Your Man in the Public Gallery – The Assange Hearing Day 3 295

In yesterday’s proceedings in court, the prosecution adopted arguments so stark and apparently unreasonable I have been fretting on how to write them up in a way that does not seem like caricature or unfair exaggeration on my part. What has been happening in this court has long moved beyond caricature. All I can do is give you my personal assurance that what I recount actually is what happened.

As usual, I shall deal with procedural matters and Julian’s treatment first, before getting in to a clear account of the legal arguments made.

Vanessa Baraitser is under a clear instruction to mimic concern by asking, near the end of every session just before we break anyway, if Julian is feeling well and whether he would like a break. She then routinely ignores his response. Yesterday he replied at some length he could not hear properly in his glass box and could not communicate with his lawyers (at some point yesterday they had started preventing him passing notes to his counsel, which I learn was the background to the aggressive prevention of his shaking Garzon’s hand goodbye).

Baraitser insisted he might only be heard through his counsel, which given he was prevented from instructing them was a bit rich. This being pointed out, we had a ten minute adjournment while Julian and his counsel were allowed to talk down in the cells – presumably where they could be more conveniently bugged yet again.

On return, Edward Fitzgerald made a formal application for Julian to be allowed to sit beside his lawyers in the court. Julian was “a gentle, intellectual man” and not a terrorist. Baraitser replied that releasing Assange from the dock into the body of the court would mean he was released from custody. To achieve that would require an application for bail.

Again, the prosecution counsel James Lewis intervened on the side of the defence to try to make Julian’s treatment less extreme. He was not, he suggested diffidently, quite sure that it was correct that it required bail for Julian to be in the body of the court, or that being in the body of the court accompanied by security officers meant that a prisoner was no longer in custody. Prisoners, even the most dangerous of terrorists, gave evidence from the witness box in the body of the court nest to the lawyers and magistrate. In the High Court prisoners frequently sat with their lawyers in extradition hearings, in extreme cases of violent criminals handcuffed to a security officer.

Baraitser replied that Assange might pose a danger to the public. It was a question of health and safety. How did Fitzgerald and Lewis think that she had the ability to carry out the necessary risk assessment? It would have to be up to Group 4 to decide if this was possible.

Yes, she really did say that. Group 4 would have to decide.

Baraitser started to throw out jargon like a Dalek when it spins out of control. “Risk assessment” and “health and safety” featured a lot. She started to resemble something worse than a Dalek, a particularly stupid local government officer of a very low grade. “No jurisdiction” – “Up to Group 4”. Recovering slightly, she stated firmly that delivery to custody can only mean delivery to the dock of the court, nowhere else in the room. If the defence wanted him in the courtroom where he could hear proceedings better, they could only apply for bail and his release from custody in general. She then peered at both barristers in the hope this would have sat them down, but both were still on their feet.

In his diffident manner (which I confess is growing on me) Lewis said “the prosecution is neutral on this request, of course but, err, I really don’t think that’s right”. He looked at her like a kindly uncle whose favourite niece has just started drinking tequila from the bottle at a family party.

Baraitser concluded the matter by stating that the Defence should submit written arguments by 10am tomorrow on this point, and she would then hold a separate hearing into the question of Julian’s position in the court.

The day had begun with a very angry Magistrate Baraitser addressing the public gallery. Yesterday, she said, a photo had been taken inside the courtroom. It was a criminal offence to take or attempt to take photographs inside the courtroom. Vanessa Baraitser looked at this point very keen to lock someone up. She also seemed in her anger to be making the unfounded assumption that whoever took the photo from the public gallery on Tuesday was still there on Wednesday; I suspect not. Being angry at the public at random must be very stressful for her. I suspect she shouts a lot on trains.

Ms Baraitser is not fond of photography – she appears to be the only public figure in Western Europe with no photo on the internet. Indeed the average proprietor of a rural car wash has left more evidence of their existence and life history on the internet than Vanessa Baraitser. Which is no crime on her part, but I suspect the expunging is not achieved without considerable effort. Somebody suggested to me she might be a hologram, but I think not. Holograms have more empathy.

I was amused by the criminal offence of attempting to take photos in the courtroom. How incompetent would you need to be to attempt to take a photo and fail to do so? And if no photo was taken, how do they prove you were attempting to take one, as opposed to texting your mum? I suppose “attempting to take a photo” is a crime that could catch somebody arriving with a large SLR, tripod and several mounted lighting boxes, but none of those appeared to have made it into the public gallery.

Baraitser did not state whether it was a criminal offence to publish a photograph taken in a courtroom (or indeed to attempt to publish a photograph taken in a courtroom). I suspect it is. Anyway Le Grand Soir has published a translation of my report yesterday, and there you can see a photo of Julian in his bulletproof glass anti-terrorist cage. Not, I hasten to add, taken by me.

We now come to the consideration of yesterday’s legal arguments on the extradition request itself. Fortunately, these are basically fairly simple to summarise, because although we had five hours of legal disquisition, it largely consisted of both sides competing in citing scores of “authorities”, e.g. dead judges, to endorse their point of view, and thus repeating the same points continually with little value from exegesis of the innumerable quotes.

