arbuthnot, a woman so enmeshed in the defence and security service establishment I can conceive of no way in which her involvement in this case could be more corrupt.

It does not matter to Baraitser or Arbuthnot if there is any genuine need for Assange to be incarcerated in a bulletproof box, or whether it stops him from following proceedings in court. Baraitser’s intention is to humiliate Assange, and to instill in the rest of us horror at the vast crushing power of the state. The inexorable strength of the sentencing wing of the nightmarish Belmarsh Prison must be maintained. If you are here, you are guilty.

It’s the Lubyanka. You may only be a remand prisoner. This may only be a hearing not a trial. You may have no history of violence and not be accused of any violence. You may have three of the country’s most eminent psychiatrists submitting reports of your history of severe clinical depression and warning of suicide. But I, Vanessa Baraitser, am still going to lock you up in a box designed for the most violent of terrorists. To show what we can do to dissidents. And if you can’t then follow court proceedings, all the better.

You will perhaps better accept what I say about the Court when I tell you that, for a hearing being followed all round the world, they have brought it to a courtroom which had a total number of sixteen seats available to members of the public. 16. To make sure I got one of those 16 and could be your man in the gallery, I was outside that great locked iron fence queuing in the cold, wet and wind from 6am. At 8am the gate was unlocked, and I was able to walk inside the fence to another queue before the doors of the courtroom, where despite the fact notices clearly state the court opens to the public at 8am, I had to queue outside the building again for another hour and forty minutes. Then I was processed through armoured airlock doors, through airport type security, and had to queue behind two further locked doors, before finally getting to my seat just as the court started at 10am. By which stage the intention was we should have been thoroughly cowed and intimidated, not to mention drenched and potentially hypothermic.

There was a separate media entrance and a media room with live transmission from the courtroom, and there were so many scores of media I thought I could relax and not worry as the basic facts would be widely reported. In fact, I could not have been more wrong. I followed the arguments very clearly every minute of the day, and not a single one of the most important facts and arguments today has been reported anywhere in the mainstream media. That is a bold claim, but I fear it is perfectly true. So I have much work to do to let the world know what actually happened. The mere act of being an honest witness is suddenly extremely important, when the entire media has abandoned that role.

James Lewis QC made the opening statement for the prosecution. It consisted of two parts, both equally extraordinary. The first and longest part was truly remarkable for containing no legal argument, and for being addressed not to the magistrate but to the media. It is not just that it was obvious that is where his remarks were aimed, he actually stated on two occasions during his opening statement that he was addressing the media, once repeating a sentence and saying specifically that he was repeating it again because it was important that the media got it.

I am frankly astonished that Baraitser allowed this. It is completely out of order for a counsel to address remarks not to the court but to the media, and there simply could not be any clearer evidence that this is a political show trial and that Baraitser is complicit in that. I have not the slightest doubt that the defence would have been pulled up extremely quickly had they started addressing remarks to the media. Baraitser makes zero pretence of being anything other than in thrall to the Crown, and by extension to the US Government.

The points which Lewis wished the media to know were these: it is not true that mainstream outlets like the Guardian and New York Times are also threatened by the charges against Assange, because Assange was not charged with publishing the cables but only with publishing the names of informants, and with cultivating Manning and assisting him to attempt computer hacking. Only Assange had done these things, not mainstream outlets.

Lewis then proceeded to read out a series of articles from the mainstream media attacking Assange, as evidence that the media and Assange were not in the same boat. The entire opening hour consisted of the prosecution addressing the media, attempting to drive a clear wedge between the media and Wikileaks and thus aimed at reducing media support for Assange. It was a political address, not remotely a legal submission. At the same time, the prosecution had prepared reams of copies of this section of Lewis’ address, which were handed out to the media and given them electronically so they could cut and paste.

Following an adjournment, magistrate Baraitser questioned the prosecution on the veracity of some of these claims. In particular, the claim that newspapers were not in the same position because Assange was charged not with publication, but with “aiding and abetting” Chelsea Manning in getting the material, did not seem consistent with Lewis’ reading of the 1989 Official Secrets Act, which said that merely obtaining and publishing any government secret was an offence. Surely, Baraitser suggested, that meant that newspapers just publishing the Manning leaks would be guilty of an offence?

This appeared to catch Lewis entirely off guard. The last thing he had expected was any perspicacity from Baraitser, whose job was just to do what he said. Lewis hummed and hawed, put his glasses on and off several times, adjusted his microphone repeatedly and picked up a succession of pieces of paper from his brief, each of which appeared to surprise him by its contents, as he waved them haplessly in the air and said he really should have cited the Shayler case but couldn’t find it. It was liking watching Columbo with none of the charm and without the killer question at the end of the process.

