Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day Four 254


Please try this experiment for me.
Try asking this question out loud, in a tone of intellectual interest and engagement: “Are you suggesting that the two have the same effect?”.

Now try asking this question out loud, in a tone of hostility and incredulity bordering on sarcasm: “Are you suggesting that the two have the same effect?”.

Firstly, congratulations on your acting skills; you take direction very well. Secondly, is it not fascinating how precisely the same words can convey the opposite meaning dependent on modulation of stress, pitch, and volume?

Yesterday the prosecution continued its argument that the provision in the 2007 UK/US Extradition Treaty that bars extradition for political offences is a dead letter, and that Julian Assange’s objectives are not political in any event. James Lewis QC for the prosecution spoke for about an hour, and Edward Fitzgerald QC replied for the defence for about the same time. During Lewis’s presentation, he was interrupted by Judge Baraitser precisely once. During Fitzgerald’s reply, Baraitser interjected seventeen times.

In the transcript, those interruptions will not look unreasonable:
“Could you clarify that for me Mr Fitzgerald…”
“So how do you cope with Mr Lewis’s point that…”
“But surely that’s a circular argument…”
“But it’s not incorporated, is it?…”

All these and the other dozen interruptions were designed to appear to show the judge attempting to clarify the defence’s argument in a spirit of intellectual testing. But if you heard the tone of Baraitser’s voice, saw her body language and facial expressions, it was anything but.

The false picture a transcript might give is exacerbated by the courtly Fitzgerald’s continually replying to each obvious harassment with “Thank you Madam, that is very helpful”, which again if you were there, plainly meant the opposite. But what a transcript will helpfully nevertheless show was the bully pulpit of Baraitser’s tactic in interrupting Fitzgerald again and again and again, belittling his points and very deliberately indeed preventing him from getting into the flow of his argument. The contrast in every way with her treatment of Lewis could not be more pronounced.

So now to report the legal arguments themselves.

James Lewis for the prosecution, continuing his arguments from the day before, said that Parliament had not included a bar on extradition for political offences in the 2003 Act. It could therefore not be reintroduced into law by a treaty. “To introduce a Political Offences bar by the back door would be to subvert the intention of Parliament.”

Lewis also argued that these were not political offences. The definition of a political offence was in the UK limited to behaviour intended “to overturn or change a government or induce it to change its policy.” Furthermore the aim must be to change government or policy in the short term, not the indeterminate future.

Lewis stated that further the term “political offence” could only be applied to offences committed within the territory where it was attempted to make the change. So to be classified as political offences, Assange would have had to commit them within the territory of the USA, but he did not.

If Baraitser did decide the bar on political offences applied, the court would have to determine the meaning of “political offence” in the UK/US Extradition Treaty and construe the meaning of paragraphs 4.1 and 4.2 of the Treaty. To construe the terms of an international treaty was beyond the powers of the court.

Lewis perorated that the conduct of Julian Assange cannot possibly be classified as a political offence. “It is impossible to place Julian Assange in the position of a political refugee”. The activity in which Wikileaks was engaged was not in its proper meaning political opposition to the US Administration or an attempt to overthrow that administration. Therefore the offence was not political.

For the defence Edward Fitzgerald replied that the 2003 Extradition Act was an enabling act under which treaties could operate. Parliament had been concerned to remove any threat of abuse of the political offence bar to cover terrorist acts of violence against innocent civilians. But there remained a clear protection, accepted worldwide, for peaceful political dissent. This was reflected in the Extradition Treaty on the basis of which the court was acting.

Baraitser interrupted that the UK/US Extradition Treaty was not incorporated into English Law.

Fitzgerald replied that the entire extradition request is on the basis of the treaty. It is an abuse of process for the authorities to rely on the treaty for the application but then to claim that its provisions do not apply.

“On the face of it, it is a very bizarre argument that a treaty which gives rise to the extradition, on which the extradition is founded, can be disregarded in its provisions. It is on the face of it absurd.” Edward Fitzgerald QC for the Defence

Fitzgerald added that English Courts construe treaties all the time. He gave examples.

Fitzgerald went on that the defence did not accept that treason, espionage and sedition were not regarded as political offences in England. But even if one did accept Lewis’s too narrow definition of political offence, Assange’s behaviour still met the test. What on earth could be the motive of publishing evidence of government war crimes and corruption, other than to change the policy of the government? Indeed, the evidence would prove that Wikileaks had effectively changed the policy of the US government, particularly on Iraq.

Baraitser interjected that to expose government wrongdoing was not the same thing as to try to change government policy. Fitzgerald asked her, finally in some exasperation after umpteen interruptions, what other point could there be in exposing government wrongdoing other than to induce a change in government policy?

That concluded opening arguments for the prosecution and defence.

MY PERSONAL COMMENTARY

Let me put this as neutrally as possible. If you could fairly state that Lewis’s argument was much more logical, rational and intuitive than Fitzgerald’s, you could understand why Lewis did not need an interruption while Fitzgerald had to be continually interrupted for “clarification”. But in fact it was Lewis who was making out the case that the provisions of the very treaty under which the extradition is being made, do not in fact apply, a logical step which I suggest the man on the Clapham omnibus might reason to need rather more testing than Fitzgerald’s assertion to the contrary. Baraitser’s comparative harassment of Fitzgerald when he had the prosecution on the ropes was straight out of the Stalin show trial playbook.

