Julian Assange Hearing – Your Help Wanted 69

Here is a list of things you can do to help. Everyone can do at least one of these.

1) Put 18 May firmly in your diary. The hearing stands adjourned until 18 May. Turn up on 18 May and join the protests there all day – show the world this is a political trial, and we know it. Woolwich Crown Court is walking distance from Plumstead Railway Station in South East London. If you feel able to do so, bring your tent and join the Free Assange Village that sets up on the grass banks around the court – there is loads of available space. But if you can just turn up for the day, that is just as valuable. Protests will roll on every day throughout the hearing which will continue for a minimum of three weeks.

Make all the noise you can at the protests. The prosecution is anxious to portray this as an “ordinary criminal case”. Make sure the world, and the judge, know it is not. There was an attempt by the judge to deflect the communication problems caused by Julian being locked inside a bulletproof glass cage, and blame the distant noise of protestors for that instead. Do not be deflected by this arrant nonsense. Make all the noise you can.

2) Write to your elected representatives. This really does have an impact if done en masse. You can do this whichever country you are in. The key points are these:

– Publishing the truth should not be a crime. Wikileaks exposed war crimes and worldwide corruption by governments.
– The prosecution case rests entirely on the argument that the UK/US Extradition Treaty of 2007 is legally enforceable, but that specifically Clause 4.i of the Treaty forbidding extradition for political offences has no standing in law. This is an absurd argument.
– Ask specifically your elected representative whether they personally believe political offences should be extraditable, and what they believe the impact might be worldwide on political dissidents in exile
– Demand they act on the disgraceful conditions in which Julian is held, including entirely unnecessary strip searches and manacling, lack of access to his legal papers and lack of access to his lawyers. Point out he has not been convicted and that these are incompatible with his status as an innocent remand prisoner. Point out he is being treated as the most violent convicted terrorists are treated, but he is unconvicted and accused of a peaceful political offence.

3) Put in a freedom of information request. I explained at great length why it is impossible that the UK could have ratified the US/UK Extradition Treaty in 2007 if it is indeed, as the prosecution claim, incompatible with the UK Extradition Act of 2003. Please read that again.

If you are in the UK
There must be documentary evidence of all the clearance work around Whitehall that was done to ensure the 2007 Treaty is fully compatible with UK law. I therefore need people to submit Freedom of Information Requests to:
a)Foreign & Commonwealth Office (Specifying Consular Dept, Legal Advisers, North American Dept, Nationality & Treaty Dept, Counter Terrorism Dept or their successors if renamed and any other relevant departments)
b)Home Office
c)Treasury Solicitors
d)Cabinet Office
e)UK Parliament

Requesting “All materials relating to the ratification and entry into force of the UK/US Extradition Treaty (signed 2003 ratified 2007), and particularly all discussion of the ability of the 2003 Extradition Act to apply all of its provisions, of the need or lack of need for any further statutory provision to incorporate it into English law, including but not exclusively any reference to extradition for political offences or to clause 4 of the UK US Extradition Treaty.” Materials should be requested from 2002 to 2007.

If you are in the USA, please similarly put in a FOIA request to the Department of Justice and State Department for all material relating to the implementation of the UK/US Extradition Treaty (signed 2003, ratified 2007), and particularly any discussion of the political offences exclusion at Clause 4, in particular but not exclusively with relation to the desirability of the UK implementing that clause and/or the UK’s ability to do so.

I realise I am asking for a bit of work here from you to work out how to do and phrase this. I have never been let down when drawing on the tenacity and perspicacity of our readers before!

4) Research the passing of the 2003 Extradition Act.

In Court the prosecution argued that the 2003 Extradition Act was the first such UK Act not to include an exclusion for political offences. Parliament must therefore deliberately have removed the political offences exclusion and the 2007 Treaty could not put it back in. The defence argued to the contrary that the 2003 Extradition Act is an Enabling Act on which extradition treaties depend. Both the Act and the Treaty are required for extradition, and the Act did nothing to limit Treaties from including a ban on extradition for political offences.

As always, Judge Baraitser ignored the defence argument. She three times asserted as a simple matter of fact that Parliament had intended to allow extradition for political offences when passing the 2003 Extradition Act. Twice she did this in interruption of the defence argument to the contrary.

Normally neither arguments about the intention of parliament, nor quotes from Hansard debates, are taken into consideration by English courts. With few exceptions, rulings have been that the legislation must be read on its face. But here, Baraitser has herself quoted the intention of parliament – using that very word – to justify dismissing the defence argument. It must therefore be legitimate to introduce evidence on the intention of parliament, if the judge is going to rely on the concept.

I therefore need people to read through all the Hansards of debates on the 2003 Extradition Act, both in the Commons and the Lords, to see what was said about extradition for political offences, and particular if any distinction was made between terrorists and peaceful political offenders, and whether ministers gave any reassurances. Apart from the debates, there may be parliamentary questions in Hansard on the same topic.