Suddenly Lewis appeared to come to a decision. Yes, he said much more firmly. The 1989 Official Secrets Act had been introduced by the Thatcher Government after the Ponting Case, specifically to remove the public interest defence and to make unauthorised possession of an official secret a crime of strict liability – meaning no matter how you got it, publishing and even possessing made you guilty. Therefore, under the principle of dual criminality, Assange was liable for extradition whether or not he had aided and abetted Manning. Lewis then went on to add that any journalist and any publication that printed the official secret would therefore also be committing an offence, no matter how they had obtained it, and no matter if it did or did not name informants.

Lewis had thus just flat out contradicted his entire opening statement to the media stating that they need not worry as the Assange charges could never be applied to them. And he did so straight after the adjournment, immediately after his team had handed out copies of the argument he had now just completely contradicted. I cannot think it has often happened in court that a senior lawyer has proven himself so absolutely and so immediately to be an unmitigated and ill-motivated liar. This was undoubtedly the most breathtaking moment in today’s court hearing.

Yet remarkably I cannot find any mention anywhere in the mainstream media that this happened at all. What I can find, everywhere, is the mainstream media reporting, via cut and paste, Lewis’s first part of his statement on why the prosecution of Assange is not a threat to press freedom; but nobody seems to have reported that he totally abandoned his own argument five minutes later. Were the journalists too stupid to understand the exchanges?

The explanation is very simple. The clarification coming from a question Baraitser asked Lewis, there is no printed or electronic record of Lewis’ reply. His original statement was provided in cut and paste format to the media. His contradiction of it would require a journalist to listen to what was said in court, understand it and write it down. There is no significant percentage of mainstream media journalists who command that elementary ability nowadays. “Journalism” consists of cut and paste of approved sources only. Lewis could have stabbed Assange to death in the courtroom, and it would not be reported unless contained in a government press release.

I was left uncertain of Baraitser’s purpose in this. Plainly she discomfited Lewis very badly on this point, and appeared rather to enjoy doing so. On the other hand the point she made is not necessarily helpful to the defence. What she was saying was essentially that Julian could be extradited under dual criminality, from the UK point of view, just for publishing, whether or not he conspired with Chelsea Manning, and that all the journalists who published could be charged too. But surely this is a point so extreme that it would be bound to be invalid under the Human Rights Act? Was she pushing Lewis to articulate a position so extreme as to be untenable – giving him enough rope to hang himself – or was she slavering at the prospect of not just extraditing Assange, but of mass prosecutions of journalists?

The reaction of one group was very interesting. The four US government lawyers seated immediately behind Lewis had the grace to look very uncomfortable indeed as Lewis baldly declared that any journalist and any newspaper or broadcast media publishing or even possessing any government secret was committing a serious offence. Their entire strategy had been to pretend not to be saying that.

Lewis then moved on to conclude the prosecution’s arguments. The court had no decision to make, he stated. Assange must be extradited. The offence met the test of dual criminality as it was an offence both in the USA and UK. UK extradition law specifically barred the court from testing whether there was any evidence to back up the charges. If there had been, as the defence argued, abuse of process, the court must still extradite and then the court must pursue the abuse of process as a separate matter against the abusers. (This is a particularly specious argument as it is not possible for the court to take action against the US government due to sovereign immunity, as Lewis well knows). Finally, Lewis stated that the Human Rights Act and freedom of speech were completely irrelevant in extradition proceedings.

Edward Fitzgerald then arose to make the opening statement for the defence. He started by stating that the motive for the prosecution was entirely political, and that political offences were specifically excluded under article 4.1 of the UK/US extradition treaty. He pointed out that at the time of the Chelsea Manning Trial and again in 2013 the Obama administration had taken specific decisions not to prosecute Assange for the Manning leaks. This had been reversed by the Trump administration for reasons that were entirely political.

On abuse of process, Fitzgerald referred to evidence presented to the Spanish criminal courts that the CIA had commissioned a Spanish security company to spy on Julian Assange in the Embassy, and that this spying specifically included surveillance of Assange’s privileged meetings with his lawyers to discuss extradition. For the state trying to extradite to spy on the defendant’s client-lawyer consultations is in itself grounds to dismiss the case. (This point is undoubtedly true. Any decent judge would throw the case out summarily for the outrageous spying on the defence lawyers).

Fitzgerald went on to say the defence would produce evidence the CIA not only spied on Assange and his lawyers, but actively considered kidnapping or poisoning him, and that this showed there was no commitment to proper rule of law in this case.

Fitzgerald said that the prosecution’s framing of the case contained deliberate misrepresentation of the facts that also amounted to abuse of process. It was not true that there was any evidence of harm to informants, and the US government had confirmed this in other fora, eg in Chelsea Manning’s trial. There had been no conspiracy to hack computers, and Chelsea Manning had been acquitted on that charge at court martial. Lastly it was untrue that Wikileaks had initiated publication of unredacted names of informants, as other media organisations had been responsible for this first.

