Your Man in the Public Gallery: Assange Hearing Day 14 86


Monday was a frustrating day as the Assange Hearing drifted deep into a fantasy land where nobody knows or is allowed to say that people were tortured in Guantanamo Bay and under extraordinary rendition. The willingness of Judge Baraitser to accept American red lines on what witnesses can and cannot say has combined with a joint and openly stated desire by both judge and prosecution to close this case down quickly by limiting the number of witnesses, the length of their evidence, and the time allowed for closing arguments. For the first time, I am openly critical of the defence legal team who seem to be missing the moment to stop being railroaded and say no, this is wrong, forcing Baraitser to make rulings against them. Instead most of the day was lost to negotiations between prosecution and defence as to what defence evidence could be edited out or omitted.

More of which later.

PROFESSOR CHRISTIAN GROTHOFF

The first witness was Professor Christian Grothoff, a computer scientist based at the University of Berne Institute of Applied Sciences. Prof Grothoff had prepared an analysis of how and when the unredacted cables first came to be released on the internet.

Prof Grothoff was taken through his evidence in chief by Marks Summers QC for the defence. Prof Grothoff testified that Wikileaks had shared the cable cache with David Leigh of the Guardian. This had been done in encrypted form. It had a very strong encryption key; without the long, strong password there would be no way to access it. It was useless without the key. In reply to questions from Summers, Prof Grothoff confirmed that it was standard practice for information to be shared by an online cache with strong encryption. It was standard practice, and not in any way irresponsible. Banking or medical records might be securely communicated in this way. Once the file is encrypted, it cannot be read without the key, and nor can the key be changed. New copies can of course be made from the unencrypted original with different keys.

Summers then led Prof Grothoff to November 2010 when cables started to be published, initially by partners from the media consortium after redaction. Grothoff said that the next event was a DDOS attack on the Wikileaks site. He explained how a distributed denial of service attack works, hijacking multiple computers to overload the target website with demand. Wikileaks reaction was to encourage people to put up mirrors to maintain the availability of content. He explained this was quite a normal response to a DDOS attack.

Prof Grothoff produced a large list of mirrors created all over the world as a result. Wikileaks had posted instructions on how to set up a mirror. Mirrors set up using these instructions did not contain a copy of the cache of unredacted cables. But at some point, some mirrors started to contain the file with the unredacted cables. These appeared to be few and special sites with mirrors created in other ways than by the Wikileaks instructions. There was some discussion between Grothoff and Summers as to how the cached file may have been hidden in an archive on the Wikileaks site, for example not listed in the directory, and how a created mirror could sweep it up.

Summers then asked Professor Grothoff whether David Leigh released the password. Grothoff replied that yes, Luke Harding and David Leigh had revealed the encryption key in their book on Wikileaks published February 2011. They had used it as a chapter heading, and the text explicitly set out what it was. The copies of the encrypted file on some mirrors were useless until David Leigh posted that key.
Summers So once David Leigh released the encryption key, was it in Wikileaks’ power to take down the mirrors?
Grothoff No.
Summers Could they change the encryption key on those copies?
Grothoff No.
Summers Was there anything they could do?
Grothoff Nothing but distract and delay.

Grothoff continued to explain that on 25 August 2011 the magazine Der Freitag had published the story explaining what had happened. It did not itself give out the password or location of the cache, but it made plain to people that it could be done, particularly to those who had already identified either the key or a copy of the file. The next link in the chain of events was that nigelparry.com published a blog article which identified the location of a copy of the encrypted file. With the key being in David Leigh’s book, the material was now effectively out. This resulted within hours in the creation of torrents and then publication of the full archive, unencrypted and unredacted, on Cryptome.org.

Summers asked whether Cryptome was a minor website. Grothoff replied not at all, it was a long established platform for leaked or confidential material and was especially used by journalists.

At this stage Judge Baraitser gave Mark Summers a five minute warning on Prof Grothoff’s evidence. He therefore started to speed through events. The next thing that happened, still on 31 August 2011, is that a website MRKVA had made a searchable copy. Torrents also started appearing including on Pirate Bay, a very popular service. On 1 September, according to classified material from the prosecution supplied to Prof Grothoff, the US Government had first accessed the unredacted cache. The document showed this had been via a torrent from Pirate Bay. Wikileaks had made the unredacted cables available on 2 September, after they were already widely available. They had already passed the point where “they could not be stopped”.

Neither Pirate Bay nor Cryptome had been prosecuted for the publication. Cryptome is US based.

Joel Smith then rose to cross-examine for the prosecution. He started by addressing the Professor’s credentials. He suggested that the Professor was expert in computer analysis, but in putting together a chronology of events he was not expert. Prof Grothoff replied that it had required specialist forensic skills to track the precise chain of events.

Joel Smith then suggested that his chronology of events was dependent on material provided by the defence. Prof Grothoff said that indeed the defence had supplied key evidence, but he had searched extensively for other material and evidence online of the course of events and tested the defence evidence.

Smith then asked Grothoff whether he had withheld any information he should have given as a declaration of interest. Grothoff said he had not, and could not think what Smith was talking about. He had conducted his research fairly and taken great care to test the assertions of the defence against the evidence. Smith then read out an open letter from 2017 to President Trump calling for the prosecution of Assange to be dropped. Grothoff said it was possible, but he had no recollection of having signed it or seeing it. The defence had told him about it on Saturday, but he still did not remember it. The content of the letter seemed reasonable to him, and had a friend asked him to sign then he would probably have done so. But he had no memory of it.

Smith noted that Grothoff was listed as an initial signatory not an online added signatory. Grothoff replied that nevertheless he had no recollection of it. Smith then asked him incredulously “and you cannot remember signing a letter to the President of the United States?” Grothoff again confirmed he could not remember.