It is of course true that the 2003 Extradition Act was a product of the so-called “War on Terror” and the Iraq and Afghan invasions, passed by Blair, Straw and Blunkett, undoubtedly the most hostile to civil liberty, authoritarian government in modern British history. But even so, I feel fairly confident that to get the Act through the Commons and especially the Lords, ministers will have been obliged to give some reassurance it was not intended to use it against peaceful political dissidents.

I have received quite a clamour from people wanting to know how they can help. Off you go!

This blog will resume its daily coverage of the hearings when proceedings restart on 18 May. On a personal note, my sincere thanks to all those who supported financially. I am happy to report that from the afternoon of Day 3, an accommodation was made by the Court whereby Julian was given six seats in the public gallery for family and close friends, and he kindly listed me for one of those, so I no longer had to queue at 6am, and I hope that will continue.

Finally may I say that I am always delighted when readers, and subscribers, introduce themselves personally. I find it really heartwarming and it certainly helped keep my morale up at a very tiring and emotionally draining time. So please do not feel in the least reticent to say hello if you come along from 18 May.

There was a tremendous camaraderie at the hearing among Julian’s supporters, and I believe I met people from well nigh every country in Europe and the Americas. We kept each other going, and Julian lit up every time he saw friendly faces. It was a very intense week, and even with a wonderful and loving family to go home to, I felt a bit down after we all split up, and everyone who has been back in contact since has said the same thing. I am haunted by the thought of how much more dreadful Julian must feel, back into the bowels of that high tech dungeon and virtual solitary confinement, with very little contact with his legal team or his papers and months to go before anything else happens. Do think of him and pray for him if you have a faith.


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69 thoughts on “Julian Assange Hearing – Your Help Wanted

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  • Pete

    @Craig, I see there’s a lot of debate about the 2003 Act in Hansard, and to study it as you request requires close attention. Would it not be a good idea to divide up the task and seek volunteers to focus on specific debates and committees, to avoid both omissions and duplication of effort?

    Also, is there any online tool whereby Hansard can be searched for specific words like “political offences” within a specific debate or hearing? Hansard’s own search function doesn’t seem to do this. I see from a brief look that Chris Mullin was active in debating this bill, I guess he’d be the type of MP who would have raised this issue if anyone did?

  • Bill Irving

    Another superb article.
    You’re an inspiration and I take my hat off to you.
    I will certainly do what I can do in the name of justice.
    Thank you for all you do (I believe you’ve taken on the mantle of my life long hero Tony Benn, as you also have that great intellectual ability to see things so clearly and express yourself so succinctly).

  • jmg

    Craig wrote:
    > Here is a list of things you can do to help. Everyone can do at least one of these.

    That’s a truly great and encouraging article.

    > the intention of parliament

    About how the extradition Treaty and Act apply to Julian, that is to say the legal side, Craig and many others — such as the United Kingdom Supreme Court, the Government, the Parliament, various legal scholars, etc. — have explained it. I’ll try to summarize the essentials here.

    What the magistrate has to decide is whether or not the government should extradite Julian Assange.

    The point in this international case is that — according to all those authorities — both the ratified Treaty and the domestic Act are legally binding on the government:

    – “Treaties between sovereign states . . . are binding on the United Kingdom”, “automatically creating rights and duties only for the Government”, usually for international matters such as extraditions.
    – Domestic law is legally binding on everyone in the UK.

    And being treaty and domestic law both binding at the government level is consistent with, and plainly the reason of, what this House of Commons Briefing Paper on treaties explains with regard to interpretation of the intention of Parliament:

    “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.”

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

    Details on how this works in the United Kingdom, “so that the two can come into operation at the same time”, can be summarized as follows.


    From former British diplomat Craig Murray:

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

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

    “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.”

    Your Man in the Public Gallery — Assange Hearing Day Four — Craig Murray — 28 Feb 2020


    From the Supreme Court:

    “The Supreme Court . . . went on to explain:
    “‘This principle rests on the so-called dualist theory, which is based on the proposition that international law and domestic law operate in independent spheres. The prerogative power to make treaties depends on two related propositions.
    “‘The first is that treaties between sovereign states have effect in international law and are not governed by the domestic law of any state. ….
    “‘The second proposition is that, although they are binding on the United Kingdom in international law, treaties are not part of UK law and give rise to no legal rights or obligations in domestic law.’ . . .
    “Courts are, or have become, quite accustomed to adjudicating on issues of international law, where an appropriate domestic threshold exists. . . . The courts have an important role in ensuring the legality and propriety of executive action, at home and abroad.”

    International Law in the UK Supreme Court — King’s College, London — Lord Mance, former Justice and Deputy President of the Supreme Court — 13 February 2017


    From the Government:

    “Pleading insufficiency of domestic law is not, in international law, an acceptable excuse for failure to implement the provisions of a treaty.

    “Accordingly, if domestic legislation is required to enable the UK to give effect to its obligations under a treaty, the legislation should be in place before the treaty comes into force, so that the two can come into operation at the same time. It is FCO practice, therefore, to insist that any necessary UK legislation, i.e. an Act or Order-in-Council, must be in place before a treaty is ratified or acceded to.”