Again, so far as I can see, while the US allegation of harm to informants is widely reported, the defence’s total refutation on the facts and claim that the fabrication of facts amounts to abuse of process is not much reported at all. Fitzgerald finally referred to US prison conditions, the impossibility of a fair trial in the US, and the fact the Trump Administration has stated foreign nationals will not receive First Amendment protections, as reasons that extradition must be barred. You can read the whole defence statement, but in my view the strongest passage was on why this is a political prosecution, and thus precluded from extradition.

For the purposes of section 81(a), I next have to deal with the question of how
this politically motivated prosecution satisfies the test of being directed against
Julian Assange because of his political opinions. The essence of his political
opinions which have provoked this prosecution are summarised in the reports
of Professor Feldstein [tab 18], Professor Rogers [tab 40], Professor Noam
Chomsky [tab 39] and Professor Kopelman:-
i. He is a leading proponent of an open society and of freedom of expression.
ii. He is anti-war and anti-imperialism.
iii. He is a world-renowned champion of political transparency and of the
public’s right to access information on issues of importance – issues such
as political corruption, war crimes, torture and the mistreatment of
Guantanamo detainees.
5.4.Those beliefs and those actions inevitably bring him into conflict with powerful
states including the current US administration, for political reasons. Which
explains why he has been denounced as a terrorist and why President Trump
has in the past called for the death penalty.
5.5.But I should add his revelations are far from confined to the wrongdoings of
the US. He has exposed surveillance by Russia; and published exposes of Mr
Assad in Syria; and it is said that WikiLeaks revelations about corruption in
Tunisia and torture in Egypt were the catalyst for the Arab Spring itself.
5.6.The US say he is no journalist. But you will see a full record of his work in
Bundle M. He has been a member of the Australian journalists union since
2009, he is a member of the NUJ and the European Federation of Journalists.
He has won numerous media awards including being honoured with the
highest award for Australian journalists. His work has been recognised by the
Economist, Amnesty International and the Council of Europe. He is the winner
of the Martha Gelhorn prize and has been repeatedly nominated for the Nobel
Peace Prize, including both last year and this year. You can see from the
materials that he has written books, articles and documentaries. He has had
articles published in the Guardian, the New York Times, the Washington Post
and the New Statesman, just to name a few. Some of the very publications for
which his extradition is being sought have been refereed to and relied upon in
Courts throughout the world, including the UK Supreme Court and the
European Court of Human Rights. In short, he has championed the cause of
transparency and freedom of information throughout the world.
5.7.Professor Noam Chomsky puts it like this: – ‘in courageously upholding
political beliefs that most of profess to share he has performed an
enormous service to all those in the world who treasure the values of
freedom and democracy and who therefore demand the right to know
what their elected representatives are doing’ [see tab 39, paragraph 14].
So Julian Assange’s positive impact on the world is undeniable. The hostility
it has provoked from the Trump administration is equally undeniable.
The legal test for ‘political opinions’
5.8.I am sure you are aware of the legal authorities on this issue: namely whether
a request is made because of the defendant’s political opinions. A broad
approach has to be adopted when applying the test. In support of this we rely
on the case of Re Asliturk [2002] EWHC 2326 (abuse authorities, tab 11, at
paras 25 – 26) which clearly establishes that such a wide approach should be
adopted to the concept of political opinions. And that will clearly cover Julian
Assange’s ideological positions. Moreover, we also rely on cases such as
Emilia Gomez v SSHD [2000] INLR 549 at tab 43 of the political offence
authorities bundle. These show that the concept of “political opinions” extends
to the political opinions imputed to the individual citizen by the state which
prosecutes him. For that reason the characterisation of Julian Assange and
WikiLeaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence agency” by Mr Pompeo makes
clear that he has been targeted for his imputed political opinions. All the
experts whose reports you have show that Julian Assange has been targeted
because of the political position imputed to him by the Trump administration –
as an enemy of America who must be brought down.

Tomorrow the defence continue. I am genuinely uncertain what will happen as I feel at the moment far too exhausted to be there at 6am to queue to get in. But I hope somehow I will contrive another report tomorrow evening.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.


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233 thoughts on “Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day 1

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  • Clark

    Craig, if you need someone to hold your place in the morning queue, contact me. Or just mention it in the comments; I’m sure there would be plenty of volunteers.

  • SA

    This is the BBC take on the Assange hearing, omitting of course the fact that Lewis made a 180 degrees turn that actually would mean that all journalists handling any official secrets leaked information would be liable for trial not just in US but also in U.K. with such a declaration the defence should therefore demand that Assange, if he is to be tried at all, should be tried in U.K. as that would happen under normal circumstances.

    • SA

      “…..omitting of course the fact that Lewis made a 180 degrees turn that actually would mean that all journalists handling any official secrets leaked information would be liable for trial not just in US but also in U.K. “

      As reported by Craig Murray.

