Your Man in the Public Gallery: Assange Hearing Day 20 98

Tuesday has been another day on which the testimony focused on the extreme inhumane conditions in which Julian Assange would be kept imprisoned in the USA if extradited. The prosecution’s continued tactic of extraordinary aggression towards witnesses who are patently well informed played less well, and there were distinct signs that Judge Baraitser was becoming irritated by this approach. The totality of defence witnesses and the sheer extent of mutual corroboration they provided could not simply be dismissed by the prosecution attempting to characterise all of them as uninformed on a particular detail, still less as all acting in bad faith. To portray one witness as weak may appear justified if they can be shaken, but to attack a succession of patently well-qualified witnesses, on no basis but aggression and unreasoning hostility, becomes quickly unconvincing.

The other point which became glaringly anomalous, in fact quite contrary to natural justice, was the US government’s continued reliance on affidavits from US Assistant Attorney Gordon Kromberg and Board of Prisons psychiatrist Dr Alison Leukefeld. The cross-examinations by the US government of the last four defence witnesses have all relied on precisely the same passages from Kromberg and Leukefeld, and every single one of the defence witnesses has said Leukefeld and Kromberg are wrong as to fact. Yet under US/UK extradition agreements the US government witnesses may not be called and cross-examined. When the defence witnesses are attacked so strongly in cross-examination on the points of disagreement with Kromberg and Leukefeld, it becomes glaringly wrong that Kromberg and Leukefeld may not be similarly cross-examined by the defence on the same points.

Similarly as to process, the only point of any intellectual purchase which the US government’s lawyers have hit upon is the limited direct experience of the witnesses of the H unit of the ADX Supermax prison. This casts in a stark light last week’s objection to the defence introducing further witnesses who have precisely that experience, in response to the affidavits of Kromberg and Leukefeld on these specific points, which were submitted on 20 August and 2 September respectively. The prosecution objected to these witnesses as too late, whereas both were submitted within a month of the testimony to which they were responding. The US government and Baraitser having ruled out witnesses on this very specific new point, their then proceeding to attack the existing defence witnesses on their knowledge of precisely the point on which they refused to hear new evidence, leaves a very bad taste indeed.

The first witness of the day was Maureen Baird, former warden (governor in UK terms) of three US prisons including 2014–16 the Metropolitan Correction Centre (MCC) New York, which houses a major concentration of Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) prisoners pre-trial. She had also attended national courses and training programmes on SAMs and met and discussed with fellow warders and others responsible for them elsewhere, including Florence ADX.

Led through her evidence by Edward Fitzgerald QC, Baird confirmed that she anticipated Assange would be subject to SAMs pre-trial, based on the national security argument and on all the documentation submitted by the US Attorney, and post-trial. SAMs meant being confined to a cell 23–24 hours a day with no communication at all with other prisoners. In MCC the one hour a day outside your cell was spent simply in a different but identical empty cell known as the “recreation cell”. She had put in an exercise bike; otherwise it was unequipped. Recreation was always completely alone.

Prisoners were allowed one phone call a month of 30 minutes, or 2 of 15 minutes, to named and vetted family members. These were monitored by the FBI.

Fitzgerald asked about Kromberg’s assertion that mail was “free-flowing”. Baird said that all mail was screened. This delayed mail typically by two to three months, if it got through at all.

Baird said that the SAMs regime was centrally determined and was the same in all locations. It was decided by the attorney general. Neither the prison warden nor the Board of Prisons itself had the power to moderate the SAMs regime. Fitzgerald said the US government had claimed yesterday it could be varied, and some people under SAMs could even have a cellmate. Baird replied “No, that is not my experience at all”.

Fitzgerald quoted Kromberg as stating that a prisoner could appeal to the case manager and unit manager against the conditions of SAMs. Baird replied that those people “could do nothing”. SAMs was “way above their pay grade”. Kromberg’s description was unrealistic, as was his description of judicial review. All internal procedures would have to be exhausted first, which would take many years and go nowhere. She had never seen any case of SAMs being changed. Similarly, when Fitzgerald put to her that SAMs were imposed for only one year at a time and subject to annual review, Baird replied that she had never heard of any case of their not being renewed. They appeared simply to be rolled over by the Attorney General’s office.

Baird said that in addition to herself applying SAMs at the MCC, she went on national training courses on SAMs and met and discussed experiences with those applying SAMs at other locations, including the Florence, Colorado ADX. SAMs had strong and negative consequences on prisoners’ mental and physical health. These included severe depression, anxiety disorder and weight loss. Baird said she agreed with previous witness Sickler that if convicted Assange could very well face spending the rest of his life imprisoned under SAMs at the Florence ADX. She quoted a former warden of that prison describing it as “not built for humanity”.

Fitzgerald took Baird to Kromberg’s description of a multi-phased programme for release from SAMs. Baird said she recognised none of this in practice. SAMs prisoners could not participate in any group programmes or meet other prisoners in any circumstances. What Kromberg was describing was not a programme but a very limited list of potential small extra privileges, such as one extra phone call a month. Phase 3 involved mingling with other prisoners and Baird said she had never seen it and doubted it really applied: “I don’t know how that happens”.

Fitzgerald asked Baird about Dr Leukefeld’s claim that some prisoners enjoy Florence ADX so much they did not want to leave. Baird said this was a reflection of the extreme anxiety disorders that could affect prisoners. They became scared to leave their highly ordered world.

It was interesting to see how the prosecution would claim that Baird was unqualified. It was very difficult to counter the evidence of a prison warder about the inhumanity of the prison regime. The US government hit on a quite extraordinary attack. They claimed that the prison system was generally pleasant as described by Leukefeld and Kromberg, but that the prisons in which Baird had worked had indeed been bad, but only because Baird was a bad warden.

