Your Man in the Public Gallery: Assange Hearing Day 21 126


I really do not know how to report Wednesday’s events. Stunning evidence, of extreme quality and interest, was banged out in precis by the lawyers as unnoticed as bags of frozen chips coming off a production line.

The court that had listened to Clair Dobbin spend four hours cross-examining Carey Shenkman on individual phrases of first instance court decisions in tangentially relevant cases, spent four minutes as Noam Chomsky’s brilliant exegesis of the political import of this extradition case was rapidly fired into the court record, without examination, question or placing into the context of the legal arguments about political extradition.

Twenty minutes sufficed for the reading of the “gist” of the astonishing testimony of two witnesses, their identity protected as their lives may be in danger, who stated that the CIA, operating through Sheldon Adelson, planned to kidnap or poison Assange, bugged not only him but his lawyers, and burgled the offices of his Spanish lawyers Baltazar Garzon. This evidence went unchallenged and untested.

The rich and detailed evidence of Patrick Cockburn on Iraq and of Andy Worthington on Afghanistan was, in each case, well worthy of a full day of exposition. I should love at least to have seen both of them in the witness box explaining what to them were the salient points, and adding their personal insights. Instead we got perhaps a sixth of their words read rapidly into the court record. There was much more.

I have noted before, and I hope you have marked my disapproval, that some of the evidence is being edited to remove elements which the US government wish to challenge, and then entered into the court record as uncontested, with just a “gist” read out in court. The witness then does not appear in person. This reduces the process from one of evidence testing in public view to something very different. Wednesday confirmed the acceptance that this “Hearing” is now devolved to an entirely paper exercise. It is in fact no longer a “hearing” at all. You cannot hear a judge reading. Perhaps in future it should be termed not a hearing but an “occasional rustling”, or a “keyboard tapping”. It is an acknowledged, indeed embraced, legal trend in the UK that courts are increasingly paper exercises, as noted by the Supreme Court.

In the past, the general practice was that all the argument and evidence was placed before the court orally, and documents were read out, Lady Hale said.
She added: “The modern practice is quite different. Much more of the argument and evidence is reduced into writing before the hearing takes place. Often, documents are not read out.
“It is difficult, if not impossible, in many cases, especially complicated civil cases, to know what is going on unless you have access to the written material.”

At least twice in the current case, Judge Baraitser has mentioned that the defence gave her three hundred pages of opening argument, and has done so in the context of doubting the need for all this evidence, or at least for lengthy closing arguments which take account of the evidence. She was highly resistant to any exposition by witnesses of their evidence before cross-examination, arguing that their evidence was already in their statements so they did not need to say it. She eventually agreed on a strict limit of just half an hour for witness “orientation”.

However much Lady Hale thinks she is helping by setting down a principle that the documentation must be available, having Patrick Cockburn’s statement online somewhere will never have the impact of him standing in the witness box and expounding on it. What happened on Wednesday was that the whole hearing was collapsed, with both defence and prosecution lawyers hurling hundreds of pages of witness statement at Baraitser’s head, saying: “You look at this. We can get finished tomorrow morning and all have a long weekend to prepare our next cases.”

I was so disappointed by the way the case petered out before my eyes, that the adrenaline which has carried me through must have dried up. Returning to my room at lunchtime for a brief doze, when I tried to get up for the afternoon session I was overcome with dizziness. I eventually managed to walk to the court, despite the world having decided to present itself at a variety of sharp and unusual angles, and everything appearing to be under glaring orange sodium light. The Old Bailey staff – who I should say have been really friendly and helpful to me throughout – very kindly took me up in a lift and through the advocate’s robing room to the public gallery.

I am happy to say that after court two pints of Guinness and a cheese and ham toastie had a substantial restorative effect. Those who have followed these reports will understand how frustrating it was to be deprived of James Lewis asking Noam Chomsky how he can venture an opinion on whether this extradition is politically motivated when he is only a Professor of Linguistics, or whether he has ever published any peer-reviewed articles. To attempt to encapsulate the wealth of information skipped through yesterday is not the work of an evening.