    • SA

      Forgot to add that Mr Lewis alleges that many of the collaborators had since ‘disappeared’, much like the Skripals were ‘disappeared’.

      • Carol

        Or the translators the British government abandoned, or return to Iraq and Afghanistan, and were subsequently executed by the UK/US supported terrorists.

  • Roy David

    Absolutely sterling work, Craig, for which I and many others are extremely grateful. It is patently obvious that this is a political show ‘trial’ staged by the State for the State. The US Brigadier-General Robert Carr, an expert in counter terrorism and military intelligence, led the Pentagon review of the implications of any Manning/Wikileaks exposures. He could find no evidence of any harm to anyone. Had they evidence, it would have been forwarded by now. The prosecution are playing to the gallery and their tactics will hopefully soon be further admonished. More power to your elbow.

    • Andrew Paul Booth

      If the designated “official secret” doesn’t harm national security and does in fact cover up criminal activity then does it properly qualify for such a designation?

      • Tom Welsh

        Because the officials say it does, I imagine.

        Any appearance of democracy, freedom, human rights or respect for law is purely superficial and cosmetic.

      • Magic Robot

        Andrew Paul Booth,

        “does in fact cover up criminal activity.” That is exactly why the new Official Secrets Act 1989 was introduced. Clive Ponting escaped prosecution for revealing that the warship ‘General Belgrano’ had apparently thrown its cards in, and was steaming away from the Falkland Islands conflict outside the Maritime Exclusion Zone when it was summarily sunk. This was contrary to what the media had told the British public; that of a ‘great victory’ for UK forces – ‘that showed the b@st@rd Argies, what!?’ It’s easy to find the exact details online, but hundreds died in that attack.

        There is still dispute over whether this sinking was ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, but, if it was ‘right’, why did the UK authorities get their knickers in such a twist that they had to arrest Ponting under the OSA 1911, if there was nothing to hide?

        At the time Ponting’s defence relied on the OSA 1911, which in sec. 2, specifically gave the defence of ‘in the public interest.’ This was removed in the OSA 1989. What we are witnessing now is the dreadful results.

        This law must go.

  • Tom Welsh

    “It has precisely the same relationship to the administration of justice as Guantanamo Bay or the Lubyanka”.

    Actually the Lubyanaka is very far from meeting the criterion of distance from city centres. It is right in the very centre of Moscow, less than a mile from Red Square and the Kremlin.

    And whatever its history in Soviet times, today it is merely the HQ of the FSB. Perhaps as brutal and violent as the FBI; but perhaps not.

  • N_

    A defendant in a criminal case sits in the dock, not with his lawyers.

    The 1989 Official Secrets Act had been introduced (…) to remove the public interest defence and to make unauthorised possession of an official secret a crime of strict liability – meaning no matter how you got it, publishing and even possessing made you guilty. Therefore, under the principle of dual criminality, Assange was liable for extradition whether or not he had aided and abetted Manning.

    This is an absurdity. This is presumably meant to argue that the US government case passes the first hurdle, namely that the alleged breach of US law would have been a crime in Britain if it were British secrets involved. (You can’t be extradited for something that isn’t a crime in the country you’re in.) But this is irrelevant. Publishing state secrets is a political act, and British law says you can’t be extradited solely for political acts.

    Maybe it’s time to bring private prosecutions against MI6 and DI. They steal and possess foreign states’ secrets. That’s against foreign law. Stealing British state secrets would be against British law. So extradite them?

    (That’s as far as I’ve had time to read.)

    Best of luck to Julian, and thanks for this report, Craig.

    • andrew mcguiness

      True enough, all of it. Re docks, apparently their use is not mandated: “Even today, there is no statutory requirement or judicial authority requiring their use in our courts. Rather, it is simply recommended Ministry of Justice policy that they be available in all criminal courts.”

    • Magic Robot

      “Publishing state secrets is a political act.”

      By that barmy logic, any journalist, reporter, civil servant, or even a random member of the public revealing petty details of a closed local Council meeting concerning, for example, corrupt contract tenders, is a ‘political act’ making all these whistle-blowers ‘political activists’, no doubt.

      Publishing ‘in the public interest’ is not a political act.

      Must be strange living in your faux-Marxist world.

      • Deb O'Nair

        What is the public interest? Whatever those in authority say it is. As a recent example, there was a local case involving a teenager who died whilst being chased by the police on a moped. The parents wanted the police to give them the dashcam footage of the incident and the police refused. The family took the police to court and it was ruled as ‘not in the public interest’, despite the family being members of the public and with a very obvious interest in wishing to see exactly what happened to their son.