The defence did not mention it, and I do not know if it features in their written arguments, but I thought Lewis’s point that these could not be political offences, because Julian Assange was not in the USA when he committed them, was breathtakingly dishonest. The USA claims universal jurisdiction. Assange is being charged with crimes of publishing committed while he was outside the USA. The USA claims the right to charge anyone of any nationality, anywhere in the world, who harms US interests. They also in addition here claim that as the materials could be seen on the internet in the USA, there was an offence in the USA. At the same time to claim this could not be a political offence as the crime was committed outside the USA is, as Edward Fitzgerald might say, on the face of it absurd. Which curiously Baraitser did not pick up on.

Lewis’s argument that the Treaty does not have any standing in English law is not something he just made up. Nigel Farage did not materialise from nowhere. There is in truth a long tradition in English law that even a treaty signed and ratified with some bloody Johnny Foreigner country, can in no way bind an English court. Lewis could and did spout reams and reams of judgements from old beetroot faced judges holding forth to say exactly that in the House of Lords, before going off to shoot grouse and spank the footman’s son. Lewis was especially fond of the Tin Council case.

There is of course a contrary and more enlightened tradition, and a number of judgements that say the exact opposite, mostly more recent. This is why there was so much repetitive argument as each side piled up more and more volumes of “authorities” on their side of the case.

The difficulty for Lewis – and for Baraitser – is that this case is not analogous to me buying a Mars bar and then going to court because an International Treaty on Mars Bars says mine is too small.

Rather the 2003 Extradition Act is an Enabling Act on which extradition treaties then depend. You can’t thus extradite under the 2003 Act without the Treaty. So the Extradition Treaty of 2007 in a very real sense becomes an executive instrument legally required to authorise the extradition. For the executing authorities to breach the terms of the necessary executive instrument under which they are acting, simply has to be an abuse of process. So the Extradition Treaty owing to its type and its necessity for legal action, is in fact incorporated in English Law by the Extradition Act of 2003 on which it depends.

The Extradition Treaty is a necessary precondition of the extradition, whereas a Mars Bar Treaty is not a necessary precondition to buying the Mars Bar.

That is as plain as I can put it. I do hope that is comprehensible.

It is of course difficult for Lewis that on the same day the Court of Appeal was ruling against the construction of the Heathrow Third Runway, partly because of its incompatibility with the Paris Agreement of 2016, despite the latter not being fully incorporated into English law by the Climate Change Act of 2008.

VITAL PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

It is intensely embarrassing for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) when an English court repudiates the application of a treaty the UK has ratified with one or more foreign states. For that reason, in the modern world, very serious procedures and precautions have been put into place to make certain that this cannot happen. Therefore the prosecution’s argument that all the provisions of the UK/US Extradition Treaty of 2007 are not able to be implemented under the Extradition Act of 2003, ought to be impossible.

I need to explain I have myself negotiated and overseen the entry into force of treaties within the FCO. The last one in which I personally tied the ribbon and applied the sealing wax (literally) was the Anglo-Belgian Continental Shelf Treaty of 1991, but I was involved in negotiating others and the system I am going to describe was still in place when I left the FCO as an Ambassador in 2005, and I believe is unchanged today (and remember the Extradition Act was 2003 and the US/UK Extradition Treaty ratified 2007, so my knowledge is not outdated). Departmental nomenclatures change from time to time and so does structural organisation. But the offices and functions I will describe remain, even if names may be different.

All international treaties have a two stage process. First they are signed to show the government agrees to the treaty. Then, after a delay, they are ratified. This second stage takes place when the government has enabled the legislation and other required agency to implement the treaty. This is the answer to Lewis’s observation about the roles of the executive and legislature. The ratification stage only takes place after any required legislative action. That is the whole point.

This is how it happens in the FCO. Officials negotiate the extradition treaty. It is signed for the UK. The signed treaty then gets returned to FCO Legal Advisers, Nationality and Treaty Department, Consular Department, North American Department and others and is sent on to Treasury/Cabinet Office Solicitors and to Home Office, Parliament and to any other Government Department whose area is impacted by the individual treaty.

The Treaty is extensively vetted to check that it can be fully implemented in all the jurisdictions of the UK. If it cannot, then amendments to the law have to be made so that it can. These amendments can be made by Act of Parliament or more generally by secondary legislation using powers conferred on the Secretary of State by an act. If there is already an Act of Parliament under which the Treaty can be implemented, then no enabling legislation needs to be passed. International Agreements are not all individually incorporated into English or Scottish laws by specific new legislation.

This is a very careful step by step process, carried out by lawyers and officials in the FCO, Treasury, Cabinet Office, Home Office, Parliament and elsewhere. Each will in parallel look at every clause of the Treaty and check that it can be applied. All changes needed to give effect to the treaty then have to be made – amending legislation, and necessary administrative steps. Only when all hurdles have been cleared, including legislation, and Parliamentary officials, Treasury, Cabinet Office, Home Office and FCO all certify that the Treaty is capable of having effect in the UK, will the FCO Legal Advisers give the go ahead for the Treaty to be ratified. You absolutely cannot ratify the treaty before FCO Legal Advisers have given this clearance.

This is a serious process. That is why the US/UK Extradition Treaty was signed in 2003 and ratified in 2007. That is not an abnormal delay.

So I know for certain that ALL the relevant British Government legal departments MUST have agreed that Article 4.1 of the UK/US Extradition Treaty was capable of being given effect under the 2003 Extradition Act. That certification has to have happened or the Treaty could never have been ratified.

