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Assange: Latest Court Date Reaction

8 January 2021

After Monday’s unexpected ruling against the extradition of Julian Assange on medical grounds, two days later the same lower courtjudge denied a request for bail.

Speaking outside the court Stella Moris, partner and mother of Assange’s two young children said: “Julian should not be in Belmarsh prison in the first place. I urge the President of the United States to pardon Julian.”

WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said: “We think it is unjust, unfair and illogical – when you consider her ruling two days ago about Julian’s health which of course is caused, in large part, because he is being held in Belmarsh prison. To send him back there doesn’t make any sense.”

Rebecca Vincent from Reporters Without Borders who has been monitoring Julian Assange’s extradition proceedings said: “Reporters Without Borders condemns this decision taken today which we view as unnecessarily cruel. We fully believe that Julian Assange was targeted for his contributions to journalism. He shouldn’t have to spend another moment unjustly deprived of his liberty.”

Amnesty International said that the “decision to refuse the bail application renders Assange’s ongoing detention arbitrary, and compounds the fact that he has endured punishing conditions in high security detention at Belmarsh prison for more than a year.”

After the judge’s extradition ruling on Monday a Guardian editorial declared ‘Relief, not victory’. “A judge has rightly rejected the US request, but only on mental health grounds. The case should be dropped.” Not only is Julian still languishing in HMP Belmarsh despite a ruling that he should be freed, but Judge Baraitser accepted the U.S. government’s repressive arguments criminalizing journalism.

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights said “Considerations of press freedom and potential ill-treatment should prevent his extradition. Hope this brings proceedings to a swift end”

All major human rights organizations voiced their support for the decision to block the extradition to the United States including: Reporters Without Borders, Amnesty International, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Committee to Protect Journalists, National Union of Journalists, Australian Union of Journalists (MEAA), Article19, Freedom of the Press Foundation, International Press Institute – as well as politicians and commentators from all sides of the political spectrum.

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Post Press Clippings

United Kingdom: UN expert cautiously welcomes refusal to extradite Assange

5 January 2021

GENEVA (5 January 2021) – UN Special Rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer today welcomed a British court’s refusal to extradite Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to the United States on the basis that he would be exposed to “oppressive” conditions of imprisonment that would almost certainly cause him to commit suicide.

“This ruling confirms my own assessment that, in the United States, Mr. Assange would be exposed to conditions of detention, which are widely recognized to amount to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” said Melzer.

Mr. Assange is currently being held in prolonged solitary confinement at Belmarsh Prison in London under a US extradition request for espionage and computer fraud. “If extradited to the United States, he faces a sentence of up to 175 years imprisonment under inhumane conditions of near total isolation,” Melzer said.

At the same time, the judgement on Monday sets an alarming precedent effectively denying investigative journalists the protection of press freedom and paving the way for their prosecution under charges of espionage. In 2010, Mr. Assange published sensitive military documents relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I am gravely concerned that the judgement confirms the entire, very dangerous rationale underlying the US indictment, which effectively amounts to criminalizing national security journalism,” Melzer said.

The United States has announced it will appeal the judgment, but welcomed the judge’s dismissal of all arguments in defence of Assange based on press freedom, the public interest in the exposure of government misconduct, the prohibition of political offence extraditions, and the US failure to provide fair trials to national security defendants.

“This is of great concern,” said Melzer. “None of these questions will now be reviewed by the Appeals Court, as the only issue at stake will be Mr. Assange’s medical fitness to withstand US conditions of detention.

“Should the US provide assurances that Mr. Assange will be treated humanely, his extradition could potentially be confirmed on appeal without any meaningful review of the very serious legal concerns raised by this case.”

Melzer has repeatedly expressed in individual communications and statements that Mr. Assange has been subjected to more than 10 years of arbitrary detention and political persecution. During a visit conducted to Belmarsh Prison in 2019, Melzer and a specialized medical team found that Mr. Assange showed all the symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture.

“The judgement fails to recognize that Mr. Assange’s deplorable state of health is the direct consequence of a decade of deliberate and systematic violation of his most fundamental human rights by the Governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Ecuador,” said Melzer.

According to the expert, the failure of the judgment to denounce and redress the persecution and torture of Mr. Assange, “leaves fully intact the intended intimidating effect on journalists and whistleblowers worldwide who may be tempted to publish secret evidence for war crimes, corruption and other government misconduct”.

“Mr. Assange must now be immediately set free, rehabilitated and compensated for the abuse and arbitrariness he has been exposed to,” said Melzer. “Even with a pending appeal, his continued isolation in a high security prison is completely unnecessary and disproportionate. There is no justification whatsoever for preventing him from awaiting the final judgment in a setting where he can recover his health and live a normal family and professional life.”

“Hopefully this judgement will put an end to the persecution and imprisonment of Mr. Julian Assange as an individual. But in the big picture it sets a devastating precedent severely undermining press freedom, accountability and the rule of law.”

ENDS

Read statement from the OHCHR official website.

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Press Release

Julian Assange Extradition Verdict

5 January 2020

In today’s latest Julian Assange extradition case hearing the presiding judge unexpectedly ruled against extradition on medical grounds. A bail application will be made at 10am on Wednesday 6th January 2021 at Westminster Magistrates Court. Given that Assange has now been discharged from extradition he could be re-united with his fiance and two young children after the bail hearing.

Speaking outside the court today, Stella Moris, partner and mother of Assange’s two young children said: “I ask you all to lobby harder until Julian is free”

“The indictment in the US has not been dropped – we are extremely concerned that the US government has decided to appeal this decision – it continues to want to punish Julian and make him disappear into the deepest darkest hole of the US prison system for the rest of his life”.

“We will never accept that journalism is a crime in this country, or any other”.

I call on the President of the United States to end this now. Mr. President, tear down these prison wall. Let our little boys have their father. Free Julian, Free the Press, Free us all”.

WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson, while welcoming today’s decision stated that: “It is a win for Julian Assange – but it is not a win for journalism. The US government should drop their appeal and let Julian go free”.

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer told a German State broadcaster that “Only when I started to look into pieces of evidence – I saw that the whole narrative that had been spread about Assange for so long – was not supported by evidence”.

Amnesty International also welcomed the decision saying that the ‘politically-motivated process at the behest of the USA’ had put ‘media freedom and freedom of expression on trial’

The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomed the decision and urged US DOJ to drop the charges.

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights said “Considerations of press freedom and potential ill-treatment should prevent his extradition. Hope this brings proceedings to a swift end”

All major human rights organizations voiced their support for the decision including: Reporters Without Borders, Amnesty International, Electronic Frontier Foundation, National Union of Journalists, Australian Union of Journalists (MEAA), Article19, Freedom of the Press Foundation, International Press Institute – as well as politicians and commentators from all sides of the political spectrum.

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Post Press Clippings

Knight Institute Comments on Decision to Reject U.S. Request for Extradition of Julian Assange

4 January 2021

Says indictment under the Espionage Act will continue to cast a shadow over investigative journalism.

NEW YORK—A British judge today rejected the U.S. request for the extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to face charges under the 1917 Espionage Act. Assange’s case is the first in which the U.S. government has relied on the Espionage Act as the basis for the prosecution of a publisher.

The following response can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Executive Director at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.

“This is a victory for Assange, but it’s not an uncomplicated victory for press freedom. The court makes clear that it would have granted the U.S. extradition request if not for concerns about Assange’s mental health, and about the severe conditions in which the U.S. would likely imprison him. In other words, the court endorses the U.S. prosecution even as it rejects the U.S. extradition request. The result is that the U.S. indictment of Assange will continue to cast a dark shadow over investigative journalism. Of particular concern are the indictment’s counts that focus on pure publication—the counts that charge Assange with having violated the Espionage Act merely by publishing classified secrets. Those counts are an unprecedented attack on press freedom, one calculated to deter journalists and publishers from exercising rights that the First Amendment should be understood to protect.”

Jaffer submitted expert testimony to the U.K. court about the press freedom implications of the Assange indictment. Read the testimony here.

Read the statement from KFAI’s official website.

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ARTICLE 19 welcomes news Wikileaks founder Julian Assange will not face extradition

4 January 2021

Earlier today at the Old Bailey, a judge ruled that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange will not be extradited to the United States to face charges of espionage and of hacking government computers. The US authorities have said they will appeal the decision.

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that Mr Assange would not be extradited owing to concerns over his mental health, setting out evidence of self-harm and suicidal thoughts and stating that he appears to be “a despairing man, fearful for his future.” 

ARTICLE 19’s Executive Director Quinn McKew said:

“We warmly welcome the news that Julian Assange will not be extradited to the United States on charges of violation of the Espionage Act. 

“This would have dealt a significant blow to press freedom, unjustly criminalising those who gather news and expose the truth. It would have meant that all those who pursue and reveal human rights abuses by the US and other governments, as well as other powerful entities, would also be at risk of extradition and prosecution on vague ‘national security’ grounds.

“We call on the new US administration of President-Elect Joe Biden to drop all charges against Mr Assange and to urgently improve protections for all whistleblowers and others who hold power to account.” 

ARTICLE 19 has closely monitored the case and has repeatedly raised concerns about criminal investigations into Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, as well as the prosecution of those who were sources of information, such as Chelsea Manning. The legal process was marred by serious obstacles to open justice. Despite assurances from the court, ARTICLE 19 and other freedom of expression NGOs were not provided with access to monitor the proceedings as independent NGO observers in person or online which seriously hampered our ability to monitor the proceedings.

In November 2013, the US Department of Justice concluded it would not bring charges against Assange because government lawyers said they could not do so without also prosecuting US news organisations and journalists, raising serious First Amendment issues. However, in April 2019, the Department made public a previously sealed indictment against Assange for conspiring to gain access to classified information on a computer.  This was then followed in May 2019 with a 18-count indictment under the Espionage Act for seeking and publishing the classified information on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. 

ARTICLE 19 has criticised the Espionage Act for being vaguely-worded and not complying with international standards on freedom of expression. Journalists and publishers should not be liable under espionage laws for disclosing information of public interest. Equally, whistleblowers and those who provide information to media outlets should not be prosecuted if there is a strong public interest in the release of the information.  By doing so, the US plays into the hands of authoritarian governments who routinely prosecute journalists under the guise of the protection of national security.

Read the statement from ARTICLE 19’s official website.

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National Union of Journalists welcomes Assange’s extradition victory

4 January 2021

The ruling not to allow Julian Assange’s extradition, announced today at the Old Bailey, brings to a close a dark episode for media freedom.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

“This decision will be welcomed by all who value journalists’ ability to report on national security issues. However, whilst the outcome is the right one, Judge Vanessa Baraitser’s judgement contains much that is troubling. Her basis for dismissing the US’ extradition request was the suicide risk that Assange poses in a US penal system that would probably have kept him in near total isolation.

“The judge rejected the defence case that the charges against Assange related to actions identical to those undertaken daily by most investigative journalists. In doing so, she leaves open the door for a future US administration to confect a similar indictment against a journalist.

“Given his lengthy period of incarceration, it is surely also time to grant Assange bail so that he can join his young family.”

The US has 15 days to appeal. Its lawyers have already indicated that they will lodge papers to this effect. Judge Baraitser says that she will refuse Assange bail until this process is complete.

Read the statement from NUJ’s official website.

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International Federation of Journalists welcomes decision not to extradite Julian Assange

4 January 2021

Judge Vanessa Baraitser today ruled against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition to the United States arguing it would be “oppressive by reason of Assange’s mental health”. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its UK and Australian affiliates, the NUJ and the MEAA welcome the decision and are urging the authorities to immediately release him.

The judge argued Assange suffers from depression and that there is a high risk of suicide. If extradited, she considered it likely the US would send him to prison under special administrative measures (SAMs) and wouldn’t prevent Assange from committing suicide. Therefore, she considered his extradition “unfair”.

Faced with the conditions of near total isolation without the protective factors which limited his risk at HMP Belmarsh, I am satisfied the procedures described by the US will not prevent Mr Assange from finding a way to commit suicide and for this reason I have decided extradition would be oppressive by reason of mental harm and I order his discharge”, judge Baraitser said.

The American government has now 15 days to appeal the decision.

“The IFJ welcomes the judge’s decision not to extradite Assange because of the risk the extradition would pose to his health and well-being. However we are disappointed that that the judge appears not to adequately address the threat to media freedom his extradition would have posed in today’s ruling. For years the IFJ and all its affiliates, particularly in the UK, Australia and the USA, have been reminding people that the detention of Julian Assange is contrary to international law and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Furthermore, Julian Assange’s health has deteriorated dramatically since his imprisonment in April 2019 and the Covid-19 virus in his prison poses a serious threat to the survival of our colleague, holder of the IFJ International Press Card. It is time for the US to drop its attempts to extradite him“, said IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger.

