Your Man in the Public Gallery: Assange Hearing Day 11 90


Yet another shocking example of abuse of court procedure unfolded on Wednesday. James Lewis QC for the prosecution had been permitted gratuitously to read to two previous witnesses with zero connection to this claim, an extract from a book by Luke Harding and David Leigh in which Harding claims that at a dinner at El Moro Restaurant Julian Assange had stated he did not care if US informants were killed, because they were traitors who deserved what was coming to them.

This morning giving evidence was John Goetz, now Chief Investigations Editor of NDR (German public TV), then of Der Spiegel. Goetz was one of the four people at that dinner. He was ready and willing to testify that Julian said no such thing and Luke Harding is (not unusually) lying. Goetz was not permitted by Judge Baraitser to testify on this point, even though two witnesses who were not present had previously been asked to testify on it.

Baraitser’s legal rationale was this. It was not in his written evidence statement (submitted before Lewis had raised the question with other witnesses) so Goetz was only permitted to contradict Lewis’s deliberate introduction of a lie if Lewis asked him. Lewis refused to ask the one witness who was actually present what had happened, because Lewis knew the lie he is propagating would be exposed.

This is my report of Lewis putting the alleged conversation to Clive Stafford Smith, who knew nothing about it:

Lewis then took Stafford Smith to a passage in the book “Wikileaks; Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy”, in which Luke Harding stated that he and David Leigh were most concerned to protect the names of informants, but Julian Assange had stated that Afghan informants were traitors who merited retribution. “They were informants, so if they got killed they had it coming.” Lewis tried several times to draw Stafford Smith into this, but Stafford Smith repeatedly said he understood these alleged facts were under dispute and he had no personal knowledge.

This is my report of James Lewis putting the same quote to Prof Mark Feldstein, who had absolutely no connection to the event:

Lewis then read out again the same quote from the Leigh/Harding book he had put to Stafford Smith, stating that Julian Assange had said the Afghan informants would deserve their fate.

James Lewis QC knew that these witnesses had absolutely no connection to this conversation, and he put it to them purely to get the lie into the court record and into public discourse. James Lewis QC also knows that Goetz was present on the occasion described. The Harding book specifies the exact date and location of the dinner and that it included two German journalists, and Goetz was one of them.

It is plainly contrary to natural justice that a participant in an event introduced into the proceedings should not be allowed to tell the truth about it when those with no connection are, tendentiously, invited to. Whatever the rules of evidence may say, Baraitser and Lewis have here contrived between them a blatant abuse of process. It is a further example of the egregious injustices of this process.

If that does not make you angry, try this. Daniel Ellsberg was to give evidence this afternoon. Edward Fitzgerald QC applied for his videolink evidence to be heard at 3.15pm which is 07.15am in California where Dan lives. Baraitser insisted it could not be put back beyond 2.30 pm, thus forcing an 89 year old man to give evidence at 6.30am. Simply stunning.

As it happens, when Dan is 108 and on his death bed he will still be able to outwit James Lewis QC while reading Moby Dick and playing the ukelele, but the continual and cynical lack of concern for the defence just keeps punching you in the face.

John Goetz was the first witness this morning. Senior Investigations Editor at NDR since 2011, he was at Der Spiegel from 2007-11. He had published a series of articles on German involvement in the Afghan War, including one on a bombing raid on Kunduz which massacred civilians, for which he had won Germany’s highest journalism award. In June 2010 he went to London to meet with Wikileaks and the Guardian to work on the Afghan War Logs.

In a series of meetings in “the bunker” at the Guardian with the NYT and the other major media partners, the partnership was formed whereby all would pool effort in researching the Afghan War Logs but each party would choose and publish his own stories. This cooperative venture between five major news organisations – normally rivals – was unique at the time.

Goetz had been struck by what seemed to him Julian Assange’s obsession with the security of the material. He insisted everything was encrypted and strict protocols were in place for handling the material. This had been new territory for the journalists. The New York Times was tasked with liaison with the White House, the Department of Defence and State Department on questions of handling the material.

Asked by Mark Summers to characterise the Afghan War Logs, Goetz said that they were fascinating first-hand material giving low level reports on actual operations. This was eye witness material which sometimes lacked the larger view. There was abundant first-hand evidence of war crimes. He had worked with Nick Davies of the Guardian on the Task Force 373 story.

Julian Assange had been most concerned to find the names in the papers. He spent a lot of time working out technical ways to identify names in the tens of thousands of documents. Mark Summers asked f he had been looking for the names for the purpose of redaction, and Goetz confirmed it was for redaction. He had interviewed Assange on the harm minimisation programme of the operation.

On behalf of the group Eric Schmitt of the NYT had been speaking to the White House and he had sent an email identifying 15,000 documents the White House did not want published to prevent harm to individuals or to American interests. It was agreed not to publish these documents and they were not published. Summers asked Goetz if he was aware of any names that slipped through, and he replied not.

Goetz was not so involved for family reasons when the consortium went through the same process with the Iraq war logs. But he knew that when a large number of these were released in the USA under a FOIA request, it was seen that Wikileaks had redacted those they released more heavily than the Department of Defense did. Goetz recalled an email from David Leigh of the Guardian stating that publication of some stories was delayed because of the amount of time Wikileaks were devoting to the redaction process to get rid of the “bad stuff”.

Summers then turned to the investigation of Khaled el-Masri. Goetz stated that back in 2005–6 when in his first stint at NDR he had looked into what seemed at the time the extraordinary claims of German citizen el-Masri, who stated that he had been kidnapped in Skopje, flown shackled and hooded around the world, subjected to constant beatings and torture, eventually ending up in what he believed to be a US detention facility in Afghanistan. At the time his claims had seemed difficult to believe.