It follows of necessity that the UK Government, in seeking to argue now that Article 4.1 is incompatible with the 2003 Act, is knowingly lying. There could not be a more gross abuse of process.

I have been keen for the hearing on this particular point to conclude so that I could give you the benefit of my experience. I shall rest there for now, but later today hope to post further on yesterday’s row in court over releasing Julian from the anti-terrorist armoured dock.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible. I wish to stress again that I absolutely do not want anybody to give anything if it causes them the slightest possibility of financial strain.

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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254 thoughts on “Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day Four

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  • Jack

    Assange is now purely a humantarian issue, what he exposed (i.e. warcrimes) have hardly even been dealt with at all. One wonder what all is about harassing this human this much. It makes absolutely zero sense, especially since he have even developed mental illness due the witch-hunt.
    Just take today’s news, Turkey attack Syria, get the approval by US, Nato. More warcrimes, but again, no one cares.

    • Tom Welsh

      “One wonder what all is about harassing this human this much”.

      The important principle involved is the absolute right of the US government to do anything it likes, to anyone, anywhere, regardless of any and all laws, treaties, agreements, charters, constitutions, ethics, morals, religious commandments and common decency.

      If anyone even tries to hinder that absolute freedom in any way, the righteous wrath of the US government is turned upon them until they have been utterly annihilated – preferably in a very painful way.

      Anyone who has studied history, and is acquainted with the behaviour and beliefs of ancient monarchs such as the Great Kings of Persia or the Ottoman sultans – or indeed even our own beloved Good Queen Bess – will intuitively understand.

      Only Xerxes, Bayezid, Louis XIV and Queen Elizabeth I didn’t have thermonuclear, chemical and biological weapons at their disposal.

  • Jules Moules

    “Try asking this question out loud, in a tone of intellectual interest and engagement: “Are you suggesting that the two have the same effect?”.

    Now try asking this question out loud, in a tone of hostility and incredulity bordering on sarcasm: “Are you suggesting that the two have the same effect?”.

    […] is it not fascinating how precisely the same words can convey the opposite meaning dependent on modulation of stress, pitch, and volume?”

    Indeed. It is, in fact, a matter of how a phrase is rendered in speech which drives communication. It is a known fact that perfectly ‘innocent’ observations can ignite fury by the manner in which they are rendered. And so we come to the crux of the matter: this so-called trial is founded on that very same principle: it is simply a rendition by way of a trial.

  • Mist001

    What are the Australians saying about all this? Assange is after all, an Australian citizen, who’s going through a perfunctory show trial in the UK to be extradited to the USA.

    Doesn’t Australia defend its citizens in the way that say, China would?

    • andrew mcguiness

      No – or at least, not this one. Some 3 sitting MPs have spoken up publicly for Julian Assange and the rule of law; two of them have visited him in Belmarsh an the third plans a visit to the US to speak for him. A couple of prominent past politicians have also spoken publicly. The Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister are saying it’s not possible to intervene – which is an outright lie and contrary to their own actions in other cases. *Some* citizens are concerned and vocal, but the critical mass is missing – partly because the population is smaller, and partly because Australians tend to be lazy about anything that doesn’t affect their immediate day-to-day existence.

    • Wikikettle

      Mist 001. Australia is a fully signed up member of the “Coalition of the Willing” to have troops in all US wars.

  • Clark

    Craig, how are you bearing up? This must have been very stressful and tiring. Is there more to be done immediately, or can you have some rest now? Please be sure to look after yourself.

    XR Principle 3. We need a regenerative culture…

    …and you need time to regenerate.

  • Sean_Lamb

    If he loses here what is the process after that?

    I feel he would win at ECHR, but it takes ages to get there and for them to reach a decision and it is far too long for someone to stay in prison. Besides, is Assange guaranteed not to be extradited before the ECHR gets a chance to look at it.

    Still think Jen Robinson was acting in good faith when she refused the Swedish escape hatch while Assange was incommunicado in hospital?

  • Eoin

    “What on earth could be the motive of publishing evidence of government war crimes and corruption, other than to change the policy of the government?”

    Is it arguable you might expose wrong doing by one government in order to confer an advantage on another government, perhaps, to diminish the power of the USA, which might augment the power of its rivals?

    Might another motive be base financial. That is, someone pays you to publish evidence of wrongdoing by one government. As to the motives of the person paying you, who knows?

    Of course, there’s no evidence of these motives, while the most glaring motive is, Wikileaks published the information for the common good and to expose wrong doing, so that, ultimately, it wouldn’t happen again.

    • writeon

      This seems to go to the heart of the prosecution case. They repeatedly bring up ‘might’ and ‘could’ and hypothetical reasoons and outcomes that simply aren’t supported by the facts or the law. They are forced to create extraordinarily complex, and false, arguments that don’t stand up to legal or logical scrutiny, because their case is so weak. In purley legal terms their case isn’t going well at all. The Judge knows what’s expected of her find in favour of the prosecution and extradite Assange no matter what and no matter what the law says. This is because this is all about power, not justice or the law. Assange imagined that if the people were told the truth about state crimes, which involve mass-murder by the military acting on the orders of the politicians, then it would stop or become more difficult to carry out these crimes because of public opinion and the application of our and international law that makes warcrimes illegal.