As prefigured yesterday by magistrate Baraitser, the prosecution is arguing that Article 4.1 of the UK/US extradition treaty has no force in law.

The UK and US Governments say that the court enforces domestic law, not international law, and therefore the treaty has no standing. This argument has been made to the court in written form to which I do not have access. But from discussion in court it was plain that the prosecution argue that the Extradition Act of 2003, under which the court is operating, makes no exception for political offences. All previous Extradition Acts had excluded extradition for political offences, so it must be the intention of the sovereign parliament that political offenders can now be extradited.

Opening his argument, Edward Fitzgerald QC argued that the Extradition Act of 2003 alone is not enough to make an actual extradition. The extradition requires two things in place; the general Extradition Act and the Extradition Treaty with the country or countries concerned. “No Treaty, No Extradition” was an unbreakable rule. The Treaty was the very basis of the request. So to say that the extradition was not governed by the terms of the very treaty under which it was made, was to create a legal absurdity and thus an abuse of process. He cited examples of judgements made by the House of Lords and Privy Council where treaty rights were deemed enforceable despite the lack of incorporation into domestic legislation, particularly in order to stop people being extradited to potential execution from British colonies.

Fitzgerald pointed out that while the Extradition Act of 2003 did not contain a bar on extraditions for political offences, it did not state there could not be such a bar in extradition treaties. And the extradition treaty of 2007 was ratified after the 2003 extradition act.

At this stage Baraitser interrupted that it was plain the intention of parliament was that there could be extradition for political offences. Otherwise they would not have removed the bar in previous legislation. Fitzgerald declined to agree, saying the Act did not say extradition for political offences could not be banned by the treaty enabling extradition.

Fitzgerald then continued to say that international jurisprudence had accepted for a century or more that you did not extradite political offenders. No political extradition was in the European Convention on Extradition, the Model United Nations Extradition Treaty and the Interpol Convention on Extradition. It was in every single one of the United States’ extradition treaties with other countries, and had been for over a century, at the insistence of the United States. For both the UK and US Governments to say it did not apply was astonishing and would set a terrible precedent that would endanger dissidents and potential political prisoners from China, Russia and regimes all over the world who had escaped to third countries.

Fitzgerald stated that all major authorities agreed there were two types of political offence. The pure political offence and the relative political offence. A “pure” political offence was defined as treason, espionage or sedition. A “relative” political offence was an act which was normally criminal, like assault or vandalism, conducted with a political motive. Every one of the charges against Assange was a “pure” political offence. All but one were espionage charges, and the computer misuse charge had been compared by the prosecution to breach of the official secrets act to meet the dual criminality test. The overriding accusation that Assange was seeking to harm the political and military interests of the United States was in the very definition of a political offence in all the authorities.

In reply Lewis stated that a treaty could not be binding in English law unless specifically incorporated in English law by Parliament. This was a necessary democratic defence. Treaties were made by the executive which could not make law. This went to the sovereignty of Parliament. Lewis quoted many judgements stating that international treaties signed and ratified by the UK could not be enforced in British courts. “It may come as a surprise to other countries that their treaties with the British government can have no legal force” he joked.

Lewis said there was no abuse of process here and thus no rights were invoked under the European Convention. It was just the normal operation of the law that the treaty provision on no extradition for political offences had no legal standing.

Lewis said that the US government disputes that Assange’s offences are political. In the UK/Australia/US there was a different definition of political offence to the rest of the world. We viewed the “pure” political offences of treason, espionage and sedition as not political offences. Only “relative” political offences – ordinary crimes committed with a political motive – were viewed as political offences in our tradition. In this tradition, the definition of “political” was also limited to supporting a contending political party in a state. Lewis will continue with this argument tomorrow.

That concludes my account of proceedings. I have some important commentary to make on this and will try to do another posting later today. Now rushing to court.

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

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


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295 thoughts on “Your Man in the Public Gallery – The Assange Hearing Day 3

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  • Guy Thornton

    So the 2003 act means that parliament intended that Assange can be extradited for a political offence.
    But not to the USA….because the 2007 treaty forbids this.
    If, on the other hand:
    “Lewis quoted many judgements stating that international treaties signed and ratified by the UK could not be enforced in British courts”
    he seems to be saying that the US extradition treaty with UK has no validity.
    Fitzgerald should get to work on this angle, lol..

    • nevermind

      They might extradite him to Diego Garcia, now that would really be out of the way. And out of order, bloody warmongering criminals.

  • Ros Thorpe

    This travesty must be the most vile stain on our democracy and on our humanity since Dreyfus. I am genuinely mortified by a legal system that seems hand in glove with government in this day. Stunned, ashamed and disgusted.

    • bevin

      Ironically what is reputed to be a cinematic masterpiece, devoted to the Dreyfus Affair, is said to be difficult to view because Polanski is being boycotted. For this sort of censorship we can only blame ourselves for not realising that Freedom of Speech, like justice, is indivisible

      • NoOneYouKnow

        It’s a little rich for a wealthy fugitive from justice who drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl to be making a film about Dreyfus. No one has trampled Polanski’s freedom of speech. He’s even been allowed to make movies. It seems few want to distribute them, though. That’s also freedom of speech.

        • Tom Welsh

          As is your attack on Polanski. We read it (or not), move on, and watch his film (or not).


