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.


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.


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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  • bj

    Thank you for your valuable reports (which will become historical gems)!

    That judge must be the most incompetent, confused and insecure arbiter ever to wield a gavel.
    The question is — by design (iow. choreography), or by nature (among which haughtiness from upbringing).

    Other than that, there’s a word I hear myself using now and then reading these reports, but which I better not repeat here.

  • Ken Garoo

    Mr Murray.

    You might wish to write about the contrast between the handling of the Assange case, a political prisoner and the kid-glove handling by Arbuthnot of Joseph McCann found guilty of being a serial rapist.

    Chief magistrate [Emma Arbuthnot] visits alleged serial rapist in prison after he refuses to attend court to hear 21 charges against him over ‘sex attack spree.

    Alleged serial rapist Joseph McCann refused to appear in court for a second day
    Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot conducted the hearing at Belmarsh jail, today
    McCann, aged 34, from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, is charged with 21 offences

    One hates to think of how Assange would be treated in Belmarsh if he declined to attend the hearings.

    Another contrast would be the Tory regime’s extreme concern for the human rights of Abu Hamza – whose case began in 2004 and was finally extradited to the US on terrorism charges in 2012. Technically, the case began under the ‘New Labour’ Blair regime, but that was indistinguishable from preceding and succeeding Tory regimes hence it is considered a Tory regime

  • Ort

    Thanks again for the diligent coverage of this travesty of justice, Craig.

    Pardon a perhaps gratuitous tangent, but by coincidence I just read this Mark Twain passage from his autobiography; his comment about the difference between spoken and written words, here referring to the difference between prepared speeches vs. extemporaneous “talks”, also applies to the difference between hearing a dialogue vs. reading a transcript of the same words:

    It is as I have said in the autobiographical chapter just referred to: speeches can be conveyed in print, but not talks. Speeches consist of literarily phrased and completed sentences, and they read smoothly and intelligibly, but this is not the case with talks. The soul of a talk consists of action, not words; action, gesture, inflection—the unvoiced expression of the thought.

    These felicities escape the stenographer; they are an aroma; he cannot concrete them into words; the words are not there; none but the inconsequential sentences are completed; the happy ones break off in the middle because the audience has got the point, it is not necessary to finish the sentence, and the house would not hear the finish anyhow. […]

    A talk cannot be conveyed in print successfully; there is no way to do it, and the attempt should never be made.

    Twain, Mark, Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 3 (Mark Twain Papers) University of California Press

  • Tony Dawson

    I am NOT a lawyer although i do appear to spend an awful lot of my life involved in the affairs of US civil courts. As a result of this, I have become quite reasonably acquainted with the way in which the United States and its law treats treaties.

    In the USA, the right to make foreign policy, including treaties, lies completely with the Executive branch (ie the President) who is the equivalent of our queen and Prime Minister all rolled into one. As a result of this, the only constraints upon presidents in such matters is when the Congress makes laws which a president does not veto which in some way regulates the areas in which treaties are operating. And this, of course, includes Senate ratification of treaties.

    So in the USA there does not have to be any law to enable treaties. The executive has the right to make them, full stop. Just that they are not ratified till congress has its say. But that does not include the right to amend. If Congress doesn’t like the treaty, it fails to ratify and the President can try again if (?s?)he wants to.

    Of course, however worthy and wordy, Treaties do not always cover absolutely every eventuality so that means matters covered by them end up in US federal courts (and even the supreme court). But in considering an issue covered by a treaty, US courts are expected to take due cogniscence not just of the words before themselves but also any statement by the Executive (often the State Department) having a bearing on the particular issue under dispute related to the query – because after all the intent of the executive branch is what gave rise to the Treaty.

    So, once ratified, a Treaty exists and is binding by its words. Any country can withdraw from a Treaty but what it can NOT do is legislate domestically to create what is essentially its own separate version of the treaty. Nearly all Treaties contain a clause on interpretation which often essentially recognises that domestic courts may need to interpret disputed purely domestic interpretations the Treaty every now and then but if there is conflict over interpretation between countries there is often an independent arbitration forum or process of some kind. What I am coming to is that this stupid (or just evil?) judge’s idea that an Act of Parliament can supersede a Treaty (especially just by being silent on a specific matter covering areas within the Treaty) is utterly ludicrous.