      Only that didn’t happen. Powerful states decided to ignore international law and carry on killing, maiming, torturing, bombing and invading, regardless. They did, in contrast, decide to stop Julian Assange from revealing the truth about state crimes and then take over the media so in future no one would know that these terrible acts were still taking place. Out of sight, out of mind. And this is how we slid, or were pushed away from old-school bourgeois liberal democracy into the barely concealed barbarism and totalitarianism of the modern national security state.

      • Bramble

        As for public opinion – the vast majority could not give a damn. In fact the vast majority, in the US, UK and other Western countries, agreed with the US Government: exposing the crimes committed by your government and your military is unpatriotic and this is what should be punished, not the crimes. Root that out of the public and we might have a chance of being civilised.

        • Shatnersrug

          I am once again reminded of the comments of Nils Melzer

          “As the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and, before that, as a Red Cross delegate, I have seen lots of horrors and violence and have seen how quickly peaceful countries like Yugoslavia or Rwanda can transform into infernos. At the roots of such developments are always a lack of transparency and unbridled political or economic power combined with the naivete, indifference and malleability of the population. Suddenly, that which always happened to the other – unpunished torture, rape, expulsion and murder – can just as easily happen to us or our children. And nobody will care. I can promise you that.”

          Naivety, indifference, malleability and in the case of the British extreme self satisfaction with their ignorance. We are heading somewhere very bad.

      • andrew mcguiness

        WikiLeaks was instrumental in the Iraq govt refusing immunity to US troops, prompting their withdrawal in 2011 – so it did have some effect. And there have been several court cases which use WikiLeaks releases as evidence. Also, I suspect that the trials going on now about torture in Guantanamo Bay received some impetus from the WikiLeaks release on gitmo.

  • Old Red Sandstone

    Today is pension payday, so I’ve happily transferred a ‘pensioner’s mite’. Thanks for the brilliant, but eye-goggling and anger-inducing reports.

    What a shit country this has become.

  • Ashers

    Fantastic piece again Craig, very informative, enjoyed reading it. Thanks for your efforts in attending and sharing these reports. Hpe you are well

  • Christine Smith

    Thank you once again. Rest up for a bit. Just reading what has gone on is bad enough. You’re doing a great job!

  • writeon

    Well done, Craig! My admiration just keeps on growing. This whole hearing is like something from the pen of Franz Kafka. A black satire that twists logic out of all recognition and slides into something close to madness, like being trapped in an infinite maze popuated by raving banshees!

    This whole thing is a ‘showtrial’ with the emphais on the ‘show’ part. It’s a piece of bizarre political theatre. Baraitser is dripping with bias and is incredibly partisan at the same time. She’s actively protecting the prosecutions line and attempting to undermine the defence, brazenly.

    What’s disturbing and staggering is how little interest there is in the mainstream media in what’s happening right under their noses! Who tells the journalists these things? Who tells them what to think and write. What stories are important and need to be covered? The journalists deny that anybody tells them what to write or think; hurrah! But it might be worse than that. The journalists don’t need to be told what to write or think because they ‘know’ that already. They have willingly internalised the views and values of the corporate state, because that’s what required and necessary if one wants a sucessful career in the media. In so many ways this system, culture and process is worse than if there was someone telling them what to think and write. It’s certainly more effective. So, arguably, ‘democracy’ is more effective in silencing dissent, than the brute force of a totalitarian state. Which, I think, should make one reflect.

    Where are the decent, honourable, honest journalists within our ‘free’ media? Huge questions are being raised in this case relating to fundamental questions of human rights, fair trials, abuse of process, freedom of the press, freddom of speech, whether will really are protected by the law any longer if the state chooses to target and persecute a journalist for telling the truth about massive state-sanctioned war-crimes… the list goes on and on; yet our journalists are totally silent. The future of journalism is at stake, their profession, and they seem not to give a fuck!

    • Mr Shigemitsu

      @ writeon,

      “Where are the decent, honourable, honest journalists within our ‘free’ media?… …The future of journalism is at stake, their profession, and they seem not to give a fuck!”

      If you can get hold of a copy of Udo Ulfkotte’s book, “Gekaufte Journalisten”, or in the English translation, “Presstitutes Embedded in the Pay of the CIA”, you’ll realise how touchingly naive is your final paragraph.

      (Actually, I’m not sure you could truly describe mainstream news employees as journalists any more; almost everything that is printed or broadcast is just simple – but biased – reporting, plus huge amounts of – even more biased – opinion. There is almost never any real journalism in evidence.)

      But at any rate, they would appear to be endlessly corruptible. Hoping for an epiphany, such as Ulfkotte’s, from one or more of them will be in vain. They don’t just *seem* not to give a fuck – they don’t, and never did, give a fuck. And that’s *why* they were employed in the first place, and why are still in their jobs.

      To obfuscate, distort, distract, and dissemble on behalf of the establishment *is* the job!

      • writeon

        I am aware and understand this. I’m just not a fan of too much cynicism in my life, too much negativity. I think that undermines one’s will to resist. I wake up everyday full of hope and ready to struggle. Things didn’t use to be this bad. I remember when things were different. When John Pilger had an audience of millions in the Daily Mirror. When Granada Televison’s World in Action blazed a trail.

        So much has changed for the worse. Things have gotten bad so quickly. The opposition has crumbled so totally. The clampdown is so effective. The lurch away from bourgeois democracy happened without people noticing. I didn’t think the media coverage was going to be this bad, so silent and complicit.