        • Tom Welsh

          Surprisingly many of the world’s greatest artists, engineers, scientists and other brilliant innovators were whirling sons of bitches.

          The human brain is very small and quite limited, and is most productive when it focuses almost exclusively on one single thing.

      • Kempe

        The film is being screened and has won some prestigious award or the other. Download it or buy the DVD/Blu Ray when it becomes available as it surely will. Just be aware that some of your hard earned cash will be falling into the pocket of a paedophile and rapist.

        If you’re happy with that, fine. Many would not.

        • Annie McStravick

          J’accuse has been a box-office hit in France, where Polanski is yet again recognised as a fabulous director.

          I’m waiting for the feminazis to demand that museums remove from their walls the masterpieces of Caravaggio, who murdered a love rival…..

          • Kempe

            The difference is that Caravaggio is no longer alive to benefit.

            Aside from which Polanski is not even in the same league.

  • Cline Leslie

    At the start I wonder why not ask for bail, release from custody? If their legal arguments are so weak as you say, their turning down such requests only make their side look like the ogres they are.

  • Oliver

    Today’s Court of Appeal verdict on Heathrow Airport’s 3rd runway maybe relevant to this case. The Appeal judges ruled that the permission given to the 3rd runway violated the Paris Agreement, an international treaty; as opposed to the applicable UK law, the Climate Change Act 2008. For this reason alone, the permission was judged unlawful.

    We must therefore conclude that governments may indeed be held accountable in UK courts for breaches of international treaties. It is hard to imagine that judges of such seniority as the Appeal judges would make an elementary schoolboy error on this fundamental point.

    • Giyane


      Heathrow is bonkers. I drove through London yesterday evening. It is a city of foreigners who all want to be propelled back to their places of origin from a nearby airport.

      Johnson understands the problem well. It’s like building a new motorway which suddenly creates even more demand and congestion. If foreigners want the luxury of having double lives with homes in 2 places , they need to know that their commuting mindset is destroying the planet.

      Anyway that was not your point. Fact is, Johnson hates Heathrow and that’s why legal arguments have suddenly been discovered to end its expansion. Johnson also wants to cosy up to Trump who wants to cosy up to Israel and that’s why the law is being raped in Woolwich.

      A fatuous exercise in short termism because Britain stands to lose its reputation as practical and pragmatic on the twin altars of hosting the London nest of spies and leading the world on climate change. Two completely incompatible concepts like a dog with worms chasing its own tail

    • Matthew

      It did violate both the Paris Agreement, but also section 5(8) of the Planning Act 2008 requires the Government to “include an explanation of how the policy set out in the statement takes account of Government policy relating to the mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change”.

      This requirement was ignored which made the decision legally flawed — the Paris Agreement merely provides the cover for climate change, but the actual legal requirement is enshrined in UK law. Treaties are still, broadly, only enforceable through domestic legislation and they don’t have any legal effect until implemented in statute accordingly.

    • Annan

      The argument that treaty rights are made to fit Act rights like a legal Bed of Procrustes is peculiar but typical. The ECHR, for example, had limited legal effect prior to the HRA. However in practice, the Extradition Act is general enabling legislation intended to support a wide range of treaties and conventions signed by the executive branch. “This Part deals with extradition from the United Kingdom to the territories designated for the purposes of this Part by order made by the Secretary of State.” So the Extradition Act will be as accommodating as possible, since the details of individual treaties are unknown. Where a treaty operates between UK and another state, the treaty may, reasonably, provide fewer solutions or resources than the Act, but it cannot provide more and expect the unsupported provisions to be enforceable in UK courts. Magistrate Baraitser seems to take the opposite view, that if the Act supports solutions or resources not in the treaty, then the treaty must be considered to include them willy nilly, no matter what the intent or wording of the signing authorities. For that to be workable, every treaty would have to be brought into UK law not to support powers absent from enabling legislation, but to overrule enabling legislation by rejecting specific aspects not in the agreed treaty. That would create legal confusion and lack of clarity. It makes a mockery of parliament’s intention in passing enabling legislation.

    • Theophilus

      It is had to imagine that an award winning journalist could find himself in the position of Julian Assange in the UK in the 21st Century, almost entirely abandoned by his journalistic colleagues.

    • Tom Welsh

      John, do you know of any real reasons why the hearing had to be delayed for two and a half months? I can’t think of a single one.

      • John Goss

        The only reason I can think of Tom is so they could accommodate the defence statements in answer to prosecution claims which they obtained by spying on the defence team when consulting with Assange. This of course is illegal. But that’s British justice today.

  • andrewf

    Many thanks to you Mr Murry for your detailed and daily reporting of the extradition hearing being held against Julian Assange. You do us a great service in this regard with work that is vital and necessary. I am sure I speak for many others in saying how much this informative commitment is appreciated. I have sent a small donation today to add to the many others and help a little with the ongoing material expenses. Once again many thanks for your work on behalf of truth, justice and an informed public in this ongoing case.

  • Mary

    Nick Davies writes.

    I worked with Assange to release US Iraq secrets – extraditing him is bullying masquerading as justice
    Where Obama’s people saw journalism, Trump sees simply an enemy to attack

    He is ‘an investigative journalist and documentary film maker. When working for The Guardian he initiated the alliance of news organisations which published US military and diplomatic secrets which had been obtained by Wikileaks.’