A long fight against Assange’s extradition

The 49-year-old, father of two, sought refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in London for seven years has already spent 16 months at Belmarsh top security jail.

He has been indicted in the United States under the Espionage Act for WikiLeaks’ 2010-11 publications of the Iraq War Logs, the Afghan War Diaries, and State Department cables.

If convicted, Assange would face 175 years in prison. He is accused by the Americans of encouraging whistleblower Chelsea Manning in 2010 to break into the government’s computer system to provide information containing clear evidence of war crimes, including the publication of the video Collateral murders. The video showed, via an onboard camera on a US Apache helicopter in Iraq, the deliberate shooting on 12 July 2007 in Baghdad of civilians by the US military. At least 18 people were killed in the incident, including two journalists from the Reuters agency. 

Both the IFJ and its British and Australian affiliates, the NUJ and the MEAA, have repeatedly highlighted the risks to journalism posed by Assange’s threatened extradition. Today’s ruling avoids a terrible precedent for the potential prosecution of any journalist who published material in similar circumstances.

The IFJ raised Assange’s case at the United Nations and joined over 40 press freedom, human rights and privacy groups to call on the UK government to release Mr. Assange without further delay and block his extradition to the US.

Journalist Tim Dawson has been reporting on the extradition hearings and on behalf of the NUJ and the IFJ. The NUJ also wrote to government ministers calling for the extradition to be halted, among other actions.

NUJ General Secretary, Michelle Stanistreet, said: “This decision will be welcomed by all who value journalists’ ability to report on national security issues. The judge rejected the defence case that the charges against Assange related to actions identical to those undertaken daily by most investigative journalists. In doing so, she leaves open the door for a future US administration to confect a similar indictment against a journalist”.

Read the statement from IFJ’s official website.

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Events

Analysis: #AssangeCase and Extradition Ruling

4 January 2021

An online discussion with David Davis Conservative Member of Parliament, Rebecca Vincent – International Campaigns manager of RSF, Richard Burgon Secretary of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs, Kristinn Hrafnsson – editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, and Craig Murray – former UK Diplomat, on 4th January at 4pm GMT after the verdict of Julian Assange’s extradition hearing.

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IPI welcomes UK court decision not to extradite WikiLeaks’s Julian Assange

4 January 2021

The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom, welcomed today’s decision by a British judge blocking the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States.

The U.S. government had sought Assange’s extradition in connection with his role in publishing a vast trove of American military and diplomatic documents in 2010. The U.S. Justice Department on May 23, 2019 unveiled a new indictment against Assange under the Espionage Act, which represented a significant escalation of those efforts. Assange faces up to 175 years in prison if convicted.

“The decision to deny the U.S. government’s extradition request is a victory for press freedom,” IPI Director of Advocacy Ravi R. Prasad said. “As IPI has previously stated, regardless of one’s opinion of Julian Assange, his prosecution in the U.S. under the Espionage Act would have set a dangerous precedent that would cast a chilling effect on the work of journalists in the U.S. and elsewhere.”

Prasad added: “We urge the U.S. government to drop its charges against Assange under the Espionage Act and end its extradition attempt.”

U.S. authorities have two weeks to appeal the judge’s decision.

Read the statement from IPI’s official website.

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ECPMF welcomes UK court decision not to extradite Assange to USA

4 January 2021

The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) welcomes today’s decision not to extradite Julian Assange to the United States of America. District Judge (DJ) Vanessa Baraitser accepted that Assange is depressed and at risk of suicide. She was satisfied that if extradited, Assange could be held in strict isolation, which would pose a major threat to his mental health. Therefore, DJ Baraitser ruled, it would be unjust to extradite Assange.

We welcome the blocking of the extradition today but remain gravely concerned by the proceedings. They exposed the fact that the 2003 UK-US extradition treaty is ripe for abuse and does not adequately protect journalists and whistleblowers. The US Government’s indictment attempts to criminalise the protection of journalist-source communications and the publication by journalists of classified information. Both are crucial and routine activities for investigative journalists. Indeed, technical measures such as those employed by Assange to facilitate leaks and protect whistleblowers and other sources are now a staple of investigative reporting. In this regard, we strongly disagree with DJ Baraitser, who in her judgment accepts the US government’s lawyers’ arguments that Assange’s conduct went beyond that of a journalist.

The US government has announced that it will appeal the decision. In the interim, a hearing regarding bail has been set for Wednesday 6 January 2021. Given the political nature of the prosecution and especially in light of Assange’s mental health problems in focus today, ECPMF calls for his immediate release.

Lack of access for civil society observers

Today’s ruling concludes a week of hearings of the legal arguments at the Woolwich Crown Court in February 2020 and four weeks of witness testimony hearings at the Old Bailey, London’s Central Criminal Court, in September 2020. ECPMF attempted to observe the witness testimony hearings remotely but did not receive access to the Crowd Video Platform facility. Other civil society observers who had been sent login details had their access abruptly revoked on the first day of the witness hearings. We note that observers who were at the court have also expressed frustration at the extensive barriers established for those attempting to monitor the case, including NGO and political observers. At each stage, the court refused to recognise civil society observers’ specific role or make provisions allowing for professional monitoring of the proceedings. The ECPMF reiterates that trial monitoring is both the exercise and observation of the fundamental right to a fair and public hearing, allowing for scrutiny of its fairness and protecting against judicial arbitrariness. It is highly concerning that in a case of such significance, the court has failed to live up to standards of transparency and openness.

Read the statement from ECPMF’s official website.

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RSF – UK court blocks US attempt to extradite Julian Assange, but leaves public interest reporting at risk

4 January 2021

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is relieved by the 4 January decision of UK District Judge Vanessa Baraitser blocking the United States’ attempt to extradite Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange, but is extremely disappointed by the court’s failure to reject the substance of the case, leaving the door open to further prosecutions on similar grounds.

Although Judge Baraitser decided against extradition, the grounds for her decision were strictly based on Assange’s serious mental health issues and the conditions he would face in detention in the US. On the substantive points in the case – in which the US government has pursued Assange on 17 counts under the Espionage Act and one count under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act – the judge’s decision was heavily in favour of the prosecution’s arguments, and dismissive of the defence.

“We are immensely relieved that Julian Assange will not be extradited to the US. At the same time, we are extremely disappointed that the court failed to take a stand for press freedom and journalistic protections, and we disagree with the judge’s assessment that the case was not politically motivated and was not centered on journalism and free speech. This decision leaves the door open for further similar prosecutions and will have a chilling effect on national security reporting around the world if the root issues are not addressed,” said RSF’ Director of International Campaigns, Rebecca Vincent. 

The US government has indicated that it intends to appeal the extradition decision. Assange remains detained on remand in high-security Belmarsh prison, pending the judge’s consideration of his bail application on 6 January. RSF calls again for his immediate release, and will continue to monitor proceedings.

Despite extensive difficulties securing access – including refusal by the judge to accredit NGO observers and threats of arrest by police on the scene – RSF monitored the 4 January hearing at London’s Central Criminal Court (the Old Bailey), and has been the only NGO to monitor the full extradition proceedings against Assange.

The UK and US are respectively ranked 35th and 45th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2020 World Press Freedom Index.

Read statement from RSF’s official website.

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Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes UK decision not to extradite Julian Assange, urges DOJ to drop charges

January 4, 2021

New York, January 4, 2021 – The Committee to Protect Journalists today welcomed a British court’s decision to deny the United States’ request to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and urged the U.S. Department of Justice to drop all charges against him.

“We are heartened that a British court has denied the United States’ request to extradite Julian Assange. The U.S. government’s decision to charge the WikiLeaks founder set a harmful legal precedent for the prosecution of journalists around the world simply for interacting with their sources,” said CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney. “We urge the U.S. Department of Justice to refrain from further pursuing extradition through appeals and to drop all charges against Assange.”

If extradited and convicted in the United States, Assange faces up to 175 years in prison: 10 years for each of the 17 charges filed under the Espionage Act, and five years for a Computer Fraud and Abuse Act violation, according to CPJ research.

Read the statement from CPJ’s official website.

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Freedom Of The Press Foundation – Assange extradition rejected: A huge sigh of relief for press freedom

4 January 2021

Today, a UK judge rejected the Trump administration’s attempt to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Espionage Act and CFAA charges related to WikiLeaks’ publication of secret Defense and State Department documents that made global headlines in 2010 and 2011.

The judge based her decision on the fact that the United States prison system is so repressive, Assange would be a serious suicide risk if he was sent to the U.S.

Virtually all major press freedom and human rights groups have condemned the US government’s attempt to prosecute Assange as an existential threat to journalists’ rights.

The following statement can be attributed to Freedom of the Press Foundation executive director Trevor Timm, who testified as an expert witness in the UK hearings on behalf of the defense:

Today’s ruling is a huge sigh of relief for anyone who cares about press freedom. While the judge’s opinion contains many worrying assertions that disregard journalists’ rights, her rejection of the Trump administration’s extradition request means the US government likely won’t be able to obtain any precedent that would criminalize common newsgathering and publishing practices. And that is a very good thing.

The Trump administration has indicated it would appeal the decision. A bail hearing for Assange has been set for Wednesday.

Freedom of the Press Foundation again calls on the US Justice Department to immediately drop its charges against Assange and for the UK to release him from prison.

Read the statement from FPF’s official website.

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Amnesty – UK: Assange extradition decision welcome but exposes “politically-motivated process”

4 January 2021

Responding to the decision by the Magistrate’s Court in London not to approve the extradition of Julian Assange to the US where he would face a risk of ill-treatment in prison, Amnesty International’s Europe Director, Nils Muižnieks, said:

“We welcome the fact that Julian Assange will not be sent to the USA and that the court acknowledged that due to his health concerns, he would be at risk of ill-treatment in the US prison system. But the charges against him should never have been brought in the first place. The charges were politically-motivated, and the UK government should never have so willingly assisted the US in its unrelenting pursuit of Assange. We welcome the fact that Julian Assange will not be sent to the USA and that the court acknowledged that due to his health concerns, he would be at risk of ill-treatment in the US prison system. But the charges against him should never have been brought in the first place Amnesty International’s Europe Director, Nils Muižnieks

“The fact that the ruling is correct and saves Assange from extradition, does not absolve the UK from having engaged in this politically-motivated process at the behest of the USA and putting media freedom and freedom of expression on trial. It has set a terrible precedent for which the US is responsible and the UK government is complicit.” The fact that the ruling is correct and saves Assange from extradition, does not absolve the UK from having engaged in this politically-motivated process at the behest of the USA and putting media freedom and freedom of expression on trial Nils Muižnieks

BACKGROUND

The US extradition request is based on charges directly related to the publication of leaked classified documents as part of Assange’s work with Wikileaks. Publishing such information is a cornerstone of media freedom and the public’s right to information about government wrongdoing. Publishing information in the public interest is protected under international human rights law and should not be criminalized.

If extradited to the US, Julian Assange could have faced trial on 18 charges, 17 of them under the Espionage Act; and one under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. He would also face a real risk of serious human rights violations due to detention conditions that could amount to torture or other ill-treatment, including prolonged solitary confinement. Julian Assange is the first publisher to face charges under the Espionage Act.

Read the statement from Amnesty’s official website

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EFF Statement on British Court’s Rejection of Trump Administration’s Extradition Request for Wikileaks’ Julian Assange

January 4, 2021

Today, a British judge denied the Trump Administration’s extradition request for Wikileaks Editor Julian Assange, who is facing charges in the United States under the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The judge largely confirmed the charges against him, but ultimately determined that the United States’ extreme procedures for confinement that would be applied to Mr. Assange would create a serious risk of suicide.

EFF’s Executive Director Cindy Cohn said in a statement today:

“We are relieved that District Judge Vanessa Baraitser made the right decision to reject extradition of Mr. Assange and, despite the U.S. government’ initial statement, we hope that the U.S. does not appeal that decision. The UK court decision means that Assange will not face charges in the United States, which could have set dangerous precedent in two ways. First, it could call into question many of the journalistic practices that writers at the New York Times, the Washington Post, Fox News, and other publications engage in every day to ensure that the American people stay informed about the operations of their government. Investigative journalism—including seeking, analyzing and publishing leaked government documents, especially those revealing abuses—has a vital role in holding the U.S. government to account. It is, and must remain, strongly protected by the First Amendment. Second, the prosecution, and the judge’s decision, embraces a theory of computer crime that is overly broad — essentially criminalizing a journalist for discussing and offering help with basic computer activities like use of rainbow tables and scripts based on wget, that are regularly used in computer security and elsewhere.