[If I might interject a personal note here, this is around the time I myself blew the whistle on the torture programme, as a UK ambassador. I was effectively called a liar by then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to parliament who described the extraordinary rendition programme as a “conspiracy theory”. I know how hard it was to be believed then.]

Goetz’s investigations had shown the story to be true. Using rendition flight logs and hotel records, he had even managed to track the actual perpetrators to North Carolina, and had spoken to some of them there. Enough evidence was produced for arrest warrants against 13 American agents or soldiers to be issued in Munich. Summers asked Goetz whether they were arrested. He replied that no, to their surprise, nothing was done to deliver the arrest warrant to the USA.

Then when the Wikileaks diplomatic cables were released, they had been able to see the pressure brought on the German government not to deliver the arrest warrant. The US had told Germany that to do so would have serious repercussions for the US/German relationship.

Summers asked if Goetz was involved in working through the cables for Der Spiegel. Goetz replied he was. In addition to the main media partners, Wikileaks had brought in a second phase of local media partners in the third countries involved, who might better be able both to redact and to know what were the important stories for a local audience. This had introduced some delays which were frustrating for Goetz.

Summers asked how thorough the process of redaction was. Goetz said that the original strict protocols remained in place and he did not know of anybody who had come to any harm. The State Department was actively engaged in the process. P J Crowley and others would call and request redactions and omissions. These were made. Eventually though a decision was taken by the US Government to withdraw cooperation.

Baraitser issued a time warning.

Summers then asked about events leading to the publishing of the unredacted cables. Goetz said this was a complicated process. It started when Luke Harding and David Leigh published a book in February 2011 containing the password to the online cache of encrypted cables. This was discussed on various mirroring sites, and eventual publication of the full cache by Cryptome after Der Freitag became involved. Cryptome was at that time very well known and an important source for journalists.

Summers then asked about the breakdown of relationships between Wikileaks and the Guardian. It was at this point that Baraitser ruled that Summers was not allowed to ask about what happened at the dinner he attended at El Moro restaurant. Summers made a formal request, as Lewis had introduced the subject with other witnesses who unlike Goetz had not been there. Lewis objected, and Baraitser said no.

James Lewis QC then cross-examined for the US Government and went straight to the publication of unredacted cables by Wikileaks in August and September 2011. Goetz referred to his earlier evidence on the releasing of the password, and said that Cryptome published first. Lewis countered that on 29 August 2011 Wikileaks had released 133,877 cables together with a statement that this was done “in accordance with Wikileaks’ commitment to maximising impact and making information available to all”. This was two days before Cryptome published.

A rather chaotic period ensued. Julian cried out from the dock that this was a misquote. He was warned he would be excluded from court by Baraitser. It turned out it was a misquote, and what I give above is the corrected version. There was then some rather confused questioning between Goetz and Lewis, of which the upshot was that those were unclassified and/or redacted cables (a quarter of the cache). Goetz said he could not comment to Lewis’s suggestion that some had names marked “strictly protect”.

Lewis suggested that after the collaboration, the material was just dumped. Goetz said no. Wikileaks had invested a lot of time, money and staff resources in the programme and from detailed discussions he knew they intended it to continue to roll out for at least another year. Then Cryptome had published.

Lewis quoted from a Guardian article of 1 September in which the original media partners, including Der Spiegel, condemned the release of the unredacted documents. He asked Goetz whether the 15,000 withheld cables had also been “dumped”? Goetz replied they were not cables, they were Afghan war logs, and no, not to his knowledge.

Lewis then said there was evidence that called Assange thoughtful, humorous and energetic. Did Goetz agree? He said yes. Lewis then quoted Christine Assange on what a good father her son was, and invited Goetz to comment. Goetz replied he was in no position to know.
[It is hard to explain this somewhat sinister finishing questioning. Possibly to counter psychiatric evidence?]

In re-examination by Mark Summers, Goetz stated that while the cables redaction process was going on, no names at risk had been published. To his knowledge, nobody had ever been harmed as a result of publication. He knew from his close involvement that Assange had tried very hard to prevent the publication of the unredacted cables. He had pleaded with Der Freitag.

In the afternoon, the witness was Dan Ellsberg, doyen of whistleblowers. Born in Chicago in 1931, he was educated at Harvard and Cambridge. He served in the Marines from 1954–7, and from 1964–5 was Special Assistant to the US Secretary of Defence. He was then involved in the making of an official classified 47-volume report entitled History of Decision Making in Vietnam.

Ellsberg briefly explained that the report showed that the war in Vietnam had been both continued in the knowledge that it could not be won. It showed that both the public and Congress had repeatedly been lied to. He had leaked the report to lawmakers and then the public as The Pentagon Papers. This had resulted in the famous case on prior restraint on publication. There had also been a less well-known criminal case against him personally under the Espionage Act. This had been dismissed with prejudice by the court.

Asked by Edward Fitzgerald to comment on the Wikileaks/Manning publication on Afghanistan, Ellsberg replied that he saw extremely strong parallels with his own case. These papers had the capability of informing the public of the progress of the war and the limited possibility that it could be brought to a successful conclusion at all. The Afghan War Logs showed operational-level information not a wider view, but the effect was similar. He strongly identified with both the source and the process of publication.

Fitzgerald then asked Ellsberg whether Assange held political opinions relevant to this publication. Ellsberg said it was absurd for the prosecution to argue otherwise. He had himself been motivated by his political views in his publication and Assange’s views were very similar. He had held very interesting discussions with Assange and felt a great affinity with him. They both believed that there was a great lack of transparency to the public over government decisions. The public were fed much information that was false.

When the public had so little genuine information and were fed so much false information, real democracy was not possible. An example was the Iraq War, clearly an illegal war of aggression in breach of the UN charter, sold on lies to the public.

