The Assange Verdict: What Happens Now 184


I fully expect that Julian will be released on bail this week, pending a possible US appeal against the blocking of his extradition.

There was discussion of when and how to make the bail application on Monday, after magistrate Vanessa Baraitser announced her decision not to grant extradition as it would be oppressive on health and welfare grounds. Lead Defence QC Edward Fitzgerald was prepared to make an immediate application for release on bail, but was strongly steered by Baraitser towards waiting a couple of days until he could have the full bail application ready in good order with all the supporting documentation.

I had the strong impression that Baraitser was minded to grant bail and wanted the decision to be fireproof. I have spoken to two others who were in court who formed the same impression. Indeed, in the past, she has more than once indicated that she will reject a bail application before one has been made. I can think of no reason why she would steer Fitzgerald so strongly to delay the application if there were not a very strong chance she would grant it. She gave him the advice and then adjourned the court for 45 minutes so Fitzgerald and Gareth Peirce could discuss it with Julian, and on return they took her advice. If she were simply going to refuse the bail application, there was no reason for her not to get it over with quickly there and then.

Fitzgerald briefly made the point that Assange now had very little incentive to abscond, as there had never been a successful appeal against a refusal to extradite on medical grounds. Indeed it is very difficult to see how an appeal can be successful. The magistrate is the sole determinant of fact in the case. She has heard the evidence, and her view of the facts of Assange’s medical condition and the facts of conditions in American supermax prisons cannot be overturned. Nor can any new evidence be introduced. The appeal has rather to find that, given the facts, Baraitser made an error in law, and it is difficult to see the argument.

I am not sure that at this stage the High Court would accept a new guarantee from the USA that Assange would not be kept in isolation or in a Supermax prison; that would be contrary to the affidavit from Assistant Secretary of State Kromberg and thus would probably be ruled to amount to new evidence. Not to mention that Baraitser heard other evidence that such assurances had been received in the case of Abu Hamza, but had been broken. Hamza is not only kept in total isolation, but as a man with no hands he is deprived of prosthetics that would enable him to brush his teeth, and he has no means of cutting his nails nor assistance to do so, and cannot effectively wipe himself in the toilet.

Not only is it hard to see the point of law on which the USA could launch an appeal, it is far from plain that they have a motive to do so. Baraitser agreed with all the substantive points of argument put forward by the US government. She stated that there was no bar on extradition from the UK for political offences; she agreed that publication of national security material did constitute an offence in the USA under the Espionage Act and would do so in the UK under the Official Secrets Act, with no public interest defence in either jurisdiction; she agreed that encouraging a source to leak classified information is a crime; she agreed Wikileaks’ publications had put lives at risk.

On all of these points she dismissed virtually without comment all the defence arguments and evidence. As a US Justice Department spokesman said yesterday:
“While we are extremely disappointed in the court’s ultimate decision, we are gratified that the United States prevailed on every point of law raised. In particular, the court rejected all of Mr Assange’s arguments regarding political motivation, political offence, fair trial, and freedom of speech. We will continue to seek Mr Assange’s extradition to the United States.” That is a fair categorisation of what happened.

Appealing a verdict that is such a good result for the United States does not necessarily make sense for the Justice Department. Edward Fitzgerald explained to me yesterday that, if the USA appeals the decision on the health and prison condition grounds, it becomes open to the defence to counter-appeal on all the other grounds, which would be very desirable indeed given the stark implications of Baraitser’s ruling for media freedom. I have always believed that Baraitser would rule as she did on the substantial points, but I have always also believed that those extreme security state arguments would never survive the scrutiny of better judges in a higher court. Unlike the health ruling, the dispute over Baraitser’s judgement on all the other points does come down to classic errors in law which can successfully be argued on appeal.

If the USA does appeal the judgement, it is far more likely that not only will the health grounds be upheld, but also that Baraitser’s positions on extradition for political offences and freedom of the media will be overturned, than it is likely that the US will achieve extradition. They have fourteen days in which to lodge the appeal – now thirteen.

An appeal result is in short likely to be humiliating for the USA. It would be much wiser for the US to let sleeping dogs lie. But pride and the wound to the US sense of omnipotence and exceptionalism may drive them to an appeal which, for the reasons given above, I would actually welcome provided Julian is out on bail. Which I expect he shall be shortly.

More analysis of Baraitser’s judgement will follow.

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184 thoughts on “The Assange Verdict: What Happens Now

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  • James Love

    My feeling is that they only wish to grant bail so that the US case wins on appeal as he will be over his critically at risk period and the US can give assurances of fair treatment. The path is open now that she has dismissed all the substantial points of his defence.