Quoting the letter, Smith then asked him “Do you think the prosecution is “a step into the darkness”?”. Grothoff replied that he thought it had strong negative ramifications for press freedom worldwide. Lewis then put to Grothoff that he had strong views, and thus was evidently “biased, partial”. Grothoff said he was a computer scientist and had been asked to research and give testimony on matters of fact as to what had occurred. He had tested the facts properly and his personal opinions were irrelevant. Smith continued to ask several more questions about the letter and Grothoff’s partiality. Altogether Smith asked 14 different questions related to the open letter Grothoff had allegedly signed. He then moved on:

Smith Did you download the cables file yourself during your research?
Grothoff Yes, I did.
Smith Did you download it from the Wikileaks site?
Grothoff No, I believe from Cryptome.
Smith So in summer 2010 David Leigh was given a password and the cache was put up on a public website?
Grothoff No, it was put on a website but not public. It was in a hidden directory.
Smith So how did it end up on mirror sites if not public?
Grothoff It depends how the specific mirror is created. On the Wikileaks site the encrypted cache was not an available field. Different mirroring techniques might sweep up archive files.
Smith Wikileaks had asked for the creation of mirrors?
Grothoff Yes.
Smith The strength of a password is irrelevant if you cannot control the people who have it.
Grothoff That is true. The human is always the weakest link in the system. It is difficult to guard against a bad faith actor, like David Leigh.
Smith How many people did Wikileaks give the key in the summer of 2010?
Grothoff It appears from his book only to David Leigh. He then gave it to the hundreds of thousands who had access to his book.
Smith Is it true that 50 media organisations and NGOs were eventually involved in the process of redaction?
Grothoff Yes, but they were not each given access to the entire cache.
Smith How do you know that?
Grothoff It is in David Leigh’s book.
Smith How many people in total had access to the cache from those 50 organisations?
Grothoff Only Mr Leigh was given access to the full set. Only Mr Leigh had the encryption key. Julian Assange had been very reluctant to give him that access.
Smith What is your evidence for that statement?
Grothoff It is in David Leigh’s book.
Smith That is not what it says.

Smith then read out two long separate passages from Luke Harding and David Leigh’s book, both of which indeed made very plain that Assange had given Leigh access to the full cache only with extreme reluctance, and had been cajoled into it, including by David Leigh asking Assange what would happen if he were bundled off to Guantanamo Bay and nobody else but Assange held the password.

Grothoff That is what I said. Harding and Leigh write that it had been a hard struggle to prise the password out of Assange’s hand.
Lewis How do you know that the 250,000 cables were not all available to others?
Grothoff In February 2011 David Leigh published his book. Before that I do not have proof Wikileaks gave the password to nobody else. But if so, they have kept entirely quiet about it.
Smith You say that after the DDOS attack Wikileaks requested people to mirror the site globally. They published instructions on how to do it.
Grothoff Yes, but mirrors created using the Wikileaks instructions did not include the encrypted file. In fact this was helpful. They were trying to build a haystack. The existence of so many mirrors without the unencrypted file made it harder to find.
Smith But in 2010 the password had not been released. Why would Wikileaks want to build a haystack then?
Grothoff The effect was to build a haystack. I agree that was probably not the initial motive. It may have been when this mirror creation continued later.
Smith As of December 2010 what Wikileaks are saying is they wish to proliferate the site as they are under attack?
Grothoff Yes
Joel Smith On 23 August 2011 Wikileaks start a mass release of cables?
Grothoff Yes. This is a release of unclassified cables and also ongoing release of redacted classified cables by media partners.
Smith They were releasing cables by country, and putting out tweets saying which countries they were releasing cables for both then and next? (Smith reads from tweets.)
Grothoff Yes. I have verified that these were unclassified cables by searching through these cables on the classification field.
Smith Were some classified secret?
Grothoff No, they were unclassified. I checked this.
Smith Were some marked “strictly protect”?
Grothoff That is not a classification in the classification field. I did not check for that.
Smith Wikileaks boast that they make the files available in a searchable form.
Grothoff Yes, but their search facility was not very good. Much easier to search them in other ways.
Smith You said Der Freitag stated that the encrypted file was available on mirrors. The article does not say that.
Grothoff No, but it says that it was widely circulating on the internet. That is done by mirroring. They did not use that word, I agree.
Smith The 29 August Der Spiegel article does not publish the password. Then Wikileaks publishes an article claiming these stories are “substantially incorrect”.
Grothoff It points to the password.
Smith Some cables were published classified “Secret”.
Grothoff These were cables that had been redacted fully by the consortium of media experts.
Smith Why do you call them “experts”?
Grothoff They knew the subject matter and the localities.
Smith Why do you call them “experts”?
Grothoff They were experienced journalists who knew what was and was not safe and right to publish. So experts in journalism. You need to distinguish between three types of cable published at this time: 1) classified and redacted; 2) unclassified; 3) the classified and unredacted cache.
Smith Are you aware that some cables were marked “strictly protect”?
Grothoff That is not a designation of a cable. It is applied to individuals. But it does not indicate that they are in danger, merely that for political reasons they do not want to be known as giving evidence to the US government?
Smith How do you know that?
Grothoff It is in the bundle I was sent, and the evidence of other defence witnesses.
Smith You don’t know.
Grothoff I do know the “strictly protect” names you are referring to were in safe countries.
Smith Before 31 August you find no evidence of full publication of the entire cache?
Grothoff Yes.

We then went through an excruciatingly long process of Smith querying the evidence for the timing of every publication prior to Wikileaks own publication, and trying to shift back the latest possible time of publication online of various copies, including Cryptome, MRKVA, Pirate Bay and various other torrents. He managed to establish that, depending which time zone you were in, some of this could be attributed to possibly very early on 1 September rather than 31 August, and that it was not possible to put an exact time within a window of a few hours on Cryptome’s unredacted publication early in the morning on 1 September.

[This exercise could cut both ways. The timing of a tweet saying a copy or torrent is up and giving a link, must be sent out after the material is put up, which could be some time before sending the tweet.]