The Afghan War Logs were similar to low-level reports Ellsberg had himself written in Vietnam. It was the same thing; the invasion and occupation of a foreign country against the wishes of the majority of its population. That could only bring defeat or endless conflict: 19 years so far. The war logs had exposed a pattern of war crimes: torture, assassination and death squads. The one thing that had changed since Vietnam was that these things were now so normalised they were classified below Top Secret.

All the Pentagon Papers were Top Secret. None of the Wikileaks documents were. They were not just below Top Secret, they had no restricted distribution classifications. This meant that by definition there should be nothing genuinely sensitive, and certainly not life-endangering, in papers of this classification.

Fitzgerald asked him about the Collateral Murder video. Ellsberg stated that it definitely showed murder, including the deliberate machine gunning of a wounded and unarmed civilian. That it was murder was undoubted. The dubious word was “collateral”, which implies accidental. What was truly shocking about it was the Pentagon reaction that these war crimes were within the Rules of Engagement. Which permitted murder.

Edward Fitzgerald asked whether Ellsberg was allowed to put forward the question of intention at his trial. He replied no, the distribution of classified material outside those designated to receive it was an offence of strict liability under the 1917 Espionage Act. This was absolutely inappropriate to trials of whistleblowers. “I did not get a fair trial and nor have recent whistleblowers in the USA. Julian Assange could not get a fair trial.”

Cross-examining for the US Government, James Lewis QC asked Ellsberg to confirm that at the time he copied the Pentagon Papers he was working for the Rand Corporation. He said yes. Lewis said that Assange was not being prosecuted for publication of the Collateral Murder video. Ellsberg said that the Collateral Murder video was essential to an understanding of the Rules of Engagement. Lewis countered that Assange was not being charged for publication of the Rules of Engagement. He was only being charged for publication of unredacted names of those who might come to harm.

Ellsberg replied that he had read the superseding indictment and that Assange was being charged with obtaining, receiving and possession of material including the Rules of Engagement and the Collateral Murder video, and all the documents. On publishing, he was only charged with the names. Lewis said the other charges related to conspiracy with Chelsea Manning. Ellsberg replied “Yes. They are still charges.”

Ellsberg quoted US Assistant Attorney Gordon Kromberg stating that prosecution was for documents up to Secret level containing the names of those “who risked their lives and freedom while helping the USA”. Lewis contrasted this with Ellsberg “when you published the Pentagon Papers you were very careful what you gave to the media”. Ellsberg replied that he withheld three or four volumes not to cause difficulties to diplomatic efforts to end the war.

Lewis suggested he was protecting individuals. Ellsberg said no; if he released those documents, the US government might have used it as an excuse to exit diplomacy and continue the war. Lewis asked if there were names in the Pentagon Papers that would risk harm to them. Ellsberg replied yes. In one case, a clandestine CIA agent was named, involved in the CIA assassination of a major Vietnamese politician. He was a personal friend of Ellsberg and Ellsberg had thought hard about it, but had left him in.

Lewis Asked Ellsberg whether he had read the article “Why Wikileaks is Not the Pentagon Papers” by Floyd Abrams, who had represented the New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case. Ellsberg replied he had read several articles like this by Abrams. He did not know Abrams. He had only been involved in the civil case, not the criminal one. He had seen him once, at an awards ceremony long after.

Lewis said that Abrams had written that Ellsberg had withheld four volumes, whereas “can anyone doubt” that Assange would have published all of them? Ellsberg replied he disagreed, Abrams had never had one minute of discussion with him or Assange. “He does not understand my motives at all in his article”. The position he outlines is widely held by those who want to criticise Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden while pretending to be liberal.

What he writes is simply untrue. Julian Assange withheld 15,000 files. He went through a long, hard process of redaction. He requested help from both the State Department and Department of Defence on redaction. I have no doubt Julian would have removed the volumes as I did, in my place. He had no intention to name names.

Ten years later, the US Government has still not been able to name one single individual who was actually harmed by the Wikileaks releases. I was shocked that Kromberg should make that allegation while offering no evidence. As nobody was hurt, clearly the risk was never as high as they claimed – as indeed the document classification would tell you.

They said exactly the same of me. They said CIA agents and those helping the USA would be hurt. “They said I would have blood on my hands.”

There now followed an extraordinary “question” from James Lewis QC who was permitted to read out about 11 paragraphs from various locations in one of Kromberg’s rambling affidavits, in which Kromberg said that as a result of Wikileaks publication, some US sources had had to leave their homeland, go into hiding, or change their names, in a number of countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, China and Ethiopia. Some individuals in Afghanistan and Iraq had subsequently disappeared. The Taliban were on record as saying that those who cooperated with US forces would be killed. One Ethiopian journalist was forced to flee Ethiopia after being named as a US source. The US Embassy in China reported threats had been made against some of their named Chinese sources. Wikileaks material was found in the possessions of Osama Bin Laden after he was shot. Lewis asked in a furious voice “How can you possibly, honestly say that nobody was harmed?”
Ellsberg With all these people who felt they were in danger, of course I am sorry it was inconvenient for them, and that is regrettable. But was any one of them actually physically harmed? Did one of them actually suffer the claimed physical consequences?
Lewis You call it regrettable that people were put at risk. Is it your position that there was absolutely no harm caused by the publication of the names of these individuals?
Ellsberg Assange’s actions are absolutely antithetical to the notion that he deliberately published these names. Had hundreds been harmed, that would count against the great good done by publication of the information. No evidence is produced that any actual harm came to them. But his has to be put in the context of the policies which Assange was trying to change, invasions that led to 37 million refugees and 1 million deaths. Of course some people could not be located again in a war that killed a million people and displaced 37 million. The government is extremely hypocritical to pretend a concern for them against their general contempt for Middle Eastern lives. They had even refused to help redact the names. This is a pretence at concern.
Lewis What about the disappeared? Is it not common sense that some had been forced to disappear or flee under another name?
Ellsberg It does not seem to me that that small percentage of those named who may have been murdered or fled, can necessarily be attributed as a result of Wikileaks, when they are in among more than 1 million who have been murdered and 37 million who have fled.