  • SA

    All of these posts highlight the fact that trial by Jury is much more fair than trial by magistrates or judges where personal agendas and prejudices predetermine the course of the proceedings and the final judgement.

      • Paul Barbara

        @ Marilyn Shepherd February 29, 2020 at 09:50
        ‘’s just a rendition hearing’?
        Just? That’s rather like Pontious Pilate washing his hands of Jesus’ fate.
        Once the Yanks have got their grubby blood-stained hands on him, would you fancy his chances for ‘justice’?

        • Nelly dean

          That can it be allowed to happen ! He cannot go to USA ! Not now not ever ! They are more corrupt than Russia n China combined !

    • Bramble

      In a normal Magistrates’ Court, cases are heard by benches of three JPs who are “peers” of the accused – they are not trained legal experts and are volunteers, not paid. This case is not being heard by a normal Magistrates’ Court. I have noticed a disturbing tendency for Governments to bus in District Judges (who are legally trained and are paid) whenever a case with political ramifications appears. It happened, for example, after the riots and it has happened with trails of anti fracking protestors. On such occasions the DJs bring in verdicts which sometimes directly contradict the guidelines issued to ordinary JPs and they have sometimes had their sentences overthrown on appeal. This reliance of Governments on a cadre of politically “reliable” judges able to intervene in judicial processes for non judicial reasons when required is very sinister, I think.

  • John Goss

    I have two observations to make.

    First the sketch by courtroom artist Elizabeth Cook clearly shows Julian Assange and Ms. Baraitser in open court with no screen preventing Julian from hearing court proceedings. This was at an earlier hearing. Knowing that there is no inhibition to his appearing without being boxed in the only reason for doing so is to deliberately punish and demoralise, which appears here to be the intent knowing the physical and psychological fragility of Mr Assange.

    Second it seems unbelievable for Ms. Baraitser to keeps trying to stress that the case is not political when she herself has clearly shown that it is political. It was she, if memory serves, who extended Mr. Assange’s custody for absconding. The reason he absconded was because he feared that the US would pressurise Sweden to extradite him to face charges in the US, the same way now that the US has pressurised the UK to extradite him, which Sajid Javid approved. Julian Assange was given asylum in the Ecuador Embassy until the US put pressure on Lenin Moreno – together with a massive $4.2 billion IMF loan (bribe) – to release him. Politically it stinks to high heaven. Yet it is not political according to Ms. Baraitser.

    I notice that most of the prisoners who appear before this lady for extradition are men. And that most of these men are extradited. Someone in the past must have hurt her – lover, husband, work colleague. I don’t know who the man was who screwed up her perspective on men so badly that now she feels all of them are in need of the harshest punishment but he destroyed her soul.

    Contrast that with her superior, Ms. Arbuthnot. A super-rich woman who gained her wealth from the criminal activities of her husband was spared extradition. This is the UK legal system today, There is a link to the story in the comment here.

    • Nelly dean

      Mm she could be carrying massive hurt or she could be so corrupt she does as she’s told ..l or is she being blackmailed ? Follow her money n connections there will be the answer !

  • JB

    I just want to thank Craig for his excellent, knowledgeable reporting, my only source of information of what is/was happening in the courtroom.

    That there should be such a hearing at all is a scandal, pure and simple. It’s actually criminal being such a fundamental abuse and perversion of the law, the idea of justice, of reason and human dignity and decency! As everything in the Assange nightmare! In a world that is becoming morally unbearable.

  • Dungroanin

    Thank you CM.
    “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.”

    Understood and perfectly clear as is your personal professional experience.

    “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.”

    What is the personal professional experience of the mysterious and secretive Magistrate?
    You have proved her assessment and Lewis’s to be bare faced lying of the old english aristo imperialist type.