    • craig Post author

      That is not a path legally open. The evidence as to his medical conditions cannot be re-assessed, and indeed was explicitly not based on his current state but on the effects of incarceration in the US on a long-term indeed lifelong condition. As the article states, nor do I think assurances on treatment are admissible at this stage of proceedings.

      Plus if they appeal all the other points she ruled on will be re-opened.

        • craig Post author

          I think I covered that

          “But pride and the wound to the US sense of omnipotence and exceptionalism may drive them to an appeal”.
          There is also institutional inertia: nobody to take a policy decision to drop the case during the transition.

          • Ian

            That may well have been a reflex action, which after consideration they might decline. In any case, Julian is surely hopeful that the change of administration will rescue him from further torture and harassment. It would obviously be in Biden’s interest to consign the fiasco to history, and write if off as part of the mad Trump’s administration and his vindictive nature. They have surely an enormous amount of far more pressing issues to deal with.
            None of that means they will take the most obvious action of course, but what is in it for them to continue to persecute a now historic case, of legally very dubious stature?

          • Tom Welsh

            I find it an interesting coincidence that, according to the timetable Mr Murray gives in the article, the appeal can be lodged up until a day or two before the inauguration of the US president.

            Since there still seems to be uncertainty as to which party will provide the next administration, doesn’t this create confusion as to which prosecutors make the decision?

          • porkpie

            “Since there still seems to be uncertainty as to which party will provide the next administration,”

            There really doesn’t.

      • Wee Jim

        Given conditions in US supermax gaols – indeed, given conditions in many other US gaols – and their effects on people’s mental health, could anyone who faced the possibility of incarceration in one be extradited if they raised the question of the psychological effects?

      • Peter Mo

        If Julian was denied bail then subsequently died or caught COVID19 that would a huge PR disaster for the UK judicial operation. Its a no brainer. Assange must be given bail immediately. This point should be espoused at the bail hearing.

      • Josh R

        ah, good to hear.
        was thinking yesterday, when Baraitser issued the decision, that the issue of health and prison conditions may have left open the easiest of appeal challenges – once Assange began to recover from his ordeal and with the US potentially promising to treat him with kid gloves once they got their mitts on him (which, whilst their word means nothing after Abu Hamza and every other lie that drips from their duplicitous faces, would give them the PR push to successfully appeal).
        So it’s nice to think that that won’t be the case.

        However, with all the ‘wins’ for the prosecution and with Assange and other journos still being at risk in the future and across multiple jurisdictions, I almost wouldn’t be surprised if Assange hit the ground running and with all guns blazing, lodging an appeal of his own.

        Whatever the future holds, am over the moon to think that Julian’s going to be out this week and free to be with his family and friends (albeit under bail conditions and the insanity of COVID controls).

        Also, nice to imagine what might be in store for us from WikiLeaks now that JA’s back on the scene :-)))

  • Ben

    I’m certain some accommodation can be reached. Prosecution is problematic for both the US and UK.
    They would rather Assange just dematerialized but maybe they can agree to incarceration in a white-collar country club lockdown reserved for bankers and lawyers. Tennis courts and hookers might even persuade Julian to plea bargain.

        • Tom Welsh

          Time for some sleep! I meant to say that US government assurances are always worthless, but lost track of the syntax. Doh.

          As the Russians say, the US government is not agreement-capable.

          • Nally Anders

            I was wondering the same. Is there any chance thar Baraister ran this verdict passed the US authorities before pronouncing?
            They win the legal case but Julian is released. Right verdict but wrong reason with winners all round. British justice (?) is seen to (scantily) prevail.
            Just a thought, I could be wrong.

  • Michael Droy

    It occurs to me that by delaying the bail decision, the judge can take whether an appeal is made before deciding on bail.
    But I agree an appeal is a non-choice for the Americans. They could really be challenged on many issues with a proper judge.

    Election is over, Julian can do little damage now to the US deep state. Even if he had news on Seth Rich, it would be too late and ignored. But the longer he is kept quiet the better for them.

  • james

    thanks craig.. i hope you are correct in all your assessments here… i kind of doubt it though… they haven’t dragged assange this far to come to this… if he gets bail, i will be impressed… if the usa doesn’t appeal, i will be very surprised… i can’t don’t share your rosy optimism here, in spite of the fact i would love to.. cheers james

    • AlexT

      I’d be on the same boat. I somehow feel we are missing a piece of the puzzle here. But if Julian can enjoy freedom (even a limited one) over the coming days it would be excellent news indeed, regardless of the longer term situation.