Lewis then asked Ellsberg if it was true he had held an encrypted back up copy of the Manning material for Assange. Ellsberg replied it was; it had subsequently been physically destroyed.

In re-examination, Fitzgerald took Ellsberg to a passage in the Kromberg affidavit which stated that the US Government could not positively attribute any death to the Wikileaks material. Ellsberg said that was his understanding, and had been said at the Manning trial. He was shocked. It was just like Iraqi WMD. He had at first been inclined to believe the government on Iraqi WMD, just as he had first been inclined to believe the government on deaths caused by Wikileaks releases. In both cases it had proved they were making it up.

COMMENT

The court heard a great deal more truth than it could handle today, and great effort was put into excluding more truth. The US Government succeeded in preventing John Goetz eyewitness contradicting their promulgation of Luke Harding’s lie about what Assange said at El Moro. The US Government also objected, successfully so far, to Khaled el-Masri’s giving evidence on the grounds that he will allege he was tortured in the USA. Given that the European Court of Human Rights and the German courts had both found el-Masri’s story to be true, only in the wacky world of Lewis and Baraitser could it be considered wrong for him to tell the truth in court.

Please share this article by every means at your disposal as all of us reporting this truthfully are suffering extreme social media shadow banning and other suppression.
 
 
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90 thoughts on “Your Man in the Public Gallery: Assange Hearing Day 11

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    • Tom Welsh

      Exactly. And, unless I have misunderstood, an appeal would be allowed only with the permission of that same judge!

      • Ingwe

        @Tom Welsh-You’re correct that the court will need to give leave to appeal. But should the judge refuse leave to appeal, that decision itself is appealable. I believe the judge will rule in favour of the prosecution but it will allow leave to appeal so as to give the appearance of fairness. Then the appeal, to the High Court, whilst almost certainly involving a more able judge (not difficult) will need to establish that the judge erred on the law, was wrong on the facts or was perverse. By perverse is meant that no reasonable judge having the same facts put before them could reasonably have come to the conclusion.

        As a small aside, I’m reminded of the comment of the now dead, former Nazi prime minister of Apartheid South Africa, John Vorster. When he was Minister of Justice, he was asked about some of the judges who gave findings usually against black complainants quite perverse to the facts. Recognising that these judges were invariably political appointees by the ruling Christian National Socialist Party, he said “Yes, some of them think they were appointed on merit!” Take note, fragrant Vanessa.

        • TomJoad

          Funny you should mention Apartheid SA:

          “Soon after her arrival in London with her husband and four children, in flight from South Africa’s repressive political regime…”

          This is related to our dear judge’s mother.

        • Mazza

          Surely then the course of action the US/UK state will follow is to simply find against Assange in the first case with no leave to appeal, and when this is appealed against to have a ‘safe pair of hands’ all lined up and ready to go to turn down Assange’s appeal against appealing. With so little media attention, would there really be an outcry? And even if there was, once he was on a plane would the UK state care?

  • writeon

    The truly awful – cynical, untrustworthy and manipulative role of the Guardian in smearing Assange and deliberately undermining his character and journalistic credibility; becomes clearer every day as these proceedings grind onwards towards their inevitable conclusion.

    It appears that leading journalists working for the Guardian have become so close to the UK state security services, that, in reality, they work for them as well as the Guardian and present state propaganda, sourced from the security services, as pure and truthful journalism, rather than the lies it really is. Luke Harding’s role in all of this is so professionally tainted, so disgraceful, a stinking wound at the very heart of journalism; that it’s obvious why the Guardian is censoring coverage of the events and evidence revealed at this bizarre hearing.

    What still strikes me is the uniformity, the conspiracy of silence from the rest of the UK’s media. Why do they all think alike? Why doesn’t anyone have the moral courage to break the silence surrounding the Assange Affair? Think of the resources available to them, the UK’s media combined; yet it’s up to a private individual, Craig Murray, to witness, report and reveal what’s really happening to a public that’s deliberately being kept in the dark. To call the media’s ‘coverage’, shameful and a staggering deriliction of the most basic journalistic standards and principle, is, sadly, a gross underestimation. It’s like watching a corpse, journlism, rotting before one’s eyes.

    • Tom Welsh

      “What still strikes me is the uniformity, the conspiracy of silence from the rest of the UK’s media”.

      They are all paid by the same source. So naturally they all take the same line.

      The idea of a “free press” is old-fashioned. It dates back to a time before government and corporations got properly organized, and found out how to get everyone who matters to do what they are told – and nothing else.

    • Mark Golding

      No good watching, we, the public must dig the grave and bury the rotting corpse called ‘main stream journalism’ such that at least 10,000 citizens will entangle and react with intention to eliminate and free this fourth estate swamp from deep-rooted deceit, disloyalty, capricious and disloyal modus. Regardless of cajoled fear it is the time, now, today, to be active, aggressively bold and diligently caring and concerned about state propaganda harming and destroying our brethren, male and female.

      We must further do this for future generations, for our children’s future lives and for our love of humanity even at our own peril, our own liability.

    • Rhys Jaggar

      There is a long and ignoble tradition of MI5/6 operatives being ’embedded’ within UK news/media organisations. Not for nothing was the DT known as ‘the spooks paper’. The BBC is a rabbit warren full of them.

  • Chichi Latté

    Day after day shaming every corporate journalist in the UK. Is there any *remotely* comparable journalism in the national media? It falls to one individual with a seriously dodgy ticker. Subscribed. Thank u Craig.

  • Tom Welsh

    “…Harding claims that at a dinner at El Moro Restaurant Julian Assange had stated he did not care if US informants were killed, because they were traitors who deserved what was coming to them”.