    I do believe that the deepstaters and swamp critters of the 5+1 eyed montstrosity, connected like the gross ‘human centipede’ to each other – spewing and eating shit – creates such psychopathic individuals from the kinds of children who would enjoy pulling off spiders legs and butterflies wings no doubt.

    (I don’t think it entirely accidental that the potus has made it clear that his approval for extradition is specifically POLITICAL)

    They are also the presstitutes of the likes of the tainted saint (like a fallen archbishop who finally got caught out!) Rusbridger- who you twitted about offering you a grudging respect for your stunning reports – while he at the same time pushes for the elevation of Tom Watson to the Lords (not a single mention of the deprivation of Bercow for his tenure as Speaker!). Not a word about his role as a state tool; not a word about his role in rejecting Leveson so that we actually have a worse Press now and one that is tied into the ‘human centipede’ along with the rest of the msm. Rusbridger can go to hell where he has led the blinded by him Groaniad worshippers.

    Some shit eatets are lowly comment posters who are already gaslighting around these articles too…

    Watchout – you may even be nominated for one of their wretched Pulitzers or Nobel prizes as a joke!

    • On the train

      Yes i agree with your comment about where Rushbridger has lead the “ Groaniad worshippers” . I know several people like this. ….it happened slowly , like a magic trick…or like the pied piper of Hamelin, and although we started in the same place I am now in a very different position to them . I find it difficult to read a copy of the Guardian. I find it stifling and even frightening as I know so many good people take their world view from what it says.

  • Fwl

    Thanks Craig – you are at your best as an informed Court reporter and you introduce some quite complicated and potentially dry things in a clear and interesting way such that I feel the need to go away and look at it further. The relationship between treaties and domestic law is something I thought I understood but I suspect I have a simplified view. Unlike me Edward Fitzgerald QC is a brain box and I can’t believe that any magistrate or judge could put him off his stride.


  • R.A.

    Craig’s description of Judge Baraitser’s attitude in court brings this quote to mind for some reason:

    “It is very hard to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” — Sinclair Lewis.

  • Stephen C

    Thanks for another insight into what is happening in this hearing. The imbalanced farce continues, and so few people know about what is going on.

  • Mr Obvious

    Two can play the game of arguing gibberish. Just use opposite words occasionally without correction. That forces them to use a good faith interpretation to understand you. After which you can congratulate them on finding out what a good faith interpretation is. I read a deposition transcript of a Goldman Sachs exec. They argued gibberish non stop. Distortions, bad faith interpretations etc. Nothing actually made any sense. And it’s no intelligence, it’s brain damage.

  • J

    This series is first rate journalism. If the Orwell prize were itself not quite so Orwellian, you’d have won it (again) for this.

  • Arby

    “During Fitzgerald’s reply, Baraitser interjected seventeen times.” I’ve read all of Murray’s reports, on this blog, up to this point and I think that, besides being simple harassment by Vanessa Baraitser, this is also her defensive reaction to be shown up for being both incompetent and a tool of psychopathic imperialists.

  • Susan

    I give thanks every day that you are in the court, Craig, giving the world the benefit of your personal insights and professional wisdom. As I read through your description of the FCO legal processes re treaties and legislation, I felt my whole body start to well up with optimism and excitement. By the end, I was jumping for joy and skipping the light fandango in my living room. Thank you for giving me hope.

    What a stellar job you are doing for truth & justice and for your friend, and our hero, Julian. I wonder what Baraitser would say to a request from the Defence Team for Our Man in the Public Gallery to join them on their bench 🙂

  • jmg

    Craig Murray wrote:

    > For the defence Edward Fitzgerald replied that the 2003 Extradition Act was an enabling act under which treaties could operate.