    • Eric F

      I keep wondering whether somebody in the US prosecution has started having doubts that trying Assange in the US might just open a can of worms and air even more secrets. So maybe they will just kick and cry and let the Brits call it off.

      • Wally Jumblatt

        – if the press don’t report anything from the Courts, then there are no worms to be seen scurrying for cover.
        Reliance on such fearless journalists as Mr Murray does not mean the word is out on the streets unfortunately.

        I hope Assange gets his freedom, and I hope there is enough sense in the American Justice Dept (or wherever such a decision is to be made) to let this lie, but I suspect vanity and hubris combined with ill-informed bluster, will convince them to go all-in on this Appeal.
        Especially if they think the entire British Court system is malleable -which it seem to be these days.

  • nevermind

    Excellent news, thanks so much for your tireless effort.
    Would you know if Julian can be extradited after some time has passed, once he has regained strenght and or some mental help?
    I would feel ensured if the horse trading is backed up by factual evidence, an almighty appeal should there be an appeal from them, not swiped under the carpet, leaving free speech on the guillotine.
    The implications for journalismn worldwide would be immense if the judgement is left as it stands now.

  • Gregor

    There is only one option: free systematically tortured Witch Hunt victim, Julian Assange (publishing/free press/100% revelations of truth), or face eternal hell…

  • AlexT

    Just a question – assuming the US don’t appeal. Does it mean than Assange would be pretty much stuck in the UK for the foreseable future ? It would paradoxically be the most secure place for him…

    • Tom Welsh

      Mr Assange’s situation vis a vis the British state would be like that of a person who has survived an attack of viral disease and now has immunity.

      But he would be wise to examine any offers of help or (especially) shelter very cynically. E.g. “Julian Assange ‘free to return home’ to Australia if extradition to US is blocked – PM” https://www.rt.com/news/511558-julian-assange-australia-extradition-us/

      Yeah, Mr Assange would be free to return to Australia – and I imagine his feet would not touch the ground before he found himself on a fast jet bound for the USA. Legally or otherwise. In any case, Australia is now a totalitarian hellhole even worse than the UK – which is saying something.

    • james

      good question…. i do agree with tom welsh – one of the worst choices would be going back to australia… and mexico – i can’t see that working out as they would pick him up in mexico and bring him to the usa… russia if it was an option, would probably be a good one.. he can keep snowden company… i don’t believe the uk is all that secure a place even as a ward of the state which is what i think has happened to the skripals…. of course if he remains in the uk, there is always a chance of him being skripaled.. what’s another novichok propaganda exercise cost in the greater scheme of things?? lets pray he makes it out of belmarsh without getting a bad case of covid… the uk has proven beyond a shadow of doubt, they do not have assanges best interests at heart… waiting for the other shoe to drop here..

      • Giyane

        James

        ” without getting a bad case of covid ”
        I don’t agree with Craig that Baraitser adopting the US legal arguments while in effect representing the US as an advocate or barrister, means anything at all in English or US Law. All it means is that she got paid twice. Once by the Crown and once by the US State Department .

        What she got paid to say or by whom when she is acting on behalf of one, or in this case two clients is irrelevant. It is neither English nor US Law. It’s garbage.

        Trump had 3 voter groups, traditional Republicans, racists and Zion. Biden has the right wing think tank pseudo intellectuals, the anti-racists, the covid scared, the industrial military traditional Democrats and Zion. Imho to Trump , Assange was just a playing card in a game of electoral poker.

        BTW Trump.lost, so the card he tried to.play, to get elected, is irrelevant , along with all Baraitser’s errors of legal judgement.

        • Giyane

          Bad case of covid. I actually don’t believe that the British prison system can do an Epstein on Assange by serving him a secret dose of covid. Mind you my only contact with it was pre-privatisation.

          Also , Brexit was about Britain not being told by the US via Germany what to do. Empire2 Toryism has just as much pride and viagra -induced potency in its ancient hegemony instincts as the US.
          Baraitser might have chosen to do the US’ bidding, but empire2 Tories don’t want to be told by anybody what to do.

          • james

            interesting perspective giyane… i’m on the westcoast of canada, so can’t claim to know the in’s and out’s of the uk dynamics fully… it just seems to me nothing much has changed with regard to the uk’s slavish servitude to the usa… so all speculation including yours has some merit… as for getting covid – i don’t know the intimate details inside of belmarsh either, but the fact skripal and anyone else caught up in any uk, or usa intel games do have to be aware of this possibility…

          • Giyane

            James

            We have an erudite and eloquent Canadian scholar teaching Islam on Radio Unity FM .