      • N_

        @Magic Robot – Dig the way you use the phrase “random member of the public”. Bit of a giveaway. So is capitalising the word “Council”. Does your attitude go down well when you have a drink with property developers and local authority planners in your local Conservative association? Do you think you’re up there with the Medicis when you hear about “closed Council meetings”.

        Do you have an argument based on a meaning that you wish to give to the word “political”, or is what passes for your intellect 100% made of bile? Because if you say X is not a case of Y, you’re supposed to have an understanding of what Y means, mate.

        “Must be strange living in your world” is a truly pathetic attempt at sarcasm.

        Terrorism can be political. Many crimes can be political. I am not saying that no crime that is political should be prosecuted. I am saying that British extradition law forbids extradition for political actions, regardless of whether or not the actions would be criminal if conducted in Britain in relation to the British state.

        And by the way it is a defence under English law to say that you did something that would otherwise be a crime but you did it to prevent a greater crime from being committed. It’s called the defence of necessity.

        • N_

          And another point, @Magic Robot – Both sides appear to have accepted the alleged action was political in nature, because otherwise it would not matter that the Act doesn’t specify this exemption whereas the Treaty does.

          Do you get it, Magic Robot? Your awfully “in-crowd” knowledge about closed meetings of your local “Council” (are “Solicitors” and “Surveyors” and “Doctors” in the know too?) doesn’t excuse the fact that your conclusions about what I said about the hole in the US government’s case are based on nothing more than your contempt for “random members of the public” and “Marxists”.

  • Christopher D Herz

    What is not mentioned, and should be is that the USA and its obedient servants in the UK are war criminals. And certainly have no sovereign right to keep their misdeeds cloaked in secrecy

  • SA

    I don’t usually get a chance to read the upmarket sister of the downmarket filth tabloid guilty of some criminal phone hacking but had a chance this AM to read a hit piece byvHugo Rifkind. After all the character assassination and allegations about personal habit, worthy of tabloids, he moves on claiming that that should not put us off defending the principles behind exposing government secrets.
    This is the astonishing end to his piece:
    “This is not a small problem and I am not sure how we solve it. We should be deeply wary though of letting American assault on one rogue, immoral organisation function as a smokescreen for the erosion of media freedom worldwide. What’s more, if we cannot bring ourselves even to care while it happens, then this is the biggest problem with Julian Assange of all”.
    I wonder which rogue, immoral organisation he refers to?

    • Tom Welsh

      “I wonder which rogue, immoral organisation he refers to?”

      There is no way of knowing. If he were a journalist, of course, he would have given the facts and reasoning that led him to that conclusion.

      Being a stenographer, he did not. Government and its tame media hacks adhere to the tried and tested technique of incessant and insistent repetition.

      “If you throw enough mud, some of it will stick”.

  • Pb

    I don’t know whether Craig managed to make it in today but the editor of Wikileaks did, before the hearing began his name was called out, he was in the public gallery, he was told to leave with no explanation.

    Julian’s dad and other family members walked out in protest

  • Tom Welsh

    Thank you very much indeed, Mr Murray, for your brave and selfless efforts on behalf of Julian Assange. I had not really understood how critically vital your presence in court would be until I read your staggering account of the media’s utter and deliberate failure to report the most important questions asked and statements made in court.

    It boggles the imagination that this can be going on in a country that has boasted, for centuries, of being the home of legal and political freedom.

    All the great British jurists who strove to establish the rights of the citizen, from Henry de Bracton and Sir John Coke onwards, must be spinning in their graves.

    You are quite right to say that the UK is not a liberal democracy.

    • Tom Welsh

      I forgot to mention King Alfred, who went around the country systematically and ceremoniously hanging judges who had condemned men to death on insufficient evidence.

  • Julius

    Flabbergasted at how all those working for police and justice there (and everywhere else where they remain silent) are a corrupt bunch of obedient poltroons. None of them seem prepared to *ever* protest the commands given to them, it’s pathetic. I would have, all my relatives would have refused to obey, formed a union against all the nonsensical expenses wasted on this trumped up ‘case’. None of those lazy-ass dastards dragging Julian out of that embassy had any guts, same for the ones dragging him into this extradition pretend-court of corruption. They knew damn well they were in the wrong, yet they complied. Exactly how their leaders wanted them; obedient robotic slaves, no ideals, no morals, just numb inhumane puppets of a severely corrupted violence-based fear-inducing regime of a financially bankrupted war-machine. I’ve changed because of this, I’m an anarchist now, with a tendency towards deep green too. I’ve stopped caring for the judicial systems in this world, my reliance in any government agency has ended. I’m for truth, science, integrity and UBI. The rest is a waste of our time, time we don’t even have on our fragile planet with its severely broken ecosystems. People like Julian could truly save humanity. Apparently they don’t want it to be saved anymore. Disgustingly selfish old people’s networks.

    • Tom Welsh

      Julius, the trouble is that the great majority (of those who work for government and the establishment, at least) have no understanding of morality.