Here are brief extracts from the US Government’s cross-examination of Baird:

Clair Dobbin Are you independent?
Maureen Baird I work for one attorney but also others.
Dobbin You appear on a legal website as a consultant – Allan Ellis of San Francisco.
Baird I do some consultancy, including with Allan but not exclusively.
Dobbin You only work for defendants?
Baird Yes.
Dobbin It says that the firm handles appeals and post-conviction placing.
Baird Yes, I tend to get involved in post-conviction or placing.
Dobbin Do you have any experience in sentencing?
Baird What kind of sentencing?
Dobbin That is what I am asking.
Baird I have testified on prison conditions pre-sentence.

This was a much briefer effort than usual to damage the credentials of the witness. After questions on Baird’s exact prison experience, Clair Dobbins moved on to:

Dobbin Do you know the criteria for SAMs?
Baird Yes.
Dobbin Why do you say it is likely Assange will get SAMs? Kromberg only says it is possible.
Baird Kromberg talks about it a very great deal. It is very plainly on the table.
Dobbin It is speculative. It can only be decided by the Attorney General as reasonably necessary to prevent the disclosure of national security information.
Baird They have made plain they believe Assange to hold further such information.
Dobbin You are not in any position to make any judgement.
Baird It is my opinion he would be judged to meet that criterion, based on their past decisions.
Dobbin How can you say the risk exists he would disclose national security information?
Baird He is charged with espionage. They have said he is a continuing risk.
Dobbin I am suggesting that is highly speculative and you cannot know.
Baird I am judging by what the government have said and the fact they have so much emphasised SAMs. They very definitely fail to say in all this that SAMs will not be applied.

After further discussion on Kromberg’s claims versus Baird’s experience, the US government moved on to the question of the SAMs prisoners under Baird’s care in the MCC.

Dobbin You say they were in solitary confinement. The officers on the unit did not have human contact with the prisoners?
Baird They did not speak to inmates.
Dobbin Why not?
Baird That is not what prison officers do.
Dobbin Why not? You were in charge?
Baird They just open the small viewing slot in the iron door every half hour and look through. Conversation just did not happen.
Dobbin You could encourage that?
Baird I could lead by example. But ordering conversation is not something a prison warden does. I did not have that authority. There are unions. If I instructed the prison officers to socialise with the prisoners, they would reply it is not in their job description.
Dobbin Oh, come on! You could encourage.
Baird On a normal basis, those officers do not talk to inmates.
Dobbin Did you tell your staff to? Wouldn’t the first thing you do be to tell your staff to talk?
Baird No. That’s not how it works.
Dobbin Did you raise your concerns about SAMs with those above you?
Baird No.
Dobbin Did you raise your concerns with judges? (brief discussion of a specific case ensued)
Baird No.
Dobbin Did you raise concerns about the conditions of SAM inmates with judges?
Baird No. They were a very small part of the prison population I was dealing with.
Dobbin So you didn’t encourage staff or raise any concerns?
Baird I tried to be fair and compassionate. I talked to the isolation prisoners myself. The fact that other staff did not engage is not uncommon. I do not recall making any complaints or recommendations.
Dobbin So these conditions did not cause you any concerns at the time. It is only now?
Baird It did cause me concerns.
Dobbin What did you do about your concerns at the time?
Baird I did not think I had any influence. It was way above me. SAMs are decided by the Attorney General and heads of the intelligence agencies.
Dobbin You did not even try.

This was an audacious effort to distract from Baird’s obviously qualified and first-hand evidence of how dreadful and inhuman the regime is, but ultimately a complaint that Baird did not try to modify the terrible system does not really help the government case. In over two hours of cross-examination, Dobbin again and again tried to discredit Baird’s testimony by contrasting it with the evidence of Kromberg and Leukefeld, but this was entirely counter-productive for Dobbin. It served instead to illustrate how very far Kromberg’s and Leukefeld’s assurances were from the description of what really happens from an experienced prison warden.

Baird demolished Dobbin’s insistence on Kromberg’s description of a functioning three-stage programme for removal of SAMs. When it came to Dr Leukefeld’s account of SAMs prisoners being allowed to take part in psychiatric group therapy sessions, Baird involuntarily laughed. She suggested that from where Dr Leukefeld sat “in the central office”, Leukefeld possibly genuinely believed this happened.

The afternoon witness was an attorney, Lindsay Lewis, who represents Abu Hamza, who is held at ADX Florence. The videolink to Lewis had extremely poor sound and from the public gallery I was unable to hear much of her testimony. She said that Hamza, who has both forearms amputated, had been kept in solitary confinement under SAMs in the ADX for almost ten years. His conditions were absolutely inappropriate to his condition. He had no prosthesis sufficient to handle self-care and received no nursing care at all. His bed, toilet and sink were all unadapted and unsuitable to his disability. His other medical conditions including severe diabetes, hypertension and depression were not adequately treated.

Lewis said that the conditions of Hamza’s incarceration directly breached undertakings made by the US government to the UK magistrates’ court and High Court when they made the extradition request. The US had stated his medical needs would be fully assessed, his medical treatment would be adequate, and he was unlikely to be sent to the ADX. None of these had happened.

In cross-examination, Dobbin’s major point was to deny that the assurances given to the British authorities by the US Government at the time of Hamza’s extradition amounted to undertakings. She was also at great pains to emphasise Hamza’s convicted terrorist offences, as though these justified the conditions of his incarceration. But the one thing which struck me most was Lewis’s description of the incident that was used to justify the continued imposition of SAMs on Hamza.