  • laguerre

    I appreciate Craig’s evaluation, and hope it will be so. I have my doubts about Baraitser’s willingness to grant bail. There must be a fear that he will abscond; Mexico for example has offered asylum.

    • Tom Welsh

      Nowhere in Mexico is safe from US snatch squads. Except perhaps the presidential palace or a well-guarded military barracks.

      • Robyn

        The problem with Mexico is that AMLO’s government is too independent and socialist for Washington’s liking. Washington/Langley will keep trying to get rid of him so they can impose a stooge who would do an Ecuador/Moreno and put poor Julian back on the treadmill.

    • Martinned

      Yes, that was literally the worst thing that AMLO could have done for Assange. If he (AMLO) had kept his mouth shut for a few more days, the hearing would have been over by now.

  • laguerre

    Pursuit of the case will depend on Biden. No doubt that chucking forward the case into his presidency, means that it will be he who decides. I have no idea what he thinks about Assange.

          • Tom Welsh

            When I remember, I try to give everyone the due courtesy of the correct title. Mr, Mrs, Ms, Dr, Professor, Field-Marshal – whatever.

        • Ben

          Equally frustrating to deal with Russophiles..

          Can oligarch be distinguished from a reformed Leftist?

          Here are nine things you should know about the controversial Russian leader.

          1. Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin was born in Cold War-era Russia in 1952. His mother worked in a factory during World War II, and his father was drafted into the army, where he served on a submarine fleet. During his younger years, Putin was an atheist. He says he turned to the church after two major accidents in the 1990s—his wife’s car accident and a house fire. He now considers himself to be a devout member of the Russian Orthodox Church.
          2. In 1970, Putin became a student at Leningrad State University’s law department, where he wrote a thesis on “The Most Favored Nation Trading Principle in International Law.” During his time in college he became a member of the Communist Party. (In 2016, he said he still likes the ideas of theoretical communism “very much” and still has his Communist Party membership card at his home.) When he was there as a student, Leningrad State University’s law department was a training ground for the KGB (Committee for State Security). Putin has said that the KGB targeted him for recruitment even before he graduated in 1975. “You know, I even wanted it,” he said of joining the KGB. “I was driven by high motives. I thought I would be able to use my skills to the best for society.”
          3. Putin served 15 years as a foreign intelligence officer for the KGB, including six years in Dresden, East Germany. While in Germany, his roles likely included recruiting members for the East German Communist Party and the secret police (Stasi), stealing technological secrets, and compromising visiting Westerners. In 1990, he retired from active KGB service with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
          4. After his retirement—and the collapse of the Soviet Union—Putin returned to his former university and served for 18 months as the assistant to the rector. He later admitted that he was “a KGB officer under the roof, as we say,” whose roles were to recruit and spy on students. While at the school, he reconnected with his former law professors, including Anatoly Sobchak, a leader in the first wave of democratic reformers in the Gorbachev years and elected chairman of the Soviet-era Leningrad council. Putin served as Sobchak’s aide and later became the first deputy mayor of St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad).
          5. In 1996, Putin moved to Moscow and served on the presidential staff as deputy to the Kremlin’s chief administrator. Two years later Russian President Boris Yeltsin appointed Putin to be the director of the Federal Security Service, the domestic successor to the KGB, and later as head of the Kremlin Security Council. Putin somehow managed, while working important roles at the Kremlin, to write a 218-page dissertation and earn a prestigious candidate of science degree—the equivalent of a PhD—from the Mining Institute in St. Petersburg. In August 1999, President Yeltsin appointed Putin as acting Prime Minister of the Government of the Russian Federation. When Yeltsin unexpectedly resigned that December, Putin became President.
          6. Although Putin only earns a salary equivalent to $137,000 a year, because of corruption and cronyism he’s believed to secretly be one of the wealthiest men in the world. Putin is reported to have used his political influence to acquire stakes in several Russian and Ukrainian corporations (especially oil and gas companies) that would make him worth between $30 billion and $70 billion. (By comparison, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is worth $74 billion.) According to a former Russian deputy prime minister, Putin owns 20 palaces (including one valued at $1 billion), four yachts, 58 aircraft, and a collection of watches worth half a million dollars. Most of his assets are hidden through shell companies and other tactics used to shield his net worth from public scrutiny.
          7. Putin’s style and agenda have given rise to the term “Putinism.” As M. Steven Fish explains, Fish says it’s conservative not only in its promotion, at home and abroad, of a traditionalist social agenda, but also because it “prioritizes the maintenance of the status quo while evincing hostility toward potential sources of instability.” Finally, as a personalist autocracy, “Putinism rests on an unrestricted one-man rule and the hollowing out of parties, institutions, and even individuals other than the president as independent political actors.”
          8. On foreign policy matters, Putin espouses a nationalist agenda that seeks to re-establish Russia as a great world power and to offset America’s global leadership position. Under Putin’s watch, Russia has moved to expand its geopolitical influence by going to war with Georgia (2008), seizing Crimea (2014), intervening in eastern Ukraine (2014), and deploying military forces in the Syrian civil war (2015). Putin has also strengthened ties with China, India, the Arab world, and Iran in an attempt to reduce American and Western influence in Asia.
          9. Under the guise of implementing “anti-terrorism” measures, Putin adopted laws in 2016 that restrict religious freedom and criminalize missionary activities. According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), the Russian president signed into law measures that redefine “missionary activities” as religious practices that take place outside of state-sanctioned sites. The law bans “preaching, praying, proselytizing, and disseminating religious materials” outside of sites officially designated by the state. Citizens can also be fined up to $15,000 for engaging in these activities in private residences or distributing unauthorized religious materials through “mass print, broadcast, or online media.” Foreign missionaries also must prove they were invited by state-registered religious groups and must operate only in regions where their sponsoring organizations are registered. Missionaries who fail to comply face harsh fines and deportation.
          • james