    Treaties and Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) — Treaty Section, Legal Directorate, Foreign & Commonwealth Office


    From the Parliament:

    “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


    That’s why 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. All country-specific arrangements are detailed only in the relevant treaties. There is nothing about the United States in the UK Act:

    Extradition Act 2003 — legislation.gov.uk

    For all the American specifics, there is naturally the UK–US Extradition Treaty, in force since 2007, and also legally binding on the government:

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

    That is to say the UK Extradition Act is just the general basis in the domestic law to support all the specific extradition treaties.

    And, because treaties are already immediately in force and binding on the UK government upon ratification, there has been no need to fully and explicitly incorporate any of the many different extradition treaties into domestic laws, just that general common ground without country specifics, the UK Extradition Act that complements all ratified treaties domestically.


    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 on the government:

    “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


    Specifically on Julian Assange’s extradition case, there is a revealing statement on the hurried signing of the US request by the then UK Home Secretary, former banker Sajid Javid:

    “PEN International and English PEN are disappointed by Sajid Javid’s decision to sign a request for Julian Assange to be extradited to the United States, particularly as he could face the risk of serious human rights violations. It took Javid only two months to rule on this request, in sharp contrast to other extradition cases where the Home Office took several years examining the case, before signing the order.

    “Once again, we urge the judicial authorities in the UK not to extradite Assange to the US, as the charges are far-reaching and set a dangerous precedent that could affect the legitimate work of journalists and publishers everywhere.”

    United Kingdom: Julian Assange should not be extradited to the United States — PEN International — Update 13 June 2019

    See also:

    U.K. Satisfied Assange Won’t Face Death Penalty Or Torture—Signs U.S. Extradition Request For Wikileaks Founder — Forbes — Jun 13, 2019


    By the way, Sajid Javid breached the ratified Treaty, of course legally binding on the government as confirmed by multiple authorities, by signing the invalid US extradition request:

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

    • jmg

      Additionaly, extradition requests by the U.S. to the U.K. must satisfy “reasonable suspicion”:

      “We have concluded that the United States/United Kingdom Treaty does not operate in an unbalanced manner. The United States and the United Kingdom have similar but different legal systems. In the United States the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution ensures that arrest may only lawfully take place if the probable cause test is satisfied: in the United Kingdom the test is reasonable suspicion. In each case it is necessary to demonstrate to a judge an objective basis for the arrest.

      “In our opinion, there is no significant difference between the probable cause test and the reasonable suspicion test.

      “In the case of extradition requests submitted by the United States to the United Kingdom, the information within the request will satisfy both the probable cause and the reasonable suspicion tests.”

      A Review of the United Kingdom’s Extradition Arrangements


      And, finally, on Julian Assange — accused of doing what for example The New York Times in the U.S. and The Guardian in the U.K. also do — the extradition request does not satisfy “reasonable suspicion”, since a U.S. federal judge already ruled that the activities of WikiLeaks are protected under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

      “. . . the First Amendment interest in the publication of matters of the highest public concern. . . . This type of information is plainly of the type entitled to the strongest protection that the First Amendment offers. . . . the documents were of public importance. Therefore, the First Amendment protects the publication . . .”
      — Judge John G. Koeltl, July 30, 2019

      DNC lawsuit against WikiLeaks dismissed in major free press victory — Defend WikiLeaks — Aug 3, 2019


      Of course, according to Mike Pompeo and the Assange prosecutor, Australians like Julian are not entitled to freedom of speech and of the press.

      However, on the alleged absence of rights for foreign nationals in the United States, e.g. through extradition, the U.S. Supreme Court disagrees:

      “The fact that the Framers chose to limit to citizens only the rights to vote and to run for federal office is one indication that they did not intend other constitutional rights to be so limited.

      “Accordingly, the Supreme Court has squarely stated that neither the First Amendment nor the Fifth Amendment ‘acknowledges any distinction between citizens and resident aliens.’

      “For more than a century, the Court has recognized that the Equal Protection Clause is ‘universal in [its] application, to all persons within the territorial jurisdiction, without regard to differences of … nationality.’

      “The Court has repeatedly stated that ‘the Due Process Clause applies to all persons within the United States, including aliens, whether their presence here is lawful, unlawful, temporary, or permanent.’

      “When noncitizens, no matter what their status, are tried for crimes, they are entitled to all of the rights that attach to the criminal process, without any distinction based on their nationality.”

      Are Foreign Nationals Entitled to the Same Constitutional Rights As Citizens? — Georgetown University Law Center


      “If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”
      — George Washington, 1783

      “First Amendment
      “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
      — U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, First Amendment, December 15, 1791

      “Universal Declaration of Human Rights
      “Article 19.
      “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
      — United Nations General Assembly, December 10, 1948; voted by the United States

  • MrK

    It seems clear that there was great concern about the lack of protections specifically stated in the bill, however the bill was moved through after assurances of amendments to protect human and other legal rights.

    However… the bill itself defers concerns about human rights to the Convention Rights within the meaning of the Human Rights Act of 1998. The Human Rights Act of 1998 itself does specifically mention protection for publication and publishing materials in the public interest – which the Collateral Murder video most definitely was.


    Comment: this Act specifically defers protections of human rights to the Human Rights Act of 1998.