      To them, life is simply a struggle to get what you can, which often necessitates trampling others underfoot.

      If we had a well educated citizenry, none of this could possibly be happening. (Imagine, if you will, 60 million Craig Murrays).

      • wonky

        “To them, life is simply a struggle to get what you can, which often necessitates trampling others underfoot.”

        This is the condensed motto of neoliberalism. A completely disastrous (but deliberate) misinterpretation of Darwin’s conclusions.
        Fascist neofeudalism is the next stepping stone, before the “winners” of this “game” declare themselves all-out God-Kings.

  • OnlyHalfALooney

    I am amazed that the US prosecutors are continuing down the path of “the first amendment does not apply to Assange, because he is a foreigner”.

    If they persist with this argument, it will jeopardise all extraditions of non-US citizens from (civilised) countries to the US, because what it amounts to is picking and choosing which constitutional guarantees apply to accused “foreigners”. If the first amendment does not apply to Assange (“because he is a foreigner”), does this mean that fifth amendment also does not apply? And the fifth amendment guarantees that a person shall not “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”.

    I cannot see any European court agreeing to extradite a person to US jurisdiction unless full protection in terms of the US constitution is guaranteed.

    Now the prosecution may drop this claim. It is almost certainly at odds with all existing jurisprudence and rulings in any case. But it is a remarkable and un-thought-out claim.

    I am a little more optimistic about Assange’s chances today. I think this magistrate will almost certainly find for extradition. But there are very good grounds for appeal. There may even be video footage of Rohrbacher offering Assange a pardon on behalf of Trump. The case may well become the media spectacle the US and UK governments clearly wanted to avoid.

    The Dunn case has made politically difficult for the UK government to simply hand over (“rendition”) Assange.

    But we live in strange times, the US and UK governments are plainly seeking revenge and who knows what they are capable of.

    • Tom Welsh

      OnlyHalfA Looney, what you describe is exactly what the US elite has been doing for decades now. The process has merely come to a head with Mr Trump – the metaphor is perfectly apt, as he is such a quintessential political boil or carbuncle.

      Lenin captured the spirit of the thing when he predicted that the capitalists would eagerly sell socialists the rope to hang them with. Their approach to life is fundamentally short-term – how often have we heard it said that corporate executives consider two quarters to be “the long term”?

      The USA is methodically cutting itself off from the rest of the world in almost every possible way, while happily believing that it is “teaching those foreigners a lesson”. This cartoon sums it up perfectly:

  • guido paoluzi cusani

    Hello All,
    Is anyone able to provide a link to a pdf\txt transcription of James Lewis QC opening statement for the prosecution? The one distributed to the media Mr. Murray mentions above? I would like to translate it in Italian, where apart from the isolated voice of “Repubblica” Stefania Maurizi, the mainstream information is completely flattened on the US official position. As for the second part: is it possible there is no printed or electronic record of Lewis’ reply? I am not accustomed with the British legal process, but I am surprised there is not a transcription of it… Maybe is just not released to the public or not released until the proceeding is completed?
    Best regards

  • jmg

    Craig Murray wrote:

    > Following an adjournment, magistrate Baraitser questioned the prosecution on the veracity of some of these claims. In particular, the claim that newspapers were not in the same position because Assange was charged not with publication, but with “aiding and abetting” Chelsea Manning in getting the material, did not seem consistent with Lewis’ reading of the 1989 Official Secrets Act, which said that merely obtaining and publishing any government secret was an offence. Surely, Baraitser suggested, that meant that newspapers just publishing the Manning leaks would be guilty of an offence?

    > This appeared to catch Lewis entirely off guard. The last thing he had expected was any perspicacity from Baraitser, whose job was just to do what he said. Lewis hummed and hawed, put his glasses on and off several times, adjusted his microphone repeatedly and picked up a succession of pieces of paper from his brief, each of which appeared to surprise him by its contents, as he waved them haplessly in the air and said he really should have cited the Shayler case but couldn’t find it. It was liking watching Columbo with none of the charm and without the killer question at the end of the process.

    > Suddenly Lewis appeared to come to a decision. Yes, he said much more firmly. . . .


    This seems like a nightmare, but it’s real…

    “The judge asked if the act of ‘obtaining’ the docs constitutes one of the conducts charged, does it follow that any person solely ‘obtaining’ these kinds of documents — without the ‘aiding and abetting’ elements — would be subject to prosecution as well? ‘Yes’ #Assange #auspol”

    — Mary Kostakidis (journalist) — Twitter — Feb 25, 2020

    For more details, see also:

    USA v Julian Assange: Extradition Day 1 — Defend WikiLeaks — 24 February 2020

    Of course this includes The New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, El País, Al Jazeera, Le Monde… and all of us, no matter where we are.