Hamza is allowed to communicate only with two named family members, one of whom is one of his sons. In a letter, Hamza had asked this son to tell his one-year-old grandchild that he loved him. Hamza was charged with an illegal message to a third party (the grandson). This had resulted in extension of the SAMs regime on Hamza, which still continues. In cross-examination, Dobbin was at pains to suggest this “I love you” may have been a coded terrorist message.

The day concluded with a foretaste of excitement to come, as Judge Baraitser agreed to grant witness anonymity to the two UC Global whistleblowers who are to give evidence on UC Global’s spying on Assange in the Ecuadorean Embassy. In making application, Summers gave notice that among the topics to be discussed was the instruction from UC Global’s American clients to consider poisoning or kidnapping Assange. The hidden firearm with filed-off serial numbers discovered in the home of UC Global’s chief executive David Morales, and his relationship to the Head of Security at the Las Vegas Sands complex, were also briefly mooted.

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98 thoughts on “Your Man in the Public Gallery: Assange Hearing Day 20

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  • mr.lobaloba

    People will erect statues of Julian Assange in the future. He’ll go down the history as a hero.

    • Stevie Boy

      Maybe, but that’s no help today. Meanwhile his persecutors will walk free with large financial rewards. Sick, sick, sick.

    • 6033624

      I hope so. The victors write history after all so it may be a very long time before his heroism is publicly acknowledged.

  • Laura Penketh

    It’s difficult to comprehend what Julian Assange is going through and what awaits him if he is extradited. I have nothing but admiration for those who represent and support him.

  • Andrew Mcguiness

    Thanks again, Craig, for reporting and analysis & your weather eye to the implications of testimony.

  • David

    I am truly grateful for your continuing efforts on this Craig. It leaves me with a very bitter taste in the mouth to compare the Guardian’s coverage.

      • 6033624

        I thought the US side would have successfully objected to their testimony, surprised it’s being heard, but then it hasn’t happened yet.

  • nevermind

    I must thank you from the bottom of my heart for the daily exercise you undertake (132 steps more than once) to keep fit when around you the English justice system is grasping at straws to keep afloat.

    ‘A drubbing for Dobbin’ would be an appropriate headline, if there would be any headlines in the MSM.
    Abu Hamza’s barbaric mistreatment makes it perfectly clear what Julian might expect after a long period of torture to release whatever information he might still keep, such as his love for his family and his children.

    I’m not making excuses for Abu Hamza, but humaninterlect should be able to confer humanity, even in prison.
    The awful election, spilling out of America and making a mockery out of a broken country, but is still enthralling the BBC news jockeys here, will result in an ugly violent end. Disallowed votes, votes stuck in the postal system, electronic vote shimmying, and a flurry of furious messages from the outgoing president will turn America into a bonfire.
    Hopefully that will sway minds here against extraditing and prosecuting the publisher and journalist to the world, Julian Assange.

    • Stephen Ambartzakis

      It’s too late, the Democrats have already done that (turned America into a bonfire) as proof;
      Cities burning Mayors
      Ashbury Park John Moor (D)
      Atlanta Keisha Lance Bottoms (D)
      Atlantic City Frank Gilliam (D)
      Boston Martin Walsh (D)
      Chicago Lori Lightfoot (D)
      Columbus Andrew Ginther (D)
      Dallas/Fort Worth Eric Johnson (D)
      Des Moines Frank Crownie (D)
      Denver Michael Hancock (D)
      Detroit Mike Duggan (D)
      D C Muriel Browser (D)
      Houston Sylvester Turner (D)
      Los Angeles Eric Garcettin(D)
      Louisville Greg Fisher (D)
      Memphis Jim Strickland (D)
      Minneapolis Jacob F-rey (D)
      New York City Bill De Blasio (D)
      Phoenix Kate Gallego (D)
      Portland Ted Wheeler (D)
      Sacramento Darrell Steinberg (D)

      • pretzelattack

        off topic and bs besides. not that the democrats are likely to treat assange better, but i suppose there is hope

        • Ken Garoo

          Better treatment from the team of H “We came, we saw, he died” C, who allegedly said “Can’t we just drone this guy?”

      • pretzelattack

        not right now. down 7 points, and a lot of people were put off by his performance in the debate.

  • Simon

    I think we all know that Baraitser will merely discount all this testimony. She will not have the authority to rule that U.S. prisons are inhumane so she has to discount the testimony. The implications for the world order are so massive, and so above her paygrade, the witnesses will simply be ignored.

    • Bayard

      What beats me is the point of this exercise. Justice is not being done, nor is it being seen to be done. It is not a show trial, because almost no-one is being shown it. Anyone who is watching can see it is a sham. Why are they bothering to go through the motions? Who are they trying to kid?

      • Photios

        Justice is being seen to NOT be done.
        It is clearly a lesson for the Plebs.
        The question is: Will the Plebs knuckle down;
        or will they elect a new Tribune?
        Where are the Gracchi when you need one?

        • Johny Conspiranoid

          “Justice is being seen to NOT be done.
          It is clearly a lesson for the Plebs.”

          But the plebs don’t know about it since it’s not on the MSM. So it’s a lesson for the likes of the followers of this blog.

      • pretzelattack

        it is a show results trial. we see the bright eyed young pigs enter the acme sausage factory, never to reappear, but plastic wrapped packages of sausage are loaded into large trucks daily. we, especially journalists, are supposed to draw the appropriate conclusion. and of course the main event will occur in the u.s., i have no idea how well that will be publicized.

  • Linda Chegwidden

    Thank you, once again, Craig Murray, for your timely and faithful rendition of the events endured by Julian in such a hostile court. Your incisive, compassionate and principled support of Assange, enable me to follow what is happening in these times of mainstream media blackout. I deeply appreciate the herculean efforts you have expended on a daily Julian Assange!