    Source: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/41/contents

    21A Person not convicted: human rights and proportionality

    (1) If the judge is required to proceed under this section (by virtue of section 11), the judge must decide both of the following questions in respect of the extradition of the person (“D”)—

    (a) whether the extradition would be compatible with the Convention rights within the meaning of the Human Rights Act 1998;
    (b) whether the extradition would be disproportionate.


    – Comment – this Act mentions Freedom Of Expression and especially draws attention to Freedom Of Expression, including “journalistic, literary or artistic material”. Also, the 1998 Human Rights Act specifically allows for a Public Interest defense (unlike the Court in Virginia), when “it is, or would be, in the public interest for the material to be published;” (12 (4) a ii)


    12 Freedom of expression.

    (4) The court must have particular regard to the importance of the Convention right to freedom of expression and, where the proceedings relate to material which the respondent claims, or which appears to the court, to be journalistic, literary or artistic material (or to conduct connected with such material), to—

    (a) the extent to which—

    (i) the material has, or is about to, become available to the public; or
    (ii) it is, or would be, in the public interest for the material to be published;

    (b) any relevant privacy code.

    Source: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/42/section/12

    3. European Convention on Human Rights

    Comment: This is – I presume from the EU oriented context of the 2003 Extradition bill – the European Convention on Human Rights.

    Source: https://www.echr.coe.int/Documents/Convention_ENG.pdf

    Interesting sections in the Convention on Human Rights:

    Prohibition of torture
    No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

    ARTICLE 17
    Prohibition of abuse of rights
    Nothing in this Convention may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein or at their limitation to a greater extent than is provided for in the Convention.

    ARTICLE 53
    Safeguard for existing human rights

    Nothing in this Convention shall be construed as limiting or derogating from any of the human rights and fundamental freedoms which may be ensured under the laws of any High Contracting Party or under any other agreement to which it is a party.

    • MrK

      To narrow the argument even more:

      1. The Extradition Act of 2003 does not mention extradition for political offenses, but 21A (1) (a) defers human rights to the European Convention of Human Rights.

      2. The European Convention on Human Rights Article 53 prohibits abrogation of rights not mentioned in the treaty, but present in other laws and treaties.

      3. Extradition for political offenses is explicitly illegal under the 2007 US UK Extradition Treaty. Which is what Julian Assange is being extradited under.

      So Vanessa Baraitser’s argument that prohibition against extradition for political offenses not being in the 2003 Extradition Act, should bounce right off Article 53 in the ECHR which the 2003 Extradition Act defers to for human rights.

      The extradition Treaty Julian Assange is subjected to:

      Extradition Treaty between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the United States of America with Exchange of Notes.

      Treaty Series No. 13 (2007)

      Article 4 Political And Military Offenses

      1. Extradition shall not be granted if the offense for which the extradition is requested is a political offense.

      (Interesting note: this extradition treaty already existed on 31 March 2003, yet only went into effect on 26 April 2017… – see the first page)

  • Marie

    Thank you so much for highlighting the legal status
    of this fight to free Julian.

    I will be bringing as many people as I can on the 18th !!
    The fight will be won !!
    This is really gathering momentum now and I truly applaud you for all you have done and continue to do.

    So many people still don’t understand this cause but I will be printing off leaflets from the website to do my bit !!

    See you and thousands of others on the 18th May or before !
    Onwards and upwards !

  • monkey327

    Amazing post, spot on as usual!

    For researching in a collective manner, for this and any other need, feel free to use this public wiki: https://challengepower.info

    (a wiki is a collaborative website where everyone can edit any page, and create new page… like Wikipedia or WikiLeaks in the early days before 2010…)

    Let’s keep it up on all fronts!

    Thanks Craig for all your essential reporting! <3

  • Susan Macdiarmid

    Might it be appropriate to play the Bantu Stephen Biko song very loudly on large speakers?…you can blow out a candle, but you can’t blow out a fire….

  • ciaris

    Open-source question here. I’m in Australia, and am considering writing to my Federal MP. I’m curious what people think might be good questions. Will post any response I get.

    And, if Craig happens to see this post, I am also curious as to what representation Australia has sent, if any. Successive Australian governments have, essentially, thrown Assange under the bus, and appear to be happy to just let him die in prison. Might be an interesting question to my MP. My MP, btw, is cabinet level, and rather a big fish in Liberal circles.

    There are evidently mysteries within mysteries here. It’s possible, for example, that a high IQ guy like Assange would be ‘tapped’ by ASIO, back in the day. If it happens at Oxford (and it does), so it can happen in Sydney. This is not to make any accusation against Assange, merely that the spook world is all-but invisible to the citizen. Dude like Assange would probably turn them down anyway, but still.

  • Stephanie Butler

    Thank you very much for this. It is empowering to have such clear direction for action on all levels. I recognise how crucial Julian’ s case is, for all of us #iamjulianassange Thank you ?

  • Marco E Tirelli

    Thank you Craig for whst you are doing to keep us informed, alive and Human

  • Holly Vogel

    Dear Craig,
    Thank you so much for your continuous hard work to support Julian and our common cause to protect the right to freedom of speech. This is such an important case. Whatever the court decides, it will go down in history. But history is still being written, and there is still time for us to play a part.
    Truly thank you for your hard work.

