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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  • bj

    Seeing as to what harassment Julian Assange was subjected today, and the seemingly extraordinary character of it — I hope that maybe Craig or someone else knowledgeable here can fill us in as to who makes decisions such as these, and based, or ‘justified’, on what?
    Surely not the judge, but if not them — who? The warden? On the direct order of whom? Again, justified on what in particular?

  • John Goss

    Thank you Craig for giving such a focused overview of court-proceedings on the first day. I hope other sincere and honest journalists, worthy of the name, continue in this vein. Sadly the days of intrepid reporting are over. You have said it yourself that the bulk of them are little more than stenographers. But there are still one or two prepared to suffer the editorial whip, and perhaps one or two editors prepared to irritate their owners with a bit of decent and believable copy.

    If I lived in or near London I would offer to queue for you. I’ve not read the comments yet and perhaps others have agreed to do just that. There is little I can do from here but I have republished this amazingly observant piece in my blog.

    The Declassified article is also brilliant and shows the full depth of corruption from the FO to Vanessa Baraitser, who at least had the strength of character to point out the incongruity of James Lewis’ opening remarks regarding what is or is not the legal position of culpability the publishers, that is if Assange committed a crime they did too.

    Keep up the good work. I will make a small donation to your funds.

    • Ken Kenn

      Ironically John had the Court employed the services of a stenographer Lewis’s contradictory and blustering remarks would have been recorded for posterity.

      Or maybe evidence in a future defence?

      Perhaps Priti Patel will enlighten us all once she realises this is her area of expertise.

      Then again maybe not.

      • John Goss

        No, Ken Kenn, I’m afraid politicians are doing a Pontius Pilatus on this one, including my own, Steve McCabe. However, Craig Murray has recorded, if not verbatim, at least the essence. We must all keep the faith and look for ways to involve a wider public.

  • Clark

    New comment page, so for maximum exposure, here are two suggestions of how you can help.

    Craig’s post corrects erroneous impressions given to journalists by the prosecution, but these impressions will have been published in articles in the corporate media. Search them out. Under such articles, post your own correctional comment, with a link to a copy of that comment here on this thread. This has worked before, see my comment here:

    Journalists also have Twitter and Facebook accounts etc., and you can do a similar thing there. Ask an incisive questions, post it here, and post it to the journalist’s account including a link to your comment here.

    Be polite!!! Don’t give any excuses for the “abusive social media” canard.

  • Paul Tucker

    Thank you for this brilliant account of Julian’s show trial and for braving the horrible elements and hostile environment at the prison/court.
    The Rally on Saturday was also inspiring with powerful speeches from you and everyone contributing. Have just bought your first book and will contribute a one-off. Saw the documentary on your departure from Uzbekistan some years ago I remember.
    I’m very grateful for your ‘teaching’ about power and its abuses.
    Have emailed your account to my MP , some journalists, hoping it will shame them, and more generally to friends.
    Please continue this important work, Craig, and I will watch your website, Facebook etc with interest and anticipation.

  • N_

    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.

    I hope his side considered applying for an order of mandamus.

    Julian is not responsible for what demonstrators do outside. Baraitser is saying “You’ve got loud friends. Who cares whether you can hear what’s going on in court or not?” Silly cow.

    (Mind you, I’ve heard heard equally bad statements before from magistrates. I know Baraitser is legally qualified, being a district judge, but most magistrates aren’t legally qualified. I heard one of the latter type sneer her head off at a defendant who applied for an adjournment so that he could receive “advance evidence”, i.e. details of the case against him. She said “Why do you need that? You should know whether you did it or not”. Stupid b*tch didn’t even understand the principle that a defendant should know the case against them and have time to prepare their defence against it.)

    • N_

      Julian should hear every single word of what goes on in court. He is the principal. He may wish to give instructions to his representative in relation to what he hears. That’s called justice. Baraitser may get herself into trouble…

  • Twostime

    Craig, just bunged you some cash for this week and will now set up a subscription. Lovely to see Eva K Bartlett on Moats and talking with you tonight I gather. Best wishes.