    That man Harding is hopelessly confused.

    Obviously It was I who said that, not Julian Assange. It’s true, but not politic.

    • writeon

      I don’t think the alleged utterances by Assange relating to informers, really sounds like him or his use of language at all. Even though he’s an Australian! In contrast, it does, to my mind have the ring and style of… Luke Harding. It sounds more like Harding twisting Assange’s words and thoughts to fit his own agenda and attitudes, as if Harding is projecting onto Assange the kind of language and motives he thinks Assange has, if Assange was the kind of person Harding thinks he is.

      It perfectly reasonable, I think, to look at informants from the perspective of the Afghan resistance movement, however much one might dislike them and their methods and their policies; and understand that they, the resistance to foreign occupation, would see informants as the lowest of the low, traitors to Afghanistan, in the pay of the hated US occupiers, and men who ‘deserve’ whatever ‘justice’ meets out to them. Death is what usually happens to informers in all wars, if one chooses to betray one’s own side and serve the enemy for what ammounts to blood money. None of these facts means that one ‘approves’ of killing informers, only that one understands the reasoning and desire for revenge against them. So, even if… IF Assange did say something along those lines, which he denies, there’s nothing particularly strange or odious in expressing them. Only Harding’s got a record of lying about things, because, as he’s said repeatedly, “I’m a storyteller.”

  • Robert+Dyson

    I am thinking about “Take back control of our laws ……………….”.
    I do remember Foreign Secretary Jack Straw – we expected better so were let down the more.

  • FitzroyH

    Following the necessarily selective live feeds from other journalists (doing a great job, however) as the case actually proceeds, it is all too easy to get the impression that with the excellence of the defence witnesses and their staunch refusal to be harried and undermined by Lewis, the progress of the case is going well enough for JA.
    It is only these more detailed accounts, Craig, that give the true impression of the sinister process that is being administered here. That Baraitser should specifically rule that an oft-repeated and widely-published lie, extremely damaging to the defendant, can be stated more than once as if true but cannot be corrected by an actual witness to the incident in court, speaks volumes as to the true nature of this ‘due process of law’.
    Whatever happens in the future in this case and beyond, any remaining trace of credibility the British justice system might have had amongst the international community has certainly been condemned to death.
    That final disconnected question from Lewis to Goetz and any possible interpretation as to its underlying intent is indeed chilling.
    Fantastic job, Craig. All great credit and strength to you under the circumstances you have found yourself in.

    • willy robinson

      “it is all too easy to get the impression that with the excellence of the defence witnesses and their staunch refusal to be harried and undermined by Lewis, the progress of the case is going well enough for JA”

      They’re building an excellent case. However, the notion that a British court would reject an extradition to the US on the grounds that the defendant would not receive a fair trial (no matter how plainly obvious this is the case) would be an absolute political earthquake, off the charts in terms of scale and destructive power.

      Thanks Craig for all your hard work.

      • FitzroyH

        They are indeed building an excellent case. My remarks were in no way a criticism of the defence counsel or the witnesses. Far from it.

    • Rhys Jaggar

      It does beg the question what legal challenges can be made as to Baraitser’s fitness to remain as a judge. After all, Doctors can be struck of by the GMC for gross professional misconduct.

      Is there even a detailed documentation of what constitutes ‘gross professional misconduct’ by presiding officers in courts of law?

      Baraitser will certainly be ‘bang to rights’ if there is any legal process by which her fitness to practice can be challenged….

  • John Edwards

    Great coverage, thanks very much from an Australian for your efforts to report and expose this show trial. We’re not getting much coverage down under.

    I’m shocked that Baraitser and Lewis could so blatantly abuse process to read Harding’s lies into the record. I don’t really understand why though? It’s easily disproved, and now opens the door for appeal. It seems incredibly stupid legally and I can’t see the logic to their conniving.

    • FitzroyH

      They are indeed building an excellent case. My remarks were in no way a criticism of the defence counsel or the witnesses. Far from it.

  • M.J.

    Couldn’t Fitzgerald in his cross-examination have asked Goetz the question that Lewis would not, or did Baraitser prevent this from happening? Another ground for appeal, anyway.

    • M.J.

      Correction, it appears that Summers was the person who was actually prevented by Baraitser from going into the Moro incident. Still grounds for appeal IMO.

    • Courtenay Barnett

      M.J.

      ” Couldn’t Fitzgerald in his cross-examination have asked Goetz the question that Lewis would not, or did Baraitser prevent this from happening? Another ground for appeal, anyway.”

      Fitzgerald = Examination-in-Chief
      Lewis = Cross-examination
      Fitzgerald = Re-examination

      So, Baraitser ruled at onset that the question could not be put in the examination-in-chief – thus there would be absolutely no interest on the part of Lewis to ask a question which would expose the lie of what he had previously misleadingly introduced as fact, that Assange had stated. In any event, of course, it is crystal clear that the Chief Magistrate and prosecution are as one.

  • M.J.

    One thing puzzles me: in this country the judiciary is independent. So how could Baraitser or any other judge be influenced by the government to conduct a trial in an unfair manner? How could it be done?

  • John O'Dowd

    Perfused by the stench of sulphur. The evil of the Empire laid bare.

    I have known for some time how wicked and evil the UK vassal state is in relation to its depraved successor evil empire – but the clunky banality and transparency of its wretched, foul and malevolent apparatus is truly stomach-turning.

    That such a precess could be so mis-named the operation of JUSTICE is beyond Orwellian.