            laguerre… an ntegrity initiative type rant never hurt anybody, lol… think of being paid by the hour, mind you copy and paste can do this much quicker…

          • Putinista

            Yer with browder,khodorokovsky and like, sorry we are with Vova. Simples. Case closed.

          • Deb O'Nair

            “going to war with Georgia (2008), seizing Crimea (2014), intervening in eastern Ukraine (2014), and deploying military forces in the Syrian civil war (2015)”

            Georgia (with NATO support) conducted a surprise attack at 4m on a Russian barracks in Georgia containing 1,000 UN mandated Russian troops, killing a few hundred. Russia responded by mobilizing its forces to the barracks, there was a brief skirmish before things settled down and the status quo was restored. Hardly “going to war”.

            Seizing Crimea from themselves as they had already militarily occupied it in agreement made at the end of cold war.

            The Syrian mess was not a civil war but an alliance of NATO and Gulf states conducting asymmetric warfare against Syria using terrorist proxies who were deliberately targeting the civilian population, in the same manner that NATO got Gaddafi out of Libya.

          • Tatyana

            Your #9 describes one of the most wonderful laws.
            As a Russian citizen (an atheist by the way) I confirm that registered religious organizations have all the rights and powers in my country. Including participation in the school education for children – we are offered the choice of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism or secular ethics as, please note, a compulsory school subject for elementary school students. This is how children get acquainted with the spiritual cultures of our country.
            As an atheist I was not happy with that, but it really turned out a sort of cultural education. So, it’s OK, though I still think it’s too early to start it at the elementary school.
            The law itself is aimed precisely at excluding hidden radical destructive cults that cannot be officially recognized for obvious reasons – they hide from the state, because their goals are violent and destructive. Like Aum Shinrikyo, or radical Islam, or old-fashioned patriarchial Christian suppressive sects, or crazy individual preachers, and the like.

          • Tatyana

            In my opinion, Ben’s position is that Putin serves the interests of the Russian population, which is obviously not very good in his opinion. I think that if Ben were describing a Western politician, serving his country, sharing the political ideas and the religion of his country, then Ben would find it quite commendable, and may even I dare say – a natural thing.
            But Putin is of course a completely different matter 🙂
            It must be bad to maliciously move to Moscow to serve in the Kremlin *for apparently evil purposes. Compare to the positivity of moving to London for a friendly service at Westminister *for the real good of a deserving people.

            I especially love the word “likely” in Ben’s # 3. What do you think, Ben, is it also likely that Putin recruited Frau Merkel in Germany? Must be highly likely.

        • Giyane

          Sorry, that was British terrorists. The US terrorists were only trying to save the souls of the Iraqi people.
          God bless the black female US soldier who put down her rifle and prayed in the Iraqi mosque with the Iraqi people.

        • Monster

          Ben is probably paid by the column inches by Integrity Initiative. Unfortunately his stuff is word for word from a similar YouTube rant, so the FO may dock him a portion of his bung, as a plagiarist.