  • Tom74

    Thank you for this, Craig. As well as highlighting the plight of Julian Assange and the facts of his case, you have done the public a great service by showing up the mainstream media for the self-serving toadies that they are.

    • Clark

      “…showing up the mainstream media for the self-serving toadies that they are.”

      That’s a bit sweeping. While salaries at the top have mushroomed, journalistic staff have fallen to a twentieth in many cases, and buy-outs have placed most corporate media under a handful of overall controllers. It’s the same story as in every field of commerce and employment; a handful of overworked highly ‘productive’ staff are under too much pressure to do anything like a proper job, and their boss doesn’t live on the same planet economically. Toxic system.

    • Andy Keen

      Has anyone checked the ‘I’? There was a pretty good column in the weekend edition by Patrick Cockburn – comment section.

  • Ort

    Craig, I just saw your interview with Nadira Tudor on the 5pm (my time, of course) RT News.

    It was nice to see you, if saying so ain’t out o’ keepin’ with the circumstances. You looked fit and rested, so I’m glad you’re (apparently) holding up.

    Well done!

  • Stewart Dunbar

    i am unable to give a monthly donation but can make small transfers each month (universal credit)

    • Clark

      Craig would not want people on low incomes to go short. See my comment above; that sort of activity would be of great value – bring more readers to this site, and to good articles linked by Craig and commenters. Challenge journalists and editors, write to your representatives. There are many ways to contribute.

  • terence callachan

    Well done Craig, that must have been a difficult day.One day someone will come along that garners the support of the ordinary people and uses it to take back control.There was a time when politicians feared losing all if the public turned against them and this fear largely kept them in check, not perfect but it worked.
    This last thirty years has seen a change, politicians fear not the public, they treat them as irrelevant and as a consequence of that we see daily ignorance of the law and natural justice.
    Computerisation has given us the internet , greater communication across the world but it’s also given government control of too much that affects daily life.
    There had to be a time of reckoning when either government have total control and ignore the law and natural justice or people have more power to stop government actions.

  • Elyse Gilbert

    I just wanted to express my complete and utter gratefulness at your complete and unbiased report! I am so very sorry for the conditions that you had to endure to get in there and I wish it was better. Thank you so very much and I will share this widely! #FreeAssangeNOW
    Grateful but stuck living in NY… USA… blechhhh
    Elyse Gilbert

  • AliTee

    So far i’ve paid a tenner for this. I shall be giving more in the morning. Come on motherfuckers!

  • Ian Curr

    Thanks for your report, Craig.

    The Australian (Murdoch Press) ran a story headlined “Julian Assange’s legal team blames Guardian journalists for release of unredacted files.” The report claims Julian Assange’s lawyer Summers (not Edward Fitzgerald as in yr report) said: “the gate was opened, not by Assange or WikiLeaks” when the encryption key keeping the names secret was published by Guardian journalists David Leigh and Luke Harding in February 2011.

    In response to the allegation that it was the Guardian that was responsible, their spokesperson responded:

    “The book contained a password which the authors had been told by Julian Assange was temporary and would expire and be deleted in a matter of hours. The book also contained no details about the whereabouts of the files. No concerns were expressed by Assange or Wikileaks about security being compromised when the book was published in February 2011. Wikileaks published the unredacted files in September 2011.”

    Are you able to shed light on the contradictory versions about redacted files put out by the Guardian and Julian’s defence team? Or is the report in the Australian erroneous?

    • Brianfujisan

      From Day Two Ian –

      The court was told that this went wrong when two Guardian journalists, Luke Harding and David Leigh, published a book which contained the password to the database. This led to the uncensored information being published on Cryptome, a US-based site. As Summers noted, the information is still on the site and Cryptome has never faced prosecution.