  • Susan

    Craig, another interesting point in Augstein’s evidence concerns the ‘nature’ of the password to the internet cache.

    The Freitag article states that the password to the unredacted files was available on the internet. So does this mean that a second password was published on the internet by Domscheit-Berg? Or are they referring to the password published by Leigh & Harding? Regardless, it is quite clear to “those who know the subject” that the password was ‘LIVE’, and not expired, as claimed by the Guardian.

    “The article describes a “leak at Wikileaks”. As a result of the information we received, and the investigation we thereafter conducted, we discovered that an obscure file on the internet containing US State Department documents… was exposed in its unedited form to potentially universal access since, as Freitag reported, “The password required to decrypt the file can also be researched via the internet”. The article pointed out that the separate password was available and could be identified by “those who know the subject”.

    • craig Post author

      I don’t think it meant the password was anywhere but in the book. But you could learn that through the internet.

  • giyane

    Are we allies with this vindictive country and what happened to our last lot of allies?
    Is there still time to put Brexit into reverse?
    If you were describing conditions in a Chinese or Saudi jail, the total disrespect for humanity and the law might be believable, but the US must be immediately subjected to UN sanctions for its utter savagery to human beings and animals.

    What you have written today explains everything about US savagery in Abu Graib

    • Matthew

      “Is there still time to put Brexit into reverse?”

      Sadly not. We left the European Union at the end of January. We’d have to reapply to become members again. 🙁

      • Kim Sanders-Fisher

        Giyane – Potentially yes there is, and we cannot give up the fight as too much is at stake, including the fate of Julian Assange that would have been different under Corbyn. To find out more check out our Discussion Forum: “Elections Aftermath: Was our 2019 Vote & the EU Referendum Rigged?” If we can prove the Covert 2019 Rigged Election was corrupt and the result is exposed as invalid, we could try to appeal to the EU for an extension on condition of a second vote, but time is fast running out.

        I was interested to read about secure drop boxes for Whistleblowers as it I now think it would be worth setting up a secure drop box dedicated to exposing Tory Government leaks on the rigged vote and the relentless massive misappropriation of public funds. Anyone who knows how to do this and can rope in an Investigative Journalist in case evidence is forthcoming, please contact our forum.

        As a former Whistleblower myself Julian’s fate is one of the many things I care passionately about, but I fear that none of our most serious concerns will have a just outcome without removing this Tory Government from office. We cannot complacently continue down the road to Tory Dictatorship which is where we are heading right now. I feel powerless to help Julian in any other way than my efforts to dislodge this corrupt Government. Keep up the good work Craig; sorry to have strayed off topic…

    • Stephen Ambartzakis

      Your admiration for the EU is very strange, especially after seeing the Spanish police go gangbusters on people in Catalonia for simply holding a referendum. Even in Belarus the police have not been that extreme

      • giyane

        Stephen Ambartzakis

        Mrs May finally decides that the handless MI6 agent whose job is to promote USUKIS proxy colonial war with his tongue is an embarrassment because Trump is slagging off Londonistan and she gets him extradicted to the US. The US categorises him under SAMS putting a disabled man into an unadapted cell in solitary confinement. All he would need is a hose pipe to help him use a normal toilet. but nothing is done to help him.

        Julian Assange is neither an agent of the deep state , nor a protestor. He is a publisher and works from an office. He reports on Deep State crimes. He is targeted by a playboy billionaire whose managers are able to get his backside into the White House in a few days time, Zionist theological fanatics. I can see a connection between Mrs May’s ambition for high office and Mr Trump’s ambition for high office.

        But I agree with you that state inhumanity appears to be universal, even though that is a shock to the self-respect of your average human being.

        • np

          Spain cannot function without EU money, which is only dispensed from Frankfurt.

          Spanish economic policy must obey EU rules (effectively imposed by Germany).

          Who’s governing who?

    • Stevie Boy

      Have american jails really been any different from what we hear about now ? They’ve always been designed to break peoples spirit and remove any form of hope. and funnily enough even the Hollywood hype doesn’t exactly disprove this hypothesis.

  • Ian

    It’s the detail which stops you in your tracks as you try to register the casual, bureaucratic nature of extreme depravity and crimes against humanity. Hamza’s simple message to his grandchild, no more than ‘I love you’, is prevented from being relayed on the grounds that it may be a ‘coded terror message’. Well, that takes the biscuit for me. The most basic, simple and universal gesture towards a child, one he will probably never see again, is portrayed as a terrible, subversive danger to humanity.
    Well, that sums up the mentality which has produced this trial, the people who carry out instructions from the US and UK governments. This is where they have ended up, arguing love is terror, and any display of it must be prevented. Cruel, sadistic, punitive, vindictive and the message of torturers – we will take a perverted pleasure in denying the most basic human needs, and we also take pleasure in punishing you in ways we have devised which go beyond any social or civil norms, to extremes that will crush and destroy you from within, slowly and remorselessly. The carefully calibrated refinement of torture from mere physical pain to unendurable and endless mental degradation and destruction. What a legacy.

  • Eoin

    In MCC the one hour a day outside your cell was spent simply in a different but identical empty cell known as the “recreation cell”. She had put in an exercise bike; otherwise it was unequipped. Recreation was always completely alone.”

    So, you spend 23 hrs a day in a 50-ft cell and moved for 1-hr to a different 50-ft cell and hope that the warden has put an exercise bike in it?

    This sounds like something out of a dystopian science fiction, V for Vengeance/

  • jake

    Craig, thanks for the coverage of this case.
    It appears that the BBC’s Danial Sandford finds it all a bit “repetitive” and so hasn’t been turning up
    Unlike some journalists and media outlets Sandford has no difficulty getting accreditation or access to the court proceedings, yet clearly finds it all a bit too tedious.