      • Harry law

        Noam Chomsky Stumps Andrew Marr: How can you know that I’m self censoring? Chomsky: I’m sure you believe everything that you’re saying, but if you believed anything different you wouldn’t be sitting where you’re sitting.

        • Paul Barbara

          @ Tom Welsh February 28, 2020 at 20:56
          Hardly surprising – he had promised another two books with further disclosures of the corruption by the Intel agencies of the MSM.
          He had had a number of heart attacks, and knew he could be ‘heart attacked’, but was willing to risk it, as he said he had no family and had led a full life.
          German authorities had harassed him with home searches etc.

  • Sean_Lamb

    On reflection, however, I think we should be careful before we prejudge Judge Baraitser.

    There should only be one outcome of this process, Assange out of prison. But it is unwise to read too much if she peppers the defence with questions. By forcing the defence to be super-rigorous in their arguments she may be laying down the groundwork to issue a judgement that isn’t open to appeal (by the Govt)

    OTOH not letting Assange sit with his legal team isn’t a good look.

    Anyway, it is always best to assume a judge is taking their responsibilities seriously, until they demonstrate that they weren’t

    • writeon

      Baraitser doesn’t look like she’s going to throw out the extradition demand. That’s not why she was chosen for the task. She’s a safe pair of hands, like Lord Hutton.

      I don’t think Lewis, working for the Americans and the UK government, hearts really in this thing. Having ones’ name and reputation linked to a modern version of the Drefuss Affair, on the wrong side, isn’t what people like him dream of.

      Anyway, this thing will go to appeal. So many important legal principles have been raised. How will the UK Supreme Court react to the prosecutions arguments that the extradition treaty is irrelevant and the ‘political’ denfence has almost lost all meaning?

      Will the media ever wake up to what’s going on?

      • Sean_Lamb

        “Baraitser doesn’t look like she’s going to throw out the extradition demand”

        She isn’t there to be on anyone’s side, she is there to hear the arguments. If she doesn’t raise issues like the Act doesn’t specifically exclude political matters for extradition, the Government can appeal on this grounds. But forcing the defence to confront weaknesses in their argument she is also giving them an opportunity to improve them.

        We can’t fairly judge her until she issues her judgement and gives her reasoning.

        • Mel

          Yet she makes it clear whose side she is on by bringing up arguments of the prosecution rather than the prosecution itself. It’s as though she is the prosecutor. Craig has been great at delivering his observations of her tone and gestures when addressing one side as opposed to the other. I don’t see neutrality here at all.

        • nevermind

          You must be deaf and blind to her expressions and words? Her demeanour all of which says…..guilty, extradite….Sean Lamb.
          I am afraid I do not support bending over to this shambles calling itself justice, however much you postulate some nonexistent fair and unbiased court case in this instance.
          Just answer us the question why Julian could not be held on remand in an open prison? He has no history of violence and regularly signed on in Beccles when on bail. The episode within the fishtank called Ecuadorian embassy, watched listened to and hence had his privacy abused does not come into it.

          Has he not got the same rights than normal prisoners?
          Why is he in Belmarsh designed for hardened terrorists? is it so he can be accused of being indoctrinated by them? then labelled and disposed of?
          Is it due to the proximity of an airfield so he can be removed quickly?
          Do get with it Sean, he is suffering for free speech, he has educated us about the realities of diplomacy and behind the scenes arm-twisting.
          It’s done, we now know and no violence against publishers and journalists by a bunch of warmongering war criminals will change these facts.
          Thank you Julian.

          • Shatnersrug

            Well said nevermind, Sean’s comments display the sort of fictionalised version of the law that is drummed into the cosseted classes through the propaganda of their public and grammar schools and oxbridge education. British law as we know it is designed to protect wealth and power nothing more and nothing less. The presence of the magistrate court in every large town in Britain is to convey one message only “watch it plebs, I what you’re told or we’ll clobber you”

        • Paul Barbara

          @ Sean_Lamb February 28, 2020 at 17:00
          You seem to be forgetting Craig’s description of her sneering, unfriendly, hugely biased words and tone, and expressions. All she lacks is a Black Cap, and she may well wear one on the final day of her ‘hearing’.

      • Paul Barbara

        @ writeon February 28, 2020 at 16:46
        ‘…I don’t think Lewis, working for the Americans and the UK government, hearts really in this thing. Having ones’ name and reputation linked to a modern version of the Drefuss Affair, on the wrong side, isn’t what people like him dream of…’
        How long before we have a ‘Lord Lewis of Sodom and Gomorrah’ for ‘services rendered’? And a ‘Lady B. of Belmarsh’, also for ‘services rendered’?

    • James Cook

      Historically, this is not the first time a British judiciary has held a court of this type – call it Kangaroo or otherwise as seen fit.

      Others here may have more recent or older examples, but the one that comes to my mind (only because I have a copy of the movie (Breaker Morant: 1980 Australian war drama film directed by Bruce Beresford) in which clearly something had to be done to satisfy the “allies” of the day.

      This particular case of Mr. Assange, can yet go any-which-way the political establishment see as the most useful outcome for their political/economic goals. Anyone and everyone involved with this can be just as easily be sacrificed for the good of the powerful (who will never show their face).

      In a true sense, Mr. Assange is a freedom of speech martyr and his future is entirely held by the establishment.

      YES, fight the good fight, but realize that whatever happens it will have nothing to do with “the law”, or justice, or “right vs wrong” – it will entirely be dependent what benefits the current British establishment the most.