      Defence Counsel also told the court that when the password disclosure was discovered Assange had personally phoned the White House to warn them, only to be told to call back “in a few hours.”

  • Paul Barbara

    I don’t know if this will be of any help to Assange’s Defence Team:
    ‘DEEP STATE: President Trump’s New Head of Intelligence Led Railroading of Julian Assange’:
    ‘…“I need to let Julian’s lawyers and family know that the president personally ordered an anti WikiLeaks ambassador from a country uninvolved in the case to secure Julian’s arrest,” Fairbanks told Schwartz, according to the screenshots received by Politico.
    “It’s clear he’s a political prisoner and his health is deteriorating rapidly. I don’t know if it will matter to them, but it seems important, and they should know,” she said….’

    • Node

      Thanks for the link Brian, Some fine speeches, and Craig’s was particularly powerful.
      Did you notice George Galloway’s opening remarks at 1:04? Very generous considering their opposing views on Independence.

      • Brianfujisan

        I did indeed Node.. G.G’s opening and often throughout.. I always wonder at the Opposing Independence Stance .. Still it’s a good example of Friendship I reckon.. Craig Presents Logic and Facts Re Independence.. Whereas George???

      • Stan O

        George Galloway paid a remarkable tribute to Craig Murray:

        “I just want to (in parenthesis) make this point: I said “the honourable Craig Murray”. All of the speakers are honourable, but he is “right honourable”. You see, people like me had no choice but to take this path: we were born into it; we had no alternatives. The struggle, this struggle – the struggle against imperialism – was the only choice we had, but Craig Murray had a glittering career in the British Foreign Office – Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Uzbekistan – and he threw it all away because he stood up for justice against torture, against disappearances, against political repression. He threw it all away. He could have kept his head down, been the ambassador for here and for there, and have a knighthood. Well, they may not give you a knighthood but you’ll always be “Sir Craig Murray” to me.”

        Glowing praise indeed. (The little grovelling bastard.¹)

        ¹ © Spike Milligan, in response to a tribute from Prince Charles, British Comedy Awards, 1994.

        • Edmond V.O. Katusz

          Dear Stan 0,

          Great. I can hear in my mind that very specific sound of George Galloway’s voice.
          That sure is an added attraction. And the transcript here below. Awesome service!
          Thanks again. Edmond V.O. Katusz

          • Stan O

            For all you TMOATS fans out there, here’s George’s full speech:

            Honourable Craig Murray, my RT colleague Peter Lavelle, honourable speakers, brothers, sisters, comrades and friends:

            This is a magnificent event, attended by people, as Greg said, of different political stripes, but united in solidarity with prisoner A 9 3 7 9 A Y – the world historic figure, Julian Assange.

            I just want to (in parenthesis) make this point: I said “the honourable Craig Murray”. All of the speakers are honourable, but he is “right honourable”. You see, people like me had no choice but to take this path: we were born into it; we had no alternatives. The struggle, this struggle – the struggle against imperialism – was the only choice we had, but Craig Murray had a glittering career in the British Foreign Office – Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Uzbekistan – and he threw it all away because he stood up for justice against torture, against disappearances, against political repression. He threw it all away! He could have kept his head down, been the ambassador for here and for there, and have a knighthood. Well, they may not give you a knighthood but you’ll always be “Sir Craig Murray” to me.

            Ten years ago exactly on this day, I was kidnapped by the thugs of the dictator Hosni Mubarak, who died today. I was kidnapped in the dead of night, I was taken by men without uniform, who couldn’t speak English, even if they wanted to tell me who they were and where they were taking me. They drove me for many hours, I knew not where, and deposited me at the airport in Cairo, served me with a certificate, which I proudly hold: a blue paper declaring me persona non grata and no longer welcome in Egypt. And I have to tell you that the legal proceedings as described here this evening, and in the various blogs – because that’s the only place you’re going to read anything substantive about what’s going on – in blogs like Craig Murray’s and many others.