  • Bort

    I am tempted by the view that this is still a tactical move by Baraitser and done with the assent of (or at least without strong dissent from) the US government, partly because the verdict seems at odds with both the reported animosity shown to Assange and the deference shown to the prosecution by Baraitser over the course of the proceedings.

    I suspect that despite everything, prosecuting Assange is still a very ugly option for the Biden administration, and this decision gives the US government a way out of that predicament, while crucially still allowing the threat to any journalists interested in national security reporting to prevail, because every one of the prosecution’s arguments have been upheld, and the suffering inflicted on Assange without even a verdict on his guilt being delivered is plain for anyone to see. The US government may appeal in order to give a veneer of serious objection to the proceedings, but it needn’t succeed because the message has already been sent.

    Not an entirely original opinion but the one that makes most sense to me.

    As for the rather alarming questions this raises about just how barbaric the US prison system is, I think it’s a reasonable bet that the majority of the populace will forget about that in short order, and therefore the US would have traded very little by this concession, were the theory above to be correct.

    • Ben

      Prosecuting Scofflaws like Nixon or Bush I and II for Iran Contra and Fake WMD Wars is always less important than ‘moving on and the white collar criminals are fully aware of the distaste.

  • Pat Pending

    Surely it’s more likely the judge is stalling until the expected exit of the hated Orange Man.
    Then there will be one of the usual diplomatic stitch-ups and he is rapidly dispatched to the US.

    By the way Craig , no comment on the orchestrated election fraud in the USA ?
    The egregious levels of corruption are surely of major concern to any one who’s main stand point is openness and fairness.
    Or doesn’t it the usual left case of the end justify the means ?

  • Dave

    Most likely Trump was about to pardon him, but couldn’t before he was re-elected or lost, so the UK is getting a result before he does.

  • bevin

    To put the matter of the future treatment of Assange in perspective it is necessary not only to recognise the considerable achievements of the Imperial state in this matter, which is to say the enormous suffering that they have caused him and the salutary sense of impotence to which their treatment of him has reduced his supporters, particularly those who saw the revelations for which he was responsible as crimes to be punished.
    If the punishment meted out to Julian does not deter others from following in his footsteps, nothing will.
    The real lesson of this case is that one of the most popular men in the world, a hero for his courage and honesty was cut to pieces, rather easily, by the combined efforts of an utterly discredited state and a notoriously corrupt media. And yet, in the end, he was sold by Lenin Moreno as effortlessly as imaginable. I say ‘sold’ but as far as I can see Moreno’s benefit was simply another one of the IMF loans that cripple countries such as Ecuador.
    In the end, which I believe is fast approaching because his enemies have already achieved everything they ever dreamed of and more, Julian becomes a casualty in rehabilitation, a private citizen retired from the battle and looking for recuperative domestic happiness.
    On the other side-that of the Imperial state- there will be general satisfaction: for all the good he did, and he did much good, Julian was left pretty well alone to face his ordeals.
    Oh, there were sympathetic spectators cheering him and ‘praying’ for his deliverance. There were those making the expense of his legal defence bearable. And there were voices like Craig’s, John Pilger’s and many others raised in his defence.
    But there were no strikes. No demonstrations. No mass actions.
    As to the political opposition perhaps the real lesson of this is that Keir Starmer, who owes his Knighthood in considerable measure to his direction of the prosecution over several critical years has now displaced one of the very few politicians who ever muttered a word of dissent during this affair and is the leader not just of the Official Opposition in Parliament but of the half a million strong Labour Party which also represents what is left of the Trade Union movement.
    When the first moves were made to cripple Assange and to neuter his supporters by accusing him of sexual assault (albeit on an evidential basis so thin that it never justified a charge against him) his enemies would never have dreamed that they would have such success in moving the goalposts even further away from their traditional positions.
    Just as, after twenty years a society shocked by Guantanamo Bay has learned to accept that it houses prisoners, the victims of kidnapping, never charged or tried and routinely tortured, sometimes murdered by their guards, so we have learned to accept that a man reporting, with irrefutable evidence that US forces massacred a party of civilians in the centre of the ancient city of Baghdad, is denounced as a spy, a traitor and publicly treated with cruelty whilst subjected to a persecution grounded in serial illegalities and clouded with swarms of lies and misrepresentations.
    And is found guilty of a series of offences, none of which there is evidence that he committed , while most of them are rather acts of decent citizenship than any kind of crime.
    So we have come a long way, and the Empire and its agents ought to be (and likely will be) mightily proud of their achievements. Not only have they ruined Julian’s life, but they have also caused his supporters enormous expense (of mental and physical energy as well), confirmed that they can pretty well do what they want to anyone they choose to select for punishment and that the “left” is wholly incapable of challenging their power. And this, in the past could only happen under fascist regimes.
    If there is one image that sums up the matter in my mind it is that of Australia-the land of mateship- celebrating Julian’s ill treatment by rewarding the US government with the sort of sycophantic adoration its rulers used to reserve for the Royal Family-only now there appears to be no dissent.