While we applaud this decision, it does not erase the many years Assange has been dogged by prosecution, detainment, and intimidation for his journalistic work. It also does not erase the government’s arguments that, as in so many other cases, attempts to cast a criminal pall over routine actionsbecause they were done with a computer. We are still reviewing the judge’s opinion and expect to have additional thoughts once we’ve completed our analysis.”

Read the judge’s full statement.

Read the statement from EFF’s official website.

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Post Press Release

Nomination of Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize

4th January, 2021

The Norwegian Nobel Committee
Henrik Ibsen’s gate 51
O255 Oslo, Norway

Subject: Nomination of Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize

Dear Members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, I hope this finds you well.

I am herein nominating these three individuals, as a group, for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.
All three have been individually nominated in previous years for the Peace Prize, but none received it to date. My reasons for nominating them together are simple.

Individually, each has given countless examples of courage exposing governments’ illegal actions that caused millions of deaths—putting their own freedoms and lives on the line.
Collectively, their lives of self-sacrifice and selflessness constitute remarkable demonstrations of the magnificence of the human spirit. They are indeed breathtaking testimonies to the goodness inherent in the human heart.

Today around the world, when we listen or read about violence, militarism, poverty, war, pandemics, climate change, and particularly the suffering of millions of little children hungry in a rich world, it is hard not to feel despair and wonder… ‘where is the hope?’ However, the hope lies in the lives of ordinary people doing extraordinary things to serve and help others even sometimes at the cost of their own lives.

Our hope lies in lives like those of Chelsea, Ed and Julian, their altruism helping restore our faith in ourselves and in our brothers and sisters everywhere. We allow ourselves to be inspired by their courage and example as they motivate us to act. If they are capable of such great acts of love, maybe we too can do something for others – at least we can try to keep the Golden Rule, ‘do unto others as you would have them do to you’ (which all religions preach). We each can try to do no harm, and try to do what is right.

Chelsea Manning, as an American soldier based in Iraq, could not go along with the murder of Iraqi civilians. Julian Assange, as a publisher, had to do his duty and disclose facts of the Iraqi and Afghan wars to the public. Edward Snowden, working in U.S. intelligence, could not remain silent knowing that his government was carrying out illegal surveillance of US citizens and world governments.

They could have remained silent but chose the hard road to tell the truth. Now they are being punished cruelly and vindictively by those who broke international laws, the very people who should be held responsible for the deaths of children and civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen…

Currently Assange is in Belmarsh Prison, UK, facing extradition charges to USA, as the British government cooperates with the American Grand Jury to condemn him (an Australian citizen and publisher) to cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment, which could even lead to the death penalty.

Even more insidious, with a few honourable exceptions, the Main Stream Media–if not silent at the unjust torture of Assange by the UK and US governments–collude in the abuse of Assange, a fellow publisher. If Assange is extradited to USA to stand trial and imprisoned for truth telling, thereafter no reporter, newspaper or publisher in the world will be safe from the same treatment by the USA and other repressive governments opposed to public accountability and scrutiny.
Snowden is seeking asylum in Moscow (Russia have just granted him citizenship to help protect his life) and is unable to return to his home in the USA lest he be arrested and confined to an American prison for life.
Manning is in an American prison, having been re-arrested and held because she courageously refuses to give testimony against Assange.
All of these three Champions of Peace followed their consciences, did their duty with love. I am sure that they were afraid, but they endured their Dark Nights of the Soul, they each did something beautiful and magnificent in service of others. We must all be grateful for their uplifting spirits.

The Nobel Committee could protect and help save the lives of these three champions of peace by awarding them the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize. By doing so you would honour the will of Nobel, in acknowledging true heroes of Peace. The Nobel committee would also give great hope to publishers, journalists, writers, and many who face repression and persecution by their governments as they struggle to be the writers of truth and history of humanity.

Thank you.
Peace,

Mairead Maguire,
Nobel Peace Laureate

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Press Release

MEDIA ADVISORY – Julian Assange Extradition Case Decision

03 January 2021

Julian Assange Extradition Case Decision

Location: Court 2, The Old Bailey, London EC4M 7EH
Time: 10:00
Start Date: Monday 4th January 2021


Julian Assange will attend the Old Bailey on Monday 4th January 2021 when district judge Vanessa Baraitser rules on his extradition to the US.

Assange faces 17 charges for receiving, possessing and disclosing classified documents related to the national defence, and one charge for computer misuse. It is the first time in history that receiving and publishing information has been criminalised.

Assange faces 175 years. He has been charged under the 1917 Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

The ruling will be handed down in Court 2 at the Old Bailey, the same court room in which the Guildford 4 were wrongly convicted.

Assange will be driven from HMP Belmarsh to court to attend the hearing in person. It is expected that the van bringing Assange will arrive to the court before 09:00.

Julian Assange’s lawyers are expected to arrive from 09:00.

Julian Assange’s partner will be attending in person and will arrive between 09.15-10.00.

The courts have allocated one hour for the decision between 10:00 – 11:00.

Julian Assange’s partner Stella Moris is expected to speak outside the court upon exiting the court.


Interview opportunities

WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson is available for interviews Sunday and Monday on request


Court Access and Video streaming

We kindly refer you: https://courttribunalfinder.service.gov.uk/courts/central-criminal-court

Kristinn Hrafnsson, Editor-in-Chief, Wikileaks said:

“The mere fact that this case has made it to court let alone gone on this long is an historic, large-scale attack on freedom of speech. The US Government should listen to the groundswell of support coming from the main stream media editorials, NGOs around the world such as Amnesty and Reporters Without Borders and the United Nations who are all calling for these charges to be dropped. This is a fight that affects each and every person’s right to know and is being fought collectively.”

For background only:

Julian Assange is charged by the US administration for publications exposing war crimes and human rights abuses for which he faces a 175 years sentence. The prosecution turns necessary journalistic practices of communicating with a source and having and publishing true information into crimes. This creates a precedent that can be used against journalists everywhere.

Assange has been held on remand at HMP Belmarsh in London for 20 months.

The full extradition hearing began in February 2020 and concluded in October (after a hiatus due to COVID-19) at the Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey) in London and lasted for five weeks. The judgment will be handed down on 4th January 2021.

Mr Assange is represented by Gareth Peirce of Birnberg Peirce (solicitor) and Edward Fitzgerald QC, Mark Summers QC and Florence Iverson (counsel).

Even before COVID-19, Julian Assange’s lawyers experienced a considerable difficulty communicating with their client. Speaking at a hearing back in September, Edward Fitzgerald QC, said ‘We’ve had great difficulties in getting into Belmarsh to take instructions from Mr Assange and to discuss the evidence with him.’ Mr Fitzgerald continued: ‘We simply cannot get in as we require to see Mr Assange and to take his instruction.’ Assange had not seen his lawyers for 6 months prior to the preceding hearings in September. He has not met with his lawyers since the hearings concluded in October.

The UN working group on arbitrary detention issued a statement saying that “the right of Mr. Assange to personal liberty should be restored”.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has written: “Our government must ensure the UK is a safe place for journalists and publishers to work. Whilst Julian Assange remains in prison facing extradition, it is not.”

Massimo Moratti of Amnesty International has publicly stated on their website that, “Were Julian Assange to be extradited or subjected to any other transfer to the USA, Britain would be in breach of its obligations under international law.”

Human Rights Watch published an article saying, “The only thing standing between an Assange prosecution and a major threat to global media freedom is Britain. It is urgent that it defend the principles at risk.”

The NUJ has stated “US charges against Assange pose a huge threat, one that could criminalise the critical work of investigative journalists & their ability to protect their sources”.

ENDS

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Post Press Clippings

RSF STATEMENT: US/UK: “Future of journalism” at stake as historic extradition decision looms in case of Julian Assange

January 1, 2021

Just days ahead of the historic forthcoming decision in the US extradition case against Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) again condemns the targeting of Assange for his contributions to journalism and calls for his immediate release.

Extradition proceedings against Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange are set to conclude on 4 January, when District Judge Vanessa Baraitser is due to give her decision in a 10 am hearing at London’s Central Criminal Court (the Old Bailey). This follows a week of proceedings in February 2020 at the Woolwich Crown Court, during which legal arguments were presented, and four weeks of proceedings at the Old Bailey in September, when witness testimony was heard.

“The case against Julian Assange is outrageous. It is clearly politically motivated and intended to make an example of Assange and create a chilling effect on media around the world. If the US government is successful in securing Assange’s extradition and prosecuting him for his contributions to public interest reporting, the same precedent could be applied to any journalist anywhere. The possible implications of this case simply cannot be understated; it is the very future of journalism and press freedom that is at stake,” said RSF’s Director of International Campaigns Rebecca Vincent.

RSF will be attempting to monitor the 4 January hearing either remotely or in person. Following the judge’s decision to revoke access for all NGO observers at the start of September’s proceedings at the Old Bailey, the only way RSF could monitor proceedings was to gain physical access to the very few spaces made available in the public gallery of the overflow courtroom each day. RSF was the only NGO to do so, and documented extensive barriers to open justice.

Ahead of the 4 January decision, RSF has delivered the final version of its petition of more than 108,000 signatures (between the international and German versions), which closed on 31 December 2020, calling on the UK authorities not to extradite Assange. 10 Downing Street previously refused to accept the petition when RSF attempted to deliver it on 7 September alongside Assange’s partner Stella Moris, and never acknowledged the email submission that followed. 

This time the petition has been submitted via email to Number 10, the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office, and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. RSF has also posted a visual containing the names of all signatories to its home page and across all of its international social media accounts.

The US and UK are respectively ranked 45th and 35th in RSF’s 2020 World Press Freedom Index.

Read their statement from the official website.

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Press Release

German Gov’s Commissioner for Human Rights Policy Bärbel Kofler expresses concern over Assange

31 December 2020

German Federal Government’s Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid Bärbel Kofler issues statement expressing concern over possible Assange extradition ahead of UK court ruling on Monday

Bärbel Kofler, Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance of the German Federal Government led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, issued a statement in which she expressed concern over a possible extradition of Julian Assange.

“I am following the extradition proceedings in Great Britain against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and the closing arguments submitted in writing by the prosecution and defense in November with concern,’ she said.

‘Human rights and humanitarian aspects of a possible extradition must not be overlooked. Julian Assange’s physical and mental health must be taken into account when deciding on extradition to the USA. Great Britain is bound by the European Convention on Human Rights, also with a view to the possible penalties and the conditions of detention’ she followed.

The statement by a senior official from the German government is a major development. It follows the announcement last week that parliamentarians from all the major political parties had formed a working group in the German parliament (Bundestag) for the release of Julian Assange.

Julian Assange is fighting a politically motivated extradition to the United States. He is charged by the US administration for publications exposing war crimes and human rights abuses for which he faces a 175 years sentence in US prison. He has spent almost two years in a high security prison as an unconvicted prisoner.

The decision on whether or not the court will order his extradition will be announced by district judge Vanessa Baraitser at the Old Bailey Court on Monday, January 4th, at 10am.
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Press Clippings

Open Letter to President Donald Trump regarding Julian Assange from Australian parliamentary group

22 December 2020

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Press Clippings

Members of the Bundestag from almost all parliamentary groups have founded a joint working group to release the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

21 December 2020

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Post Press Clippings

The Guardian view on Julian Assange: do not extradite him

EDITORIAL, Fri 18 Dec 2020

The US should never have brought the case against the WikiLeaks founder. This attack on press freedom must be rejected

On 4 January, a British judge is set to rule on whether Julian Assange should be extradited to the United States, where he could face a 175-year sentence in a high-security “supermax” prison. He should not. The charges against him in the US undermine the foundations of democracy and press freedom in both countries.

The secret military and diplomatic files provided by Chelsea Manning, and made public by WikiLeaks working with the Guardian and other media organisations, revealed horrifying abuses by the US and other governments. Giving evidence in Mr Assange’s defence, Daniel Ellsberg, the lauded whistleblower whose leak of the Pentagon Papers shed grim light on the US government’s actions in the Vietnam war, observed: “The American public needed urgently to know what was being done routinely in their name, and there was no other way for them to learn it than by unauthorized disclosure.”

No one has been brought to book for the crimes exposed by WikiLeaks. Instead, the Trump administration has launched a full-scale assault on the international criminal court for daring to investigate these and other offences, and is pursuing the man who brought them to light. It has taken the unprecedented step of prosecuting him under the Espionage Act for publishing confidential information. (Mike Pompeo, secretary of state and former CIA director, has previously described Wikileaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence agency”). In doing so, it chose to attack one of the very bases of journalism: its ability to share vital information that the government would rather suppress.