            These legal proceedings would have been more fitting in Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship in Egypt than in a country like Britain which is supposed to be a Western democracy. Who cannot tremble with indignation at what happened to Julian Assange just yesterday, never mind over the last decade? Just yesterday this man who should be in Oslo getting the Nobel Peace Prize was being stripped and searched by goons, handcuffed, held in FIVE different cells in one day. Handcuffed eleven times! Handcuffed – for what? He was in a bullet-proof box all day, in the court. What were they searching him – up his backside – for? Why did they take his legal papers away? Talk about an abuse of process! This is an obscenity in a country that pretends to believe in the rule of law and justice.

            Who cannot tremble with indignation when we learn that every movement – literally, Craig, any time we went to the toilet in the Ecuadorian Embassy, the CIA were watching it on video – I’m not exaggerating. There was a camera in the toilet, where Pamela Anderson peed, where Craig Murray and me, and others who have the honour to be friends of Julian Assange. But much more importantly than our movement, they spied on every legal meeting that Julian had with his representatives in absolute brazen defiance of the rules of justice and the lawyer-client privilege. As Craig pointed out, in any other … if you were in court because your dog had fouled the pavement, and this kind of abuse of process was unveiled by the defence, the case would be thrown out immediately. No trial can take place when it’s been corrupted from the beginning in this way. Who cannot tremble with indignation at the idea that the …

            {interruption} … I’m coming to that point. Who cannot tremble with indignation at the idea that the man who blew the whistle on the war crimes is in Belmarsh, and the war criminals are on the BBC and ITV, and raking in millions and millions and millions and millions of pounds. {applause}

            The criminals have made it a crime to report on the crimes that they committed. Ponder that. That’s now the country that we are living in. Who cannot tremble with indignation: well, 95% at least of Britain’s journalists didn’t even show up today to hear the defence’s arguments. 95% of Britain’s broadcasters are not trembling with indignation. If you cannot tremble with indignation at any injustice anywhere, you are not a human being. You have no pulse and you have no soul. And that’s the reality of the so-called fourth estate in this country. I spit upon them!

            This church should be bulging with journalists, because if they had any intention of actually doing their job, what is happening to Julian Assange is a mortal danger to them. It’s a knife at their heart! It’s a sword of Damocles hanging over their heads! … if they actually intended to be journalists. But of course the truth is that most of them have sold whatever soul they had, just for a ribbon to put on their coat, just for a shilling or two. They have abandoned any claim of moral authority and these are the people that lecture us, especially at election times … speaking of which, on the principle that it’s better late than never … I’m glad that Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have finally found a voice to speak up in favour of Julian Assange. And if they’d done so earlier, we might have been further down the road to getting Julian out of Belmarsh.

            Now, I only have time to make two more quick points. And again they relate to what the honourable Craig Murray has said. You see I was there when this extradition treaty was reached. It was concluded behind the backs of Parliament, during the summer recess, when no member of Parliament could question the treaty which David Blunkett – Tony Blair’s Home Secretary – corruptly and secretly concluded with the United States. A one-sided extradition treaty, the likes of which no free country would ever sign with any other country, where they’d never have to send anybody to us, whatever they’ve done … even if it’s killing a young boy on a motorway because you’re driving up the wrong side of the road. You don’t have to send anybody to us, but we will send anybody to you, without even just cause having to be produced. But when Parliament returned in the autumn, I bearded David Blunkett in the member’s lobby and told him all the things that I thought were wrong and dangerous with this extradition treaty, and he said to me “You’re worrying unnecessarily, because all of the points you’re making are taken care of by article 4.1 of the treaty, which precludes the extradition of people in Britain for political offences to the United States. And now the judge is telling us that although that is on the face of the treaty, it does not apply. What madness is this?

            {interruption} And the second point … Sorry? … Windrush? That’s another meeting. I’ll come back to that.