    • Ken Kenn

      I’m sure M’Learned friend Martinned will be on in a bit with the ‘appropriate ‘ legalese , but politics always Trumps ( pardon the pun ) all.

      ” In this tradition, the definition of “political” was also limited to supporting a contending political party in a state.”

      The ” political party in a state ” is that Obama ( Democratic Party) did’nt want a prosecution, but Trump ( Republican Affiliated ) does.

      And the Judge appears to be carry out this Republican party’s and President’s bidding.

      So the question for myself is – who’s Official Secrets Act has Assange broken?

      The US – the UK or Both the US and the UK?

      Can of worms dear Judge.

  • Brian Eggar

    I have no legal background but you keep hearing reference to international law does it exist or just a convenient phrase for something that doesn’t but should.

    It amuses me that Chomsky is often accused of being an anarchist and in a way they are right in that an anarchist believes that there should be an international law that covers everybody even if you are “exceptional”.

    One learns today that it was the Guardian that was responsible for putting informants lives at risk so really it should be their editor facing extradition to a closed court in America.

    Reading all that is going on, the term that comes to mind is that this is a British judicial lynching and that whatever is said will make no difference to the final outcome and that Assange will be sent to an American closed court with a carefully selected jury.

    Quite rightly many countries like America and Russia and many others will not allow their citizens to be carted off to other countries. Okay Assange is Australian but I am surprised by the lack of involvement of his country, he appears to have the same rights as if he was stateless. Even terrorists or those who have documented war crimes have better recourse to the law than Assange.

    Then there was the recent case involving Judge Baraitser where she allowed two Indians to stay in this country who were accused of murdering a child. Are Assanges so called crimes so much worse or is a USUK trade deal worth so much more?

    I am ashamed for where British justice now stands and the scales of justice above the Old Bailey should now be heavily tilted towards injustice.

    Listening to PM on Radio not a word about Assange and yet they found time to file a report about a new perfume shop in Moscow!

    The BBC has abrogated the right to call itself a news service and is now just a reporting arm of the government staffed and run by a bunch of nonentities who are too frightened to depart from the script and the agreed agenda.

    The only person who has shown true integrity and courage is Chelsea Manning who for a year has been in prison and purportedly being woken up every twenty minutes during the night, outright torture and probably the same that Assange will get when shipped there.

    • Geoff

      “It amuses me that Chomsky is often accused of being an anarchist and in a way they are right in that an anarchist believes that there should be an international law that covers everybody even if you are “exceptional”

      I think it’s more fair to say Chomsky claims to be an anarchist rather than he is accused of it. Accused would also imply that it’s somehow a ‘bad thing’ which I would refute.

      Secondly, why do you say anarchists believe there should be an international law? Surely this is at odds with the very core of anarchist belief, whichever flavour of anarchism you subscribe to? Are you perhaps referring to the idea that international relations are fundamentally anarchic? While this is a popular idea, it’s not one which stems from anarchists themselves, afaik, and it certainly doesn’t make it part of anarchic ideology

      • Rowan Berkeley

        Marxism also aims at eventual obscelescence of ‘government’, but it is not so naive (or disingenuous) as Chomsky, about how to get there.

    • Matthew

      International law exists — it’s the customs and practices of states on the world stage, as well as written legal documents like the European Convention on Human Rights. (I have a legal background)

      • chris

        I have always wondered why nobody brought Julian’s case before the European Court of Human Rights.

    • Royd

      Brian Eggar
      ‘One learns today that it was the Guardian that was responsible for putting informants lives at risk so really it should be their editor facing extradition to a closed court in America.’

      There is filmed evidence that Julian Assange became aware and tried to warn Hillary Clinton so that protective action could be taken. He was rebuffed. And here we are with this sham of a trial.

  • Clark

    Richard Stallman, pioneer of software freedom, comments on day two of the show trial of Julian Assange:

    27 February 2020 (Prosecuted for journalism)

    Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day 2. The judge is so hostile towards Assange that when his lawyer, joined by the prosecutor, call on her to ask the prison officials not to persecute him (so he would be able to participate properly in his case), when they both said this was normal practice and that prison officials usually followed judges’ advice, she said she had never heard of such a thing.

    At the end, she announced that UK law authorized extradition for political offenses. Shame on the UK, if that is true.

    The arguments in Assange’s extradition hearing show that he is being prosecuted for journalism.

  • jmg

    Craig Murray wrote:

    > As prefigured yesterday by magistrate Baraitser, the prosecution is arguing that Article 4.1 of the UK/US extradition treaty has no force in law. . . .
    > But from discussion in court it was plain that the prosecution argue that the Extradition Act of 2003, under which the court is operating, makes no exception for political offences. . . .
    > Opening his argument, Edward Fitzgerald QC argued that the Extradition Act of 2003 alone is not enough to make an actual extradition. The extradition requires two things in place; the general Extradition Act and the Extradition Treaty with the country or countries concerned. “No Treaty, No Extradition” was an unbreakable rule. . . . He cited examples of judgements made by the House of Lords and Privy Council where treaty rights were deemed enforceable despite the lack of incorporation into domestic legislation . . .
    > Fitzgerald pointed out that while the Extradition Act of 2003 did not contain a bar on extraditions for political offences, it did not state there could not be such a bar in extradition treaties. And the extradition treaty of 2007 was ratified after the 2003 extradition act. . . .
    > In reply Lewis stated that a treaty could not be binding in English law unless specifically incorporated in English law by Parliament.