      Sad, but I am afraid this will be the outcome.

      Craig, your observations, experience and wisdom are excellent!

      • Theo

        In a true sense, Mr. Assange is a freedom of speech martyr and his future is entirely held by the establishment.

        I disagree with the 2nd part of your sentence. We are many and they are few.

  • Roy Robart (I, Robart - @fromroy)

    Your coverage over the four days of Julian Assange’s extradition hearing has been insightful, informative and revealing and I have shared as requested. Baraitser’s bias has shone through loud and clear, which isn’t surprising when she has Lafy Arbuthnot pulling the strings.

    As I’ve tweeted throughout this farce, “Truth, Justice but NOT the American Way”.

    • Trailer Trash

      Unfortunately this is *exactly* the “American Way”. People have to go to special schools to learn The Law because if they read it on their own, they will soon discover just how many decisions are based on expediency. “Might Makes Right” is the primary organizing principle in “The West”. All the fancy robes and headdresses and raised platforms and ceremonies and so on are to impress the rubes, just like in church.

      In an earlier essay Mr Murray wrote that courthouses are on the town square so they are accessible to everyone. In my view, they are actually placed front-and-center in order to intimidate peons into obedience. The US uses the consent manufacturing machine, backed by this ever-present threat of state violence, to keep its residents mostly in line.

      US leaders think the same strategies will successfully control the rest of the world, and on that basis claims the “right” to arrest or kill anyone anywhere on the planet. So far the US has been able to get its way, sort of, and thinks the future will be more of the same. In this they are tragically mistaken as the rest of the world carefully moves to defend itself from the world’s bully.

      The struggle to cut the world’s bully down to size will result in much suffering but the choice is simple and stark: struggle or die. I believe Mr Assange understands this. He has my utmost gratitude and respect.

  • writeon

    The problem with ‘liberals’ within our media, typified by most journalists, is that they dont want to see clearly the type of society we’ve become, are, and where we are going. It’s all too much for them. Instead they prefer to ignore what’s going on. After all, it’s only happening to one man. A weird guy from Australia, not them. This, of course, is their greatest and most foolish mistake. It’s not just Assange who’s being persecuted and destroyed in front of our eyes. It’s happened already to hundreds of thousands of others in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere. He, Assange, only pointed out the blood-stained path we were embarked on and now he’s become but the latest victim as the logic and methods of the national security warfare state is revealed and comes home, like torture, into the centre of London.

    Essentially, the role of the middle-class, the growth of the middle-class, the importance of the middle-class; has been intimately linked to the growth and creation of the modern state. The great expansion of the middle-class over the last couple of centuries. Really the middle-class was ‘created’ out of necessity, to serve and probably more importantly, to protect the state. Journalism and those working within the myriad parts of the media, typify these roles.

    This is why the media turned on Assange, because he couldn’t be trusted to obey the unwritten rules that everyone else understood, and swallowed whole with milk from their mother’s breasts, and the education system and the wider culture. He was a outsider in many ways and an idealist, who almost seemed to relish breaking the rules of the media information game. Which is obviously why they don’t think he’s a proper journalist like they are. He’s a heretic who believed in supplying people with more true information than was ‘good’ for them and letting them judge it before the media/journalist priesthood could ‘explain’ and ‘filter’ it before they were allowed to consume it.

    • andrew mcguiness

      “After all, it’s only happening to one man. A weird guy from Australia, not them.’

      Exactly! And, people hear that it’s about ‘freedom of speech’ and journalism – when they think they have all that is necessary of both. But it’s not just about free speech; people who are in touch with events know that there is abuse of process and abrogation of the rule of law, but the point isn’t being made clearly enough that *this* is the precedent that is being set. Not just that journalists will be at risk of arbitrary arrest and imprisonment: it will be a precedent to arrest and imprison anyone at all, on some interpretation of some broadly-worded law.

  • A

    Craig,

    As regards your expertise on treaty ratification.
    Would it be useful to ensure the defence lawyers are informed of this, as it could be helpful to the defence?

    Just a thought.

    • Mike McPherson

      Craig, I had the same thought as A. You have done so much to make the facts available to everyone who cares about this hardly believable travesty of justice. I salute you, as I’m sure all do who wish to know the truth. If there is any conceivable way that you could pass on your invaluable FCO knowlege to the defence team who would have more material to challenge the prosecution team and also Baraister, may her calumny not go unchallenged. Although you must be exhausted, I urge you to do whatever you can. Thank you.

  • Antonym

    Would this trial be any different if this prosecutor and judge switched places? They seem to be on the same team. London stays a center of wrong mixtures and potions – just for power’s sake – quite visible now “ladies and gentlemen”.

  • Jarek Carnelian

    Thank you for ALL that you are doing. It really is the nightmare we feared, yet also a clarion call…
    One small typo: “Heathrow Thrid Runway”

  • Tony_0pmoc

    Craig, If it hadn’t been for you ( I seriously admire your stamina and resilience ) and one other person who attended court, I and I suspect no one else would have a clue, about what was really going on in this “court case”.

    It reminded me, not of a Kafkesque nightmare, a Stalinist or German NAZI Trial, nor even any American Trial run by The KKK or others. It was more like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland “Off With His Head”

    I have no idea what is going to happen next, and no idea if anyone in The British Government has any influence on it.

    However, I do have to thank the other guy. The only other journalist there, apart from you and Julian Assange, so far as I can tell.