No public interest defence is permissible under the act. No publisher covering national security in any serious way could consider itself safe were this extradition attempt to succeed – wherever it was based; the acts of which Mr Assange is accused (which also include one count of conspiring to hack into a Pentagon computer network) took place when he was outside the US. The decision to belatedly broaden the indictment looks more like an attempt to dilute criticisms from the media than to address the concerns. The real motivation for this case is clear. His lawyers argue not only that the prosecution misrepresents the facts, but that he is being pursued for a political offence, for which extradition is expressly barred in the US-UK treaty.

Previous cases relating to Mr Assange should not be used to confuse the issue. Sweden has dropped the investigation into an accusation of rape, which he denied. He has served his 50-week sentence for skipping bail in relation to those allegations, imposed after British police dragged him from the Ecuadorian embassy. Yet while the extradition process continues, he remains in Belmarsh prison, where a Covid-19 outbreak has led to his solitary confinement. Nils Melzer, the UN special rapporteur on torture, has argued that his treatment is “neither necessary nor proportionate and clearly lacks any legal basis”. He previously warned that Mr Assange is showing all the symptoms associated with prolonged exposure to psychological torture and should not be extradited to the US. His lawyers say he would be at high risk of suicide.

Such considerations have played a part in halting previous extraditions, such as that of Lauri Love, who denied US allegations that he had hacked into government websites. But whatever the outcome in January, the losing side is likely to appeal; legal proceedings will probably drag on for years.

A political solution is required. Stella Moris, Mr Assange’s partner and mother of his two young children, is among those who have urged Donald Trump to pardon him. But Joe Biden may be more willing to listen. The incoming president could let Mr Assange walk free. He should do so.

Read from The Guardian website

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Press Clippings

A cross-party group of MPs has written to the Justice Secretary asking for a meeting between MPs and Julian Assange.

17 December 2020

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Events

Marking the 10th anniversary of WikiLeaks’ Cablegate publication

28 November 2020

10 years ago on 28 November 2010 WikiLeaks started publishing over 250 000 US diplomatic cables known as Cablegate along with Der Spiegel, El Pais, Le Monde the Guardian.

It has transformed journalism in the digital age. The cables have contributed significantly to public and political conversations all around the world, they became valuable reference resource to researchers, universities, investigative journalists, human rights advocates and lawyers.

The Cables also revealed that governments overclassified information and kept secrets that should have been subject to public scrutiny and debate and have genuinely revolutionized our understanding of political reality.

In recognition, a year later Julian Assange won Walkley Award, Australian equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize, for “the Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism, courageous and controversial commitment to the finest traditions of journalism: justice through transparency, applied new technology to penetrate the inner workings of government to reveal an avalanche of inconvenient truths in a global publishing coup.”

Julian Assange has been charged by the Trump administration for publications of these cables, Iraq War logs and Afghan War logs which exposed war crimes and human rights abuses — for which he now faces a 175 year prison sentence.

To mark 10 years of the release Don’t Extradite Assange hosted an online discussion chaired by John Rees, on the panel Alison Broinowski former Australian diplomat, academic, journalist and Craig Murray former British diplomat, human rights campaigner, whistleblower and Hans-Christof von Sponeck former UN Assistant Secretary-General and UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq.

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Post

Protest at the Old Bailey for the judge’s verdict on 4 January 9am

With socially distanced manner.

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Press Clippings

ASLEF welcomes NUJ condemnation of Julian Assange detention – Statement

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Press Clippings

Unite welcomes NUJ condemnation of Julian Assange detention – Statement

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Post

NUJ calls on all unions to support Assange

In a dramatic call the National Union of Journalists has asked every trade union in the UK to campaign to stop the extradition of Julian Assange to the US.

Michelle Stanistreet, the NUJ’s general secretary, has written a letter to the general secretaries of all other unions pointing out the danger to a free press that would be triggered if Assange is extradited. 

Writing of the US Espionage Act of 1917 under which Assange could face a lifetime in jail, the NUJ leader wrote: ‘This is a repressive statute that has in the past been used to jail trades union activists and working-class leaders. More particularly, the charges themselves seek to criminalise activity that for many NUJ members is their daily work – cultivating sources who are willing to share sensitive information that reveals incompetence, corruption, and illegality’.

The NUJ has been at the forefront of campaigning to stop Assange’s extradition and in the letter Michelle Stanistreet addresses her fellow general secretaries directly: ‘It is vital that we build a campaign to oppose Mr Assange’s extradition and prosecution that is located in the mainstream of progressive concerns – and only trades unions have the reach to achieve this. I am hoping that you will join in this campaign.’

The letter contains a model motion that other unions can use to align their policy with this call for solidarity from the NUJ.

NUJ letter

The train drivers union (ASLEF) has already adopted national policy to support the Assange campaign and this letter from the NUJ is sure to see other unions join the campaign. 

ASLEF support

The NUJ is offering to send its executive members to meetings organised by other trade unionists to explain why the union is appealing for support for Julian Assange. The NUJ recently held an online rally to discuss the case with former Guardian editor Alan Rushbridger, NUJ executive member Tim Dawson, the union’s Assistant General Secretary Seamas Dooley, and Julian Assange’s lawyer Jen Robinson. 

Trade unionists back campaign to Free Assange

Categories
Press Clippings

NUJ letter to trade unions

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Press Release

Day 18: Hearing concludes, ruling to come January 4th 2021; Gareth Peirce – Embassy spying instilled “chilling effect” on legal defense

October 1, 2020

  • See previous daily reports here and a video recap of last week’s proceedings here
  • See an overview of USA v. Julian Assange here
  • See a thread of live-tweets of today’s hearing here

Hearing concludes, ruling to come January 4th 2021

Stella Moris, Julian Assange’s partner, speaking outside the courtroom (@DEAcampaign)

The evidentiary phase of Julian Assange’s extradition hearing concluded today, with final witness statements summarized in court. Judge Vanessa Baraitser then announced that she will deliver her ruling on January 4, 2021.

Outside the court following the proceedings, Assange’s partner Stella Moris addressed supporters and the press.

“This is a fight for Julian’s life. It is a fight for press freedom,” she said. Moris spoke about Julian facing a 175 year prison sentence, and the prosecution admitting that no one has been proven to be harmed as a result of WikiLeaks’ releases.

“The U.S. prosecution is trying to make normal journalistic activities, which are entirely legal in this jurisdiction, an extraditable offense,” she said.

“The US says it can put any journalist anywhere in the world on trial in the US if it doesn’t like what they’re publishing.”

“This case is already chilling press freedom. It is a frontal assault on journalism, on the public’s right to know,” and on our ability to hold the powerful to account.

“Terrible crimes were committed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Terrible crimes were committed in Guantanamo Bay. The perpetrators of those crimes are not in prison. Julian is.”

Gareth Peirce: Embassy spying instilled “chilling effect” on legal defense

Defense lawyer Mark Summers summarized statements by Gareth Peirce, Julian Assange’s solicitor, regarding surveillance of legal visits in the Ecuadorian Embassy and the seizure of Assange’s property after his eviction and arrest.

Peirce recounted Assange’s application for asylum and Ecuador’s reason for giving it. She explained that she learned after the fact that her legal conversations with Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London were spied on, and that this surveillance instilled a “chilling effect” on the whole legal defense team as they prepared for the hearings.

The judge then rejected a defense application to consider as evidence a recent speech by U.S. Attorney General William Barr made in the middle of these proceedings and a Washington Post article on the AG’s comments.

While Barr didn’t mention Assange or the case in his remarks to Hillsdale College on September 16, 2020, the speech is clearly relevant to the defense argument that this prosecution is “political” in nature. As the Post explained,

The attorney general said it was he, not career officials, who has the ultimate authority to decide how cases should be handled, and he derided less-experienced, less-senior bureaucrats who current and former prosecutors have long insisted should be left to handle their cases free from interference from political appointees.

“Under the law,” Barr said, “all prosecutorial power is invested in the attorney general.”

But the judge refused to accept the statement, arguing that it is a routine speech by an attorney general and not significantly dramatic or relevant to be included at this late stage.

In announcing the date of her ruling, Judge Baraitser explained that the defense gets four weeks to submit its closing arguments, and the prosecution then gets two weeks to submit its closing arguments in response. Then her ruling will be delivered in court on January 4th, 2021, at 10:00am.

Categories
Press Release

Day 17, Part 2: Anonymous witnesses detail U.S.-directed spying of Julian Assange in the Embassy; UC Global agrees to send Embassy recordings to US intelligence

September 30, 2020

The defense read several witness statements aloud in court today, including two statements from anonymous former employees of UC Global, the Spanish security company led by David Morales which spied on Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The witness statements testify to the particular zeal Morales had in recording conversations between Assange and his lawyers as well as his contract with an American company to report the recordings back to American intelligence officials.

Background on the UC Global/Embassy spying story:

Anonymous witness 1: UC Global secures contract with Trump financier Sheldon Adelson

Around July 2016, by which time UC Global was already providing security services under a contract with the Government of Ecuador in London, David Morales travelled to a security sector trade fair in Las Vegas, which I wished to accompany him on, but he insisted he had to travel alone. On this trip, Mr Morales showcased the company UC Global in the Las Vegas security sector trade fair.


After his initial travels to the Unites States, UC Global obtained a flashy contract, personally managed by David Morales, with the company Las Vegas Sands, which was owned by the tycoon Sheldon Adelson, whose proximity to Donald Trump is public knowledge (at the time Trump was the presidential candidate).


After returning from one of his trips to the United States, David Morales gathered all the workers in the office in Jerez and told us that “we have moved up and from now on we will be playing in the big league”. During a private conversation with David, I asked him what he was referring to when he said we had moved up into “the big league”. David replied, without going into further detail, that he had switched over to “the dark side” referring to cooperating with US authorities, and as a result of that collaboration “the Americans will get us contracts all over the world”.

In addition to the new contract, after Morales’s return from Las Vegas and his comments about “the big league” and switching to “the dark side”, I learned through my conversation with Davis Morales that he had entered into illegal agreements with U.S. authorities to supply them with sensitive information about Mr. Assange and Rafael Correa, given that UC Global was responsible for the embassy security where Mr. Assange was located.

UC Global agrees to send Embassy recordings to US intelligence

as a result of the parallel agreement that David Morales has signed with U.S. authorities, Morales commented that these reports would also be sent to “the dark side”. In order to do this, David Morales began making regular trips to the United States, principally to New York but also Chicago and Washington, he told me he was traveling to talk with “our American friends”.

At times, when I asked insistently who his “American friends” were, David Morales replied “U.S. intelligence”.

2017: Increasing Embassy surveillance

From 2017, with the victory of Donald Trump, I realized that David Morales’s trips to see “the American friends”, which he did not want anyone else at the company to take part in, began to escalate. More specifically, around June or July 2017 David Morales began to develop a sophisticated information collection system inside the embassy. He asked the employees who were physically inside the embassy to intensify and deepen their information collection. The employees also received the instruction from David Morales to change the internal and external cameras of the embassy. The interior ones recorded sound. I was also informed by the employees that David Morales instructed a team to travel regularly to London to collect the camera recordings.


After this, in Jerez packages of information were configured so that David Morales would personally bring  these to American authorities, with increased details and intrusion on the privacy of Mr Assange, his lawyers, doctors and other visitors.

He showed at times a real obsession in relation to monitoring and recording the lawyers who met with the “guest” (Julian Assange) because “our American friends” were requesting it.

Anonymous witness 2 corroborates UC Global’s U.S. ties

I remember that after David Morales had returned from the United States, at a meeting with the rest of the staff he affirmed that we were moving into “the premier league”. After this I became aware that David Morales was making regular trips to the United States, the context of which my boss, David Morales, repeated to his having “gone to the dark side”.

On 24 January 2017, once Donald Trump had acceded to the presidency of the United States, David Morales sent a message over Telegram in which he wrote, “Well, I want you to be alert because I am informed that we are being vetted, so everything that is confidential should be encrypted […] That’s what I’m being told. Everything relates to the UK issue. I am not worried about it, just be alert […] The people vetting are our friends in the USA”.

Audio recording of Assange’s meetings

In early December 2017, I was instructed by David Morales to travel with a colleague to install the new security cameras. I carried out the new installation over the course of several days. I was instructed by Morales not to share information about the specifications of the recording system, and if asked to deny that the cameras were recording audio. I was told that it was imperative that these instructions be carried out as they came, supposedly, from the highest spheres. In fact, I was asked on several occasions by Mr. Assange and the Political Counsellor Maria Eugenia whether the new cameras recorded sound, to which I replied that they did not, as my boss had instructed me to do. Thus, from that moment on the cameras began to record sound regularly, so every meeting that the asylee held was captured.