    • Mary

      No demonstrations?

      This was one of several.

      Protesters Demand Julian Assange Be Freed Ahead Of Extradition Hearing
      February 22, 20206:59 PM ET
      Jingnan Huo at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., March 19, 2019. (photo by Allison Shelley)
      HUO JINGNAN

      Twitter

      British musician Roger Waters speaks at a rally in Parliament Square, London, as part of the demonstration against the extradition of Julian Assange on Saturday.
      https://www.npr.org/2020/02/22/808504575/protesters-demand-julian-assange-be-freed-ahead-of-extradition-hearing

      In Australia too.

    • Coldish

      Thanks, Bevin. That was eloquently expressed. A couple of minor points re your wording: Jeremy Corbyn is now the, or at least a, leader of the unofficial (i.e. real) opposition in the UK parliament. The official opposition is a sham.
      I’d prefer to avoid the terms ‘accusing’, ‘accusation’, etc in relation to the almost non-existent investigation of the vague allegations made against Julian in Sweden. Too many people seem to be under the impression that there were actual charges against him there.
      An independent country that might offer Julian and his family a haven is Iceland. Icelanders don’t like being pushed around. There are other possible havens.

  • John Monro

    Thank you Craig, you’ve put my prior thoughts down rather better than I could. I suspect there might not be an appeal, but if the prosecution don’t think they’ve got their pound of flesh, they might still proceed. They’ll be thrashing out the same arguments amongst themselves and their political masters. As you say, Baraister’s judgement leaves a worrying precedent for future action, but of course, that legal precedent is not that robust, coming as it does from a rather junior judge in a magistrate’s court – a higher court could demolish much of the judge’s reasoning or the egregious conduct of the case, either during an appeal in this case or in the future for some other poor world citizen. The medical fitness argument has proved very useful for the UK, and I am not above thinking the judge may well have had her legal arm twisted a bit by some UK government agency, the same agencies that got her the job in the first place. For the USA, they don’t get their man, but Julian has now suffered already many years of incarceration in one form or another, maybe they’ll think that’s sufficient retribution and encouragement for others not to follow his path.

    As to bail, I think it would be very difficult now for her to refuse this – if he’s not fit for solitary in the USA in a maximum security prison, then surely he’s not fit for the same in the UK any longer? It would be very difficult even for an expert dissembling politician, never mind a supposedly independent judge, to rationalise Assange’s continued incarceration.

    So thanks again for your important contribution to this, and the many other matters you cover.

  • mark golding

    Comrade and buddy to Julian, we are indeed grateful and thankful to Craig for publishing intimate details of this extradition hearing and the powerful intention he has demonstrated throughout the proceedings in the presence of evil.

  • N_

    Did Trump pardon Assange?

    Legal note: a US presidential pardon need not be made public. There is no constitutional requirement that it go through the Office of Pardon Attorney or that the procedure used should comply with DOJ regulations, which are advisory.

    • Baalbek

      No, Trump did not pardon Assange. He’s too busy stopping wars, bringing US troops home and cutting off aid to Israel and the KSA. He’ll pardon Assange during his second term in office, right after he locks up Biden, vanquishes the deep state and brings peace to the world.

      (Diehard Trump acolytes really do take delusional thinking to a new level.)

      • Mighty Druken

        Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon of “any crimes that he might have committed against the United States as president” before he was charged with any crimes. Interestingly to take effect pardons have to be accepted by those who are pardoned, In doing so you accept some guilt.

        @Baalbek LOL, i like your style.

  • Gregor

    A free Julian Assange with unfettered 100% verifiable Wikileaks public truths (re.’Trump/Russia’/Special Council clown circus; murdered DNC whistle-blower Seth Rich etc), could perceivably destroy the US Democrat party/Washington swamp/rogue deep-state monster.

  • Ted

    Hi all
    Having trouble finding Craig’s delayed report on final day’s evidence in Assange trial – if it’s available, could someone please provide a link ? Cheers & many thanks

  • dearieme

    What a sorry tale it all is. There is, however, grim humour to be had from the magistrate’s reference to Epstein.