    Imagine if professionals in any other walk of life acted in that way. I do hope he doesn’t need important but routine surgery anytime soon.

  • John O'Dowd

    If Ukania extradites Julian Assange after all the inhumanity that has been revealed, we will know for sure that we have descended into the abyss.

    You are doing extraordinary humanitarian service, Craig, in providing – at considerable personal cost and distress – these despatches from Hades.

    Thank you

  • Ian

    Some interesting depositions today from journalists like Patrick Cockburn who testify as to the vital nature of the Wikileaks cables in uncovering the truth of what happened in Afghanistan and other places. In other words, an essential part of the journalistic investigations which are central to any belief in freedom of the press and the critical necessity of investigative journalism for citizens to be informed what their governments are doing. An Italian journalist also testified the extremely careful and responsible nature of the redactions Wiki performed, more rigorous than used for reporting on the Mafia, according to her.
    This afternoon witnesses will explain the illegal nature of the bugging of the Ecuador embassy, and the abuse of the grand jury process.

    What else do they need? On every count copious and cross corroborated evidence has been supplied as to the political nature of the trial, the inhumane conditions of indefinite incarceration, amounting to torture, the false allegations of hacking, of releasing names putting people in danger, and the abuse of the grand jury and extradition process.
    I think it’s what they would call an open and shut case, and any fair-minded person would throw it out as devious, dishonest and contrary to all of the conditions of extradition.

    But nobody expects a fair hearing, just the Inquisition.

    • Wikikettle

      Patrick Cockburn and Robert Fisk represent the last few distinguished journalists of their era. Its heartening to see the likes of young Max Blumenthal and Arron Mate’ have platforms to emulate them. I cant see the Indepedent giving Craig a position to join Robert and Patrick, but wouldn’t that be wonderful ?!

    • Ian

      Interesting. The claims made today about the bugging of the Ecuador embassy are that they violated the privacy of the attorney/client relationship of Assange. This means that it is impossible to have a fair trial. The US claims, ahem, ‘the material wasn’t used’, which of course is a worthless statement. But in my naive legal understanding it would seem to place a large explosive under any notion that a fair trial is possible in the US, which is the foundation of the extradition treaty.

      • Ken Kenn

        I know the Americans have a reputation for not ‘doing’ irony but Assange is on Espionage charges and the US has ‘spied’ on a Sovereign Nations Embassy.

        If they are not careful other nations might copy that way of operating.

        Like in an election -say?

  • writeon

    Given the massive, fundamental, structural problems and contradictions in the US case against Assange, which has zigzagged all over the place, changed on an almost daily basis and bitten itself in its own tail repeatedly; finding in favour of the US is going to be very difficult for judge Baraitser, in law. The US side has simply not come anywhere near proving its case because the brief was close to impossible; attempting to prove that his offences were not Political, when they so obviously were Political in nature.

    Baraitser is merely a pawn in this bizarre legal ritual, so the judgement will probably be written for her by others and handed to her to read out in public, but that doesn’t make their legal problems any easier. As the US has spectacularly failed to prove their case under UK law, it’s up the the British state to step in and help them out, but that, in practice, is easier said than done, especially when it goes to appeal, which it certainly will. It’s hard to imagine the Supreme Court a ruling in law which so clearly seems ‘political’ in nature just to please the US and twist the law out of shape to an obscene degree, and this is before we even get to the European Court.

    • ET

      Where would Julian Assange be during the time it takes for all those appeals to happen? How would he fare mentally and physically?

  • Deepgreenpuddock

    I have a sense that what is going on here has a much wider significance than the outward appearances,
    I would like to say I can identify the underlying drivers of the major cultural shifts represented by this trial.
    My best guess is the current ever deepening environmental crisis and the challenge to established order of the US hegemony of the last 70 years is what is driving this travesty.
    In one sense, (please bear with me) the Julian Assange extradition trial is very important as an indicator of the general political moral and cultural, intellectual and economic disintegration of the US.
    Trump turned the dial of anti-intellectualism within US politics up to the max and in effect a large proportion of the US population has adopted the mantra-‘dumb as Trump and proud of it’. i.e The rejection and suppression of a reasoned public discourse.
    Another indicator is the lamentable quality of the political process in the US (and UK) Another example -The so called presidential debate between Trump and Biden, which has been reduced to juvenile scrap/farce by Trump.
    it appear to me that the prevailing culture is part of the break down of US global power, leaving only their overwhelming military supremacy and their retreat into barbarism as a way of shoring up the now crumbling edifice of imperial exceptionalism. The smug certainties of this 100 year recent period in history have dissolved. The US has lost its authority and must now be content with using their residual power in vindictive ways that give the impression of authority but in reality simply highlight the decline. It is like the failing teacher who, surrounded by unruly children resorts to ever more petty authoritarianism, typified by ever more vicious disciplinarianism and victimisation. There are parallels with the collapse of the Soviet Union where dissidence could only be answered by fabricated news, ever more desperate criticism and oppressive social measures.
    There cannot be much doubt anymore that the period of liberal social democracy has ground to an undignified halt Julian looks more and more like a victim of this process.

    • Wikikettle

      Deepgreenpuddock. The shift you paint has a significant bearing in Europe. The post war settlement, division of Germany and its control, now goes to Act Two of the Wall falling. Will US UK France allow Germany to be independent and not just the economic head ? On all counts Germany still does what its told ; Skripals, now Nevalney and Nord Stream. Julian torture won’t stop leaks, as the latest from Anonymous to Grayzone demonstrate.

    • Ian

      Good points, dgp. It still has to sink into a lot of middle and left minds what is happening. The right have been ahead of the game, particularly with their quick grasp of how to weaponise the surveillance tools of social media and the internet. They still haven’t understood it, many of them, even though the evidence is mounting daily. But many still pooh pooh it.