  • jmg

    Craig wrote:

    > Judge Baraitser ignored the defence argument. She three times asserted as a simple matter of fact that Parliament had intended to allow extradition for political offences when passing the 2003 Extradition Act.

    MrK wrote:

    > The dicussion in the House of Lords came down to the assurance that the government would introduce amendmends to the bill that would protect against extradition for dual criminality, publication, etc. . . .
    > It seems clear that there was great concern about the lack of protections specifically stated in the bill, however the bill was moved through after assurances of amendments to protect human and other legal rights.
    > However… the bill itself refers concerns about human rights to the Human Rigths Act of 1998, which does specifically mention protection for publication and publishing materials in the public interest – which the Collateral Murder video most definitely was. . . .
    gt; 21A (1) (a) defers human rights to the European Convention of Human Rights. . . .br />> Extradition for political offenses is explicitly illegal under the 2007 US UK Extradition Treaty. Which is what Julian Assange is being extradited under.

    lysias wrote:

    > George Galloway said on his radio show last Sunday that he had been assured by Blunkett that his misgivings against the extradition treaty were answered by the section of the treaty prohibiting extradition for political offenses.

    MrsS wrote:

    > political opinions . . .
    > So under the domestic extradition act – sections 13 and 81 – Assange would be covered. The 1978 Act is similar to the 2003 Act regarding what is a political offense and one that is terrorism. Definitely two distinct entities. Assange’s lawyers should be able to fully annihilate the Prosecution’s argument that the domestic act does not include political offenses – clearly that’s baloney.


    In my opinion, the judge and the prosecutor should be required to provide exact quotes supporting their unproven allegation of an intention of Parliament “to allow extradition for political offences”.

    Like others here, after researching the Hansard debates, I also can’t find anything that supports that extraordinary opinion, but plenty to the contrary.

    Only initially, there were some opinions, mainly from the government, about the “exception for political offences” being unnecessary for extraditions within the European Union, because those political extradition cases would never happen in Europe.

    There were for example replies in the House of Commons like “that defence is still needed” (9 December 2002), and in the House of Lords:

    “I am glad that, after all, an exception will be made for political offences, such as when the French refused to extradite David Shayler. The EAW does not require removal of this exception. I am pleased that the Government have been persuaded to change their mind.” (1 May 2003).

    So, at the end, this and other UK Act safeguards were “included at the explicit request of the Joint Committee on Human Rights”, with mentions of “political opinions”. This wording appears to likely include freedom of speech and of the press, and other political freedoms, since it was seen as an equivalent to “political offences” during the debates.

    That is to say, some in the government “not expecting” political extradition requests within the EU, but nothing at all about “allowing” extradition for political offences.

    On the contrary, there were multiple concerns about enough protection for human rights, against torture, against political extraditions, etc. For example specifically when discussing extraditions to the United States.

    Reinstating the political exception, the government repeatedly replied with assurances of human rights safeguards including, among others, “explicit reference to the European Convention on Human Rights” and:

    “A judge would take a view on whether something was politically motivated. Something blatantly politically motivated would be rejected.”

    For example, in 2004, the government maintained that, while waiting for the new UK–US Extradition Treaty (now in force since 2007), the UK Act already provided full safeguards.

    In the debates it’s clear the common understanding that both Treaty and UK Act are binding on the government, and that the safeguards in the US-specific Treaty would be also in force upon ratification, in addition to those already in the general domestic Act.

    The UK–US Treaty (2007) explicitly bars extraditions for non-violent “political offenses”, while the UK Act (2003) bars extraditions on the grounds of “political opinions”.

    • jmg

      Some examples with my summaries and brief excerpts of three debates in Parliament: 1 May 2003, 6 December 2004, and 5 March 2020 (four days ago):


      Extradition Bill
      House of Lords Hansard
      1 May 2003

      The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Filkin):

      The government listed the bars to extradition, including “prosecuting the person on the grounds of his race, religion, nationality or political opinions”, adding “we would certainly not expect those factors to apply in respect of a request from another EU country, but it is there as an additional safeguard and was included at the explicit request of the Joint Committee on Human Rights.”

      There were also mentions to the European Convention on Human Rights (“no one can be extradited if extradition would breach their ECHR rights”), mental or physical condition, right of appeal…

      Baroness Anelay of St Johns:

      “Thirdly, as the Minister stated, there should be safeguards against our being prosecuted as a result of our race, religion or political views.”

      Lord Goodhart, Lord Clinton-Davis, Lord Stoddart of Swindon:

      They all expressed concerns about enough safeguards for human rights in relation to extradition to the United States.

      Member of the European Parliament (Baroness Ludford):

      “I am glad that, after all, an exception will be made for political offences, such as when the French refused to extradite David Shayler. The EAW does not require removal of this exception. I am pleased that the Government have been persuaded to change their mind.”

      She also detailed several concerns regarding extradition to the United States and human rights violations, Guantanamo Bay, etc.