    This puts everyone at the mercy of the MIC/CIA war profiteers. Obey or else.

    They already own the United Kingdom and most of the world. Dystopia starts now.


    A summary of the indictment:

    “Julian Assange faces 18 charges:

    1. Conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act: 10 years
    2. Violating the Espionage Act by Manning’s obtaining Guantanamo Bay Naval Base (GITMO) Files: 10 years
    3. Violating the Espionage Act by Manning’s obtaining Cablegate: 10 years
    4. Violating the Espionage Act by Manning’s obtaining Iraq War Logs: 10 years
    5. Attempting to receive and obtain classified information: 10 years
    6. Unlawfully obtaining and receiving GITMO Files: 10 years
    7. Unlawfully obtaining and receiving Cablegate: 10 years
    8. Unlawfully obtaining and receiving Iraq War Logs: 10 years
    9. Causing unlawful disclosure by Manning of GITMO Files: 10 years
    10. Causing unlawful disclosure by Manning of Cablegate: 10 years
    11. Causing unlawful disclosure by Manning of Iraq War Logs: 10 years
    12. Causing Manning to communicate, deliver and transmit GITMO Files: 10 years
    13. Causing Manning to communicate, deliver and transmit Cablegate: 10 years
    14. Causing Manning to communicate, deliver and transmit Iraq War Logs: 10 years
    15. ‘Pure publication’ of Afghan War Diaries: 10 years
    16. ‘Pure publication’ of Iraq War Logs: 10 years
    17. ‘Pure publication’ of Cablegate: 10 years
    18. Conspiracy to violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFFA): 5 years”

    Journalists must pay attention to Julian Assange | New Internationalist | 31 October 2019

    • Benedict

      The indictment is absurd. Not only has WikiLeaks *never* published anything in “Pure publication” form or status. It has *all* been redacted, *all of it*. Apparently none of those prosecutors has ever *really* looked at those ‘Pure publications’, which goes why their judgement is total hogwash from the get-go.

      And then the ease of “10 years” they dare throw after each trumped-up, fake offense: for crying out loud, murderers and actual rapists get away with less than that inside the US! Don’t they have any moral backbone left?

      What is it with Americans these days? Can’t they at least *try* and drop their ludicrous delusions of grandeur already? You’re NOT the best at anything, and even if you were, nobody cares, since you’ve destroyed the global atmosphere with your insane use of resources. If we all lived like you Americans do, we’d need 8 planet Earths. It’s shameful how none of the large US media takes Julian’s side here. It’s literally *all* parroting White House policies and thought police at work. Disgusting.

  • AJ

    Thank you for doing this, Craig. It’s an important job and many of us are very grateful. Is there any practical way for the rest of us to help?

  • conjunction


    Like many others I am profoundly grateful for your efforts on behalf of JA and indeed on our behalf in providing a reliable and extremely thoughtfully and reliably written account of proceedings.

    Your account is fascinating especially on the main point of the interaction of Judge and prosecutor and the comedy of the response of pretty vacant MSM. Sick-making comedy.

    God bless you.

  • Chris

    Hello Craig – thank you for your report one of thecfewcthat we can rely upon for thectruth in this case – already a supporter but an extra donation to assit your efforts on the way..

  • Feliks

    Tweeting from the courtroom

    Edward Fitzgerald tells the court that yesterday Julian Assange was handcuffed 11 times, and strip searched twice, asks the judge to send a message to the prison authorities
    Fitzgerald says the prison authorities have also confiscated #Assange’s paperwork.
    James Lewis QC for US government rises to support the defence submission that #assange treatment may interfere with #Assange’s right to a fair hearing.

  • dearieme

    Remainers celebrated the corruption of our judges on Brexit matters. Now some of the same individuals cry `”foul” at the appearance of corruption on the Assange matter. What a conveniently flexible view of the legal system.

    Anyway, let the bugger go. He’s been through quite enough and it would be cruel (if all too usual) to turn him over to the disgraceful American criminal law system.

  • Martyn

    Surely for joint criminality to be a factor will require the prosecution to prove that the documents published by wikleaks were Offciial Secrets in the UK.

    • Deepgreenpuddock

      that seems logical and easonable but all theevidence suggests ogic and reason are incidental in this arbitrary process.The process and its officials are a laughing stock.

  • Alastair McP

    Excellent work Craig!

    Lucid, compendious and essential: a piece of the purest bravura. You are a brave and brilliant man.

    Keep your strength up I beg. There’s Dimple¹ and bubbly to come. You deserve it by the bucketful.


    ¹or Caol Ila, your choice

  • Antonia Jenkins

    Thank you Mr. Murray for your tenacity and integrity in the events with Julian Assange.
    It is good to have someone like you whose word we can trust, in the midst of the mass of misinformation we are being served daily from our media.
    With much gratitude,

  • Mary

    There is a very derogatory and unfriendly report of yesterday’s proceedings in the print Heil today. It refers to the supporters as ‘a mob’.