      • Ian

        Kevin G’s excellent summary points out that Ellsberg was acquitted because the authorities burgled his office and targeted his private health information. The parallels mean that same criteria should apply in this case.

    • Johny Conspiranoid

      Perhaps “the rejection and suppression of a reasoned public discourse” has been systematically implemented by the people who own the politicians.

    • `Carlyle+Moulton

      The US is where the Soviet Union was in the early eighties, rotted out with corruption. As soon as a storm puts it under enough stress it will collapse, this may happen tomorrow or in forty years but when it does everyone will be surprised.

  • Nickle101

    The descriptions of how prisoners are treated are simply horrific.

    “You can judge a society by how well it treats its prisoners”. Fyodor Dostoevsky

    The complicity of our MSM completes a perfect reflection of the barbarity our our so-called western ‘civilization’.

  • bevin

    “..Yet under US/UK extradition agreements the US government witnesses may not be called and cross-examined.”

    As predicted at the time of its passage David Blunkett’s Extradition Act had, as its primary purpose, the aim of ingratiating The Establishment with the United States government. As I am sure Sir Keir would be proud to confirm assisting the US in its imperialist wars is a top priority for Blairites as well as Tories.
    Those who call themselves patriots are actually serial practitioners of national self humiliation. Baraitser’s court, controlled by the US government and shameless in accommodating its whims, is an indication of the ruling class’s hatred of the United Kingdom and its people. They are ready to sacrifice the credibility of the legal system, their media apparatus and the fiction of a Parliamentary Opposition because they see themselves as agents of Washington DC. It is no coincidence that the Prime Minister is a dual US/UK citizen while the leader of the Opposition is an openly avowed member of the Trilateral Commission.

  • Geoff Reynolds

    ……………………..Whatever America says and what it does are completely at odds.

    This is an extract from the Daily Mail news made in 2015.

    Prosecutors also submitted a letter from Jeffery Allen, chief of health programmes for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, who said Hamza would be given a full evaluation at a medical centre and assessed by a prosthetic specialist after he was sentenced.

    Mr Allen said there were special cells for those with disabilities and if the prison would not address Hamza’s health needs, he would be moved to a prison medical care facility.

    This is the reality of being held under SAMS in the ADX SUPERMAX DETENTION CENTRE (Nicknamed the Rocky San Quentin)

    Hate preacher Abu Hamza is suing US authorities over his ‘rotting teeth’ and ‘cruel and degrading’ conditions at his Supermax jail.

    Hamza also says his first cell had ‘no natural light’ and measured 8ft by 16ft, with the lack of a suitable disabled toilet leaving him ‘often soiling his clothes’. He claims his arm stumps would bleed while turning on the taps.

    He also says one time his toenails were left unclipped for 14 months, causing him ‘severe pain and difficulty walking’.

    The cleric revealed he underwent a hunger strike for at least 10 days in protest of his treatment at the prison, where inmates are kept in ‘cage-like’ cells for as many as 23 hours a day and banned from contact with others.

    If this is what the Yanks do to a disabled person imagine what they have in store for Julian Assange for the serious crime of exposing American War Crimes?

  • Chris+Leeds

    Dobbin: What did you do about your concerns at the time?
    Baird: I did not think I had any influence. It was way above me. SAMs are decided by the Attorney General and heads of the intelligence agencies.
    Dobbin: You did not even try.

    Yet, there was Baird before her very eyes, trying.

    • giyane

      Chris + Leeds

      Yes, Dobbin ‘s question about trying to change the system for prisoners was a reminder of how totally annihilated the British had left their Scottish, Irish and Welsh neighbours so that to this day the only thing Mrs May could think of doing with her Unionist allies was buying time for her parliament before Johnson burnt the Good Friday agreement, the ashes scattered in the Irish Sea today by parliament.

      In the last few days I have listened to a rabbi in Manchester delivering a prayer for the day on Radio 4 because of Yom Kippur. His idea of Unity was the same as Trump’s weird idea for the Middle East, a unity led by Israel, of USUKIS fame, not a unity that the Middle East would recognise as a unity at all.

      Here is the US empire which has spent 40 years trashing the Middle East like Britain trashed its neighbours. so that bthey could all march forward in unity as the United Kingdon and all that that entails. This is the foundation stone of their Hegemony, not the signs of imminent failure of their empire, I’m sorry to say.

      And that is why Julian Assange is in jail, because the US sees Middle Eastern Unity under the dominance of Israel as a cornerstone of their westward reach, their eastward reach going directly to East Asia by sea.
      Wise men in the deep state of the US have long treasured this evil goal of telling the Muslims what to do/
      Julian is a thorn in their little toe which they intend to remove, before it starts to infect the rest of toe and becomes angry.

      It’s little consolation to Julian that neither God, nor the vast majority of ordinary Muslims have the slightest intention of ever submitting to any form of subservience to zionist hegemony. But it is absolutely true that he,
      like Ms Baird the Warden have tried to dent USUKIS tyranny, while political Islam, the Saudis, Erdogan and Al Qaida have all been sucking Ozymandias’ giant male member to try and squeeze a little bit of power from it.

      The Qur’an however is absolutely clear by saying that if the Zionists ever do come to power, which is what this trial is trying to achieve, they will never give islam a tiny dot on a datestone of that power. To say that Julian has resisted US hegemony a million times more than political Islam is a dire indictment of the intellectual failings of modern Islam. But there again most political Muslims have been rendition torture brainwashed by the thoroughly evil USUKIS empire.