            The last point, then, that I have time to make, is this. If we allow … if the British public allows … the British media allows … the British political class allows – and remember this has to be rubberstamped, signed off, by the current Home Secretary, Priti Patel – so public opinion has a role here. He cannot be sent from this country without a politician, an elected politician, a member of an elected government signing the final extradition order. If we allow Julian Assange to be sent for the rest of his life – the rest of his life – into the dungeons of the US injustice system, journalism, freedom, freedom of speech, democracy itself, will have be murdered in plain sight on our watch.

            And that’s why we are going to fight, and fight, and fight again, to free Julian Assange. Free Julian Assange!

  • Stan O

    Day 2 summary – a video of Craig’s speech at the “Imperialism on Trial – Free Julian Assange” event at St Pancras New Church.


    It’s wonderful to see you all here to support Julian. Some of you, I’m sure …. I left Woolwich Crown Court in a car, to get here about 45 minutes ago, and I’m quite sure I saw some of you standing outside … and how on Earth you got here before me, I have no idea! Plainly the odd Tardis was involved. But you’ve made it, and well done. Those of you who’ve been there know how horrible and how dispiriting it is.

    I feel very tired just after a couple of days of attending that court: it’s oppressive; it’s extremely, deliberately, unpleasant; it’s extraordinarily restrictive.

    You have a trial that is of interest to the world, and it’s deliberately put where the world can’t see it. You have a mainstream media that turns up to report it, and then doesn’t report it. And notably, yesterday, the BBC, the Guardian, ITN, Sky: they were all there yesterday for the prosecution statement; they all left after the prosecution statement. And today it was of course the opening of the defence, so none of them were there at all because they have no interest in the defence; all they were interested in doing was putting the government’s case and using it further to smear Julian.

    It is deeply dispiriting to be present at this sham of justice, and at this much wider demonization in public opinion of Julian, and this failure to present the true facts about the case – from those whose job ought to be to present them. And in the court itself, it is impossible to sit in that court without realising that what you are watching is a charade, and that the magistrate has no real interest at all in the arguments, is not giving a fair hearing to the defence. Every single comment the magistrate makes is to query, question, or belittle the points which the defence have made.

    Her final comments, as we left today, were to point out that, although the United States–United Kingdom extradition treaty says you may not be extradited for a political offence, the extradition act in UK law does not say you may not be extradited for a political offence, therefore irrespective of the content of the treaty, a political offence may still be extraditable.

    Yesterday, we had the magistrate note that whether or not Julian Assange aided or abetted Chelsea Manning in any way was immaterial, because under the Official Secrets Act, which is the UK equivalent law under the dual criminality rule for extradition, merely to possess official secrets at all, unauthorised possession or unauthorized publication of official secrets are themselves – in strict liability – illegal. Therefore the question of whether or not Julian Assange colluded with Chelsea Manning, was immaterial: he could be found liable and extradited anyway.

    And every single comment the magistrate has made has tended to favour the prosecution. There is not even the barest attempt at a covering of impartiality. And there have been times when…. The trouble is you get drawn into this charade. You know, you see we’re going through this process, and you see the defence making some rather good points. Today, we had the defence completely demolish the argument that lives were put at risk by Wikileaks in the publication of the Afghan war logs and in the publication of the diplomatic cables. That argument was completely demolished. And as well as that, the defence brought out the great good that was done, and the terrible things that were revealed in the public interest, in terms of extrajudicial killings, murder of children, murder of journalists, torture centres, black ops with death squads going around Afghanistan. And you sat there and from time to time, you think “Wow, this is good! Wow, the defence are making good points! Wow, that’s a strong argument!” … and then you realise it doesn’t bloody matter, because there isn’t a jury anyway.