Providing recordings to the U.S.

Around June 2017, while I was sourcing providers for the new camera equipment, David Morales instructed that the cameras should allow streaming capabilities so that “our friends in the United States”, as Morales explicitly put it, would be able to gain access to the interior of the embassy in real time.

Morales instructed me to place a microphone in the meeting room, placed in the PVC holder of the fire extinguisher in the meeting room, where it was glued to a magnet and then concealed at the base of the PVC plastic.

Further to this, David Morales asked me to install a another microphone, in the toilet at the end of the embassy, a place that had become strategic because Mr. Assange, who suspected that he was the subject of espionage, maintained many of his meetings there in order to preserve confidentiality.

David Morales also indicated that the aim was that the surveillance, control of information and recordings should focus on the meetings of the asylee, especially those in which he was meeting with his lawyers, who were priority targets, so the security personnel that were physically deployed in the embassy were specifically asked to monitor these meetings of Assange with his lawyers, as this was required by our “US friends”.

Extreme privacy intrusions

David Morales asked me to steal a nappy of a baby which, according to the company’s security personnel deployed at the embassy, regularly visited Mr. Assange. Morales stated that I had to steal the nappy in order to establish whether the baby was a child of the asylee’s. On this occasion, Morales expressly stated that “the Americans” were the ones who wanted to establish paternity.

Categories
Press Release

Day 17, Part 1: Witnesses – UC Global spied on Assange’s conversations with lawyers; Patrick Cockburn, Ian Cobain, Guy Goodwin-Gill, Stefania Maurizi, Robert Boyle

September 30, 2020

  • See previous daily reports here and a video recap of last week’s proceedings here
  • See an overview of USA v. Julian Assange here
  • See a thread of live-tweets of today’s hearing here

Witnesses: UC Global spied on Assange’s conversations with lawyers

UC Global director David Morales

The defense read several witness statements aloud in court today, including two statements from anonymous former employees of UC Global, the Spanish security company led by David Morales which spied on Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The witness statements testify to the particular zeal Morales had in recording conversations between Assange and his lawyers as well as his contract with an American company to report the recordings back to American intelligence officials.

Background on the UC Global/Embassy spying story:

What follows are experts from other statements read aloud:

Patrick Cockburn: WikiLeaks showed the realities of war

Patrick Cockburn is an investigative reporter for The Independent. See his article ‘Julian Assange in Limbo‘ in the London Review of Books from earlier this year.

I was In Kabul when I first heard about the WikiLeaks revelations. which confirmed much of what I and others had suspected. The trove was immense: some 251,287 diplomatic cables. more than 400,000 classified army reports from the Iraq War and 90,000 from the war in Afghanistan. Rereading these documents now I’m struck again by the constipated military-bureaucratic prose, with its sinister dehumanising acronyms. Killing people is referred to as an EOF (‘Escalation of Force’), something that happened frequently at US military checkpoints when nervous US soldiers directed Iraqi drivers to stop or go with complex hand signals that nobody understood. What this could mean for Iraqis ls illustrated by brief military reports such as the one headed ‘Escalation of Force by 3/8 NE Fallujah: I CIV KIA, 4 CIV WIA’. Decoded, ii describes the moment when a woman In a car was killed and her husband and three daughters wounded at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Fallujah, forty miles west of Baghdad. Toe US marine on duty opened fire because he was unable to determine the occupants of the vehicle due to the reflection of the- sun coming off the windshield’. Another report marks the moment when US soldiers shot dead a man who was ·creeping up behind their sniper position’. only to learn later that he was their own unit’s Interpreter.

These reports are the small change of war. But collectively they convey its reality far better than even the most well-Informed journalistic accounts. Those two shootings were a thousand times repeated, though the reports were rare in admitting that the victims-were civilians. More usually, the dead were automatically identified as ‘terrorists’ caught in the act, regardless or evidence to the contrary.

On why WikiLeaks and Assange are persecuted

The Wikileaks documents exposed the way the US, as the world’s sole superpower, really conducted its wars – something that the military and political establishments saw as a blow to their credibility and legitimacy. There were some devastating revelations, the helicopter video among them, but many or the secrets uncovered were not particularly significant or indeed very secret. In my view, they do not themselves explain the degree of reaction that the Wikileaks revelations provoked from the US government and Its allies: I consider this to have been their response to a perceived assault on their monopoly control of sensitive state information, which they saw as an essential prop to their authority. Making such information public as Assange and Wikileaks had done weaponised freedom of expression: if disclosures of this kind went unpunished and became the norm, it would radically shift the balance of power between government and society – and especially the media – in favour of the latter.

Wikileaks did what all journalists should do, which is to make important information available fo the public, enabling people· to make evidence-based judgments about the world around them and, in particular, about the actions of their governments, and, of those actions more than any other those that reveal the gravest of state crimes. In my view steps taken against Assange for publishing information of such great importance betrays the true motivation behind the unprecedented steps being taken to criminalise his actions. In 2010 WikiLeaks won a great victory for freedom of expression and against state secrecy and the US government Is now making every effort to reverse it.

Ian Cobain: Only leaked docs confirm what governments cover up

Ian Cobain is an investigative journalist who was with The Guardian in 2010-11.

There is always the understanding – one that is so clear that it needs not be spoken – that anyone who has knowledge of state crimes, and who comes forward to corroborate allegations about those crimes, may face prosecution.

Evidence that would support such allegations is extraordinarily difficult to obtain from within governments with disciplined intelligence agencies and civil services, and where the penalties for unauthorised disclosure can include intrusion into family life, prosecution and imprisonment, loss of livelihood and loss of pension rights.

Cobain reported on British intelligence helping the CIA kidnap an entire family and render them to Libya where they were tortured.

Almost certainly, nothing of this case would have emerged into the public sphere were it not for the unique emergence of hundreds of documents relating to the Libyan security state. The documentary evidence emerged during a serendipitous moment in Tripoli during the 2011 Libyan revolution when filing cabinets full of documents belonging to the Libyan security apparatus fell into the hands of NGO workers and journalists.


Had the documents not emerged in the way in which they did, the British government would no doubt have continued to maintain that “the UK does not participate in, solicit, encourage or condone the use of torture for any purpose”, a claim that is completely undermined by the documentary evidence now available in respect of this case. In the event the government apologised to the couple and made a payment to the wife. A case brought by the family was settled out of court.


Under these circumstances, it could be argued that media scrutiny is more important than ever, and that leaks and whistle-blowers remain a vital means by which state crimes can be exposed.

Guy Goodwin-Gill: Spied on in the Embassy

“On 16 June 2016, I attended a meeting at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to discuss the international legal aspects of the asylum accorded to Mr Julian Assange. Those attending included the Foreign Minister of Ecuador, senior Ecuadorian officials, and members of Mr Assange’s legal team. Before entering the ground floor meeting room, I left my passport, phone and tablet ‘at the door’, together with unlocked luggage (I was en route to give lectures in Italy).

I naturally assumed that, given the precautions taken before entry, such a legal conference would be secure and confidential. I was therefore somewhat shocked, to say the least, to learn in late 2019 that my name featured in papers lodged in connection with legal proceedings in Spain concerning the disclosure of confidential information, that the occasion of my visit and participation had been shared with various parties, and that my ‘electronic equipment’ may have been copied and the contents also shared.

Mr Assange is not a citizen of the United States of America and that most of the charges levelled against Mr Assange are drawn from the US Espionage Act. Espionage is not defined in international law; it is neither an international crime nor a serious crime of international concern, and it is commonly considered to be a ‘purely’ political offence, which either would not be listed as an extradition offence, or is one for which surrender would be refused.

It is against this background and the political opinions involved, therefore, that the evidence of surveillance and the sharing of confidential, privileged information needs to be considered, and an assessment made of whether these factors indicate more clearly the political motivation, intent and purpose of the extradition request, or otherwise indicate the likelihood of prejudice, punishment, detention or other restrictions on liberty by reason of extraneous circumstances, as described above…”

Stefania Maurizi: WikiLeaks’ unprecedented document security

Stefania Maurizi is an Italian journalist who worked with WikiLeaks to report on Italian documents within the State Department cables.

Assange and the war

On more than one occasion, Mr Assange expressed to me his view that if Wikileaks had existed before the US invaded Iraq and had published what it later published earlier (the “Collateral Murder” video with respect to Iraq, for example}, the war might have been avoided or would have come to an end sooner. The fact is that what had been and was being disseminated by the  governments involved, in particular the USA, was largely false, and the true picture was not being allowed to be known.

Document security

I myself was given access to 4,189 cables which could be better assessed and understood with the assistance of a knowledgeable Italian partnership. I sat down with Mr Assange and went through the cables as systematically as possible. I was given an encrypted USB stick, and once I returned to Italy I was given the password that would then allow opening the file. Everything was done with the utmost responsibility and attention. I am aware of the password that David Leigh and Luke Harding of the Guardian subsequently published in their book: it was not the same password I myself was given at the time.

That was the first time I had ever worked in any publishing enterprise involving strict procedures of that kind. Even experienced internationalcolleagues found the procedures burdensome, involving protections considerably beyond those which any of them were accustomed to exercising.

Robert Boyle: Chelsea Manning was punished by grand jury

Robert Boyle is a U.S. attorney and an expert on grand juries. His statement recounts relevant portions of Chelsea Manning’s allocution statement made at her court martial and then discusses her imprisonment for refusing to testify to a secret grand jury.

Chelsea Manning’s allocution statement

Manning explained that due to her position as an intelligence analyst, she had access to information about United States military activities in Iraq. Some of those activities contradicted the stated goals of U.S. policy. She told the court:

“[the United States military] became obsessed with capturing/killing targets on lists and being suspicious and avoiding cooperation with our host nation partners and ignoring the second and third order effects of accomplishing short-term goals and missions.

I believe that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information … this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy, in general, as well as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.”

A participant in an online chat pointed Manning to Wikileaks’ online submission system. Manning was somewhat familiar with Wikileaks. In her view the organization “seemed to be dedicated to exposing illegal activities and corruption [and had] received numerous awards and recognition for its reporting activities.”

[Regarding Collateral Murder] Manning told the court that she “wanted the American public to know that not everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan were targets that needed to be neutralized, but rather people who were struggling to live in the pressure cooker environment of what we call asymmetric warfare.”

Although I stopped sending documents to [WikiLeaks], no one associated with [WikiLeaks] pressured me into giving more information. The decisions I made to send documents and information to [WikiLeaks] were my own decisions and I take full responsibility for my actions.

Manning subpoenaed, refuses to testify, punished further

Manning filed a motion to quash the subpoena:

she argued that the subpoena was improper in that it was an effort by the government to punish her for the release of the information to Wikileaks. Manning also pointed out that the government had available to it her exhaustive sworn statement before the Military Court that was given at the time of her guilty plea and which truthfully set forth the full extent of her knowledge, including but not limited to her contacts with Wikileaks. Manning asserted that compliance with the subpoena would also enable the government to set a “perjury trap”. Should there be inconsistencies, even minor inconsistencies between her court martial testimony and grand jury testimony she could be criminally charged with committing perjury.

Manning was imprisoned for refusing to testify:

she was placed in solitary confinement “despite the stated concerns regarding the effects of prolonged isolation [that compound[ed] the trauma I suffered from my previous time of confinement.” Manning remained in isolation for 28 days, an experience that caused her “extraordinary pain.”

He quotes her own statement:

I understand that this grand jury [is] related to my disclosures of classified and unclassified information and records in 2010. I acted alone in these disclosures. The government is still preoccupied with punishing me, despite a court martial, sentence and presidential commutation nearly two years ago

Manning believed the U.S. government wanted information ahead of Assange’s hearing:

As Manning herself has stated “I suspect that [the government) [is] simply interested in previewing my potential testimony as a defense witness, and attempting to undermine my testimony … This justifies my theory that participating in this investigation functions simply to abuse the justice system for political ends.”

Andy Worthington

Andy Worthington is a UK-based activist and researcher who has studied the Guantanamo Bay prison for over a decade. See his first statement here and supplemental second statement here.

In April 2011, Worthington wrote, WikiLeaks Reveals Secret Guantánamo Files, Exposes Detention Policy as a Construct of Lies.

In its latest release of classified US documents, WikiLeaks is shining the light of truth on a notorious icon of the Bush administration’s “War on Terror” — the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, which opened on January 11, 2002, and remains open under President Obama, despite his promise to close the much-criticized facility within a year of taking office.