Grothoff concluded that at the end of the day we do not know to the minute timings for every publication, but what we can say for certain is that all of the publications discussed, including Cryptome, were before Wikileaks.

Smith then noted that Parry wrote in his blog “This is a bad day for David Leigh and the Guardian. I ran the password from David Leigh’s book in an old W/L file…” but did not give the location of the file. This was at 10pm on 31 August. Within 20 minutes Wikileaks was issuing a press release “statement of the betrayal of Wikileaks passwords by the Guardian” and 80 minutes later an editorial. [I think that Smith here was trying to say Wikileaks had published Parry’s breakthrough.] Smith then invited Grothoff to agree that when Wikileaks themselves published the full documents later on 2 September, it was more comprehensible and visible than earlier publications. Grothoff replied it was not more comprehensive, it was the same. It was more visible but by that time the cat was well out of the bag and the unredacted cables were spreading rapidly all over the internet. There was no way to stop them.

Mark Summers then re-examined Grothoff and established that the evidence was that the encryption key for the full cache was given to David Leigh and to nobody else. The storage method was secure – Grothoff pointed out that precisely the same method was used to send around the court bundles in this case. Only David Leigh had revealed the password.

On mirror sites, Grothoff confirmed that the Wikileaks instructions created mirrors without the encrypted cache. All the copies of the encrypted cache he could find on other mirrors, were on sites which plainly were created using other methods, for example other software systems. Summers then got Professor Grothoff to explain the methodology he had used to verify the cables published by Wikileaks before the Leigh crash were all unclassified. Apart from dip sampling, this included a correlation of the number published for each country with the number listed as unclassified for each country in the US government directory. These matched in every case.

Summers then attempted to take Grothoff back over the timeline evidence which Joel Smith had put so much effort into muddying, but was prevented from doing so by Baraitser. She had interrupted Summers four times during his re-examination, on the extraordinary basis that this ground was gone over before; extraordinary because that is the point of a re-examination. Baraitser had permitted Smith to ask fourteen successive questions of Grothoff on the subject of why he had signed an open letter. The double standard was very obvious.

Which brings us to a very crucial point. The next witness, Andy Worthington, was at court and ready to give evidence, but was prevented from doing so. The United States government objected to his evidence, about his work on the Guantanamo Detainee files, being heard because it contained allegations of inmates being tortured at Guantanamo.

Baraitser said her ruling was not going to consider whether torture took place at Guantanamo, or if extraordinary rendition had happened. She did not need to hear evidence on these points. Mark Summers replied that the ECHR had ruled on these as facts, but that it was necessary they be stated by witnesses as appropriate as it went to the Article 10 ECHR defence. Lewis maintained the objection from the US government.

Baraitser said she wanted the prosecution and defence to produce a witness schedule that would get the case finished by the end of next week, including closing statements. She wanted them to agree what evidence could and could not be heard. Where possible she wanted evidence in uncontested statements with the defence just reading out the gist.

She also said that she did not want to hear closing arguments in court, but she would have them in writing and the defence and prosecution could just summarise them briefly orally.

What the defence should have said at this moment is “Madam, the dogs in the street know that people were tortured in Guantanamo Bay. In the real world, it is not a disputed fact. If Mr Lewis’s instructions were to deny that the earth is round, would our witnesses have to accommodate that? The truth of these matters plainly goes to the Article 10 Defence, and by pandering to the denial of a notorious and plain fact, this court will be held up to mockery. We will not discuss such ludicrous censorship with Mr Lewis. If you wish to rule that there must be no mention of torture in evidence, then so be it.”

The defence did not say any of that, but as instructed entered a process with the prosecution lawyers of agreeing the shortening and editing of evidence, a process which took all day and with which Julian showed plain signs of being uncomfortable. Andy Worthington did not get to give his evidence. The only further evidence heard was the reading of the gist of a statement from Cassandra Fairbanks. I did not hear most of this because, having adjourned to 4.30pm, the court re-adjourned earlier than advertised, while Julian’s dad John Shipton, the musician MIA and I were away having a coffee. I commend this account by Kevin Gosztola of Fairbanks’ startling evidence. It was read quickly by Edward Fitzgerald in “gist”, agreed as an uncontested account, and speaks strongly of the political motivation apparent in this prosecution.

I am very concerned about the obvious collusion of the prosecution and the judge to close this case down. The extraordinary conflation of “time management” and excluding evidence which the US Government does not want heard in public is plainly illegitimate. The continual chivvying and interruption of defence counsel in examination when prosecution counsel are allowed endless repetition amounting to harassment and bullying is illegitimate. Some extraordinarily long prosecution cross-examinations, such as that of Carey Shenkman the lawyer, have every appearance of deliberate time wasting and distraction.

Tuesday’s witness is Professor Michael Kopelman, the eminent psychiatrist, and the prosecution have indicated they wish to cross-examine him for an extraordinary four hours, which Baraitser agreed against defence objections. Her obsession with time management is distinctly subjective.

Obviously there is a moral question for me in how much of this medical evidence I publish. The decision will be taken in strict accordance with the views of Julian or, if we cannot ascertain that, his family.

 
 
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86 thoughts on “Your Man in the Public Gallery: Assange Hearing Day 14

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  • Billy Bones

    If only Julian had landed in Scotland and not England. I sincerely hope no Scots judge would allow such a travesty of justice to take place in a Scots court.

    Cannot Julian appeal, (once this travesty is over)?

    • Ruth

      The greatest travesty to justice in the UK took place in a Scottish court when an innocent man was found guilty of 270 murders. Three Scottish judges I believe knowingly condemned an innocent man for the Lockerbie bombing.

    • JulesM

      Bugger me. You really are blindfolded by your whimsical belief in the ‘truth’ of Scottish justice. I suppose you also believe Scottish vultures are strict vegetarians. Jeez, why not?

    • Matthew

      Yes, Mr Assange can appeal to the High Court and then to the Supreme Court, and finally to the European Court of Human Rights on the basis of Article 3 European Convention on Human Rights amongst other things.