    Exactly, domestic law must be consistent with what is required by international treaties:

    “A party may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty.”
    — Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties

    The Vienna Convention was ratified by the United Kingdom on 25 June 1971, and it’s in force:

    Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties — Status of Treaties — United Nations

    Craig Murray wrote:

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

    Yes, the Supreme Court and domestic courts usually have regard to the United Kingdom’s international obligations:

    “The Court . . . went on to explain: . . . ‘treaties between sovereign states . . . are binding on the United Kingdom in international law’ . . .
    “Courts are, or have become, quite accustomed to adjudicating on issues of international law, where an appropriate domestic threshold exists.”

    International Law in the UK Supreme Court — King’s College, London — Lord Mance — 13 February 2017

    Craig Murray wrote:

    > 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. . . .
    > 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. . . .
    > 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.

    Completely right. As a Commons Briefing Paper explains on international treaties and the United Kingdom:

    “The UK Government is responsible for negotiating, signing and ratifying the 30 or so international treaties involving the UK each year. . . .
    “Parliament (and/or the devolved legislatures) is therefore involved if domestic law needs to be changed in order to implement a treaty . . .
    “The UK is a ‘dualist’ state, which means that treaties are seen as automatically creating rights and duties only for the Government under international law.
    “. . . where legislation is capable of two interpretations, one consistent with a treaty obligation and one inconsistent, then the courts will presume that Parliament intended to legislate in conformity with the treaty and not in conflict with it. . . .
    “But usually, before the UK Government ratifies a treaty, it seeks to ensure that any domestic legislation needed to implement it is already in place . . .
    “Not all treaties require domestic legislation
    “Many treaties — even some with major policy implications — require only minor adjustments to domestic law, or none at all.”

    Parliament’s role in ratifying treaties — House of Commons Library — Briefing Paper 5855, 17 February 2017

    • Bayleaf


      An excellent post. Very informative.

      While looking through that House of Commons briefing paper you linked to, I noticed that you omitted the first sentence of the paragraph dealing with “… where legislation is capable of two interpretations, etc.”. The missing sentence is equally relevant to this case:

      “Treaty provisions that are not incorporated into domestic law can have only indirect domestic legal effect at best.”

      and rather contradicts Baraitser’s contention that ““it was plain the intention of parliament was that there could be extradition for political offences”.

      Unfortunately, it would appear that the court in this case wishes not to “presume that Parliament intended to legislate in conformity with the treaty and not in conflict with it”.

    • AliTee

      The talk she is talking place within is around the concepts of care and is an expert in fields of psychology. I wonder if she has anything to say to her sibling (if it is she) regarding the psychological damage being done to ‘her prisoner’.

  • Peter Mo

    There were no charges forthcoming from Sweden. Therefore any bail provisions are null and void and of no relevance. Why then is Assange not being granted bail plus the previous bond refunded, The argument he skipped bail is also null and void and can’t be used as an excuse to deny bail.

      • pretzelattack

        and nobody else is persecuted as relentlessly as assange for jumping bail. it’s a ridiculous, transparent excuse.

    • Tom Welsh

      Your argument looks fair and just to me, Peter.

      Unfortunately, as trainee lawyers have dinned into them over and over, the law is not about justice.

      • Peter Mo

        I am beginning to think Assange’s lawyers are not up to the job. If Assange knew the Swedish allegations were bogus then surely he had every right to do whatever is legal to avoid extradition to Sweden. Seeking asylum in an embassy is legal.
        The lawyers should be exploring every avenue to get Assange out of jail right now.
        There are many instances to show the whole process is political. Getting Jeremy Corbyn to testify along with Venezuela officials is a must.

  • N_

    The hearing seems to be going quite well for the defence so far. I am cautiously optimistic.

    If Lewis and his client maintain that they’re not political offences, why not seek a ruling on that point first? (There are various possible answers to that. Perhaps the Duke of Cummings is trying to take a dump on the Foreign Office.) The case will obviously go to appeal.

  • Deb O'Nair

    “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.”

    It will be impossible for a high court or supreme court judge not to agree with this. The defence should be making provisions to get the appeal in the moment this reckless excuse of a judge makes her decision. The paper-work should be completed and someone from the defence team waiting on the end of a phone to lodge the appeal within minutes of her decision.

    “Nigel Farage did not materialise from nowhere.” Except in this article.