In thousands of pages of documents dating from 2002 to 2008 and never seen before by members of the public or the media, the cases of the majority of the prisoners held at Guantánamo — 765 out of 779 in total — are described in detail in memoranda from JTF-GTMO, the Joint Task Force at Guantánamo Bay, to US Southern Command in Miami, Florida, known as Detainee Assessment Briefs (DABs).

These memoranda, which contain JTF-GTMO’s recommendations about whether the prisoners in question should continue to be held, or should be released (transferred to their home governments, or to other governments) contain a wealth of important and previously undisclosed information, including health assessments, for example, and, in the cases of the majority of the 172 prisoners who are still held, photos (mostly for the first time ever).

Crucially, the files also contain detailed explanations of the supposed intelligence used to justify the prisoners’ detention. For many readers, these will be the most fascinating sections of the documents, as they seem to offer an extraordinary insight into the workings of US intelligence, but although many of the documents appear to promise proof of prisoners’ association with al-Qaeda or other terrorist organizations, extreme caution is required.

The documents draw on the testimony of witnesses — in most cases, the prisoners’ fellow prisoners — whose words are unreliable, either because they were subjected to torture or other forms of coercion (sometimes not in Guantánamo, but in secret prisons run by the CIA), or because they provided false statements to secure better treatment in Guantánamo.

Uncomfortable facts like these are not revealed in the deliberations of the Joint Task Force, but they are crucial to understanding why what can appear to be a collection of documents confirming the government’s scaremongering rhetoric about Guantánamo — the same rhetoric that has paralyzed President Obama, and revived the politics of fear in Congress — is actually the opposite: the anatomy of a colossal crime perpetrated by the US government on 779 prisoners who, for the most part, are not and never have been the terrorists the government would like us to believe they are.

Jameel Jaffer: Assange indictment gravely threatens press freedom

Jameel Jaffer is executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. In 2019, he joined Jeremy Scahill’s podcast, ‘Prosecuting Julian Assange for Espionage is a Coup Attempt Against the First Amendment‘. Earlier this year, Jaffer joined the Courage Foundation’s panel at the National Press Club in Washington DC to discuss the impact of the Assange indictment on press freedom.

On the indictment and Trump’s view toward journalism

The indictment of Mr. Assange poses a grave threat to press freedom in the United States. This case is the first in which the U.S. government has relied on the 1917 Espionage Act as the basis for the prosecution of a publisher. The indictment focuses almost entirely on the kinds of activities that national security journalists engage in routinely and as a necessary part of their work-cultivating sources, communicating with them confidentially, soliciting information from them, protecting their identities from disclosure, and publishing classified information.

The indictment’s implicit but unmistakable claim is that activities integral to national security journalism are unprotected by the U.S. Constitution and even criminal.

In my view, the indictment of Mr. Assange was intended to deter journalism that is vital to American democracy, and the successful prosecution of Mr. Assange on the basis of the activities described in the indictment would certainly have that effect.

On the wide breadth of the Espionage Act

These provisions are extremely broad, as many others have observed,7 and they criminalize a “wide range of activities that may bear little resemblance to classic espionage.”8 The Act exposes leakers to severe penalties without regard to whether they acted with the intent to harm the security of the United States.9 As it has been construed by the courts, the Act is indifferent to the defendant’s motives,10 and indifferent to whether the harms caused by disclosure were outweighed by the value of the information to the public.

By its terms, the Act also provides for the imposition of these same severe penalties on subsequent publishers-i.e., not just on leakers, and not just on the news organizations that first publish the leaks, but on anyone who later shares the leaked information through any channel, formal or informal.

On the importance of publishing government secrets

At least in the United States, informed public deliberation about matters relating to war and security would be impossible if the press did not publish classified information.

There are structural reasons why unauthorized disclosures of classified information are so vital to the public’s ability to understand, evaluate, and influence government policy relating to war and security.

lf the press did not publish classified information without authorization, public debate about war and security would take place in an information environment controlled almost entirely by executive branch officials.

Using the Espionage Act against a publisher

The government’s use of the Espionage Act against government insiders who supply classified information to the press poses a serious threat to the ability of the press to inform the public about matters relating to war and security. The government’s indictment of a publisher under the Act, however, crosses a new legal frontier.

The conviction of Mr. Assange under the Act for the activities described in the indictment would have a significant chilling effect on journalism that is vital to the proper functioning of American democracy.

Some government officials have argued that the indictment should not be understood as a threat to press freedom because Mr. Assange is not a journalist, or because WikiLeaks is not a member of the press. This argument misses the point. The indictment is mainly a description of Mr. Assange engaging in core journalistic activities.

Categories
Press Release

Day 16: Former warden – Assange would get “desolate and degrading” Special Administrative Measures; Lindsay Lewis – Assange will “almost certainly” be placed under SAMs

September 29, 2020

  • See previous daily reports here and a video recap of last week’s proceedings here
  • See an overview of USA v. Julian Assange here
  • See a thread of live-tweets of today’s hearing here

Former warden: Assange would get “desolate and degrading” Special Administrative Measures

Maureen Baird

Former prison warden Maureen Baird, who presided over the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York and who worked in the U.S. prison system for more than 20 years, testified today about the Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) that she believes Julian Assange would be subjected to if he were extradited to the United States.

At issue are Assange’s potential pre-trial and post-trial prison conditions, because the U.K. cannot extradite if doing so would be “unjust or oppressive” or would subject the defendant to “inhumane or degrading treatment.”

What are Special Administrative Measures?

Special Administrative Measures are a layer of extreme gagging restrictions on a prisoner that render them effectively incommunicado. SAMs are an additional layer on top of an individual prison’s conditions, such as solitary confinement. SAMs are only imposed by the U.S. Attorney General after a determination is made with the input of an intelligence agency. Baird testified that in Assange’s case, it’s likely the CIA and the Department of Justice would be involved in the decision to place him under SAMs, and the the direction would come from Attorney General William Barr.

Baird testified about the inmates she oversaw who were under SAMs:

“Inmates were in solitary confinement, technically, for 24-hours per day. There was absolutely no communication, by any means, with other inmates. The only form of human interaction they encountered was when correctional officers opened the viewing slot during their inspection rounds of the unit, when institution staff walked through the unit during their required weekly rounds, or when meals were delivered through the secure meal slot in the door.”

Inmates are allowed 30 minutes of phone time per month, she testified, and all calls are monitored by an FBI agent and must be scheduled two weeks in advance.

The effects of SAMs

Baird testified that to call conditions under SAMs “unduly harsh” is an understatement, and that they afford no real avenue to challenge or appeal. In her statement to the court, Baird agreed with Joel Sickler’s description of conditions for SAMs inmates as “desolate and degrading” as well as Lindsay Lewis’ description of the “devastating effects caused by isolation.”

The conditions are so bad, she wrote, that she can’t believe they still exist:

“I am uncertain how the BOP has been able to continue with these types of isolation units, given all the studies, reports and findings of the horrific physical and psychological effects they have on inmates.”

SAMs at the Colorado Supermax

The defense and prosecution agree that if extradited, Assange would be held pre-trial at the Alexandria Detention Center in Virginia. The defense argues that post-trial, Assange would be held in ADX Florence in Colorado, the highest security prison in the United States which its former warden has called a “clean version of hell.” A former prison designator herself, Baird testified today that she believes it’s “very likely” that if Assange is placed under SAMs, he would be detained at the ADX in the segregated housing unit.

“As someone who spent the majority of her adult life working for the BOP and as a former Designator, who decided where inmates would serve their sentences, absent a medical requirement, or a protected Witness Security Case, I am not familiar with any alternative long-term options, aside from the ADX, for offenders under SAMs.”

While the prosecution claims they don’t know where Assange would be imprisoned if convicted, they have argued at length in court and by way of cross-examination that the ADX is a humane facility. Similarly, while the prosecution claims they don’t know whether Assange would be subject to SAMs, they have argued that SAMs are applied for good reason, that inmates can remove SAMs restrictions, and that SAMs inmates can sometimes reduce restrictions to be able to speak to other prisoners.

Baird Contradicts Prosecution’s Top Witness

Baird’s testimony directly contradicts many of the assertions made by the prosecution’s chief witness, assistant U.S. attorney Gordon Kromberg, in his affidavits to the court. Kromberg listed many of the social and therapeutic programs offered at the ADX in Colorado. Baird replied,

“For anyone to suggest that an inmate assigned under SAMs would be able to participate in group counseling is baffling to me. The main premise of assigning SAMs is to restrict a person’s communication and the only way to accomplish this is through isolation.”

Kromberg also suggested that inmates under SAMs could challenge their conditions through an Administrative Remedy process. As Baird testified today, a prison warden has no ability to modify how SAMs are applied and they are applied equally to prisoners across the board.

“During my 28 years with the BOP, there were times that I was responsible for responding to Administrative Remedies. With certainty, I declare, for the purpose of challenging a SAMs, it would be a futile process. The BOP exercises no control/jurisdiction over SAMs imposed by the Attorney General. Wardens are bound to abide by the SAMs imposed on an inmate.”

“During my term as Warden at MCC New York, I have never seen an inmate have SAMs removed, only extended.”

Lindsay Lewis: Assange will “almost certainly” be placed under SAMs

Lindsay Lewis

The defense then called Lindsay Lewis, a U.S. attorney who has represented Abu Hamza (whose legal name is Mostafa Kamel Mostafa), a convicted terrorist who is detained at the ADX Florence in Colorado. Central to her testimony was the fact that when Hamza faced extradition from the United Kingdom to the United States, the U.S. gave assurances to both English courts and the  European Court of Human Rights that he wouldn’t be held at ADX Florence without a medical exam to determine if he could survive daily activities. She said Assange would “almost certainly” be placed under Special Administrative Measures if extradited to the United States.

The U.K. courts operated, Lewis said, under the assumption that it was “impossible” that Hamza — a double amputee with diabetes and blindness in one eye — would pass such a test and therefore would not be detained at the ADX. Hamza has been imprisoned under SAMs and in solitary confinement for the last eight years and has been imprisoned at the ADX Florence since 2015.

Lewis explained in her witness statement that SAMs “limit [Hamza’s] contacts not just with the outside world, but also with his family, other inmates and even his attorneys.” She says the restrictions SAMs impose on her as his lawyer limit her own ability to describe his conditions to the court.

The restrictions are so absurd, she said, that Hamza was written up for violating SAMs when he “improperly tried to convey, in a letter to one of his sons, his love to his one year old grandson” because the grandson is not an approved contact for him to speak to.

Lewis also testified about the inability to redress grievances under SAMs. The prosecution’s witness Gordon Kromberg suggested that SAMs could be lifted if appealed and sometimes aren’t renewed after a year. Lewis testified, as Baird did earlier, that inmates must exhaust the “long, drawn-out” Administrative Remedy process before they can sue the Bureau of Prisons in court to try to get SAMs removed. Lewis said she’d never heard of any case in which an inmate successfully got SAMs removed through the Administrative Remedy process.

Anonymous witnesses to testify on Embassy spying

The judge granted anonymity to two witnesses from U.C. Global, who will testify about that company’s spying on Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. El Pais reports that U.C. Global director David Morales traveled to Las Vegas where he secured a contract with a company working for top Trump financier Sheldon Adelson to spy on Assange and provide recordings to the CIA. The witness statements will be read aloud in court later this week.

Background:

Categories
Press Release

Day 15: Assange would face solitary confinement and extreme restrictions if sent to US; Joel Sickler – Assange would get little to no health care

September 28, 2020

  • See previous daily reports here and a video recap of last week’s proceedings here
  • See an overview of USA v. Julian Assange here
  • See a thread of live-tweets of today’s hearing here

Assange would face solitary confinement and extreme restrictions if sent to the United States

Yancey Ellis

The final week of the testimony portion of Julian Assange’s extradition hearing began with Yancey Ellis, a former judge advocate in the U.S. Marines who practices in Alexandria, Virginia. Ellis has defended many clients who would be held at the Alexandria Detention Center (ADC) where Assange would be detained before trial if he were extradited.

At issue is whether extraditing Assange be “cruel or oppressive” and whether he would be subject to “torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Ellis believes it is “most likely” that Assange would be held in the X block at the ADC, the housing unit for administrative segregation (ad-seg) which he said constitutes solitary confinement. Assange would be held there due to a combination of his notoriety and his mental health condition, Ellis said.

Speaking from his experience visiting clients at the ADC, Ellis said that inmates on the X block live in 50’ square cells for 22-23 hours a day. They have no access to therapeutic or other programs and no interaction with other prisoners. In his witness statement, Ellis writes, “There is no outside recreational or exercise area at the Alexandria jail and I do not recall there being any windows in the ADSEG unit.”