  • Father O'Blivion

    While the outrageous abuse of time management and selective exclusion of evidence is distressing to hear, it gives obvious and compelling reasons for appeal. This of course assumes that the UK remains within the remit of the ECHR. That assumption is far from certain as England flails under the control of the Brexit extremist.

    • Paul Mc

      It may be that the defense has decided that these kinds of stipulations are the only way they will be able to get all the necessary evidence into the record for appeal. As far as I can tell from Craig’s account, the defense has only stipulated to limit live testimony in favor of written submissions.

  • alexey

    Thank you Craig. The only other place covering this with any sense of what is going on is the Morning Star. This is the whole of journalism on trial. If the US win this it means that any journalist, anywhere in the world, can get life in an American prison for publishing the truth. The silence elsewhere is deafening.

    • Tom Welsh

      One might alternatively argue for a consistent policy of absolutely ignoring the USA, all US citizens, the US government, US corporations and everything to do with them. Don’t talk to them, trade with them, deal with them, or even read or listen to material about them.

      The reason being that, if one does not follow such a policy, one has no guarantee of not winding up in Guantanamo or somewhere similar.

  • M.J.

    “The continual chivvying and interruption of defence counsel in examination when prosecution counsel are allowed endless repetition amounting to harassment and bullying is illegitimate. ” etc
    More grounds for appeal – it’s almost as if Baraitser wanted Assange to do this!

      • Tony Little

        OR (OK, this is a major “maybe” statement) she is deliberately “following orders” in the knowledge that be doing so in extremis this will guarantee grounds for an appeal? (I don’t really believe this, but who knows)

        • Holmey

          In the legal profession it’s called passing it upstairs, when a judge thinks it is above their pay-scale to allow a controversial verdict it’s common practice for them to push for the opposite verdict but make sure there are grounds for appeal so that a more senior judge ends up adjudicating the final decision.

    • Deb O'Nair

      I sometimes wonder whether the USG legal team know that the UK supreme court would eventually uphold an appeal so are deliberately dragging this thing out for vindictive reasons alone, i.e. just to prolong the detainment and therefore punishment of Julian.

  • Ian C

    The objective of this case is most likely a foregone conclusion but by having this hearing and attempting to limit JA’s defence, they have stumbled clumbsily into shining a light on things that they would rather remain out of the public domain. Its as if they had no knowledge of what happened in Scotland in March. Probably because Scotland is a far off place that they no nothing of.

    They had no contingency for dealing with someone who actually reported the case and did so with honesty and intgrity.

    Well done Craig Murray.

  • Ian

    Reading Craig’s and other reports you can sense the increasing irritation and frustration of the judge and prosecution at how this hearing is playing out. What was meant to be a procedural confirmation of the extradition request has turned into a highly detailed exposé of the false, misleading and manipulative claims of the US. No wonder they are getting hot under the collar as, again and again, the array of experts the defence has marshalled demonstrate how little Lewis and Baraitser understand or know about US law and politics, but also quietly demolish the extremely flimsy and obtusely constructed charges with their intimate and detailed knowledge.
    As Craig says, it is a disgraceful manipulation of the court to accede to the prosecution’s desperate attempts to prevent witnesses from stating the truth, and interfering with the defence’s conduct of the hearing. The impatience that Baraitser is showing only confirms the feeling all along that this is a show trial, a charade, merely to rubber stamp what the home secretary and the government have already decreed. We know how the US put pressure on Germany from the evidence, you can surmise how much pressure the UK is under to comply, in order to get their fabled trade deal (which will be a capitulation to US corporate interests anyway, but remember we are not allowed to know the detail for five years, and parliament has voted to have no say in it).
    The sight of a UK court completely in thrall, and happy to defer, to a US prosecution which is so blatantly full of holes and lies, is yet another sign of the diminution and political decline of the UK under recent regimes, but in particular this hedge funded, think tank occupied weak, feeble and pusillanimous administration. Capitulating to such a self-serving, narcissist mobster as Trump and his cronies marks a new, if unsurprising, nadir for the UK.

    • Anthony

      The toadying to W Bush was infinitely more damaging to the UK. Yet that unrepentant war criminal has been rehabilitated as a lost statesman by centrist elites and media.

    • Carolyn Zaremba

      Thanks for the clear exposition of the situation. Craig’s reports are the most detailed, on the spot of anyone’s. His commentary on the proceedings is astute, as well. As someone who worked in the legal field for many years, I find myself appalled at the practices of the prosecution and the judge. Granted that this is a kangaroo court. Granted that this is a show trial. Nonetheless, the blatant favoritism shown by the judge for the prosecution and crude bludgeoning tactics is off the scale.

    • Ethan Allen

      Re: Ian, Thank you for this excellent and substantive comment.
      And, once again kudos to Craig Murray for candid and truthful reporting.
      As Usual,
      EA

  • Susan

    Thanks as always, Craig, for the excellent account. On a couple of occasions over the last couple of years, I have found myself asking: Where is Assange’s defence team? Why aren’t they speaking out on this? So, I am disappointed, but not entirely surprised, that they have dropped the ball on aggressively objecting to Baraister’s obvious attempts to curtail an effective defence by Assange’s legal team.

    Consortium News has also pointed out another missed opportunity when the defence (on re-direct of Grothhoff) failed to take the opportunity to emphasize that there were legitimate reasons behind the decision to release the cables on Wikileaks. It seems to me that this is one of the key issues in this case – and it seems very perplexing to me that the defence dropped the ball on this.