    Very clearly, prosecution counsel Lewis and magistrate Baraitser are wrong, while defense attorney Fitzgerald is right.

    No extradition treaty with any country has been explicitly incorporated into UK domestic law. The UK Extradition Act 2003 is a common ground for all treaties, all of them legally binding, without any of the different specific arrangements that apply to each country.

    There is no mention of the United States or any other foreign countries in the currently in force UK Extradition Act 2003, excepting I think a few mentions of Hong Kong, now part of China. Nothing about the United States:

    Extradition Act 2003 —

    For the specifics about the United States, there is naturally the UK–US Extradition Treaty, in force since 2007:

    Extradition Treaty between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the United States of America

    In the UK Extradition Act, there is only a classification into two groups of countries: “category 1 territories” (European Union countries) and “category 2 territories” (other countries that have signed different extradition “arrangements” with the United Kingdom, that is to say treaties). Apart from this, no differences in the Act for specific countries.

    If Lewis and Baraitser were right, they could run to see Johnson, Corbyn, and the many other UK authorities and legal scholars who always complain about the unbalanced US extradition treaty, etc., and say to them: “Rejoice, no more worries, only the general UK Act applies to extraditions! All the different treaties with every country are just toilet tissue… It’s free bar, enjoy!” Completely absurd position.

    Naturally they are very wrong, United Kingdom’s signatures and ratifications have some value, and the country usually has regard to its international obligations.

    So the UK Extradition Act is just the general basis in the domestic law to support all the specific extradition treaties. There has been no need to incorporate any of the many different treaties into domestic laws, just that common ground:

    “Many treaties require a change to domestic legislation which will be subject to the usual parliamentary procedures.
    “. . . where treaty provisions require domestic implementation”
    Treaties — House of Commons Information Office

    “The Extradition Act 2003 (as amended) provides the domestic legal basis for extradition to and from EU Member States (including Gibraltar) under the European Arrest Warrant (‘EAW’). It also provides the domestic legal basis for all extradition requests received by the UK from other countries.”
    Extradition | The Crown Prosecution Service

    “Extradition is the formal process where one country asks another to return a person in order to stand trial or to serve a sentence. Under multilateral conventions and bilateral extradition treaties the UK has extradition relations with over 100 territories around the world.”
    Extradition: processes and review – GOV.UK

    Of course, signed and ratified treaties are legally binding for the UK state, including of course its judicial branch:

    “Treaties and conventions are legally binding agreements or contracts between States: the terms are sometimes used synonymously.”
    A Review of the United Kingdom’s Extradition Arrangements

    Many legal texts are written under the understanding that everyone knows treaties are legally binding:

    “The key difference between MoUs and treaties is whether or not there is an intention to create legally binding obligations. . . . an MoU is not legally binding”
    Treaties and Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) — Treaty Section, Legal Directorate, Foreign & Commonwealth Office

    For example, the general bars to extradition included in the UK Extradition Act apply always for all countries, in addition to those specific to each country “in the relevant treaty”:

    “Extradition from the UK . . .
    “Bars to Extradition
    “The statutory bars to extradition apply to all cases, even if there is no explicit clause in the relevant treaty.
    “If the judge finds that any of the bars to extradition apply, the requested person must be discharged.”
    Extradition | The Crown Prosecution Service

    So, in summary, the UK–US Extradition Treaty — like all treaties — is legally binding:

    “Extradition shall not be granted if the offense for which extradition is requested is a political offense.”
    — UK–US Extradition Treaty

    • jmg

      According to the UK government, the UK–US Extradition Treaty is in force, legally binding. Johnson could inform magistrate Baraitser:

      “To be frank I think the honorable gentleman has a point in his characterization of our extradition arrangements with the United States, and I do think there are elements of that relationship that are imbalanced and I certainly think they are worth looking at.”
      — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, February 12, 2020

      ASSANGE: A Tale of Three Extraditions — Consortium News — February 23, 2020

      As said, there is nothing specific about the United States in the UK Extradition Act. All the American specifics come only from the UK–US Extradition Treaty.

  • Doug Scorgie

    Linda Roulsten 27th Feb 2020 19.15

    “It’s actually a criminal offence to take a photo within the precincts of the court, not just in the court itself.”

    You may be right Linda but a reference to a reliable source for your statement would be helpful.

  • John Goss

    Vanessa Baraitser appears to specialise in extradition judgments. Earlier tonight I located two websites which had extradition cases in which Vanessa Baraitser was involved. One was for a man allegedly trafficking who she could see no case for him to remain and she approved his extradition to France. This was in an Irish newspaper.

    The second was a high court judgment of three Romanians. This was a long .pdf file and having scan-read it two of those she approved for extradition were upheld and one was not. As I was writing this up there was an awful crunching noise (which happens when something is being downloaded without your approval in Windows 10). When I restarted the computer, which is only two months old and has already had to re-loaded once) the files I had accessed were no longer there. They were not there in Recent websites accessed either. And the word file I was working on was missing.