    And we’re not actually seeing a genuine process. Anyone who doesn’t believe the fix is in, is very naive. And the prosecution don’t seem to be doing terrifically well. Several people, people keep coming up to me in the courtroom, saying “It’s going well, isn’t it? And the prosecution, they seem underprepared.” Well, they are underprepared, but they’re not particularly trying because they know that the verdict was decided before they set into the courtroom. They don’t have to prepare.

    What we are witnessing is a show trial, as surely as anything Stalin did was a show trial. And we have to continue to fight this, and we have to continue to push this, and we have to continue to try to change public opinion, to change political opinion, and to convince the British establishment that this is something up with which the British public will not put.

    It’s a long haul. I will be delighted – but absolutely shocked to my core – if this magistrate decides against extradition; but I think we will get to appeal, and I think eventually we are going to win in the High Court or the Supreme Court. But that could be two or three years down the road. And for someone like me who’s a friend of Julian, and knows him, to see him in his current physical and mental condition is extremely worrying.

    Today, later in the afternoon, the magistrate actually stopped proceedings for a while to ask whether he was in a fit state of health to continue, because he didn’t look in a fit state of health to continue. And today we heard, in court, we heard that yesterday, after the trial, he was twice taken out of his cell and strip-searched; that he was eleven times handcuffed – eleven times he had handcuffs put on him and off him, yesterday – and that all the papers his lawyers had given him in the court in order for him to be able to participate in his defence: all of the papers were taken off him by the prison, and those included confidential communications – privileged communications – between him and his lawyers on his defence, and the State has simply taken them.

    These are gross and vile abuses of process and if there were any real sense of justice here, they would in themselves be enough to stop the proceedings. Just as yesterday we heard how the CIA had arranged spying on him in the Ecuadorian Embassy – on legal conferences with his lawyers – the American State, which is bringing the extradition, has been spying on the defence. In any genuine process, that by itself would halt proceedings; but what we don’t have is any genuine process.

    Now, I hope you will forgive me, because I am tired; I’m a little shaken by all of this … shaken by the obvious brutality of it … but the obvious brutality of it is the point. And the purpose of the obvious brutality of it is to shake us, and to make us scared, and to turn the whole world into compliant citizens, and it is not going to work! Because up with this we will not put!

    The Julian Assange case has always been about freedom. It’s always been about our right as citizens to know about the crimes which governments commit in our name. It’s always been about the right of the people to hold government to account. But it’s widened beyond freedom of speech issues. It’s turned into a question of the fundamental rule of law and whether there is any access to justice in our society.

    We are now engaged in a struggle for the heart of our society … in a struggle for whether there is any truth at all in the notion of a liberal democracy, in the notion of liberty, or whether power – untrammelled power – now has no limits, has no possibility of check … whether the dream that the internet could open up new access, new ways for people to organise, to learn, to disseminate information, whether that dream can be crushed, and information is again going to be limited to what’s going to be put out by an increasingly restricted and increasingly lock-stepped corporate media.

    We are engaged in a dreadful struggle – a struggle which is essentially the struggle against fascism. That is where we now stand. And you could not have it more perfectly illustrated than by seeing the goings-on at Woolwich Crown Court.

    And I am delighted that as we embark on this struggle, we are in such good company with each other. We may be tired, but it is not that we are in bad heart. We are in good heart, we’re going to carry on, and we are going to win!

    Thank you very much indeed.

    — Craig Murray, 25 Feb 2020

    • Brianfujisan

      Thank you very much Stan O

      i have Subscribed to your youtube..Great work..And Brilliant Speech From Craig

    • Andy Keen

      Many thanks for this – didn’t see anything from Craig on Twitter so feared he was too exhausted from first day, but in fact he was there and made this fantastic speech.

  • Wikikettle

    I can just see a cartoon by Steve Bell with Lady Justice…the scales tipped…the sword broken…and her blindfold dropped…the bad fall and decline of British Justice…those with wigs and black gowns should be on the streets demonstrating this flagrant distortion of the law.