    “The prosecution brought up an open vote that WikiLeaks conducted on Twitter and Facebook on Sept. 1, 2011, after the files had been published on Kryptome (sic). The vote was on whether or not WikiLeaks should also now release the cables. Smith told the court that the “global vote” was 100 to 1 to publish. What was not raised by the defense on re-direct examination is that the main reason given during the debate before the vote was that governments would be most likely to find the files on Cryptome, or decrypt the files themselves from the password that Leigh had made available, and that WikiLeaks wanted to use its wider reach to alert informants whose names had been revealed to seek safety.”
    https://consortiumnews.com/2020/09/21/assange-hearing-day-ten-fairbanks-testifies-trump-ordered-assange-arrest-us-concedes-wikileaks-not-first-to-publish-cables-but-says-it-had-widest-reach/

    My stomach churns when I realize how Harding and Leigh betrayed Assange.

      • Kev

        “If I were a chinese spy, why wouldn’t I have flown directly into Beijing? I could be living in a palace, petting a phoenix, by now.”

        Edward Snowden.
        (The Planets Most Wanted Man, Chapter 7, The Snowden Files)

    • Carolyn Zaremba

      Agreed. Harding and Leigh are dirty dogs indeed. They threw Julian under the bus for book sales, much like Bob Woodward has shown himself capable of keeping secret the dangers of Covid-19 to sell his telltale book about Donald Trump. These lice give a bad name to honest writers everywhere.

  • Olly Perry

    Thanks for all the updates, Craig, which have been absolutely riveting and a great public service. Reading all these daily reports, I get the impression that Julian Assange is not getting the fair and impartial extradition hearing that should be his right. I get a feeling that Baraitser is being directed by unseen powers, obviously the US, and that despite all the evidence that demonstrates quite clearly how over the top and completely unfair the case against Julian Assange is, that he will be extradited anyway. Lack of coverage in the press only goes to support this as there will be precious little said about it by either the media or parliament. It is deeply depressing, not only for JA who has somehow borne these last few years with huge courage and determination, but for the judicial process in the UK as a whole. It is a sham. Where are the champions of the legal profession who can see this for what it is? Where is JA’s champion in parliament? This injustice should be screamed from the rooftops. It makes me ashamed to be British.

    • Natasha

      “Where is JA’s champion in parliament?”

      Yesterday, 21 September, three members of UK Parliament, Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, and Kenneth MacAskill publicly added their names in support of the 14 August 2020 open letter to the UK Government, from Lawyers for Assange, (the Independent international legal observers of the proceedings in the case of Julian Assange) calling for Julian’s immediate release and dropping of extradition proceedings.

      Kenneth MacAskill MP (former Justice Secretary of Scotland, and lawyer) commented, “This is a political crucifixion not legal process and is about seeking to bury truth and those exposing it.”

      https://consortiumnews.com/2020/09/20/they-cal-for-assanges-immediate-release-lula-rouseff-zapatero-corbyn-correa-paul-galloway-gravel-varoufakis/

      It is very notable that sitting UK MPs Corbyn, McDonnell and MacAskill are prepared to speak out clearly ignoring any delusion that sub-judice rules apply in this instance.

      https://www.lawyersforassange.org/en/open-letter.html

      In July this year, Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, my MP Caroline Lucas, (22 MPs to date) signed an EDM (Early Day Motion, a UK parliamentary way for backbenchers to speak out) “That this House notes the July 2020 statement by the National Union of Journalists, the International Federation of Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and others in relation to the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and affirms its commitment to press freedom and public-interest journalism.”
      https://edm.parliament.uk/early-day-motion/57256/julian-assange-press-freedom-and-publicinterest-journalism

      All these MPs however, did miss an earlier opportunity to do this by not signing MP Chris Williamson’s far stronger September 2019 EDM (that 4 other MPs did sign), which “calls on the Government to ensure that Mr Assange is released, that his physical integrity and freedom of movement are respected and that he is afforded the right of compensation for his mistreatment by the UK.”
      https://edm.parliament.uk/early-day-motion/53306/ongoing-incarceration-of-julian-assange

      I’ve written (again) this time to invite my MP to now publicly join fellow MPs Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, and Kenneth MacAskill calling for the government to immediately release Julian Assange and drop all extradition proceedings, and that any previous reluctance, based on fears of breaking sub-judice rules no longer apply since Corbyn, McDonnell and MacAskill have all now spoken-out – whilst proceeding are ongoing at the Old Bailey – clearly ignoring any delusion that sub-judice rules apply in this instance.

  • Ruth

    You have to be very careful in UK government sensitive cases. There are many ways a government controlled court can manipulate a trial/hearing and one of them is to have the defence legal team on their side or willing to omit certain evidence etc. In many VAT carousel cases this happened in order to cut out anything pointing to government agencies setting up and running the frauds

  • John Hawkins

    I’m getting a ‘302 found’ and ‘Facebook Page: Not found for craigmurray.org.uk’, not the article head, when putting the link to this on Facebook. Seems Facebook suddenly doesn’t recognise your page Craig, although the link does actually work…..

    • Carolyn Zaremba

      I had no such trouble, but thanks for the warning. FB has done this to other posts of mine in the past. Without actually banning it, they are making it difficult to see. What was the term used so frequently in the Watergate case? “A non-denial denial”, in this case of service.

  • bj

    … Mirrors set up using these instructions did not contain a copy of the cache of unredacted cables. But at some point, some mirrors started to contain the file with the unredacted cables. These appeared to be few and special sites with mirrors created in other ways than by the Wikileaks instructions.

    This to me is unparsable.
    a) The large encrypted file (I had a copy myself once) cannot be unencrypted without the password (aka passphrase).
    b) “The file with the unredacted cables” has to be another file than the large encrypted ‘cache’.
    c) To create a mirror is just to create a (web)site and place a copy of a file on it.
    a, b and c describe things that are totally separate and disconnected.

    • Dawg

      Here’s the meaning I get from that passage:

      “Mirrors set up using these instructions did not contain a copy of the cache of unredacted cables.”

      • In other words, the mirror sites that were set up according to the instructions given by Wikileaks did not contain the files with the unredacted cables, because the instructions only concerned the files with the redacted cables and made no reference to the hidden directory in which the files with the unredacted cables were contained. (These would therefore have been ‘partial’ or ‘secondary’ mirrors, as they didn’t replicate the entire structure of the original site.)