    Your account, Craig, of the words and methods of James Lewis remind me of nothing so much as James Hogg’s account of the ‘great preacher’ of Auchtermuchty in his masterpiece Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner – you yourself taking on the role of Robin Ruthven. The following passage springs to mind:

    “Robin Ruthven came in amang the thrang, to try to effect what he had promised; and, with the greatest readiness and simplicity, just took baud o’ the side o’ the wide gown, and, in sight of a’ present, held it aside as high as the preacher’s knee, and, behold, there was a pair o’ cloven feet! The auld thief was fairly catched in the very height o’ his proud conquest, an’ put down by an auld carl. He could feign nae mair, but, gnashing on Robin wi’ his teeth, he dartit into the air like a fiery dragon, an’ keust a reid rainbow o’er the taps o’ the Lowmonds.”

    You are laying bare the bones and describing the stench of true evil.

    Good man. Take care.

  • giyane

    The starting point of the US’s case against Assange about harming US covert agents by exposing their names contains a massive hypocrisy that the covert agents doing work for the US were not in themselves harming their home countries by betraying them to the US. The Iraqi word gewad means pimp. For 19 years since the illegal war against Iraq these pimps or secret agents from political Islam have been living the life of Riley in the West or in other so-called Muslim countries that also suck American cock . The main victims of US covert operations are the millions who have been killed or displaced from their country or places of origin. The agents paid by Britain or now USUKIS to deliver their countries to the Imperialists bear their share of the blame and history will hold them to account for their treachery.

    It is a massive hypocrisy for the US to pretend to care about the welfare of iuts criminal agents or pimps, when Kissinger described them as stupid enough to think their covert work was social work. And it also massive hypocrisy that the US pretend to care about their pimps when, as Ellsberg pointed out, they care absolutely nothing about the dozens of millions of refugees who have suffered from the US illegal, Zionist invasions.

    Britain ruled India for 350 years by using pimps form that country who were ready to betray their country in exchange for privelege and power. In fact in retrospect you could say about the British Empire that it could not have functioned at all without the willingness of the pimps to betray their country for money and power.
    As we are now in the 72 nd year of post imperial India it is not at all surprising that the pimps for USUK and Zion want to continue their 350 years of lucrative business of pimpery in the post Imperial age.

    Of course the US government wants to lie about Assange’s respect for covert agents. Assange holds USUKIS fully and wholly responsible for its war crimes. To distract from that by blaming the cocksuckers would be like blaming the MeToo women for Weinstein’s sexual bullying. After Craig’s classic comment about James Lewis being ‘foreign owned like Rolls Royce’, I would ask when the pimps and cocksuckers for the British and US empires are going to be named , shamed and forced to pay the Jizyah for their services to the Zionists and betrayal of their Muslim nations to Zion? Nobody wants them to be put in danger, just they should be publicly belittled for have betrayed their nations and their religion to their enemies.

    • Stevie Boy

      Let’s not forget that all the security services have procedures and training for ‘recruiting’ and ‘turning’ foreign agents and potentially useful ‘assets’. They don’t necessarily line up at the embassy to come and work for the great satan. Money, power, blackmail, honey traps are all part of this dirty business. Read Edward Snowden’s account of what happened in Geneva re. recruiting and blackmail.
      Maybe some of these non US agents/informers are just victims of US policy towards getting what they want ?

      • giyane

        Stevie Boy

        Criminals in the service of evil empires get power and power is not the normal ambition of normal people.

        The shade under the imperial tree allows petty traitors to claim credit for having got rid of dictators but their ambition for power in turn changes them into dictators, like Islamic State.

        Bear inind that Ssddam was being baited by CIA Kurdish agents, just as happened in Chechnya Libya and Syria. Baiting dictators in the pay of the Great Satan is illegal political interference in a sovereign nation.

        This is criminal and inexcusable.
        These are criminals and traitors serving the enemies of peace and stability. Highly political criminals butter would never melt in their lying mouths.

  • Matt

    Thanks Craig.

    A couple of questions the legal eagles might be able to answer:
    – Why can’t a witness testify to matters that are not in their original witness statement?
    – According to Craig’s reporting, the US Government QC has on multiple occasions asserted to witnesses that Assange is not being prosecuted for receiving leaked material. If the reports are correct, then this is a clear lie, contradicted by official documents before the courts. Shouldn’t something in the process prevent the propagation of this lie?

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • David G

    I don’t understand why anybody might be confused as to why the prosecution would introduce evidence that Assange is “thoughtful, humorous and energetic”. These are qualities that Western governments of our era hate and fear in their citizens; establishing Assange as possessing them can only militate against him.

    • Piotr Berman

      Speculation: prosecutions plays with Baraitser aversion to humorous and energetic types, perhaps she was seduced and ditched by someone like that. She seems to have some psychological issues and her animosity to Julian exceeded the prosecution on occasion.

  • Mary

    Did you hear my sharp intake of breath when reading the first para and seeing the names of those schmucks Harding and Leigh?

    Craig certainly great persistence and stamina to still be there on day 11. Three more days to go?

    Imagine the fees that the barristers are picking up. It won’t just be the pair of them. They have teams.

  • nevermind

    I am hot rivetted to your excellent reporting on the downfall of the English justice system as it eats itself up from the inside out.
    Baraitser was allowing a lie to be amplified again and again, what a farce. I reiterate, kangeroo suits anyone?

  • M.J.

    Here’s an idea for a Twitter experiment: Assange is well known to have attacked Hillary. Hillary worked for Obama, while to Trump and his base, both are anathema. So, those who like giving Twitter their twopence worth now and then, each of you put out a few tweets in your own words congratulating Trump on agreeing with Hillary and Obama by punishing Assange and therefore trying to extradite him from the UK, just as they were doing. The result might be quite interesting.

    • Susan

      Further to the ‘assault on journalism’, RT has just reported that the US Justice Department has added Al Jazeera to the list of media entities designated as “foreign agents.” Al Jazeera will have to register under the FARA Guidelines.