  • David Otness

    Thank you again. And again. Not only for this exceptional moment, yes, of course this moment, but indeed for your life’s work and its painful sacrifices which you have so humbly undertaken with such intrepidity, but also diligently shared unselfishly out of the true goodness of your heart with those of us who take comfort for your having done so.
    All the while knowing this is history, and significantly influential for further decades’ history, unfolding before our hearts and minds in these most epic moments of uncertainty, with civilization’s future hanging in the balance.
    No less so of import than the latter years of the 1930s on the eve of World War II. Every bit of it selfsame marked and fraught with a sense of impending tragic peril.
    You give us hope. You give us awareness. We desperately need both to weather these crises. So I’ll presume to speak for all here: Thank you most sincerely, and best of regards always. May peace and justice prevail, and honor and courage such as yours be ours too. And truth be both its bulwark and standard always.

  • writeon

    We’re living in… ‘interesting times’, unfortunately. Time seems to have a way of ‘undoing things’ and that includes countries and even empire. Time is, temporary. What I think we’re witnessing, and this is illustrated in the martyrdom of Julian Assange for have the courage to tell the truth in a time of lies and liars… is the ending of era of liberal or classic bourgeois ‘democracy’ in the West and other places too.

    This is accompanied by a kind of ‘neo-fuedal’ economic order where the gap between the aristocracy and the growing numbers of peasants is growing wider and wider, as the fruits of the economy are concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. Neo-fuedalism doesn’t leave much room for the traditional tenets of bourgeois democracy. They increasingly seem both ‘quaint’ and a barrier to even greater concentration of power and wealth in the hands of the ruling elite who inhabit what increasingly looks like parallel world, a virtual Versailles.

    As perpetual wars are now integrated into the Anglo-American empires dna, wars over trade and resources, disguised as something noble and humanitarian, crusades for freedom and human rights; tell the truth and being a critic of this giant edifice of lies and propaganda, has become tantamount to treason and aiding the enemy. Clearly the destruction of Julian Assange as an example to all journalists, editors and publicists, had worked very effectively, hence their cowardly turning away from the showtrial and abandonment of virtually every moral, political and journalistic principle. They are, the journalist priesthood, complicit in all of this and specifically in the state’s decision to destroy Julian Assange. It’s difficult to find words to describe the lack of support for Assange from other journalists working within the mainstream. The uniformity of inaction is really frightening and deeply disturbing and totalitarian in character.

    In the kind of economic and social order that’s emerging, the neo-fuedal, there really isn’t much room for liberals, truth, dissent, justice, the rule of law anymore.

    • Mighty Drunken

      From my meagre understanding of history it seems a common pattern. A “revolution” brings more justice and equality to the masses, which slowly becomes eroded. While those in power gain riches and more power. The default state is that the majority are treated like shit. Eventually the masses become pissed off enough to face off against the repression and powers of the state and revolt.

      I worry that technology will break the cycle and give the powerful more of an upper hand.

  • 6033624

    Were this a novel it would be written off as too far fetched, no one could suspend disbelief far enough to read it. It’s so terribly sad that this is actually TRUE.

    • Allan Howard

      I thought I knew just about everything there is to know about Julian’s trip to Sweden etc, but I hadn’t heard this one before (from an article I happened to come across yesterday):

      However, only one day after the first woman was questioned, the second woman made her own statement and reported that Assange had slept with her without protection and against her will. According to Swedish law, this would indeed amount to rape. However, Mr. Melzer highlights the contradictions in the statement. Let us also look at the chronology: curiously, the Swedish media reported a double rape before this second woman made her statement.


      I am of course referring to the bit about the Swedish media reporting a double rape before the second woman made her statement. I forget the name of the (Swedish) newspaper that first broke the story, but assuming it was this newspaper that referred to a double rape, then surely they – the editor – should be made to explain how that is possible given that the second woman hadn’t yet made a complaint or a statement, as such.

      • writeon

        That’s just, simply, the way the Swedish tabloid press works! One doesn’t expect accuracy from the Sun, does one? They basically ‘make it up’ to fit the story they want to tell. “Truth” is never allowed to get in the way of a “good”, lurid, sexy, story. People in the UK and elsewhere, especially liberals and progressives, have a completely distorted view of Sweden. The Sweden they think they knew, but really didn’t, vanished years ago, along with Oluf Palme, and of course there’s no link!

          • writeon

            It appears the story was… ‘fed’ to the media by people inside the police, the state security police that is, who were keeping a close eye on Assange from the moment he entered Sweden. Leaking to the media in a case like this is illegal in Sweden, yet there’s tellingly been no real investigation about exactly how this happened.

          • Deb O'Nair

            “‘fed’ to the media by people inside the police”

            That would most likely be people working closely with the CIA.

  • Carolyn Zaremba

    As usual, I thank you, Craig, for your lucid and detailed accounts from inside the courtroom. I continue to support you financially, as well. We, the public, owe you a debt for your reporting on the show trial going on in that courtroom.

  • Allan Howard

    Now I haven’t dpne an exhaustive search by any means, and I have no doubt that it’s generally true that the MSM haven’t covered the extradtion hearing, but a few days ago I did a search on the Mail’s website re ‘julian assange’, and was more than a little surprised to find that there were quite a few articles on there directly related to the hearing at the Old Bailey. I didn’t read them, and I didn’t think to count them up, but there were definitely about nine or ten articles.

    Anyway, I just did another search on there and, as such, counted around sixteen articles covering events on specific days. One article, for example was headlined ‘Company bugged Julian Assange in toilet at Ecuadorian embassy at request of ‘friends in America’ who plotted to kidnap or poison Wikileaks founder, extradition hearing is told’, and another was headlined ‘WikiLeaks’ Assange was careful to protect informants, court hears’, and another headlined ‘US informants not harmed by leaked documents, Assange extradition hearing told’.