What I shall do for now is give you the eloquent and brief statement by Noam Chomsky on the political nature of Julian Assange’s actions:

I will also give you the breathtaking testimony of “Witness 2”:

A friend last night gave me the cold comfort that I should not worry about the hurried close of these proceedings reducing the public gaze on the evidence and the arguments (and I think there were altogether nine witness statements yesterday), because that public gaze had been extremely limited, as indeed I have been continually explaining. In other words, it makes no difference. I follow that argument, but it goes against some fundamental beliefs and motivations I have about bearing witness, which I shall need to develop further in my own mind.

In the next few days I will try to bring you a synthesis and analysis of all that passed on Wednesday. Now I need to go to court and see the last few dribbles of this case, and exchange last glances of friendship with Julian for some months.

 
 
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126 thoughts on “Your Man in the Public Gallery: Assange Hearing Day 21

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  • ET

    Awake awake
    hear the cry
    truth did make
    the powerful sly
    deface reality
    contrive a lie
    remorseless legality
    loosed perfidiously
    lofted from on high
    upon Julian.
     
    arraigned is liberty
    to speak,illuminate
    state history
    not subjugate
    truth to bear
    a semblance of integrity
    shine light’s glare
    on sovereign depravity
    rivet the stare
    of humanity.
     
    opposed, puissant malfeasance
    deliberated distortion
    indignity and malice
    repugnant contortion
    Iustitia, blinded
    in mockery of law
    truth derided.
    Awake, Awake
    hear the cry
    for all our sake.

    A possibly and probably naive attempt at poetry. But, hey, why not?

  • Arioch

    It looks weird that “Witness 2” is going under pseudonimity.
    He gives so many details on his work for Mr. Morales that there is not a tiniest chance his name is not known to “bad boys”.
    At the same time it makes sure we the public would not know his name.

    Concealing this name does not remove any risk for him and his family, but increases instead – would something happen to him there will be zero chance at public outcry, so costs of harming him were decreased and probability increased, because of using pseudonym.

    Strange decision.

    • Leo

      On the one hand, I had the same thoughts.
      Even if he quit his job since. Some “bad guys” may want to get at him.

      On the other hand, I have no doubt that the “strange” decision is the virtuous one.

    • Susan

      Arioch,
      Not sure it makes much difference (pseudonym, or not). Seth Rich was anonymous, until he was murdered. But even when we knew his name, there was no “public outcry”.

    • mr.lobaloba

      Arioch,

      I agree with you. The witness will be safer if he is known to the public. The bad guys probably already know who he is.

    • Carol+McKenzie

      Based on my own experience, the intelligence agencies need not show their hand if they wanted to end the life of an adversary. They just target you for covert and overt surveillance by all means possible, electronic and in your community using collateral intrusion by local police and undercover agents as this happened to me. Forced suicide is all it takes. How do they do this? By constantly putting you under surveillance and gaslighting you or stonewalling any complaint you dare make. The psychological impact of unlawful surveillance, if not remedied, can lead one to suicidal ideations. It happened to me and its happened to others before me who sadly took their own lives and not an intelligence agency in sight. That’s how they get away with it.

  • John Gilberts

    Latest from the other ‘political’ US extradition case and collaborating vassal authorities, in this case Meng Wanzhou and Canada. Unfortunately the Canadian media seem to have decided to boycott the Assange case. We rely on Craig Murray and other alternative journalists, to whom we are most grateful and impressed.

    Meng Wanzhou’s Lawyers Claim US Tried to ‘Trick’ Judge in Extradition Case

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/meng-wanzhou-record-trick-judge-1.5745056

    “Meng’s lawyers claim Canadian authorities gave information about her laptop, phones and tablet to US authorities in what amounted to a covert criminal investigation. A hearing is set for February on those allegations, along with allegations that Meng is being used as a bargaining chip by US President Donald Trump in a trade war with China…”

  • anonpoet

    Thank you for your work. As Randy Credico said “God’s work”
    A minor money contribution next week.
    ***************************************************

    SOON
     
    A bell rings
    Every person on this planet
    Awake or asleep
    Hears
    Understands
    Cruelty and violence
    Are no longer possible
    Understands
    This knowledge is now universal
    Fear disappears

     
    anonpoet
    National Poetry Day 2020

  • Aidworker1

    Craig.