      “But wait… it gets better. We’re now learning that the reason for the FARA designation for Al Jazeera is because it was agreed to as a demand made by Benjamin Netanyahu in his so-called deal with the UAE. Wow.” [Quote from Rick Sanchez, RT].

  • Rhys Jaggar

    Mr Murray, it is about time that if Lewis QC is part of a barristers’ chambers that that chambers should be informed in no uncertain terms that one of their brood has committed in effect perjury in a court of law by deliberately introducing statements that he knew to be false and actively preventing witnesses from refuting that lie.

    I am prepared to sign any petition launched to be delivered to that Chambers calling for Lewis to be expelled for gross professional misconduct and I suggest it also be delivered to the Lord Chancellor, the DPP, the head of the CPS, the US Ambassador and the Home Secretary.

    Baraitser is also in contempt of her own court proceedings if she knowingly allows such false evidence to be entered into court proceedings unchallenged. She should also be reported to the Lord Chancellor as being unfit to oversee proceedings in any British Judicial institution.

    Again I would sign any petition stating that Baraitser should be defrocked and stood down from service in UK courts, courtesy of repeated acts constituting the perversion of the course of justice.

    • ET

      It is strange isn’t it, that in order to protect the judiciary from political interference it is virtually impossible for “the system” to intervene in a court case where there may be political interference or poor decisions made.. I asked in one of the previous days posts had formal complaints against Magistrate Barrister been made. There seems to be only one avenue to pursue there and then only in relation to a judge’s conduct (ie. being rude etc) and not in their judgements relating to a case. If you don’t agree with the judgements in a case your only recourse is to appeal.

      A judge cannot be sacked once appointed. Once assigned a case it cannot be taken from them. There is no mechanism to intervene during a case if a judge is making what appear to be poor decisions, other than appeal a judgement to a higher court after a case is finished. No one can either remove a particular judge from a case or reassign a case to another judge and once assigned a judge acts “independently” of anyone, supposedly.

      You can, of course, lodge complaints against solicitors and barristers for professional misconduct. I doubt you’d get very far with Lews in this case. He introduced Luke Harding’s quote as evidence. It may be unsporting, underhand and outrageous but it is not perjury. Harding published that statement in his book. It exists.

      • Kempe

        Whilst High Court and Appeal Court Judges can’t be sacked District Judges like Baraitser can and have been for a number of reasons.

        Don’t get your hopes up though.

        • ET

          I was thinking in an Irish context where there are no Magistrates but instead District Court judges for the lower courts. They cannot be sacked.

      • ET

        Is it possible Kempe, or has it ever happened that a District Court judge is sacked during a case and that case is reassigned to another judge? (other than illness or death)

        • Kempe

          I don’t know. I imagine that if that were to happen the case would have to start again under the new judge which the courts may want to avoid. On the other hand if the judge’s credibility is called into question then there may be no alternative but to remove them mid-case.

    • M.J.

      It does sound like “perverting the course of justice” in lay terms, but then I’m not a lawyer.

  • Marmite

    I wonder if this case will now supercede in historical importance that of the Dreyfus miscarriage? Although it seems that most of the world, and especially the world of journalism, has its head buried in the sand over this trial, I suspect somewhere down the line its notoriety will only increase and keep increasing. Perhaps on account of Craig’s very meticulous coverage here. Right now, it seems people are mostly apathetic in the face of the media’s wilful misrepresentation of Assange, and probably don’t even understand the real reason he is in court. In the first instance, it totally makes no sense whatsoever to try someone for American espionage when they are not an American subject and have not sworn some kind of oath to lie, kill and cheat in the name of that nation.

    Meanwhile, the nation that is putting him on trial has, with complete license, so flagrantly committed huge crimes of an environmental, social, financial kind, and is in the process of killing off the notion of human rights.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that, following the huge disappointment of Occupy, XR and Arab Spring, most of humanity now just wants to slumber through the no-alternative existence alotted to it.

  • writeon

    Craig Murray’s work here stands head and shoulders above the rest of the UK media. The historical weight that rests on this unlikely Atlas’s shoulders is enormous. To have the will, courage and tenacity, to dare to tell the Truth, when all around him far lesser men and women, (people without any meaningful ideals or principles, people literally willing and eager to sell their souls) embrace Lies and almost see to grin stupidly about it; is an indictement of British journalism and the dark swamp it’s become. I hope Craig does write an account, a book, about what’s going on, so that it won’t be forgotten and future generations will look back on these tainted proceedings with astonishment and horror that something like this could happen.

  • David

    There will be no justice delivered at this trial. Its just a system going through the motions. The decision has already been made. Julian will be extradited to the USA, whether he ever makes it into a court room there remains to be seen, but even if he does he will be convicted and sentenced to the longest term they can get away with.

    This is not a criminal case, its a political case and governments always get what they want in these instances.

    We live in a very very sad world.

    • writeon

      I believe this affair will end up in the European Court and I don’t think they will allow Assange to be handed over to the Americans, not whilst Trump is president. So, despite everything, there is room for hope, if not optimism.

      • Goose

        Reported the UK govt is contemplating leaving the European Convention on Human Rights(ECHR). They’ve already rejected a role for the EU’s court, ECJ(or CJEU) by rejecting incorporation of its Charter of Fundamental rights.
        Fortunately, ECHR extraction is v.difficult as it’s enshrined in the referendum approved devolved settlements; it’s critical to Northern Ireland peace for example. Maybe they’ll opt for derogation from certain articles?

        The Tories want zero checks and balances on power in the UK.

  • writeon

    Years and years ago I remember still having a few shreds of illusions left about the Guardian. I imagined that the reason their coverage of Assange’s problems in Sweden was simply down to gross ignorance and incompetence in relation to the events surrounding the sexual allegations raised against him. Allegations that were so weak, contradictory and confused that they wouldn’t stand up fro a moment in a Swedish court, if they ever got that far, which I doubted they ever would. So I attempted to carefully explain to the Guardian’s journalists why the case, which was never really a ‘case’, because their were no formal charges, was a travesty of justice, but a huge swaying tower of cards labelled lies, distortions, manipulation and brazen smears.