    His name is Kevin Gosztola. I know nothing about him, except he attended court every day, and gave a video report, almost immediately afterwards each day. I think he is an American.

    Maybe there were some other “journalists” there, on the morning of the first day, but none of them reported anything interesting, except a few cut and pastes, from the prosecution’s pre-written transcripts .

    This is Kevin Gosztola’s report from Day 2. So far as I know, he is entirely independent, and reliant on people sending him a few dollars for the work that he does.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yh7Jis-H6d0&feature=youtu.be

    Tony

    • Bayard

      “It reminded me, not of a Kafkesque nightmare, a Stalinist or German NAZI Trial, nor even any American Trial run by The KKK or others. It was more like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland “Off With His Head””

      It made me think it was a film called something like “The Third Reich does Dreyfus”.

  • Mel

    What happened to the evidence that the defence was going to present that the US was secretly spying on Assange in the embassy, even while he met with his lawyers? I thought that would be a turning point to dismiss the case. Thank you, Craig, for your endless dedication to bringing truth to the people. I can’t stop asking “How can this fucking charade of a hearing look like justice to anyone?” The “judge” makes no attempt to hide which side she is on, and is often the one bringing up arguments of the prosecution rather than the prosecution itself. The facade that human civilisation has evolved over the last few hundred years should be collapsing for anyone who is paying attention. My deepest gratitude to you for being there, exhausted as you must be, and pushing through for us.

    • Borncynical

      Mel
      The company which purportedly set up the cameras to spy on Assange in the embassy is Spanish and has been facing charges in Spain (see attached link). I don’t know where that case currently stands but it could well be that until the case is concluded in Spain it is sub judice and therefore out of bounds for discussion at this stage of Julian’s extradition hearing. .

      https://www.thelocal.es/20191221/wikileaks-assange-testifies-against-spanish-firm-in-embassy-spying-case

      • andrew mcguiness

        Nah, it has come up already. This week has been the presentation of the legal arguments by both sides; when they start again in May, evidence will be presented, including witnesses. I understand defence has sought to have a witness from the Spanish company give evidence, while their identity is concealed (for their safety).

  • Robyn

    Anyone still agonising and hand-wringing about the MSM not reporting or not caring about Julian and press freedom would save themselves the trouble if they changed their old thinking and accepted one simple fact: Journalism as we knew it is no longer part of their remit. They are simply bought-and-sold Deep State collaborators and, as such, should be ignored. There are plenty of honest principled people on reliable and ethical sites (of which Craig’s is a shining example) who offer facts and informed analysis.

    • Paul Barbara

      @ Robyn February 28, 2020 at 17:11
      For an excellent explanation of what has happened to the ‘Free Press’ see Udo Ulfkotte’s book in English translation: ‘Presstitutes Embedded in the Pay of the CIA: A Confession from the Profession’.

  • OhOh

    Some pertinent references to your coverage from another crusader, Pepe Escobar.

    From his review of Michel Onfray’s book published last year, “Theorie de la Dictature

    “As chronicled by the painful, searing reports of Ambassador Craig Murray, what’s taking place in Woolwich Crown Court is a sub-Orwellian farce with Conradian overtones: the horror…the horror…, remixed for the Raging Twenties. The heart of our moral darkness is not in the Congo: it’s in a dingy courtroom attached to a prison, presided by a lowly imperial lackey.”

    “There’s no question we are already mired deep inside this neo-Orwellian dystopia.
    John “Paradise Lost” Milton, in 1642, could not have been more prophetic, when he wrote “Those that hurt the eyes of the people blame them for being blind.” How not to identify a direct parallel with Le Petit Roi Emmanuel Macron’s army, month after month, willfully blinding protesting Gilets Jaunes/Yellow Vests in the streets of France.

    Orwell was more straightforward than Milton, saying that to talk about freedom is meaningless unless it refers to the freedom to tell people what they don’t want to hear. And he put it in context by quoting a line from Milton: “By the known rules of ancient liberty.”

    No “known rules of ancient liberty” are allowed to penetrate the heart of darkness of Woolwich Crown Court.”

    https://consortiumnews.com/2020/02/27/assange-extradition-can-a-french-touch-pierce-a-neo-orwellian-farce/

  • Rosemary MacKenzie

    Thanks for this very clear and well grounded explanation and coverage of yesterdays proceedings.

    Reporters without Borders sent me their Free Assange petition https://rsf.org/en/free-assange to sign and pass on. Sorry the HTTPS isn’t live.

  • writeon

    One’s head begins to spin, reading Craig’s invaluable reports from the frontline. Can this kind of thing really be happening? In London, in England? A massively important, political show-trial, where a ruthless rogue state, the United States; is attempting, with the Government of the UK and the complicit media, to silence and destroy a dissident journalist and publisher whose only crime is to believe the people had a right to know what terrible crimes were being carried out in their name.

    I remember almost ten years ago now, how, because I’m fluent in Swedish and was able to read the leaked police reports and material, that I attempted at great length and in minute detail, to explain what was happening in Sweden and why the allegations against Assange were false, disgraceful and how the Swedish and UK press had distorted everything beyond reason, like a howling lynchmob screaming for blood. A case that one looked at rationally, facually and with logic simply didn’t stand up to scrutiny and it was clearly something that should never have been allowed to go so far and cause so much unecessary pain and damage to those people involved in it.