    Noam Chomksy’s statement was incredible.

    I loved Murder in Samarkand and Sikunder so please please, as so many people have said, write a book about this trial.

  • Jo

    One wonders what Ecuadoran Embassy staff thought of the intrusive spying…what does their government think….are they embaressed…how were they bought off….how was conversation in the rooms to be picked up by the lazer….operated by whom in which adjacent building? Is it illegal in UK for external spy agencies to operate in this way? Do we know who they were? Can action be taken against them…..eg send Ecuadoran diplomats home shut the enbassy as failing to comply with legal conventions….what does UN say…..

    • Johny Conspiranoid

      A laser is bounced off the window and the reflected signal is recorded. This will contain the vibrations of the sound in the room. I wonder how double glazing affects this.

  • Fwl

    Thank you for your continued reporting. Julian Assange (and those who want to know what is going on) have a true friend in Craig Murray.

    Great to read the Noam Chomsky statement, which appears a statement of fact rather than an expert’s report – he is saying this is how it is. It’s a fundamental fact not a matter of expert opinion. Interested to see his statement at para 12 that what is often classified as secret is to hide it from the governed not from foreign governments. This was also the view of JFK’s Head of Special Ops.

    • Iain Stewart

      Edinburgh University having famously turned Hume down as professor of philosophy in favour of a long since forgotten Calvinist.

    • lysias

      Einstein’s travel diaries reveal him to have been an anti-Chinese racist. So should the bust of him at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, which I used constantly to see during the some nine years I worked there, be removed? Who is exempt from this nonsense?

    • Brianfujisan

      It was A great Speech Squonk..I watched it all Live.. all the speeches were good too ..Stay safe.

  • Greum Maol Stevenson

    Mr Murray seemed upset when I wrote on my blog that his Russian email server blocks Protonmail. I just discovered that it also blocks Warpmail, which makes me wonder if it only allows non-secure emails. I had been trying to email him this open letter: https://stevenson.scot/its-not-all-about-you-open-letter-to-craig-murray

    [ Mod: If you wish to contact Craig directly with any issue please use the Contact link on this blog https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/contact/ . Also a UK email address for Craig is at the end of every article – [email protected]

    Also note that “Mr Murray” commented on this subject in twitter threads at https://twitter.com/CraigMurrayOrg/status/1309892786754334723 and https://twitter.com/CraigMurrayOrg/status/1309885894778916864 ]

    • Greum Maol Stevenson

      Mod: thanks for the alternative email address. I wonder why it’s not the one provided as the contact address on the website, instead of the one that puts everyone who emails Mr. Murray on a Russian list.

      You put “Mr Murray” in quotes. Is that not his name? Or do you mean he prefers a gender-neutral title? If the latter, let me know and I’ll use it in future.

      Also note that the open letter I wrote is in response to the comments he made on Twitter.


      [ Mod: “Mr Murray” was in quotes simply because it quoted the term you used. Perhaps Craig thinks that having a Russian email address (as well as non Russian addresses) annoys GCHQ but I have no idea. You can ask him via the Contact link or otherwise. Finally, if you have read the twitter threads. why not simply contact him by a method known to work instead of being determined to use ones that don’t? The contact link promotes the contact form as the primary mechanism of contacting Craig on blog issues. Please make use of this for further discussion on this subject. ]

      • glenn_uk

        “Alternative email address” – are you having some sort of comprehension problems? No offence if you are, but the btinernet email is clear for all to see – apart from yourself, perhaps – at the bottom of each page.

        No offence again, but WTH are you on about with this “gender neutral” BS? “Mr Murray” is kind of clear for everyone except those, again with all due respect, with comprehension difficulties.

        I took a _brief_ look at this “open letter of yours. Besides being a very petty personal attack on CM, it’s rather obvious that you think it’s all about _you_. Let us know when you’ve done anything of significance, or even slightly laudable, so readers can judge why you should think this ought to be the case.