      “But at some point, some mirrors started to contain the file with the unredacted cables.”

      • Subsequent analysis found that some mirror sites did indeed contain the contraband encrypted files with the unredacted cables. Clearly they couldn’t have been created according to the instructions from Wikileaks, because those instructions made no reference to the hidden directory and did not include directions for copying the encrypted files with the unredacted cables. So how did it happen?

      “These appeared to be few and special sites with mirrors created in other ways than by the Wikileaks instructions.”

      • Other mirror sites appeared that were full mirrors of the original server. They can’t have been created by following the Wikileaks instructions. Their creators must have found some way to clone the entire contents of the Wikileaks resource, including both the redacted and unredacted files. The data transfer logs would have revealed the existence of the hidden directory, and thus the encrypted files with the unredacted cables.

      Does that make sense now?

      • bj

        Your second point makes little sense; directions? — anyone who knows about the hidden directory and has UNIX reading access can copy (‘download’) a file (through ssh or ftp or curl or wget the browser or whatever) — even though without the passphrase they wouldn’t be able to access the file’s contents. All your points assume facts that are not presented in Craig’s story. And the juxtaposition of the three in one paragraph is confusing.

        • Dawg

          For “directions” read “instructions”, for which it’s a common synonym. (Spelling everything out in simple unambiguous detail gets repetitive very quickly.)

          So, to recap, Wikileaks gave one set of instructions (as stated by Grothoff). Those people who followed the instructions only got the redacted cables, not the unredacted cables (which were in a hidden directory – also mentioned by Grothoff).

          Later analysis detected that some servers actually contained the unredacted cables (albeit in encrypted form). Accordingly, we can infer that they were copied by a different method than described in the instructions. (That’s what Grothoff meant by “few and special”).

          Craig is giving an account of what Prof Grothoff said, presumably in the order he said it.

        • Dawg

          If you have experience running a web server (and you seem to be familiar with some of the key terms), the unstated facts should be obvious.

          Any competent server installation creates log files for large file downloads, which reveal the details of the successful and unsuccessful data transfers. So, for example, if the original server is cloned (as a byte-for-byte replica, instead of following the Wikileaks instructions to download individual folders and files), then the logs will reveal the existence of the hidden folders and files.

  • Óscar

    «Obviously there is a moral question for me in how much of this medical evidence I publish. The decision will be taken in strict accordance with the views of Julian or, if we cannot ascertain that, his family.»

    This is, of course, commendable. But do take into account what Gosztola is publishing about today’s witness:

    https://twitter.com/kgosztola/status/1308376783465705473

  • giyane

    In the disgustingly dirty world of politics betraying secrets that another person is trying to redact has only one purpose, to get the owner of the secrets into trouble. Leigh’s betrayal of Assange was calulated , political malice. OK it’s a big wide world out there and maybe Julian Assange thought he might be getting Leigh into trouble and take some of the blame onto himself. If so , he was deceiving himself.

    Leigh’s deviousness was calculated treachery. It’s cynicism goes way beyond the cynicism of the prosecution and the judge about the law in this trial. Leigh appears to have befriended Assange for the sole purpose of ruining him. As soon as the police demanded his computers , he surrendered them , because he had no interest in publishing public interest information. His only desire was to destroy Assange’s reputation.

    Hence if Leigh was on trial, the First Amendment would be irrelevant, because Leigh wasn;t interested in public interest. Like so many of his generation he was motivated by pure obsession with illegal interventionist war and the promotion of capitalist Market ideology, like his contemporaries Nick Clegg and Boris Johnson.

    A man of Julian’s principles and decency could not be expected to have anticipated such ferocious, ideological malice. However Clegg’s treachery final destroyed the Liberal Party, so maybe Leigh’s treachery will finally destroy the phoney left of the Blaiites, Starmerites and The Guardian. Rest in Piss.

    • Carolyn Zaremba

      Hear, hear. That had occurred to me, as well. Leigh was the “mole”, if you will. There is nothing the U.S. government will not stoop to in its persecution of Julian Assange.

    • Eric+McCoo

      Leigh published the password to give Assange a defence against publishing state secrets. Not only he should be facing prosecution but everyone involved at The Guardian including editor Alan Rusbridger and the ludicrous intelligence clown Luke Harding who invented the Manafort story.

      • lysias

        I consider it much more likely that Leigh did the bidding of the intel establishment, so that they would have grounds for going against Assange.

  • Tony Little

    everything I have read on the and previous articles stouts to an obvious show-trial and predetermined judgement. The Closing down of legitimate defense witnesses and the one-sided nature of this “judge’s” opinions is shocking. BUT, does the entire process and procedural misconduct guarantee that there will be an appeal and that some justice can eventually be delivered.

    I’m not a lawyer, but as a layman, the political nature of this kangaroo court is obvious.

  • Josh R

    so, going by the evidence, as regards any ‘publishing’ charges, David Leigh should be in the dock,,,,, no?

    encrypted files don’t count as ‘publishing’,

    Leigh ‘published’ the key that transformed an indecipherable digital mish mash into the US govt documents.

    He ‘published’, everyone else subsequently ‘republished’, be they WikiLeaks or the media monopolies.

    I know, makes too much sense to play any part in this almost decade long, borderline psychopathic persecution of a more than decent fella….

    ….but thought I’d mention it anyway.

    Hope Assange is keeping his chin up, every vile injustice he endures just further exposes the vile character & motivations of our ruling minorities & their establishment toadies…….realise that’s probably not much comfort after 8-10 years of lockup, but,,,,,,,well,,,,,,,,,you know,,,,silver lining ‘n’ all that…..

    • Tom Welsh

      “so, going by the evidence, as regards any ‘publishing’ charges, David Leigh should be in the dock,,,,, no?”

      Exactly.