    Today online, they report this. How shocking.

    Prison officers twice stripped Julian Assange naked and handcuffed him 11 times during first day of US extradition hearing, reveals his lawyer who argues treatment may be ‘in contempt of court’
    Julian Assange, 48, claims he is being badly treated by staff at Belmarsh jail
    Wanted by US Department of Justice over 18 charges but is fighting extradition
    17 charges are alleged breaches of US Espionage Act and 1 of computer hacking
    Assange’s QC says he is a suicide risk in an ‘inhuman and degrading’ US jail
    Edward Fitzgerald also claims there was a US plot to snatch or murder his client

  • Cascadian

    I feel the urge to ask – was Lewis wearing an earpiece perchance?

    Perhaps there may have been a nearby (but out of site) producer and director feeding him prompts and guidance before he floundered to far off the plan?

  • Northern

    Thanks for your efforts as always Craig, they go above and beyond what we could expect from just one man. I will make a donation on Friday when I am able.

    This really is the crystallising issue of our time I think, the thin end of the wedge. All other issues and concerns follow secondary to freedom of speech in the face of unabashed fascism by the state. If they can get revenge on Assange in this naked a fashion, they’ll only be emboldened in the future. It occurs to me this is a relatively new tool in the box for them as well, as in any similar situation in the previous 3 or 4 decades they wouldn’t have been able to guarantee the media marching so slavishly in lockstep to their tune, so would have to temper their treatment of the prisoner and give them at least the semblance of a fair hearing, in order to avoid making a martyr out of them. No such issues for Julian in this day and age however.

    Like someone else has speculated, I would expect the prosecution to shuffle away from the arguments on constitutional protections for non-citizens pretty quickly as that seems to be a double edged sword for them that I’m a bit surprised they attempted to wield. The entire mainstream media’s failure to report on these major details of the case, never mind the context it sits in, is shockingly criminal. I urge all the readers here to disseminate Craig’s article via social media as far as possible, we can’t be rolled over this easily!

  • Marmite

    I am appalled by the UK’s continued and flagrant torture of a human being. There is no other word for this than slow murder.

    Shame on every single person in this country who claims to be decent but doesn’t speak out against this.

    Shame especially on those in positions of celebrity or authority who haven’t done so yet. I don’t know what kind of mental state they might be in to allow this to happen to any man, never mind someone who simply wanted to report on the truth.

    If there is a future, the UK will go down in the history books as a wicked crackpot imperialist warmongering hypocritical human rights abuser, outperforming even the very worst states that the world has seen, and whose few decent people were too weak to oppose the absolute crimes of those in power.

    No exaggeration there either.

    • Alan Dow

      What, added to the water supply, could create such a suggestible, docile and obedient population?

  • writeon

    I tihink we’re leaving the era of bourgeois, liberal, democracy; which despite its flaws and pretentions, was preferable to what went before and what seems, clearly, to be emerging now; a highly centralised national security state, where, increasingly, the law is the state.

    If Assange is extradited for telling the public the truth about the activities of the state, which include, among other things, warcrimes and the mass murder of innocent civilians; then we really are on the blood-soaked slippery slope to a strong state that’s as close to fascism as makes no real difference. Can it ever really be a ‘crime’ to reveal a state carrying out warcrimes? Wasn’t it established at Nuremberg that it’s in fact ones duty to speak out when has knowledge of such terrible state crimes? To extradite Assange would be close to rewarding the criminals for their crimes and punishing the man who reveals them.

    What’s so disturbing is how complicit the mass media are in all of this. The Guardian and the BBC should hang their heads in shame. It’s like we already live under ‘post-democratic’ conditions, where a brazen showtrial can happen under the noses of the media and they ignore what’s going on. Think of the vast resources available to the press in the UK, yet it’s left up to a private individual, Craig Murray to provide the public with a detailed, perceptive and above all honest and accurate report on the proceedings. And the prosecution are even arguing, in public, that what’s happening to Assange could in fact happen to the rest of the media and anyone else deemed guilty of revealing the crimes of the state; yet still the media seem totally oblivious to what’s going on and the incredibly important moral and legal principles that are being trampled on before our very eyes! What’s the matter with journalists at the Guardian? Are they just stupid, ignorant, uneducated, uninterested; or are they merely afraid when the prosecutor openly attempts to intimidate them and threaten them with the same medicine they’ve forced down Assange’s throat?

  • Clark

    It’s all very well posting comments here but you’ll be preaching to the converted.

    Post comments on corporate ‘news’ media websites with a link back to here. Tone down your MSM version, to leave no excuse for removal under “community guidelines”. This is how we at this site have forced our perspectives into the corporate media on several previous occasions. This is direct action.

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