      The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Filkin) replied:

      “we have no intention to put the USA in Part 1. In fact, Clause 1(3)” [death penalty] “now makes that impossible.”

      Extradition Bill — House of Lords Hansard — 1 May 2003 — Volume 647


      Extradition to US
      House of Lords Hansard
      6 December 2004

      Lord Goodhart detailed a number of problems with extradition to the United States:

      “the standard of justice in the USA is very variable . . . some of these jurisdictions are good, but some are bad, and indeed very bad”, “inadequate legal aid for those who cannot afford a lawyer”, “in certain states judges must stand for re-election and have to campaign on the severity of their sentences”, “excessive plea bargaining . . . there is a real incentive for the innocent to plead guilty”, “bail . . . long periods in prison before their trial”.

      With also an example on the “increasing use of extra-territorial criminal legislation by the USA”:

      “This can result in extradition being sought by the USA where the alleged offence was committed in the UK, the alleged victim was in the UK, all or most of the relevant documents and witnesses are in the UK, and the defendants whose extradition is sought are resident in the UK. That comes from an actual case, not a purely hypothetical one.”

      “Article 7 of the Council of Europe Convention on Extradition permits the refusal of extradition where the offence is committed in the territory of the state from which the extradition is sought. Similar provisions should be applied in relation to the USA.”

      Lord Lester of Herne Hil graduated from Trinity College (Cambridge), and Harvard Law School (United States);. He said:

      “Perhaps I may give one or two examples of why the United States should not be considered as equal to Council of Europe countries in terms of international co-operation despite the concerns about the human rights records of some Council of Europe states. I leave aside the death penalty because that is catered for in the treaty.

      ​“It is fair to say that the United States is not accountable to any international court and has shown a complete disregard in recent times for the judgments of even the International Court of Justice . . . Any breach of international obligations or human rights which might occur following extradition to the United States effectively would not be judicially reviewable. Such a breach which might occur in relation to a Council of Europe country would give rise to proceedings under the European Convention on Human Rights, but there is no equivalent in the United States.”

      He also referred to “the general attitude of the United States towards torture in recent times.” And also:

      “These examples show not only that state jurisdictions vary, and that some of them are distinctly dodgy when it comes to extradition, but also that in the federal system, political interference and matters involving a very right-wing and unbalanced series of appointments are seriously undermining the rule of law on the federal bench, as well as in state courts.
      “I repeat what I said at the beginning. I am a friend of the United States, but I fear for the rights and liberties of our people, if they are to be sent to the United States under this unequal treaty. I very much hope to hear something positive from the Minister in reply.”

      Government Whip (Lord Bassam of Brighton): the government gave explanations on the UK–US Treaty and UK Act.

      “The treaty under which requests between the United States and the United Kingdom are made is still the 1972 treaty until the United States ratifies the new treaty agreed in 2003. . . .

      ​“In the mean time, all requests for extradition made to the United Kingdom are considered under the provisions of the Extradition Act 2003, which provides full and effective safeguards for the rights of requested persons.”

      He listed the UK Act safeguards already in force — while then waiting for the Treaty — including those related to extradition on the grounds of political opinion, European Convention on Human Rights, death penalty, avenues of appeal…

      As explained before, extradition requests by the US to the UK must satisfy reasonable suspicion:

      “The requirement for the United Kingdom to establish ‘probable cause’ in any extradition request to the United States is less stringent than providing a prima facie case, but it is broadly comparable to the requirement to provide information about the offence, which is what the United Kingdom requires of the United States of America. . . .

      “The point here, which is one that I made earlier, is that the new Extradition Act 2003 contains full and sufficient safeguards, including explicit reference to the European Convention on Human Rights . . .”

      Extradition to US — House of Lords Hansard — 6 December 2004 — Volume 667


      Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill [HL]
      House of Lords Hansard
      5 March 2020

      A debate four days ago with reassurances of safeguards against politically motivated extradition requests.

      The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford):

      “My noble friend Lord Deben asked about political motivation by ‘one country’. We do not accept that any of the countries concerned will be in the habit of ​making politically motivated requests. All those specified have justice systems in which the Government are prepared to put their trust.”

      Lord Deben:

      “Did my noble friend notice that the President of the United States has just taken credit for 3,000 judicial appointments and said that he has therefore ensured that those judicial appointments will make decisions in line with his and Republican Party policy? How can one possibly say that this is the same kind of judicial system that we have?”

      The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford):

      “A judge would take a view on whether something was politically motivated. Something blatantly politically motivated would be rejected.”

      Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill [HL] — House of Lords Hansard — 5 March 2020 — Volume 802

  • Paul Peppiatt

    would it not be “Putting peoples lives at risk” to tamper with a fire extinguisher in the Equador embassy.This is a very tall building with many staff ,some resident i presume, also it is part of a terrace of other very tall buildings.These actions taken by UC Global no doubt at the bequest of the CIA as part of a process to secure extradition of Assange are illegal.Health and Safety at work 1974 sec. 8. Fire Safety order 2005. The placing of a listening device inside a fire extinguisher is a criminal act that could have potentially put many lives at risk.With the images of the Grenfell Tower tragedy still seared into our minds this is outrageous and any court accepting these actions as acceptable in this extradition process sets a very dangerous example.