    Who may not have killed himself anyway.

  • Johnb

    My thanks Craig for your sustained courage combined with that innocence of the Little Prince. “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly: what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

  • Robyn

    If there are appeals, does that mean Julian has to keep fronting up to court? He won’t be free until he knows this whole business is dead and buried. He must surely be highly traumatised by the ordeal, and goodness knows about his physical health after being shut in without fresh air and sunlight and proper exercise for a decade, what can the future hold for him? With all the love and support in the world, it’s going to be a long road back for him and his loved ones, and legal matters hanging over his head will seriously impede his restoration to health and happiness.

  • Tatyana

    I said that Miss Baraitser might surprise us, and I’m very happy that it came true! No news is more encouraging than the hope for Mr. Assange’s freedom.
    I also have one more hope – I heard that Mexico offered him help, so maybe Russia will offer asylum too?
    I don’t think Putin is in a position to openly declare this, but I believe he can do the same trick as with Mr. Snowden. By the way, Mr. Snowden recently became a father and seems quite happy with how his life is going here.

    • Ingwe

      Tatyana-good to hear from you again. You don’t appear to have posted for a long time.
      I do hope that JA is offered haven in Russia, although if Putin does offer it, and JA takes up the offer, you’ll hear the right wing baying “I told you- he’s working for the Russians! ”

      I don’t believe that, if JA is released, he will be safe here in the U.K. Who knows, he may be killed in a road accident caused by the wife of an American intelligence office working here. She’ll be driving on the wrong side of the road and will be spirited back to the US despite not having diplomatic immunity. Fantasy hey?

    • David G

      Mexico would seem a pretty risky choice, since AMLO’s successor could well revert to the U.S.-subservient norm, and even today Assange would be in a country where U.S. agents no doubt operate with great latitude. Imagine Assange had succeeded in reaching Ecuador, rather than just their embassy in London: it seems likely he’d be in a U.S. dungeon now, courtesy of Moreno.

      There are never guarantees for the future anywhere, of course, but if Russia is willing to take Assange in without any preconditions about him abandoning his work, I can’t think of any country in the world where he could expect to enjoy greater freedom and security.

  • stuart mctavish

    Any idea if the need to post bail after being discharged is unique to English law (ie double jeopardy combined with continued persecution and incarceration at the whim of a (malicious) prosecutor’s leave to appeal)?
    Seems to me that, in the absence of parallel charges, any such procedure must constitute a blatant breach of the noble intent doctrine incorporated by the Supreme Court following the unlawful prorogation of parliament in 2019.

  • Kuhnberg

    I remIn unconvinced that the UK security apparatus has nothing else under its sleeve. What for example would prevent Assange being rearrested as soon as he is released and charged with spying under British law?

    • Greg Park

      The leader of the Opposition? He would doubtless step in and express outrage at such authoritarian suppression of free speech, especially free speech that exposes war crimes.

    • Ian

      So there’s no public interest in his trial or bail. Got it. And every single photographer is known by you to be working for outlets you disapprove of, so you hate them all. Nice.

  • Fwl

    Interesting to read Judge’s comments about Professor Kopelman – his evidence was clearly pivotal.

    The Hearing was long and Judgment is long with many long sections and paragraphs. Then you get to the final section J – Orders, which has only one paragraph No 410 and one short sentence, but it’s the most important of all because it orders Julian’s discharge.

  • Ciaris

    I have been genuinely surprised at the many highly intelligent people who have TDS, including Craig. And I am terribly disappointed at the so-called Left, who refuse to admit the electoral fraud in the US, which is blatant. Hate on Trump all you will – the election was stolen. Refusal to accept this is just dishonest. No, pathetic.

    This is linked to the Assange case. It was not Trump who began the Kafka-esque treatment of Assange, it was Obama. There is an argument that Trump was and is trying to protect Assange, though clearly I can’t know this. But I distrust the recent decision, because the UK judicial system is a joke, and full of pedophiles. On that, I think we may all agree.

      • Ciaris

        No, you don’t disagree. You merely refuse to admit; and this is a huge difference.

        It’s not about Trump, it’s about having eyes in your head. Trump won by a landslide, and you are pathetic.

        • glenn_uk

          What’s actually pathetic is that you have no evidence whatsoever for your assertions, and neither does Trump. Your (and Trump’s) calling people names and having a tantrum does not actually count as evidence, sorry.

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