The prosecution has submitted a witness statement from assistant U.S. attorney Gordon Kromberg, who wrote that inmates in ad-seg at the ADC can access prison programs and can speak through doors or windows to communicate from cell to cell. Ellis writes that “several assertions made by Mr. Kromberg are incorrect or incomplete” and has tried to communicate with a prisoner through cell doors and “you have to scream” to be heard.

“The whole point of this unit is to keep you away from other inmates,” he said.

These are all the basic minimum physical conditions of the X block, Ellis said, and Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) impose further restrictions on outside communications on top of that.

Ellis also spoke about mental and physical health care at the facility. The ADC doesn’t employ a doctor but contracts with part-time psychiatrists. Ellis said that many of his clients needing their medication to be modified would go several weeks between psychiatric visits.

Ellis writes that inmates at risk of self-harm are placed in a “suicide prevention suit that immobilize the arms away from the body, removing shoe strings and sheets, etc.”

“The extent of mental health care is that a social worker or counselor comes around to check on you every once in a while to ensure basic functioning,” he said.

Joel Sickler: Assange would get little to no health care

Joel Sickler

Next the defense called Joel Sickler, a prison advocate for more than 40 years who founded the Justice Advocacy Group in Virginia. Sickler has been to the Alexandria Detention Center (ADC) dozens of times and has many clients detained there, and he testified about his experiences there. He also discussed his knowledge of the ADX Florence in Colorado, the Supermax federal prison where Assange is likely to be imprisoned post-trial if extradited and convicted.

Sickler testified that he believes that pre-trial in the ADC, Assange will be housed in ad-seg on the X block. He agreed with Ellis’ characterization of the prison cells there as about the “size of a parking space.”

Sickler also noted that AUSA Kromberg claims that inmates in ad-seg at ADC can communicate with each other but that “in practice, that’s ridiculous.”

“He absolutely won’t have communication with other inmates,” he said.

Inmates on this unit have very limited access to the outside world, Sickler said. “You’re twiddling your thumbs. You’ll have access to reading material, but your whole world is the four corners of that room.”

He also testified about the lack of health care at the Alexandria facility:

”Mr. Assange should expect to receive only the most limited medical services at the ADC. Any suggestion to this Court that he will be fully evaluated and assessed for medical or mental health conditions is misleading.”

Furthermore, Sickler said that legal opportunities to challenge your status under SAMs are incredibly small. “It’s a well-known fact here that even the most minor administrative appeals by inmates are denied,” he said. “I’ve probably filed 1,000 or more appeals, winning a dozen at most.” The chances of appealing SAMs are “remote to nil.”

The prosecution then spent the afternoon taking Sickler through Bureau of Prison policies and claims about their staffing, health care provisions, and the ADX’s levels of housing through which inmates can work to reduce their restrictions and ultimately get off of SAMs.

But time and again, Sickler would acknowledge that while what the BOP claims on paper is far different than what happens in practice. He said that the Marshall Project’s reports on the ADX Florence are “spot on.”

Prosecutor Clair Dobbin cited the case of Cunningham v BOP, in which inmates sued the Bureau of Prisons and ultimately agreed to a settlement which led to mentally ill inmates being moved out of the ADX. Sickler addressed that case in his own statement, noting that just three years after that settlement was upheld, “that same Court would find that the health care in ADX failed to meet basic standards of care for inmates.”

Dobbin also cited the fact that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a convicted terrorist at the ADX, has said he could see family members while detained there. But as the New York Times reported in 2017, Abdulmutallab “sued the Justice Department, arguing that prison officials are violating his rights by holding him in solitary confinement, restricting his communication with relatives and force-feeding him when he goes on a hunger strike to protest.”

Responding again to Dobbin’s reading through BOP policies as to the care they provide, Sickler said, “What I see ongoing in practice is entirely different.”

Categories
Press Release

Day 14: Judge admits political nature of Assange’s case; Jakob Augstein – Assange “feared for the safety of informants”; Patrick Eller debunks Manning/Assange “conspiracy”

September 25, 2020

  • See previous daily reports here and a video recap of last week’s proceedings here
  • See an overview of USA v. Julian Assange here
  • See a thread of live-tweets of today’s hearing here

Judge admits political nature of Assange’s case

Before testimony began today, Judge Baraitser acknowledged the political dimensions in the case against Julian Assange for the first time. Amid discussion of when closing arguments will be submitted, and how much time is needed to prepare them after testimony concludes next week, the judge asked the defense whether the U.S. presidential election would impact the defense’s case.

Lawyer Ed Fitzgerald said, “Much of what we say about Mr. Trump personally goes to why this was initiated, that will all remain good,” and, “Much of what we say about the fate which awaits Mr. Assange remains good because it’s about systemic faults in the prisons and his underlying conditions.” But “the situation would be all the worse” if Trump were to win re-election, he said.

The judge said that she had hoped to give her ruling or at least have closing arguments in before the U.S. election on November 3rd. But in granting the defense four weeks to submit closing arguments after testimony and the government a further two weeks to respond, she said her ruling will have to come in the new year.

WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson reacted to these comments immediately:

In asking the defense how the outcome of the U.S. presidential election would affect its case and indicating that she had hoped to issue a ruling before election day, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser has acknowledged what has been clear since even before the first indictment against Julian Assange was unsealed, that this is a politically motivated prosecution.

Article 4 of the U.S.-U.K. Extradition Treaty says, “Extradition shall not be granted if the offense for which extradition is requested is a political offense.”

Jakob Augstein: Assange “feared for the safety of informants”

The defense then read a brief witness statement from Jakob Augstein, editor of the German weekly Der Freitag, which in 2011 published an article indicating that the book by Guardian journalists Luke Harding and David Leigh had revealed a password that could be used to decrypt files containing the unredacted State Department cables. The article was titled “Leak at WikiLeaks,” referring to former WikiLeaks staffer Daniel Domscheit-berg, who fell out with Assange in 2010 and took files with him to attempt to start a new leak site.

Augstein’s statement alludes to the fact that it was a mirror created or controlled by Domscheit-berg that contained the file that could be decrypted with this password.

It also confirms that Julian Assange had contacted Augstein in advance of the article’s publication to express that he “feared for the safety of informants.” As we’ve reported, the government’s publishing charges are only for the unredacted State Department cable publications and they hinge on their claim that Assange didn’t care about the release of sources’ names.

Patrick Eller debunks Manning/Assange “conspiracy”

Today’s first live witness was digital forensic expert Patrick Eller, who served in the US Army for 20 years as a criminal investigator. Ellis is now president of Metadata Forensics, which provides digital investigation and forensic examination in both civil and criminal cases.

Eller reviewed the indictments against Assange and the transcripts from Chelsea Manning’s court martial in 2013 to analyze the allegation that Assange and Manning engaged in a conspiracy to conceal Manning’s identity and steal more documents. The argument goes that when Manning chatted over Jabber with a user ‘Nathaniel Frank’ (who the government alleges but hasn’t proven is Julian Assange) and asked for help cracking a “hash”, which is an encrypted portion of a password, she was attempting to gain increased access to government databases and to disguise her identity in doing so.

Eller’s testimony establishes several key points:

The attempted cracking of the password hash was not technologically possible in 2010, when the conversation happened

First, some background on how encrypting a password works: an algorithm turns plaintext (a regular password with numbers, letters, and special characters) into a “hash value” (a unique jumble of characters written in a hexadecimal, a numbering system that uses 16 characters) and stored in a Security Accounts Manager (SAM) database, and then encrypted with a key, which itself is stored in both the SAM file and a System file. This means one needs both the SAM file and System file to crack a password. Ellis explains:

“Manning only retrieved the encrypted hash value from the SAM file. She did not have the System file or the portions of the SAM file that are required to reconstruct the decryption key for the hash. This decryption step is necessary before the hash can be cracked and it is a separate process from cracking the hash by guessing difference password values with rainbow tables. At the time, it would not have been possible to crack an encrypted password hash such as the one Manning obtained.”

Even if it were feasible, the purpose would not have been to conceal Manning’s identity

“The government allegation that there was an attempt to gain anonymity is greatly undermined by the tracking system which identified users.” The government says that Manning wanted to crack the password to be able to log in to a ‘ftpuser’ account, which it says would make her look like an administrator, rather than her Bradley.manning account she was given as an intelligence analyst. But the military tracked computers based on IP addresses, not account details, so even if she were to login with the admin account, it would still be traced back to her identifiable computer.

Even if it were feasible, it would not have given Manning any increased access to government databases

The March 2010 jabber chat about hash cracking came after Manning had already leaked the Guantanamo Bay Detainee Assessment Briefs, the Iraq and Afghan war logs, and the Rules of Engagement, so the only documents left are the State Department cables, which are stored in a government-wide intranet (an internal version of an internet) called SIPRNet.  Accessing this network does not require login information, so she already had access to it well beforehand. Furthermore, Eller testified, everyone tasked with using secret government documents would have had access to this database. Asked to give an estimate as to how many people had SIPRNet access, Eller said it was “in the millions.”

What is far more likely, Eller testified, is that Manning wanted to use the admin account in order to download movies, music, and computer games onto her computer. The type of account to which Manning would have gained access would have had administrative privileges making it much easier to access the T-Drive, a shared database where other users uploaded these kinds of files.

Eller’s testimony also established that he and the U.S. government both have no way of proving that ‘Nathaniel Frank’ was actually Julian Assange.

Proceedings resume on Monday at 10:00am London time.

Categories
Post Press Release

Day 13: Cryptome published unredacted cables first; Dr. Crosby – “very high risk” of suicide if Assange is extradited

September 24, 2020

  • See previous daily reports here and a video recap of last week’s proceedings here
  • See an overview of USA v. Julian Assange here
  • See a thread of live-tweets of today’s hearing here

Cryptome published unredacted cables first; medical testimony continues

At the very end of today’s proceedings, the defense read aloud an important and consequential witness statement from John Young, host of cryptome.org.

“I published on Cryptome.org unredacted diplomatic cables on September 1, 2011 under the URL  https://cryptome.org/z/z.7z and that publication remains available at present.

Since my publication on Cryptome.org of the unredacted diplomatic cables, no US law enforcement authority has notified me that this publication of the cables is illegal, consists or contributes to a crime in any way, nor have they asked for them to be removed.”

The statement is a critical piece of evidence against the U.S. government’s indictment of Assange for publishing the unredacted diplomatic cables in 2011. The prosecution must prove “dual criminality,” that Assange’s alleged offenses in the U.S. would be a crime in the U.K. as well. Republishing classified documents is not a crime under the U.K.’s Official Secrets Act the way that publishing them is.

This witness statement corroborates previous testimony from John Goetz and others on the chronology of events, that WikiLeaks was not the first to publish the unredacted cables and in fact took great care to prevent names from being disclosed.

The defense also read a statement from Christopher Butler of the Internet Archive, also known as the Wayback Machine, a U.S.-based historical internet record based on snapshots of websites over time. Butler confirms that the Internet Archive still to this day hosts records of WikiLeaks’ publications and that the U.S. government has never attempted to take this data offline.

Medical experts on the dangers of extradition

Today’s proceedings mostly consisted of live testimony from Dr. Nigel Blackwood, the prosecution’s psychiatrist who interviewed Assange in prison, and Dr Sondra Crosby, who visited Assange multiple times in the Ecuadorian Embassy and again in Belmarsh. Once again, because this testimony dealt with Julian’s personal medical condition and history, we’ll try to summarize the relevant portions rather than provide every detail.

Dr Nigel Blackwood is a consultant forensic psychiatrist with the NHS, and he produced a report for the prosecution on Assange’s mental health and his suicide risk in the event of extradition. Dr. Blackwood has previously provided testimony supporting extradition in the case of Korcala v Polish Judicial Authority in 2017.

Medical testimony is used to establish whether “the physical or mental condition of the person is such that it would be unjust or oppressive to extradite him”, as that would violate Section 91 of the U.K.’s 2003 Extradition Act, and to prevent violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which states “No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Dr. Blackwood determined Assange to be “moderately depressed” and acknowledged, “There is undoubtably some risk of suicide attempt in the event of extradition,” but he doesn’t feel that it rises to a “high risk.” Blackwood relied on the standard established in USA v Turner, that the person facing extradition must be “capable of controlling” their own risk of suicide, and he found that Assange, whom he called a “very resilient” and “resourceful” man, would be capable of doing so.

In addition to USA v Turner, there is also relevant precedent in USA v Lauri Love, in which the U.K.’s High Court overturned the lower court judge’s ruling that Love could be extradited because the judge relied too heavily on the assurances that the U.S. Bureau of Prisons could provide adequate mental health care and prevent suicide in prison.