    What I was actually looking for a few days ago were articles, so-called, that set out to demonise and dehumanise Julian, and, as it transpired, one such black propaganda piece had been published just the day before. Here’s the headline to the piece, which contains TWO falsehoods (repeated endlessly by the MSM here and in the US and in numerous countries around the world) in the second line AND in the space of five words:

    Blowing the whistle on the Wiki-creep: Julian Assange fled rape charges, groped women and leered at teenage girls – yet will try to beat extradition. Before you judge the morality of WikiLeaks, read this devastating expose first

    There have of course been numerous such ‘articles’ during the course of the past ten years or so, and when Tory MP Alan Duncan described Julian as a ‘miserable little worm’ a couple of years ago, it was of course widely reported by the MSM, as it was concocted and designed to do. Anyway, here’s a link to the Mail’s hit-piece a few days ago:

    NB And whilst I have little doubt that the above piece was also in the hard copy newspaper itself, I can’t help but wonder if the articles reporting on the events of specific days WERE (or if Peter Hitchen’s article a couple of weeks ago was). I don’t suppose there’s anyone that reads Craig’s blog that reads the actual newspaper and, as such, can verify whether they were or they weren’t?!

  • Mary

    It is now incredible to think that our American and British grandfathers fought together in WW2 to fight fascism.

  • Allan Howard

    I just did a search on the Sun’s website and they have just three articles covering the extradition hearing. But I also came across the following article from last last February with the following headline ‘Julian Assange accuses Guardian of putting lives at risk by leaking classified files as he fights extradition to US’ in which it says the following:

    Prosecutors claim he knowingly put hundreds of sources around the world at risk of torture and death by publishing unredacted documents containing names or other identifying details.

    Said prosecutors were lying through their teeth of course, and just reiterating what they know the MSM had repeated on numerous occasions….. oh, but yes, that’s just what you WOULD do of course, isn’t it, so as to give your ‘enemies’ – ie the war-mongering PTB and their MSM propaganda machine – the opportunity to condemn you and wikileaks!

    But this is the bit I was wondering about:

    A spokesman for The Guardian said: “It is entirely wrong to say The Guardian’s 2011 WikiLeaks book led to the publication of unredacted US government files.

    “The book contained a password which the authors had been told by Julian Assange was temporary and would expire and be deleted in a matter of hours.

    “The book also contained no details about the whereabouts of the files.”

    Has Julian/wikileaks ever directly responded to this claim by the Guardian?

    NB And the Express hasn’t covered the hearing at all, except for one article headlined ‘Wikileaks founder Julian Assange faces 18 new charges’, and the BBC News website has practically nothing at all in relation to the hearing, and I assume the same goes for their TV news coverage (which I very rarely watch any more on account of their conspiring in the demonisation and character assassination of Jeremy Corbyn).

    • Deb O'Nair

      “The book contained a password which the authors had been told by Julian Assange was temporary and would expire and be deleted in a matter of hours”

      It is possible to check the expiration date of an encryption key that supports such a feature so that makes little sense. Seems like they are just pinning the blame on Assange for their own recklessness.

    • Allan Howard

      And apart from three or four articles – one of which was about Julian’s ‘outburst’ – the Guardian appears to have completely blanked the hearing.

    • Mighty Drunken

      “The book contained a password which the authors had been told by Julian Assange was temporary and would expire and be deleted in a matter of hours.”

      This is just rubbish. How does a password delete itself? Will the book burst into flames? A file is static, it doesn’t change.

      • bj

        Your last sentence is of course incorrect.
        Files can in principle be changed, shortened, expanded, deleted, renamed, be overwritten, be overwritten while retaining the exact length. (Some of these operations depend on the ‘permissions’ the user trying to perform said operation has.)

        The only way to verify that a file has remained unchanged, is to check its size in bytes, together with a ‘hash’ (a checksum) of its contents-in-bytes (the latter put that way to make clear that I don’t mean it includes a plaintext ‘view’ of its contents, just an inspection of all its consecutive bytes).
        Check out Wikipedia (may be consulted in matters of science) on for instance ‘md5sum’.

        The “it was temporary” line is an excuse dragged in by the hairs.

        • squirrel

          right but if an encrypted cache of material is published but the not the key, how can the key be ‘temporary’? One could change the encrypted files buy anyone could have copied the old version

          • bj

            Like I said, the “it was temporary” line is an excuse dragged in by the hairs.
            But the average judge can easily be fooled.
            After all “Those who can’t do, teach, and those that can’t teach go into law.”

      • Allan Howard

        You’ve obviously never watched Mission Impossible MD!

        The obvious thing just occured to me a few minutes ago – ie why would anyone think to include a password in their book that, according to them and the Guardian, had expired and long been defunct as such (as of by the time the book was due for publication).

        • Allan Howard

          Afterthought: Apart from the fact that I can’t think of any possible reason why the Guardian and the authors of the book would think to include the password in their book that – or so they claim – Julian had told them was going to expire in a few hours, SURELY they would have said as much in the book.

          NB I thought I would just quickly check out the book on amazon and read some of the reviews, and in the process came across a book entitled In Defence of Julian Assange by Tariq Ali and a host of contributors, including Craig and John Pilger and Noam Chomsky, Patrick Cockburn, Daniel Ellsberg and Geoffrey Robertson, to name but a few:

  • Sean Lamb

    I have had a look through some of the skeleton arguments on

    And I feel more confident Assange will avoid extradition if not in this court, then in the appeal court. Most of the witnesses only go to very small selected areas of the defense’s arguments, so it doesn’t matter how mean James Lewis et al are to them.

    The key arguments in this case are in the legal briefs, not in the cut and thrust of the witness stand.

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