    I suspect now they may have been removed from the web. I further suspect she has some history but I have checked Wayback Machine and it produced nothing – absolutely zilch.

  • Geoff Andrews

    …. and here was me thinking that the Judge in an English (speaking) court had to be impartial.
    If the US, with the aid of Britain whose scrotum seems tobe firmly in the groping hands of the President, can keep these and subsequent proceedings active for as long as possible, their objective will have been achieved: the rest of Assange’s life will continue to be an empty, living hell. How good is it NOT living in China or North Korea or Iran?

  • Evangelista

    Mr. Murray,

    Your coverage of the current Assange Hearing reads well. Your coverage of the Judge’s admonitions conveys their peculiarities well, even when you confess yourself at a loss to understand them. This may help you to recognise what is going on, what Her Lor’sh’p is doing, and attempting to do, and where it lies in the descent and decline of disintegrating jurisiæ.

    Example one draws on your report of Her Lor’sh’ps’ Day One “correction” of “a confusion” that appeared common to both Defence and Prosecution, that news reportage is not constrained in what it may convey, but, rather, perhaps, how it may obtain that it may freely convey. What was she saying, or trying to say, you let yourself wonder. I can answer that; she was addressing the press via address to counsels to advise them that The Law, per her “judicious” opinion does not grant the press the freedom the words of the law seem to, and have, apparently, in her view, befuddled both counsels to interpret or imagine. Her Lor’sh’p’s practice is a not uncommon one where law and judiciary systems are in disintegration and corruption is on a high enough horse it perceives itself to have authority to ‘adjust’ practices to suit the highly-horsed’s preferences.

    Her Lor’sh’p, apparently feeling flush wi’ Power from her apparent self-perception of success on Day One, on Day Two advanced to “judiciary adjustment” of evidence and allegation, characterizing and nuancing charges and nuancing and adding to evidences, as you nicely noted in your reportage, assigning Assange to have ‘perhaps’ aided Manning in ‘hacking’ administrator passwords so mil-personnel could install videos and games on their mil-system computers. Then, in answer to her own allegation, Her Lor’sh’p noted the obvious, that even if Assange did not have to, and so did not, help Manning ‘hack’ to get the info central in the question before the court, such ‘help in hacking’ as she had alleged, off the top of her head, however so innocuous its reasons and purposes might be, would be equally illegal and chargeable.

    Her Lor’sh‘p’s legal reasoning, on that score, was impressively, in light of her demonstrations thereof to then, correct, which is why Assange’s attorneys would NOT have alleged as Joe Lauria, editor of (under his tenure become a CIA Mockingbird site) asserted in his headline:
    “Assange Helped Manning Crack Password to Download Video Games, Not State Secrets, Court is Told”, and in his body text:
    “Assange attorney Mark Summers revealed that Assange’s supposed attempt to help Manning “hack” a government computer for secret documents was actually an attempt to help her crack a password to  download video games, movies and music videos, forbidden on military computers.”

    What Her Lor’sh’p was doing in her conjecturing from the bench (and Lauria can be trying to help push over) was introduction of a wholly false and fictional construction into, or as, ‘evidence’. This to add what in legal parlance is designated ‘colour’. She is colouring her construct world with a tint of taint to ‘soft-focus’ the question she will have to address in adjudicative decision writing. Having blurred lines and shifted perspective, she apparently hopes, she will be able to push her interpretation of presented evidences in the direction she, with her suggestions of obfuscating conjecturing, blurred and rendered, she will hope, less enough distinct she may overlook, if not ignore them.

    Her Lor’sh’p is doing the same, apparently with some help from Prosecution counsel, in permitting, if not aiding and encouraging, admix of UK and US law in regard to the Assange case. In fact, both are distinct and do not mix, across any line. Instead, it is the case at hand that, in correct practice, must be carried over the line, to compare for fit to UK extradition law (properly including treaties, as Her Lor’sh’p seems to be attempting to deprecate), and then to US law, for intent and purpose, upon completion of which the case matter would go back across for comparison of those components to UK extradition law. Whether Assange’s actions would, or would not, be actionable under UK free-press or free-speech law is entirely irrelevant, since the hearing is not of any such charges, but only extradition. All the rest, along with whether or not Assange dun what the US alleges, including if he helped Manning ‘hack’ anything, even a hang-nail, is outside the Extradition hearing court’s jurisdiction.

    Her Lor’sh’p’s manipulation efforts are all not good judiciary practice. They are all evidences of a corrupt and disintegrating judiciary system, but they are lots of fun to spot and pick out, enumerate and pick apart, or analyse. There is, after all, nothing else one can do about those practices when one encounters them, and they are, especially when analyzed and enumerated, damaging to the judge and the judiciary system that manifests them. Especially if they are ‘let pass’ without correction from superior and supervisory adjudicatori.
    Her Lor’sh’p advancing her ‘colouratura’, and Lauria adopting it and publicizing it as if Defence advocated, though even if true, it would never be, for being as obvious as they are, are interesting and amusing (and to the court and its effort to maintain any degree of respectability, embarrassing), rather than shocking. For the suspension of proceedings for two months I suspect that someone in the court system may read your accounts, and have enough sense to recognise what Her Lor’sh’p’s ‘over zealousness’ may be doing to UK judiciary credibility.