    It was all a complete waste of time because as I discovered, the Guardian wasn’t the least bit interested in the truth about events in Sweden, only in the lurid story which they were basically making up in order to fit their agenda that Assange was a threat and had to be destroyed. He was seen as a threat not only to the Guardian’s business model, but to ‘national security’ of the West at the same time. National security meant, the ability to carry out massive international crimes including what amounts to ‘genocide’ and get away with it without any public scrutiny, because the media basically was in bed with the state and not a watchdog but a lapdog.

    Luke Harding, not the sharpest knife in the drawer, typifies the Guardian’s slide down the slippery slope of blood-stained gore into the pit of war-crime denial. For a brief period Wikileaks and Assange made the Guardian’s task much more difficult; the whitewashing of western warcrimes. Now, that the Guardian has allowed itself to be more-or-less absorbed by the UK’s security services as their favoured mouthpiece; they don’t have to worry about Wikileaks anymore and ‘normal service’ has been resumed.

    • Paul+Tucker

      I wrote to Simon Jenkins asking why the Guardian was silent over Julian and he replied that they had all ‘broken with Assange because he put people’s lives at risk’. When I refuted this with one of Craig’s pieces, he failed to reply of course.

  • ET

    Media Lens published a good article on the lack of coverage related to Assange compared to all the coverage of XR blockading certain newpapers entitled: ‘Absolute And Arbitrary Power’: Killing Extinction Rebellion And Julian Assange”
    https://www.medialens.org/2020/absolute-and-arbitrary-power-killing-extinction-rebellion-and-julian-assange/

    Craig, amongst other independent journalists. is quoted within it. I liked the (perhaps not) Orwell attributed quote:
    ‘Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.’

    Thanks for your journalism Craig.

    • Susan

      Yes, Craig is the finest of independent journalists, but this is not the view shared by the National Union of Journalists. As of Craig’s post of 30 August, the NUJ had refused to renew his membership, because it had received an undisclosed ‘objection’. As you said, Craig, “… it is not paranoid to wonder whose hand is behind this?” Has the NUJ’s sub-committee issued their ‘report’ on you yet, Craig?

  • dearieme

    My ignorance of the Law of England & Wales is admitted, but. How come the Supreme Court is delighted to interfere in what is the legitimate business of Parliament but is (presumably) paying no heed to these antics in a court under its purview?

    Must it await a judgement and an appeal? If it can invent fictional powers to bugger about a Brexit government why can’t it invent fictional powers to intrude into this disgraceful case?

  • M.J.

    I haven’t read any wikileaks documents, only heard about them, so here’s a question: Did the leaked documents expose the identities of informants of the Western powers and put them in danger, as I understand the Americans seem to be claiming? That’s not to say that Assange deserves to spend the rest of his lide in a concrete cell in Florence ADX for it (nor, I suspect, should anyone else).

    • Merkin Scot

      MJ, have you actually read the article or are you just repeating the smear which has been debunked?

        • Tom Welsh

          The article makes it emphatically clear that, according to all the witnesses, Assange went to enormous pains to make sure that no sensitive names were published.

          That was repeated over and over.

          So it makes sense to ask if you have read the article. If you had, it hardly seems possible you would have asked a question the answer to which was so obvious.

          • M.J.

            As it happens, Craig seems to have answered my question in his latest blog (Day 12). The answer, I believe, is ‘No’ – or at least, that Assange and his associates made every effort to prevent such a thing.

  • Geoff Reynolds

    ………….Judge Ratbraiser and her sidekick, Noddy, are completely out of their depth and are being exposed as the charlatans they really are…………….

    Craig doesn’t need to highlight the bias in the most famous case in world history, it is there for all to see……

    ……………a gobby yank who thinks shouting and insulting witnesses will score points and a Judge so prejudiced she would appear as the prosecution’s star witness.

    No jury, dodgy wiring and limited press and public scrutiny…………………………….all the hallmarks of a corruption so evident to anyone with only a smattering of sense.

    Every word you write, Craig, will further infuriate the cabal that are at your heels and desperate to silence you.

    Keep it up for you stand out like a jewel in a political cess pit.

    • Ken Kenn

      Every time I read a quote from Luke Harding I smile.

      Now maybe the Guardian the BBC and CBeebies believe this crap that Assange said AB and C but unkless he was disguised as a waiter or had a microphone in the ice bucket how does he know what Assange said to to whom?

      Credulous doesn’t even describe it with the MSM and Harding.

      Now if Lucky Luke wants to chase a real story he should look at how The company that cladded Grenfell Towers managed to lose lots of documents from 2016 and even more mysteriously emails between the buyers ( Kensington Council and the sellers ( the cladding company).

      I’m no Bill Gates, but one thing I do know is that if I send an email or receive one then one of us still has a copy of the email.

      Unless both sender and receiver both delete their emails and their files from their service provider at the same time?

      This stinks and deserves chasing up.

      Apparently any useful hacker could retrieve the information legally if asked by the Inquiry.

      You’ve guessed it – I suspect the Inquiry won’t ask.

      This is not an Inquiry it’s a placatory job to look as though you are doing something.

      With Assange the pretence is just as bad.

      Lot’s of government lawbreaking going on.

      Oh and I forgot : Johnson and Hancock have asked the public to stop being ill or having imaginary covid symptoms.

      The only ‘ capacity ‘ increase in the UK is the ‘ capacity ‘ for government corruption.

      It reeks of it and the MSM witter on about niceties and nuance.

      They are hopeless and cowardly.

      No surprise there though.

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