  • Allan Howard

    ‘This appeared to catch Lewis entirely off guard. The last thing he had expected was any perspicacity from Baraitser….’

    Funny how she didn’t interject at the point where Lewis was making the false claim, and so very convenient that she only pulled him up about it AFTER they’d handed out copies to the media which included the falsehood AND after the conveniently called adjournment.

    I have no doubt that it was all a piece of theater.

  • Judi Buchan

    Thank you for reporting on facts – something very absent in most if not all of MSM outlets, at least here in Australia. In fact, MSM over here must be on some sort of gag order, as they have failed dismally to report on anything relating to Julian Assange and this horrible ordeal and process.

  • DavidH

    There is a difference between the Assange/Wikileaks whistle blowing and more conventional examples such as Craig himself on UK complicity in torture and rendition.

    Assange/Wikileaks released whole troves of classified, private or stolen documents, both in the Manning and DNC cases. A small number of which contained evidence of wrong-doing, the vast majority of which did not. This is the sense in which they were “unredacted”. When Craig blew his whistle, he didn’t publish every single diplomatic document that had ever passed his desk. If he had, I’m quite sure he’d have been prosecuted.

    For me, this is where Assange’s case may be weak. He could justify publishing exactly those emails that showed wrongdoing. Still might not get past Thatcher’s 1989 Official Secrets Act, but he could put up a good and principled fight. I’d be with him all the way. Surely a good section of even today’s media would also identify with that. But publishing the other thousands and thousands of private and stolen documents seems to have no “whistle blowing” defense beyond a general “take down the system” mentality.

    • Live long & Prosper

      “ When Craig blew his whistle, he didn’t publish every single diplomatic document that had ever passed his desk.”

      Maybe this is why hardly anybody outside a handful of inquisitive minds and supporters ever heard of Craig Murray?.. His dismay at the discovery of torture, political corruption and complicity resulted in his hushed dismissal and subsequent obscurity for the wider world. Julian Assange and Wikileaks’ revelations created a storm, a celebration of hope for freedom and governments’ accountability… but still wasn’t powerful enough to endure the wrath of the imperialism and its patsies.

  • Lidia Beatriz Donnini

    Not even the worst terrorist deserves the treatment Julian is receiving at Belmarsh. He didn’t harm anybody. Why do English people allow this? They are building a worldwide dictatorship and humanity seems to be unable to fight against it. They protect their own criminals and punished people who tell the truth.

    I ask Her Majesty Elizabeth II to stop this at once. This is evil and cruel. Does Her Majesty want enter in history as the Queen who allowed this? She said this is not Her duty but it is. These barbarian proceedings are going on in Her Country. She’s responsible. If she doesn’t stop this, She will remain as the Queen who killed a Man to save US criminals to be exposed as they are: as war criminals.

  • Live Long & Prosper

    Thank you, Graig, for your continuous work and endurance in the face of astonishing injustice and freedom abuse.

  • Alexander Maidan

    Truly Nietzsche nailed England for all time when he said; “The English are the people of consummate cant.”
    That it has further developed into a nightmarish satanic circus of evil and malice was to be expected given the truth of the first statement.

    I wish to thank Craig Murray for his heroic stand in the face of runaway state tyranny and torture of anyone who dares to glance in the direction of the miscarriage and mockery of justice being acted out by the angry, and I hope damned forever, clowns of what passes for the British system of justice – the word turns to shit in the mouth at the sight of these proceedings.

    I have tried three times to subscribe in order to contribute in a miniscule way to the work being done by Mr Murray but I balk at the sight of PayPal and their quest for my information. I usually hold my nose at intrusions which force me to divulge information which is frankly none of their fucking business but lately I have become principled on the matter.

    I wish there was a simple way of donating. I will try the long route through the banks, which I also loathe, but perhaps a bit less than I loathe paypal.

    Good luck tomorrow, God/Allah bless you and Julian Assange,

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