    In the hiatus, for interest and edification, and to understand more fully what is happening in the UK today, I suggest looking up a good history of the decline and fall of Venice, and the ‘advance’ of that city-state’s judicial proceedings and court furnishings as it careened downward in its decline: The Bellmarsh court environment would have made them jealous…

  • John Gilberts

    These pieces are first rate Craig. They say ‘seeing is believing’ and you help us see that indeed there is something rotten in the state of Britain. Unfortunately not just there. Justin Trudeau’s continuing brutal corporate colonialism rampaging across unceded, unsurrendered, Indigenous lands to which Canada has never had legal title, has this winter culminated in an amazing national uprising of Indigenous and popular resistance on behalf of a decision taken by the traditional Wet’suwet’en governance system to deny Coastal GasLink permission to despoil their pristine territory, which was subsequently invaded by heavily armed RCMP paramilitary in support of the pipeline and against the area’s rightful Indigenous owners.

    It’s not the first time of course. In 1995 Canada reacted in a similar fashion against a group of traditionalist Secwepemc sundancers they attempted to evict from their sacred grounds near Gustafsen Lake on behalf of a large American-owned cattle ranch of several hundred thousand acres in the BC interior. Also, like the present crisis, on unceded lands to which the government of Canada can make no serious claim. It is moreover conservatively estimated that Canada’s ‘title’ to perhaps 90% of what it claims as its territory is legally ‘flawed’ as a matter of settled and binding constitutional and international law the judges won’t listen to. The Indians can and did resist the RCMP. There was a year long criminal trial, also in a special ‘anti-terrorist’ courtroom similar to Julian Assange’s, with a wall of bullet proof glass between the kangaroo court, the Canadian hanging judge, and the gallery. The sovereignty defence of the Indigenous was denied by the court, even the word ‘Constitution’ was not permitted to be spoken. the lawyer representing the Indigenous was charged with criminal contempt of court and appeared instead as a witness in prison orange and was subsequently disbarred for ‘ungovernability’ based on complaints from Canadian judges who refused to hear the arguments of one of the most highly qualified native rights lawyers in the country with several books and advanced degrees, including one in jurisprudential history from the best university in Scotland.

    In any case, one of the defendants, while on parole decided to cross the white man’s border from the Dominion of Canada into the United States of America because it had become too unpleasant for him to remain in the former place. Canada requested his extradition, and in due course, after conducting a hearing on the matter, refused Canada’s extradition order, granting asylum to the Indigenous defendant on the basis of a political exemption similar to that which Julian Assange is manifestly entitled to claim and win.

    This never happens in Canada-US cases. Except it did. The case is virtually unknown by Canadians and official Canada doesn’t mention it but there is is. American judge refuses extradition request from Canada because ‘the defendant’s crimes for which he was convicted and later paroled were ‘of a political character and therefore may not provide the basis for extradition of defendant to Canada. For the foregoing reasons, the government’s request for extradition is denied and the Complaint is dismissed.’ – Judge Janice Stewart.

    United States v Pitawanakwat

    • Rod

      Thank you, John, for your post, it was very enlightening and most apt in Mr Assange’s current predicament. It leads me to ask if the Canadian government suppressed the newspapers and mainstream media in reporting these events as they appear to have done here.

  • writeon

    Alice in Totalitarianland

    The traditional bourgeois ‘democratic’ state has been replaced, slowly, over the last few decades. Now, we effectively live in a one-party, national security state where the twin-party system is dead and instead there’s one party made up various factions pretending to oppose each other. This shift is reflected by the uniformity of the media to the Assange Affair and their collective complicity in the attempts to marginalise, silence and destroy him for revealing unpleasant and damaging truths about the true character of our fake democracy. Public debate about a whole swathe of issues linked to our military adventures has more or less ceased. Dissent and opposition is censored out of existence, the state’s version of global events is accepted without question… especially if we’re attacking some country, and ‘heresy’ is viciously punished. For example the same tactics that were used to demonise Saddam Husein, Ghaddafi and Putin, were recently applied against Jeremy Corbyn, so the war came home!

    Liberals in our society, typified by the BBC and the Guardian, are by upbringing and culture, afraid to face up to what’s happening to Assange because to see it clearly undermines almost all the lies they have been taught to believe in and that’s unpleasant and worrying. Really, the Assange Affair is a kind of watershed moment, where the full power of the national security state, which has pushed bourgeois democracy aside as we perpare for even bigger and more bloody wars overseas, probably with Russia and China, the problem is, who do we attack first? Assange’s fate really is important. If he is ‘burnt at the stake’ as a dangerous heretic, eventually a lot more people are going to follow him into the flames. And then liberals in our media will have a lot more to worry about than how to pay the school fees.

    • Anthony

      The hypocrisy is simply off the scale when you consider the sort of things the Guardian, Channel 4 News, etc, line up to self-righteously condemn every day.