        • Yum Squiddy

          I also took a quick look at the open letter and came away with the same impression;“Mr Stevenson” does indeed seem to think that this is all about him.

        • Deb O'Nair

          Greum Maol Stevenson appears to be clumsily attempting a low-level smear job, especially banging on about the “Russian email server”. Perhaps trying to suggest that Craig is some kind of enemy of freedom of speech, democracy and the rule of law.

      • Sergey

        “the one that puts everyone who emails Mr. Murray on a Russian list”

        Mail.ru is a large Russian web company, kinda like Yahoo! in its better days. Most Russian citizens and many people from neighboring countries have email accounts at Mail.ru or Yandex.ru (sometimes at both). There were 80 million active users of Mail.ru mail accounts 9 years ago. Nowadays it is probably over 100 million. It is lunacy to suggest that everyone who emails one of these accounts is put on some kind of “Russian list”.

        At the same time, it is quite likely that everyone who uses Protonmail gets put on NSA’s list. Firstly, because there are not that many users of Protonmail, so it’s relatively easy to track them. Secondly, because why would anyone use a Protonmail account in the first place? Must be either a privacy activist or someone who wants to hide something, therefore, of interest to NSA.

        If I were a Western dissident, I would never use Protonmail as it is impossible to verify that its employees are not working for CIA/NSA. “Swiss banking privacy” was drummed up for decades until the Swiss banks were forced to give all client information to the U.S. under the pretext of “fighting tax evasion and corruption”. I would use VK.com for quick communication with like-minded people (VK.com is based in Russia, and Russia is not part of the Western intelligence community, so as long as I’m not plotting anything against Russia, VK.com is good enough) and PGP for truly secure emails that neither NSA nor Russia nor even aliens can possibly read (see this article on how to use PGP with macOS Mail: https://www.applegazette.com/mac/using-pgp-email-encryption-on-macos/ ).

    • N_

      To go off on a tangent: .com is a US domain. Users outside the US may register .com subdomains, but .com itself, and therefore access to all of its subdomains, is under US jurisdiction.

    • Tatyana

      Mike Cardwell discovered a vulnerability in the ProtonMail service that allowed executing JavaScript codes on user’s computer thus gaining open access to his email account
      https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7850953

      ProtonMail service is blocked in Russia in the beginning of the year, January 29, 2020, by Russian Communications Supervising authority.

      Secure e-mails 🙂 ha ha

      • Tatyana

        A friend of mine who lives in the US buys on Amazon, accessing it from her home static IP. During her visit to Russia, she was unable to log in her account because she did not understand how to go through the security two-factor authentication.

        She interpreted that as Amazon is blocking access from Russia, because you know, Russia is eeeevil.

        I could not dissuade her. Even the fact that I live in Russia and am a seller on Amazon was not an argument for her.
        She’d rather believe in conspiracy theories than admit that she’s technically dumb.

        • Tatyana

          and, on top of that, Greum Maol Stevenson might stop saying “your Russian server is blocking Protonmail” to Mr. Murray, a simple user. It’s better to address this claim to Mr. Alisher Usmanov, the owner of Mail.ru corporation. Mr. Usmanov is one of those extra-rich British citizens, just to remind you 🙂 🙂 🙂 He is in top 20, together with Fridman and Abramovich.

    • craig Post author

      Greum,

      I should be more than happy to reply to your open letter but your blog doesn’t seem to allow comments?

  • Ethan Allen

    Good SIR Craig Murray,

    The literal stench of chicanery, ethical depravity, and moral debauchery that must pervade this gallery in which you must be present to witness, not only the serial abuse of Julian Assange, but the disrespect and denigration of your peers and friends, is, by intentional deed, the product of the very corruption promulgated by those who Noam Chomsky so beautifully identified in his testament.

    Thank you, and give Julian a “glance” for those of us who support him unseen.

    As Usual,
    EA

    • Johny Conspiranoid

      Chicanery, ethical depravity, and moral debauchery do not have a literal stench.