    • Ethan Allen

      Hopefully Josh R. that ‘silver lining’ also provides continued strength and good health for Julian, the support and wisdom of his legal team, and the grand evolution of global public disdain for not only the “…vile character & motivations of our ruling minorities & their establishment toadies” you so justly mentioned, but a likewise public awareness of fringe socio-political zealots desperately trying to intermingle their dogmatic pseudo-idealistic conspiratorial drivel with this honest man’s life-threatening dilemma. Neither of these two disparate groups of cultural and intellectual parasites can factually claim association with Mr. Assange’s work or informed social awareness.
      As Usual,
      EA

  • giyane

    ” a fantasy land where nobody knows or is allowed to say that people were tortured in Guantanamo Bay and under extraordinary rendition.”

    There is also a parallel fantasy land in the minds of those who support political Islam that no bad consequences have ever been suffered by their engaging as proxies of USUKIS in war against the Muslim populations around the world. About five years ago I asked the adjacent mosque imam what he thought about jihad in Syria and he replied that Syria was full of politics and the best I could do was send sustenance to the suffering countries.

    As we are all too well aware, the fantazical mind of Boris Johnson that dreamed up Novichok as foreign secretary is playing the village idiot about the catastrophes caused by this country meddling in the Muslim world. The village idiot is perfectly capable of understanding the value of land prices and social distancing, but pretends to have a complete mental blank about the plight of refugees in countries neighbouring Europe such as Libya, Lebanon or Syria.

    To political Islam and Johnson , they don’t exist. The carpet bombing of Afghanistan and Baghdad don’t exist.
    It is a shared fantasy land.

  • Friday

    Case management is, of course, the remit of the judge and they are obliged to prevent cases spinning out of control (out of control here is based on the judge’s subjective, but hopefully intelligent view of what is a core part of the legal case and what isn’t). If Baraitser thinks she doesn’t need to hear certain evidence because she won’t ultimately be ruling on it one way or the other then that is her prerogative. Judges often ask of a case “what is in issue?” By which they mean, what are the areas of dispute that I have to pay close attention to. I’m sure (perhaps better to say “I hope”) in her mind, she is doing something similar here. I have no idea whether she is making the right decision though. In particular, if she is wrong about not needing to consider the Article 10 arguments in the way the defence are arguing then that would be a clear ground for appeal. Unfortunately, the devil is in the detail so unless someone has had time to really get to grips with all the documents I doubt anyone outside of the respective legal teams really knows where this is going.

    What I can confidently say that I do find deeply troubling is Baraitser’s imperative that the parties agree such a condensed schedule for next week. How can she, on the one hand, claim to be making her decisions on who is heard and for how long, on the basis of which evidence she needs to hear to make various rulings, and, on the other hand, suddenly absolve herself of all responsibility when it comes to deciding who is heard next week? Does that make sense at all?

    Opting not to hear closing speeches is particularly annoying. She absolutely knows of the unrivalled public interest that accompanies this case. Closing speeches are some of the most oft quoted parts of a case and they also provide one of the only media friendly overviews of the defence case, which on the basis of examination doesn’t always seem as serious as it does after hearing everything pulled together at the end. I find her to be quite disdainful of the public in not permitting speeches to be heard. A written closing simply isn’t the same and she knows it.

    I wonder, how effective do we think the cross examination has been so far? Craig, I know it is hard, but are you able to comment dispassionately? From your reports, I have not felt that many witnesses have been challenged in any particularly substantive way, in which case 4hrs more of it on one witness might not be the end of the world.

    One final note, as I see I forgot to address the issue of reexamination. In my experience, it isn’t at all unusual for judges to be very strict on reexamination. If you have covered ground during chief, then being told to sit down does happen if you attempt to go back over those issues again. QCs get away with it a bit more. Partly because their rhetorical style tends to be more pleasing on the ear and also because the bench defers to them more readily. But really, the rules on reexamination are very strict. Sometimes one can see a tactical advantage in trying to bend the rules but it is not always possible to sneak this past the judge. I know you say that Summers was interrupted four times. This may have been fair or unfair, I can’t tell without the transcript in front of me (yet another reason why the exclusion of the public from this trial is such a problem) but I thought I should at least leave a note about the issue.

    On the whole, I get a bad impression from your reports of Baraitser’s general approach to the case and Assange, so I tend to fear the worst. I hope we are surprised when the judgment comes.

  • Eric+McCoo

    I suspect David Leigh published the password in order to give his MI6 associate Julian Assange a defence against publishing state secrets. (see above) The Guardian were arguing that only limited information should be released. They did the exact opposite by publishing the password.

    Let’s not forget how deeply connected to The Guardian Assange is. This is the book in question. Written with the entirely ludicrous Luke Harding.

    “At one point the platinum-haired hacker was hiding from the CIA in David Leigh’s London house”.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B008YYZVUI/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

    • giyane

      Eric McKoo

      “MI6 agent Assange”
      That’s a strange assertion unless MI6 regularly do what the CIA do , torture their agents.

      ” Hiding from the CIA “.
      Something like hiding from your wife in her lover’s house?

      These two rather incestuous statements might be accurate in the Le Carre spook world but fact is stranger than fiction.

      However in legal terms it is clear that Assange played the system to publish what was in the public interest while Leigh played it to trap him.

      Oxford’s oars were moving slower than Cambridge’s, but with more power and overall speed. Puffs on cigarette.

  • Twirlip

    “Smith then invited Grothoff to agree that when Wikileaks themselves published the full documents later on 2 September, it was more comprehensible and visible than earlier publications. Grothoff replied it was not more comprehensive, it was the same.”

    Should “comprehensible” be “comprehensive”?

  • Dave

    From the above, one can only conclude from Trump not prosecuting The Guardian is that they are a stooge for western “intelligence”. If Assange is in the dock, so should David Leigh be.

    After the treatment of Corbyn and now this, I am concluding that both our politics and justice in this country are corrupt. This is not accidental; it is wilful. The sooner both are radically changed and American forces expelled from this country, the better.

      • lysias

        Isn’t MI6 also funded by Foreign Office funds?