  • Natasha

    Sent today:
    Dear Caroline Lucas MP,

    Publishing the truth is never a crime.

    Wikileaks, the UK Guardian, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, published details of war crimes, and worldwide corruption by governments, including the ‘collateral murder’ video of a Reuters journalist and innocent civilians being machine gunned from a helicopter in cold blood by jeering US military soldiers, none of whom have been charged.

    For the USA to attempt to extradite and prosecute the editor of Wikileaks Julian Assange, but not the other editors for revealing war crimes, is a disgusting and utterly unacceptable perversion of legal process.

    Trump’s request for Julian’s extradition rests entirely on the absurd argument that the UK/US Extradition Treaty of 2007 is legally enforceable, but that specifically Clause 4.i of that Treaty, which forbids extradition for political offences, has no standing in law (details below).

    Julian has been accused only of a peaceful political act of publishing fully redacted information. It is associates of the UK Guardian who have alone published passwords to un-redacted versions possibly revealing the identity of vulnerable individuals, but no cases have been cited, because there are none, as the CIA themselves recently admitted.

    Such actions against Julian alone, are blatant bulling of the weakest by the Trump administration, who are claiming global jurisdiction for an alleged act – not even committed in the USA – of publishing war crime truths.

    Julian has not been convicted of anything. But the UK authorities are treating him worse than the most violent convicted terrorists, subjecting him to entirely unnecessary handcuffed strip searches, apparently heavily medicated, with lack of access to his lawyers and legal papers.

    During the four days of proceedings in February this year, the court heard that Julian and his lawyers at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London were for years regularly monitored by a Spanish security company that had secretly bugged the embassy and transmitted the collected information to US intelligence services. This fundamental breach of lawyer-client confidentiality alone means Julian’s extradition application must be rejected, and Julian immediately released.

    Julian was forced to sit in a bulletproof glass box, without access to his lawyers to properly frame his defence, not being able to hear proceedings, and under constant surveillance by prison officers. All with the approval of presiding magistrate Vanessa Baraitser, who ruled that Julian must be in another glass box when the extradition hearing resumes on 18th May.

    The United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer says “a murderous system is being created before our very eyes”, describing Julian’s treatment as psychological torture with made-up rape allegation and fabricated evidence in Sweden, pressure from the UK not to drop the case, a biased judge, and detention in a maximum security prison.

    These conditions are incompatible with Julian’s status as an innocent remand prisoner, and are unprecedented globally, let alone in the UK, both now and historically.

    To justify the continued incarceration and torture of Julian, the prosecution, supported by Magistrate Vanessa Baraitser, argue that because extradition for political offences is not explicitly mentioned in the the UK Extradition Act of 2003, extradition for political acts is permitted.

    But Baraitser and the the prosecution have deeply erred in law: 1. Julian’s extradition is being pursued under the US UK Extradition Treaty of 2007, which explicitly EXCLUDES extradition for political offences. 2. The 2003 Act is an Act designed to enable treaties, such as the 2007 US UK Extradition Treaty, i.e. the 2003 Act deliberately leaves specifics to the treaties it enables. 3. Further, at paragraph 21A (1) (a) of the 2003 Act, human rights – political free speech – are deferred to Article 53 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which prohibits abrogation of rights present in other laws and treaties, rights such as the exclusion of extradition on political grounds in the 2007 US UK Extradition Treaty, even when not specifically mentioned in the 2003 Act.

    Such appalling and flagrant disregard of legal process and norms, otherwise accepted globally as the bedrock of democracy and free speech, means no justice can be expected at the hands of the corrupt British courts.

    Do you personally believe political offences should be extraditable?

    What do you think the impact of such corrupt legal process might be worldwide on political dissidents in exile?

    I demand you now speak out in the UK parliament and in loudly public against these abuses and act by personally writing an open letter to the Home Secretary demanding Julian’s immediate release from custody and the complete abandonment of the disgraceful conditions in which he is being forced to endure whilst defending the corrupt groundless claims against him.

    The sub judice rules do not apply to the current proceedings against Julian at the London courts, because the “administration of justice” itself is clearly being perverted as detailed here above. Indeed your failing to speak out loudly and publicly would cause further “substantial risk that the course of justice would be seriously impeded or prejudiced.”














    • Natasha

      (Reply received 13 March from Caroline Lucas MP, here’s my response sent today)

      Dear Caroline,

      Thank you for you reply.

      How can your silence ever be the correct course of action in face of such judicial corruption by UK Crown officials on display in London in February this year?

      Let me be clear. I am not asking you to speak out on matters of evidence heard by presiding Magistrate, Vanessa Baraitser during her ‘show trial’ of non-violent remand prisoner Julian Assange at high security Belmarsh prison last month.

      In other words, I am not asking you to, as you put it “influence the decisions of the courts” and suffer being “very frowned upon” by breaking the sub judice rules.