    • John Gilberts

      Reporting on the events of 1995 was indeed heavily controlled. Not difficult as Canadian msm is highly subservient to power. There is little to no msm reporting on the Assange case, although there is some alternative coverage. However the smear and disinformation campaign did its damage alas and most progressives here bought the bs about Assange the ‘rapist’ as well as the Russiagate smear that Assange was somehow connected to a Kremlin campaign to promote Trump and sabotage Hillary Clinton. Those interested in following the Indigenous rights struggle exploding here can follow the excellent twitter feed of a Mohawk analyst:

  • Bayleaf

    With regards to Baraitser’s contention that “it was plain the intention of parliament was that there could be extradition for political offences”, the Vienna Convention of the Law of Treaties (Article 27) states:

    A party may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty.

    Perhaps she is also suggesting that the UK is no longer bound by the Vienna Convention.

  • Worried

    Sorry to be off topic, but does anyone know what happened to The BlogMire? The site has been unavailable for more than 24 hours.

      • Tom Welsh

        John Helmer’s blog and his book seem to me admirable. He has a very deep knowledge of Russia, the Russians and Russian politics and business. And he is a true journalist, digging indefatigably for the facts.

    • Ben Garfield

      I too cannot ger into theblogmire. Im just getting redirected to the fat cow web site. I contacted fat cow online and they claim theblogmire is not one of their sites. Very odd. The blogmire twitter still seems to be operating

    • Pb

      The site has been hacked and work is being done to resolve the harm done by the attack.

      The site has majored on the examination of the Wiltshire Novichok poisonings, there had been some recent musings by contributors to the site which indicate that the chronology of events in Salisbury on the 4th March 2018 was very different from the official version broadcast by the government, police and MSM.

      With the second anniversary of the Initial Incident taking place on Wednesday of next week there is likely to be renewed interest with some very enlightening revelations set to be released.

      • Clark

        Thanks Pb.

        To all above; when a site is down, post a link to it anyway to help people who know how to do a “whois lookup” and other technical things which can yield useful information.

  • Mary

    ‘The hearing is expected to last until Friday, February 28, with proceedings scheduled to resume on May 18 for another three weeks.

    The WikiLeaks founder has been behind bars in Belmarsh Prison since May 2019, after he was sentenced to 50 weeks in jail for breaching his bail conditions to avoid extradition to Sweden over sexual assault allegations.

    Despite the sentence coming to an end on September 22, a British judge ordered Assange to remain in prison while facing proceedings concerning possible extradition to the US, due to his previous history of absconding.’

    Ruptly. So that means 81 days back in Belmarsh Prison for Julian until May 18th. Such cruelty. His life is being taken away from him.

  • Dennisa

    “Baraitser interrupted that it was plain the intention of parliament was that there could be extradition for political offences”

    Thereby acknowledging the political nature of this hearing, the outcome of which it seems has already been decided.

    • John Goss

      If there ever exists in this country real justice people like Vanessa Baraitser should be fairly tried for the offence of perverting the course of justice. There should be as many photographs of her as have been taken of Assange so everyone can see what a nasty piece of work she really is.

    • OnlyHalfALooney

      There are two different things in the treaty.
      1) A political offence.
      2) Politically motivated prosecution.

      In both cases, the “Requested State” “shall not” grant the requested extradition.

      Since Assange isn’t a US citizen, it might be hard to prove this is a politcal offence. And what “offence” has Assange, in fact, committed?

      However, it is clear that the request for extradition is politically motivated.

      I fear that Baraitser is not just biased, her intellectual capacities are also not a good match for this precedent-setting case.

      • Mochyn69

        Yeah, but she’s only the judge at first instance. Whatever she decides is likely to be appealed.

        Seems to be providing abundant grounds for appeal too!

  • John Goss

    “In his diffident manner (which I confess is growing on me) Lewis said “the prosecution is neutral on this request, of course but, err, I really don’t think that’s right”. He looked at her like a kindly uncle whose favourite niece has just started drinking tequila from the bottle at a family party.”

    Nice touch Craig. I had to smile.

  • Clive p

    The only good thing about this farce is that Baraitser (whoever she is) has made such a dog’s breakfast of the rulings that a higher court (probably the SC in the end) where there are some proper legal brains will have to rule on the treaty/statute conflict and what is a political offence. Whether Assange survives that long in Belmarsh is another question.

    • Magic Robot

      I fear it will not get remotely that far – a fait-accompli will seal that.

      One fast car to a ‘plane at the ready, it’s navigation controls already set for an airport in the US, flight clearance also pre-agreed with, and… gone.

      • Magic Robot

        All the general public, via the media, will know of it will be that a perfectly fair hearing was conducted according to UK law but that the defendant lost his case.

        Afterwards there may be a quote made to reporters by the Home Secretary on the lines of:
        “Well, he had a fair hearing, his defence did their best but it is out of our hands, now.”

        Anything else the public might glean from outside of the ‘Overton Window’ will simply be labelled ‘conspiracy theory.’

          • Magic Robot

            I believe these events have marked a terrible turning point – as you point out, all the prerequisites for the TOTAL destruction on all levels of an innocent man were already put in place, and thus public acquiescence to his fate, is guaranteed. We may even see ‘well, he deserves it’ etc from the usual sources in MSM.

            All the hallmarks of an ‘Oriental Despotism.’

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