  • Billy Field

    Big Cheers from Australia Craig…absolutely wonderful & indispensable reporting. Thankyou for this very hard & brilliantly done work..in fact heroic…and I think so straight & correct in your views also!

  • Joh Cofy

    :Craig can you verify ABC report?
    Judge Vanessa Baraitser told London’s Old Bailey Court at the conclusion of hearings from witnesses in the case that she would deliver her verdict on January 4..
    :Where was Assange tried?
    Thanks again Jon

  • Andrew Mcguiness

    Now that the hearing is over, we must trawl through all the statements (Taraq Haddad has them all online) and post salient bits, with comments.

  • R.A.

    Craig, thank you so much for printing Chomsky’s written testimony and the testimony about the Spanish security shenanigans. Both documents read very powerfully. Would it be possible for you to post more of the written testimony from this trial? It would be a good supplement to your excellent reporting from the courtroom.

  • David Otness

    Whew! Such a load on the psyche. Such a long and trying road for Julian. Gads! What strength of principle. Heroes still walk the Earth, tortuously confined though some are. To think of all of the pomp and haughtiness of the Brits of the upper crust like Starmer, Boris,’Toothy’ Branson and yes, Baraitser and Arbuthnot too.
    In this single case, all of that stiff upper lip renown and uptight is brought crashing down to show the entire construct is but a facade that covers up (barely) the truth of its base genetic memory sadism and gutter-wallowing. The old “Rum, Sodomy and the Lash!” that fancy robes and wigs, the Rolls Royces and Bentleys that speed away from the scandalous scene of the actual crime, the vicious persecution of a man who brought truth to the world. A sick world at that. They’ve no shame. They are drunk on maintaining their dark cancerous places in an authoritarian society of inbred poltroons. And where is Sir Paul? Where is Ringo? You know goddamned well John and perhaps George would be standing up for Julian. Sad days indeed.

    • Sarge

      Where are all those sensible voices of authority who claim to be appalled by Trump. The Baron Clarkes of Nottingham, the Lord Braggs, the Kettles, Freedlands and Toynbees? The nation’s moral conscience.

      • On the train

        Yes exactly…where are they. And what is to be made of their silence.? I find it eerie.. what does it mean?

  • Robert

    There’s a post by Jo above, linking to:
    https://consortiumnews.com/2020/09/28/letter-from-london-the-surreal-us-case-against-assange/
    It needs more publicity. The whole article needs to be read, but here’s a quote from it:

    ““… the crimes which Assange exposed were clearly defined as war crimes by the Nuremberg Tribunal, whose decisions are universally accepted as forming the bedrock of international war crimes law.
    The Nuremberg Tribunal moreover made it clear that there is not only a positive duty to refuse to participate in such crimes, even when ordered to do so, but that no sanctions should ever been imposed for exposing such crimes when they occur.
    In other words, it is Assange and his sources, first and foremost Chelsea Manning, who are the defenders of international law, including the Nuremberg Principles, and including in the case which is currently underway, whilst it is those who persecute them, including by bringing the current case against Assange, who are international law’s violators.
    This is the single most important fact about this case, and it explains everything about it.”

  • Eoin

    Thank you Craig.

    I have just finished reading the witness statement of the first UGC employee. Just wow!

    I will make a point of tracking down the second one, this is better than John Le Carre. How sinister they Americans wanted photographs of the devices [typically mobile phones] used by their targets, though having read Edward Snowden’s book, it’s not surprising.

  • Joh Cofy

    Craig Murray:
    Well done sir. You deserve a standing ovation.
    You’ve managed an excellent coverage on a minimal budget whilst deprived of a press card.
    Unsurprisingly there’s a however:
    Vanessa Baraitser’s procedure must surely be recorded in history.
    I reasonably expect that the transcripts will not adequately record the events.
    Craig may rapidly become the sole reliable chronicler of this tragic event.
    I worry that the 21 Your man in the public gallery Assange blogs are already difficult to locate and read in order.
    Can this material be collated and then published on mirrors etc ?? (to preserve it for posterity.)
    I really hope that his task has already been undertaken and all that is necessary is to publish the file name.
    Thanks Craig & supporters.

    .

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