  • Neil

    “Day 4 account is partly written. Had a lie-in as no court today. With you soon. Also will include some simple actions with which you might help.”

    No lie-in in history has been more well deserved!


    Craig – since you’ve actually been in court and seen her in person, could you kindly confirm whether or not the court sketch here:

    is a reasonable likeness of the charming Vanessa? Many thanks.

  • pretzelattack

    this is really excellent journalism. in a better world, some news organization would pay you for it, but our civilization is spiralling down the sinkhole. I will send you a contribution when i can.

  • Colin Carr

    Craig, As many have already said, many, many thanks for your efforts in exposing this travesty of a trial.
    I suspect that by the time this Stalinist mockery of justice is all wrapped up, there will be enough material for you to write another book.

  • Giyane

    The way that James Lewis defines the word political, as meaning solely the public surface of our democratic institutions, reminds me of a conversation I had 50 years ago with a school friend who is now 50 years into his glittering diplomatic career. When I was trying to discuss politics with him in the broad normal meaning of the word he replied that he had explained to me many times that diplomacy had nothing to do with government politics.
    Well, the mother of fuckups, British democracy, is founded on this lie. A lie which pops up whenever the political mind is feeling the heat of truth against its main aortic neck artery.

    • N_

      It’s peculiar, the British distinction between “politics” and “policy”. How could we even draw such a distinction in French?

      • Giyane


        Politics has come to mean lying. It used to mean having the power to change things for the better.
        Would the Middle East be better if the Israelis ruled it in the way they rule Palestine? This extremely right wing government is racist against the English just as much as against anybody else. It has declared war on England by rigging the election. Its first move is to make a hard deal to smash our economy followed by bankrupting farming. It will be butterfly bullets against protesters in 2021.

  • please watch

    Please watch:

    Mark Davis is an Australian journalist and an eye-witness prepared to testify at trial. He was with Julian Assange during the preparation of the Afghan War Logs in 2010. Further down in the comments section on youtube there is more detailed explanation from Consortium News which presents the video.

    Mark Davis documented the run-up to press publication in a film called ‘Inside Wikileaks’, where he clarifies the time sequence. His film shows the then Wikileaks editor-in-chief, Julian Assange, working alongside journalists from the New York Times, Guardian and Der Spiegel the days before.

    Mark Davis asserts that the New York Times, presumably to avoid fall-out, attempted to set Julian Assange up as the unwitting lightning rod by urging Wikileaks to publish first so as to be able to follow suit safely shortly after. This back-fired. Assange could not get ready in time for the deadline and published after them.

    Mark Davis states that it was the Guardian technical team, that built the searchable database and graphic user interface. They did not give weight to the redaction of names from the war logs prior to publication. Assange lost time redacting the names of informants and published late and separately – after the above newspapers.
    When he realized the newspaper journalists were going to press without redacting the names he tried to warn the Whitehouse in time.

    • Mark Russell

      Not surprising that the Guardian has taken leave of absence over the extraction hearings, given its culpability and complicity. Reprehensible conduct from a once highly-respected bastion of journalistic integrity.

        • 'her poor mournful sea lion' ??

          Thanks for the links.
          The headers to the articles!

          ‘WikiLeaks ‘has blood on its hands’ over Afghan war logs, claim US officials’
          ‘Just what does Julian Assange want?’
          ‘Julian Assange like a hi-tech terrorist, says Joe Biden’
          ‘WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was obsessed with power, ex-insider claims’
          ‘Why I felt I had to turn my back on WikiLeaks’
          ‘The treachery of Julian Assange’
          ‘Julian Assange: from hero to zero’
          ‘The World Tomorrow: Julian Assange proves a useful idiot’
          ‘Definition of paranoia: supporters of Julian Assange’
          ‘What is Slutwalk London doing lining up behind Julian Assange?’
          ‘Jemima Khan: Julian Assange risks becoming ‘Australian L Ron Hubbard’
          ‘Today programme guest-edited by PJ Harvey slated as ‘liberal drivel’
          ‘The Guardian view on Julian Assange: no victim of arbitrary detention’
          ‘How did the UN get it so wrong on Julian Assange?’

          and so on ….
          Each headline is followed by a sub-associative programming, e.g.