    I assumed, wrongly, that the Guardian and the liberal/left press in the UK were interested in the truth. I thought that because the couldn’t speak Swedish and relied on the Swedish media, that they honestly didn’t understand and were confused. It was an accident, not malice that drove them to write lies about Assange. I soon discovered this wasn’t the case at all.

    Almost everything Nils Melzer covered and concluded, I wrote about almost ten years ago and directed it to the Guardian and the New Statesman and some others including the BBC. Their collective reaction was exactly the same as their reaction to Nils Melzer. Nothing, black it out. They didn’t care about the Truth because they already ‘Knew’ what was going on and what had happened. Assange was guilty of… something, exactly what that ‘something’ was didn’t really matter. His journalism was perceived as a threat to theirs and his revelations were a threat, potentially, to our ability to fight our overseas wars and kill hundreds of thousands of ‘natives’ in secret and with impunity, like in the ‘good old days’ of western imperialism. Don’t they understand that in the end all this killing and mass destruction, on the other side of the river of blood, things will be better for them?!

    So I concluded that the media and the Guardian was totally rotten and deeply corupt to the core and the people working there were worse than hypocrites, they were actually complicit in the crimes they wanted to ignore and cover up.

    I just hope that the higher courts in the UK will have the courage to stand up for the law and not allow Assange to be ritually destroyed by evil and powerfully dark forces in our society.

    • joel

      Alan Rusbridger was the Guardian editor then. He’s back today in the Guardian although not to condemn state persecution and railroading of Julian Assange. No, he’s back to express outrage about attempts to deny a peerage.to Tom Watson.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    I would be interrupting Counsel for the Prosecution to ask: ‘Are you seriously suggesting that it is a crime to undermine the national security of the US, when you are not a US resident, do not support the US Government, nor are you living in the USA? Would you suggest to President Assad that Mike Pompeo should perhaps be deported to Syria, suggest to President Maduro that he might be extradited to Venezuela and suggest to folks in SE Asia that he might reasonably be extradited for historical torture offences?’

    There would, in any court room full of independent minded voices of sanity, be laughter in court…….

    I am sure I would have the hounds of hell beating down my judicial door had I been a judge ssaying that, but someone has to say it, do they not?

    I mean: Pompeo was head of CIA torture operations, the USA has certainly endangered Syrian national security, it has certainly committed democratic treason in Venezuela and other places too.

    No doubt Baraitser has no problem with that, just as she would have no problems with bombing Yemenis.

    She reminds me of the judge ‘presiding’ over the Clive Ponting trial in the 1980s. The thing is, at that trial, a jury told the judge to go stick his summary direction to them where the sun did not shine……12-0. I suspect the reason that this is not being heard by a jury is that a jury might well tell Baraitser to do precisely the same……..

    • Tony_0pmoc

      Rhys Jaggar ,

      I have served for two weeks on a Jury, and took it very seriously, as did everyone else there, which kind of surprised me.

      We all had to stop doing our jobs, for 2 weeks – which for some could be quite financially difficult..but we all turned up every day, and some of the cases were simple, but after a week of this, we still had to go back for another week…and we eventually ended up with quite a complex case which went on for 4 days.

      At the end of the trial, we all wanted to go home, but then argued for an exceedingly long time, and asked the jury foreman to ask the judge for clarification on rather a large number of salient points.

      We didn’t write anything on the internet, with regards to our view of anything with regards with the view of whether he was innocent or guilty..we didn’t even go down the pub together, but we did get chatting on the way back to the train station to go back home, and come out again the next day.

      It took us – the Jury about 10 hours to agree, and we eventually delivered our verdict to the Judge.

      I think we were all normal honest men and women, and we took the job we were given, because we were on the electoral roll very seriously.

      That may have been over 20 years ago, but I reckon, we are still the same.

      We discussed the evidence in great detail, and asked the judge numerous times for clarification.

      We trusted the judge, but we (the jury) delivered to the judge what we had concluded, and he announced our verdict.

      The experience of Jury Service re-inforced my view of ordinary English people like me, taking such things very seriously.

      Tony

  • Simon Abbott

    Great job ,as ever, Craig

    Forgive my ignorance. But since it’s inception, indeed well before proceedings began, Baraitser has made it quite plain what ruling she has been required to give. She will do the job. There never has been any doubt, has there? But..and here I profess my ignorance… surely there will be an opportunity to Appeal the verdict? All that has been said about the ratification process and all the other legal niceties that make this case so surreal, cannot possibly fail to be held to ridicule by the court of Appeal and the Government’s case thrown out. Can they?

    • Shatnersrug

      That’s true, but you see the government can show the USA that it has tried everything. As they are not able to control all 12 Supreme Court judges. Maybe this is the plan?

      • Simon Abbott

        Maybe… but having refreshed my memory about what happened with Pinochet, who can realistically have any faith left in this system? While the media blackout has successfully blanketed these bastards from any political accountability, in the UK at least. While our immediate deep concern must be the inevitable delay that would see Julian still incarcerated, with all its frightening and potentially tragic consequences.

  • Brianfujisan

    Thank you Craig for a fourth account of the disdain and abuse of Julian’s rights in court..Despicable.

    Good to see you got a some rest.. It’s been a marathon week for you.
    In your opening Paragraph experiment, according to my acting, it’s Strikingly, 100% accurate

    I posted about this yesterday.. And I see And I’m wondering why Hillary Clinton is not being tried for treason for ignoring Julian’s Emergency call to her office..She and her office are Guilty..Julian is innocent.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57Hqfq0rwXI

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