        Interesting that that Sunday Mail article indicates that the operation considers Galloway a Russian agent. Because he has an RT show? That argument would also apply to Assange — and to Salmond.

        I wonder if whatever Anne Sacoolas was doing in Britain had to do with this operation. Since she is currently supervising a unit of some 100 CIA Russian linguists in CIA headquarters in Virginia, I used to wonder why she would have been stationed at an NSA station in Northern England, but, if it was part of this intel operation against Corbyn as a supposed useful idiot for Russia, it makes a kind of sense. And it makes sense of her hasty and stealthy extraction.

        I have read two books by Spanish Colonel Pedro Banos, whom this operation apparently denied a high post in the Spanish national security establishment. I consider both books excellent.

        Watch out, Craig. Thus operation is probably targeting you too.

  • Geoff Reynolds

    ……….Wherever you go in the outside world and mention America, everybody cringes…..

    The land of milk and honey, you must be joking!!

    Think America and you think of greed and corruption, wars and torture, death and destruction…

    For someone as low as Judge Ratbraiser to represent these inhuman despots is itself a crime against humanity.
    American people want to come out of their comas and start to realise what a monster they live under.

    Forget the stars and stripes and spangled banner and hold your heads in shame for the stain on humanity, endless wars to grab oil, gas and minerals that belong to the people of those nations that you invade on a whim of the greediest bastards on God’ earth.

    If the world selected somewhere to push an enema tube i am sure America would be everyone’s choice.

    ……………….and i think many who live there would echo my sentiment……………..in fact most of them!

    A retrial is necessary using British rules using a panel of unbiased judges not sucking the proverbial tit of the war criminals that are shit scared of facing justice themselves.

  • Mcha Das Bach

    I am – like always – very impressed of the documentation + the way to express that is witnessed in a trial so important – to each journalist and government which takes democracy serious. OVER all those hours, days, and emotional involvement. THANK you!

  • Marmite

    I’m surprised by all those around me who express a real lack of interest in this case. They seem to be in a torpor, having convinced themselves that this is just about one man, who more or less deserves to be on trial for the reason that he managed to evade justice for so long. They don’t really have a concept of what the trial is about, and no clue of the implications. Any sympathy that might have been there was just ingeniously pre-empted by the sex abuse allegations.

    I have to say it, even though it will be immensely unpopular, but there almost seems to be a sick gender politics to this case, and to all the apathy around it.

    If Assange were a woman, there would almost certainly be the ‘damsel in distress’ kind of attitude expressed in the media and the public right now. Well, if he were a woman, perhaps none of this would have ever got this far in the first place. Does anyone know of any born-female whistleblowers who have been put on trial in the US or UK? (I know that female whistleblowers in poorer countries, especially if they are indigenous environmentalists, are often brutally killed by thugs in the employ of polluting, propertarian, cancer-causing corporations, but that is another issue, and an equally disgusting one.) I struggle to think of any female counterparts.

    Why are there not more female whistleblowers? They might in fact fare much better than the men?

    I doubt that the Vandana Shivas and Gretas of the world could ever be framed for non-existent crimes on the pretext of getting them extradited to some American prison. There is enough of an awake public that just would not stomach this. So my question is how much is this Assange tragedy a consequence of his gender?

    • David G

      Reality Winner in the U.S. is a “born-female” person whose actions could be characterized as whistleblowing.

      I think that case is a fiasco on all sides, with no good actors, including Winner. But just in terms of the mechanics of it, she was doing what a conscientious leaker like Manning did, and the government went after her accordingly.

      Winner is currently in Federal prison. So much for the chivalry theory.

    • lysias

      The CIA knows what it’s doing. They knew the sex charges would have the effect of making most people unwilling to take Assange’s side.

        • giyane

          Lysias

          In so far as Craig is a mentor for political engagement, his first lesson is about keeping the back yard tidy. If they want to catch you in your personal life all they will see is order and tidiness.

          Alex Salmond didn’t Bob the lady’s hair in the lift our of lust but out of transparency. The Jury could see that plainly.

          However with Assange his constant game of cat and mouse with the CIA has made his love life look shifty.

          It’s very unfortunate for him that it’s been manipulated that way as it allows Baraitser to feel she can sneer at him.

  • NIGEL PARRY

    From above:

    Smith then noted that Parry wrote in his blog “This is a bad day for David Leigh and the Guardian. I ran the password from David Leigh’s book in an old W/L file…” but did not give the location of the file.

    Actually in the original article — https://web.archive.org/web/20110925132344/http:/nigelparry.com/news/guardian-david-leigh-cablegate.shtml — there are links to two tweets with links to the file’s location. Starts from “Surely it couldn’t be that easy?”

    Thanks for the coverage.

    • mods-cm-org

      Thanks very much for that, Nigel. I’ve included a link to your blog page in the main article, and I’ll prompt Craig about possibly revising the text to reflect your actual wording.

      Regards.

  • Baron

    If his family is to remain in the UK how can he be extradited? Is it not in breach of his human rights? A similar argument was used to keep convicted criminals in the UK, surely he has as much right to family life as a criminal, no?

  • Monster

    The defence team seems to be rather feeble, cowing down to booming Baraitser. Perhaps the defence is being paid to throw the case.
    Well done Craig for fine reporting. You should take care of your notebooks, they will have historic value.

  • writeon

    I wonder too about the defence team’s strategy at times. Like when they allow the prosecution to repeatedly quote from that ghastly book written by Harding and Leig, especially Assange’s alleged statement relating to the ‘deserved’ fate of informants; why don’t they object everytime and just state plainly that Harding made it up as part of his role as ‘storyteller’? Surely the defence should demand that Harding be called as a witness so he can be cross-examined?

    Perhaps the defence is saving its’ powder for the appeal? I wonder if they are deliberately holding back and allowing Baraitser to ‘do things her way’ because they’ve calculated that she’ll make so many procedural mistakes that this’ll further undermine her ruling on appeal.

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