      What I am asking you to do, indeed I am DEMANDING you do, is join many other LAWYERS who have publicly and loudly spoken out about the self-evident corruption of the very foundations of the judicial process itself, enabled by a Crown official in London last month.

      For example on 10 March 2020 the Co-Chairs of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) published very strong statements of concern:-

      The IBAHRI “condemns the reported mistreatment of Julian #Assange during his US extradition trial in February 2020, by UK authorities as “gross and disproportionate” and “deeply shocking” that the UK Government has remained silent and “has taken no action to terminate such gross and disproportionate conduct by Crown officials”.

      IBAHRI Co-Chair, the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, an Australian-based jurist and former High Court judge,“urges the UK government to take action to protect him. In a single day Belmarsh prison officials handcuffed the award-winning journalist eleven times, placed him into five different cells, strip searched him twice and confiscated his confidential legal papers”.

      The IBAHRI’s other Co-Chair, Dr Anne Ramberg who is also the General Secretary of the Swedish Bar Association, blasted what she described as “the serious undermining of due process and the rule of law”. She described as “troubling” the fact that the WikiLeaks founder has complained that he can neither properly hear nor follow what is happening in his own case and, “because he is locked in a glass cage is prevented from communicating freely with his lawyers during the proceedings”.

      The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), was set up soon after WWII and describes itself as the, “the global voice of the legal profession… the foremost organisation for international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies”.


      You imply you will not risk being charged under the sub judice rules (even though I am not asking you to) by publicly speaking out against the show trial we witnessed in London last month, in which torture in UK prisons and foreign intelligence services breaches of witness client confidentiality, and lack of access to defence lawyers by being locked in a glass cage, were publicly enabled, indeed celebrated by a UK by Crown official.

      But you’ve been arrested before in 2007 and in 2013 for speaking out against nuclear weapons and fossil fuel extraction. Did you check with lawyers first then?

      So no, I do not understand why you “don’t want to take any steps” that may “undermine the strategy” of the invisible “high profile campaigners… including human rights lawyers” you are communicating with on, as you put it “what interventions are likely to be effective and when”.

      Instead, as one of 650 law makers in the UK, it is clearly now your job to speak out LOUDLY and PUBLICLY and to thereby lead your invisible human rights campaigners / lawyers by visibly and urgently joining in with the public statements of lawyers at the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute.

      Writing to ministers and other internal parliamentary activity is not enough. Now is the time to join your voice to the many others and publicly speak out against the judicial corruption displayed in London last month.

      First they came for the communist […] Then the socialists […] Now they’re coming for the journalists. Then they came for the MPs. Then they came for me. But there was no one left. To speak out for.


  • Tom

    Reply from my MP with attachment from MoJ claiming they don’t inflict solitary confinement – can forward that PDF if needed.

    Thank you for contacting me about Julian Assange.

    I have in the past expressed my concern about the British Government’s disproportionate response to Julian Assange seeking asylum in the Ecuadorean Embassy, and about the threat of his extradition to the United States. It has long been my opinion that a clear statement from the Government confirming no onward extradition to the US were Mr Assange to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy would have saved everyone involved considerable time and resources. I oppose any attempt to suppress press freedom or cover up the US Government’s record.

    I previously endorsed a cross party call for the UK to c-operate with the Swedish authorities concerning Julian Assange’s extradition to Sweden to answer criminal allegations. The situation in Sweden is very different to that in the US, the charges he faced were different and, I believe the UK has a responsibility to facilitate the investigation of alleged sexual violence . However, that case has now been dropped.

    It is my view that Mr Assange should not face extradition to the US and I have been following his case after it started at the end of February.

    The Government made a commitment to MPs in June last year that Mr Assange would be treated “humanely and properly”. I think this means responding to concerns about his health and ensuring that the conditions of his detention do not exacerbate any ill health, something I have raised proactively with Ministers. I have long held concerns that our prison system is not fit for purpose and that the health and wellbeing of all prisoners is not being properly addressed. I will continue to look for opportunities to push for the human rights of all people detained by the state to be properly upheld.

    I have read the reports that Julian Assange is being kept in solitary confinement. I am deeply concerned about the use of segregation in our prison system. There is well-documented evidence that extended periods of solitary confinement can leave prisoners with irreversible damage. Towards the end of last year, I wrote to the Home Secretary to ask if solitary confinement is being used in Mr Assange’s case, and if so, for what reasons and subject to what limits and external mental health assessment. This letter has was directed to the Ministry of Justice and I attach a copy of the reply I received from Lucy Frazer QC MP.

    As you will note, the Minister was unable to comment specifically on Julian Assange’s case but my concerns about the impact of segregation/solitary confinement on prisoners have been noted and shared with the Governor at HMP Belmarsh. I imagine Julian Assange’s solicitor was already aware of his right to complain in accordance with the HMPPS Prisoner Complaints policy framework, but I shared a copy of the Minister’s reply with them their information/records.

    I remain firmly of the view that Julian Assange’s safety and rights cannot be guaranteed in the United States and that he should not be extradited there. I am in touch with the campaigners who are supporting Julian Assange as the court date at the end of this month approaches, and I am grateful to you for writing to me to let me know of your support for him.

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