          ‘The moral of the Assange story? Wait long enough, and bad stuff goes away’
          (Captain WikiLeaks may be about to get out of pretend-jail. But he probably won’t be driving off into the sunset with his celebrity friends just yet)
          ‘Risk review – serviceable portrait of Julian Assange’s vanity’
          (Laura Poitras’s documentary about the WikiLeaks founder captures his creepy conceit and celebrity hauteur but leaves important questions unasked)

          Then the very much under the belt stuff:
          ‘Whiffyleaks’: what the papers say about Julian Assange’s arrest’
          I think I got that. He smells, right?

          The rapist:
          ‘Give priority to Julian Assange rape claim, home secretary urged’
          ‘Failure to extradite Assange to Sweden would endorse ‘rape culture’, say women’s groups’
          ‘Julian Assange’s case makes it clear women’s rights are still secondary to political games’
          ‘Why is the left blinkered to claims about Assange and sexual assault?’

          The outright lie:
          ‘The only barrier to Julian Assange leaving Ecuador’s embassy is pride’
          (The WikiLeaks founder is unlikely to face prosecution in the US, charges in Sweden have been dropped – and for the embassy, he’s lost his value as an icon)

          Insinuation by putting two unrelated statements following on one another as if they explain each other:
          ‘Julian Assange has ‘repeatedly violated’ asylum terms, Ecuador’s president says’
          (Lenín Moreno said ‘photos of my bedroom’ and his family were circulated online but did not directly accuse WikiLeaks founder)
          The Soap Opera:
          ‘The ballad of Pammy and Julian Assange – her poor, mournful sea lion’
          (The WikiLeaks emperor has been wrongly accused of so many things, says the former Baywatch star. But can their relationship survive now that the Ecuadorian embassy has cut his internet?)

          No wonder the Guardian down-graded to tabloid format.

  • Harry law

    Just to expand on what JMG said up thread. Here are the relevant passages of the Vienna convention followed by a comment I made several day’s ago…
    ENTRY INTO FORCE: 27 January 1980
    Article 26
    Pacta sunt servanda
    Every treaty in force is binding upon the parties to it and must be performed by them in good faith.
    Article 27 Internal law and observance of treaties
    A party may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty. This rule is without prejudice to article 46.
    Article 46
    Provisions of internal law regarding competence to conclude treaties
    1. A State may not invoke the fact that its consent to be bound by a treaty has been expressed in violation of a provision of its internal law regarding competence to conclude treaties as invalidating its consent unless that violation was manifest and concerned a rule of its internal law of fundamental importance.
    2. A violation is manifest if it would be objectively evident to any State conducting itself in the matter in accordance with normal practice and in good faith.

    Regarding the Magistrates claim that the extradition treaty differs from the UK Act, it should make no difference since the Primary legislation of the Act does not conflict with the treaty even if it is silent. The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT) is an international agreement regulating treaties between states.The VCLT is considered a codification of customary international law and state practice concerning treaties.
    The Hague regulations are not, however the customary international law of the Hague regulations will be interpreted as part of UK law provided that it is not in conflict with any law not already on the statute books. In Chung Chi Cheng V the King (1939) AC160 Lord Atkin stated that when faced with a customary rule “UK courts will treat it as incorporated into the domestic law, so far as it is not inconsistent with rules enacted by statutes or finally declared by their tribunals.” It has been said that when interpreting customary international law, something more than an opinion in a textbook would be required in order for a judgement to be made. That such a rule will not be applied in the face of conflicting primary legislation. There is no CONFLICTING primary legislation.

  • Pru Cotton

    Thank you so very much for your reportage.

    It must be unbelievable stressful but it is also unbelievably important that you are there.

    Whilst we know what the terrifying outcome will be I am so glad we have these documents.

    My thoughts are with the team.

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