Defense lawyer Ed Fitzgerald therefore asked Dr. Blackwood for his to comment as to whether the conditions Assange would be detained under in the United States could be said to be “broadly equivalent” to those in the U.K. At issue are both pre-trial conditions and prospective post-trial conditions. The defense and prosecution agree that if extradited, Assange would be held before trial at Alexandria Detention Center (ADC) in Virginia. The defense argues that if convicted, Assange would be sent post-trial to ADX Florence, a Supermax prison in Colorado. The prosecution doesn’t confirm that Assange would be sent there but provides evidence regarding the facility to respond to the defense’s arguments.

In court, Dr. Blackwood admitted that he made his determination relying on the U.S. government’s supportive affidavit from assistant U.S. attorney Gordon Kromberg, wherein Kromberg argued that “there is no solitary confinement” at the ADC in Virginia. He made his statement before seeing the witness submission of Eric Lewis, lawyer for Reprieve who testified about his clients’ experience under SAMs and in solitary at the ADC. Dr. Blackwood would only say that he accepts there is a range of opinion as far as solitary confinement, but he agreed broadly that placing Assange in solitary confinement under SAMs, which would virtually bar him from communicating with the outside world, would be “deleterious” to his mental health. Dr. Blackwood also agreed that the question should be dealt with by experts on U.S. prisons, which he is not.

Dr. Crosby: “very high risk” of suicide if Assange is extradited

Dr. Sondra Crosby

This afternoon we heard testimony from defense witness Dr. Sondra Crosby, an associate professor of medicine and public health at Boston University and an expert on the physical and psychological impact of torture, who visited Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, beginning in October 2017.

In January 2018, Dr Crosby co-wrote, “We examined Julian Assange, and he badly needs care – but he can’t get it” with the two medical doctors who visited Assange with her:

As clinicians with a combined experience of four decades caring for and about refugees and other traumatised populations, we recently spent 20 hours, over three days, performing a comprehensive physical and psychological evaluation of Mr Assange. While the results of the evaluation are protected by doctor-patient confidentiality, it is our professional opinion that his continued confinement is dangerous physically and mentally to him, and a clear infringement of his human right to healthcare.

Dr. Crosby has also written that her February 2019 visit in the embassy was spied on and her medical notes were taken. “Mr. Assange’s right to doctor-patient confidentiality was violated, and his confidential information had been breached,” she said.

Testifying by remote video, Dr. Crosby today said that in the embassy, Assange described symptoms of PTSD and psychological distress, and he complained of a number of physical symptoms that Dr Crosby found “very worrisome” but she had no way of performing a necessary physical evaluation at the time.

On the question of whether it would be unjust to send Julian to the United States, Dr. Crosby said, “Assange is at a very high risk of completing a suicide if he were to be extradited.”

Proceedings continue tomorrow at 10:00am London time.

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Day 12: Prosecution attacks Assange’s autism spectrum diagnosis

  • See previous daily reports here and a video recap of last week’s proceedings here
  • See an overview of USA v. Julian Assange here
  • See a thread of live-tweets of today’s hearing here

Warning: this post discusses suicidal ideation. As mentioned yesterday, for Assange’s privacy we won’t report every detail of today’s testimony, dealing with Assange’s very personal private, social, and medical history.

Prosecution attacks Assange’s autism spectrum diagnosis

Dr. Quinton Deeley

Today Dr. Quinton Deeley, National Health Service psychiatrist who specializes in autism, ADHD, & other mental health issues, took the stand to discuss Julian Assange’s diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Dr. Deeley interviewed Assange several times over a period of several months, and he spoke to Assange’s partner, mother, and friends to corroborate his findings and prepare a report. Dr. Deeley also agreed with what Dr. Kopelman testified to yesterday, that Assange would be a “high risk” of suicide if he were ordered to be extradited.

Dr. Deeley explained that Assange had taken two ADOS tests leading to his diagnosis, and he observed “obsessive rumination” and “rigidity of thought”, typical ASD symptoms. In brief defense questioning, Dr. Deeley also spoke about the high rate of suicides in solitary confinement and the dangers of isolating Assange in both UK and US prisons.

The prosecution then spent nearly its entire cross-examination questioning this diagnosis, attacking Dr. Deeley’s findings and impartiality.

Prosecutor James Lewis suggested that the fact that Assange has hosted a televised interview show, written books and articles, and given speeches indicate his sociability and contradict the diagnosis of Asperger’s. Lewis even played a video of Assange speaking at the Frontline Club in 2010 by Skype, answering questions about WikiLeaks’ releases, redacting to protect informants, and partnering with fellow media organizations.

Dr. Deeley rejected the idea that these activities contradict a diagnosis at all. On the contrary, they show Assange in his comfort zone, he said, speaking at length on issues of which he has substantial interest and knowledge in a well-defined setting. In these interviews and Q&A sessions, Assange is an “expert on the material” and knows the expectations of format, so he doesn’t have to pay attention to social etiquette or make small talk.

Lewis said the fact that Assange has sole custody of a child was “inconsistent” with the diagnosis, suggesting that “no court” would give custody to someone who had “difficulty developing peer relationships.” He also said that those on the autism spectrum “lack empathy,” and his mother described him as an “extraordinarily selfless father”, suggesting these are “inconsistent” as well.

Dr. Deeley rejected this idea too, saying that those on the autism spectrum can be parents, and it isn’t unusual for them to be “dutiful, principled,” and moved by the idea of suffering in general.

Lewis questioned Dr. Deeley’s impartiality, asking if he was trying to “excuse” behavior or confirm a diagnosis. Dr. Deeley said he was giving a comprehensive summary, and that trying to drill down on one item of supportive evidence for the diagnosis misses the full picture. Lewis said that Dr. Deeley himself often looked at the ceiling when giving answers in court, rather than making eye contact, insinuating that eye contact isn’t relevant to a diagnosis and even saying “we all do that.” Dr. Deeley seemed taken aback, saying that he didn’t think he would score highly on an ADOS test (meaning he wouldn’t be found on the autism spectrum), that he was presenting to the defense, the judge, the prosecution; eye contact alone isn’t a definitive indicator.

On final defense re-examination, Dr. Deeley confirmed his corroboration of the diagnosis. “It is clear to my mind that Julian Assange is on the autistic spectrum,” he said.

Prosecution’s first witness, Seena Fazel

The prosecution called its first witness this afternoon, as scheduling issues disrupted the defense witness list which will continue tomorrow. The prosecution called Seena Fazel, Professor of Forensic Psychiatry at the University of Oxford, who specializes in prison suicide. Fazel interviewed Assange this summer, notably after what doctors agree was his most severe period of depression at the end of 2019.

Fazel testified that he found Assange to be “moderately depressed,” but accepts that he was “severely depressed” in late 2019 and was treated with medication, and that Assange’s depression intensity is “episodic” and liable to fluctuate dependent on his circumstances. However, he said, he doesn’t find Assange’s mental capacity such that he is unable to manage his own suicidal risk.

Fazel agreed that Assange has “autistic-like traits” but that he would be in the milder end of the autism spectrum.

In defense cross-examination, Fazel conceded that he is not an expert in U.S. prisons, which have a 6-7 times larger inmate population. This means, the defense established, that he’s not aware of Alexandria Detention Center where Assange would be held in pre-trial confinement nor the full effect of Special Administrative Measures (SAMs), to which Assange would be subjected, nor is he aware of ADX Florence in Colorado, where Assange is likely to be sent post-trial if convicted, and where conditions under SAMs have been described by a former warden there as a “clean version of hell” and “unfit for human habitation.” U.S. prison experts will be called to testify about those facilities, likely later this week.

Discussing solitary confinement and lengthy prison sentences, Fazel said that “hopelessness is an important risk factor” for suicide, that Assange’s risk increases if he feels he has “bleak prospects.”

Prosecution questioning attempted to undermine the definition of solitary confinement and to paint a rosier view of Supermax imprisonment, as prosecutor James Lewis read off a long list of amenities allegedly offered at the federal facility in Colorado, such as “13-inch televisions” and “arts and crafts.” The defense noted that this description does not apply to housing unit H, where Assange would be held.

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Day 11: Psychiatrist – High risk of suicide if Assange is extradited

September 22, 2020

  • See previous daily reports here and a video recap of last week’s proceedings here
  • See an overview of USA v. Julian Assange here
  • See a thread of live-tweets of today’s hearing here

Psychiatrist: High risk of suicide if Assange is extradited

Dr. Michael Kopelman

Dr. Michael Kopelman, Emeritus Professor of Neuropsychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, took the stand today to testify about his visits with Julian Assange in prison and his medical evaluations. Out of respect for Julian’s privacy, we won’t share all details that were discussed in court but will summarize the most relevant portions. Most pertinently, Dr. Kopelman said that Assange, who has been diagnosed with clinical depression and Asperger’s syndrome, would be at a high risk of suicide if he were extradited to the United States.

Dr. Kopelman has observed in Julian “loss of sleep, loss of weight, a sense of pre-occupation and helplessness as a result of threats to his life, the concealment of a razor blade as a means to self-harm and obsessive ruminations on ways of killing himself.”

“I am as certain as a psychiatrist ever can be that, in the event of imminent extradition, Mr. Assange would indeed find a way to commit suicide,” he wrote in written submissions to the court.

Section 91 of the United Kingdom’s 2003 Extradition Act prohibits extradition if “the physical or mental condition of the person is such that it would be unjust or oppressive to extradite him.” Section 91 of the 2003 Extradition Act prohibits extradition if “the physical or mental condition of the person is such that it would be unjust or oppressive to extradite him.”

Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights says that “No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Both section 91 and article 3 were cited in Lauri Love’s case, in which the high court ruled against extraditing Love, a U.K.-based computer science student who also has Asperger’s syndrome, to the United States over alleged computer crimes. That court ruled in Love’s favor on two grounds, the forum bar (meaning the U.S., instead of the U.K., was the wrong venue in which to try him) and the conditions he would face in a U.S. prison. “We come to the conclusion that Mr Love’s extradition would be oppressive by reason of his physical and mental condition,” the court found.

The court specifically cited the lack of adequate mental health care in the U.S. prison system. “Suicide watch is not a form of treatment; there is no evidence that treatment would or could be made available on suicide watch for the very conditions which suicide watch itself exacerbates.”

Lauri Love spoke about his case and how it relates to Julian’s in our online panel, “What would Julian Assange face in the United States?” which also included Assange’s U.S. attorney Barry Pollack and CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling, who discussed his imprisonment after being convicted under the Espionage Act.

Dr. Kopelman testified in Love’s case as well. In that case, he said today, he was given reassurances that U.S. prisons protect against suicide. But since then, he noted, Jeffrey Epstein has killed himself in prison, and Chelsea Manning has attempted suicide in the very facility where Assange would be held in pre-trial detention. “Those reassurances were not so reassuring,” he said.

“Isolation he would experience in North America would be far worse than anything experienced in embassy or Belmarsh”

But before getting to U.S. prison conditions, the defense is establishing Assange’s current mental state and medical evaluations. Dr. Kopelman testified about meeting with Assange on several occasions, finding that he has severe depression and he has been making end-of-life preparations.

Dr. Kopelman reviewed Assange’s personal, medical ,and family history as factors in his determination as well as observations he made in these visits. He also noted that renowned Autism expert Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen has found that suicide is nine times more likely in patients with Asperger’s syndrome.

Cross examining the doctor, prosecutor James Lewis attempted to undermine Dr. Kopelman’s expertise on the subject, suggesting that as a neuropsychiatrist he deals with the interaction between brain disease and mental health and therefore isn’t sufficiently qualified to comment on this case. Insulted, Dr. Kopelman said he is not “just” a neuropsychiatrist, and actually, Lewis himself has requested Dr. Kopelman’s psychiatric services for a different case, “so it’s a bit rich” for Lewis to question his qualifications.

Lewis then suggested that Dr. Kopelman is “more of an advocate than a psychiatrist” to which Dr. Kopelman replied that he would like to respond to that with an “unparliamentary word.”

Lewis also tried repeatedly to insinuate that Assange is “malingering” or exaggerating his symptoms to induce a diagnosis and avoid extradition. Dr. Kopelman said he was well aware of this possibility and knows to look out for signs of this, which he didn’t find.

Lewis then argued that Julian’s comments in court, including his response to whether he agreed to be extradited (“No”) and his comments from the dock amid witness testimony, indicate his ability to follow the proceedings and therefore indicate that he doesn’t suffer from serious depression (earlier he tried to establish with Dr. Kopelman that severe depression means an inability to function in work and social activities).

Dr. Kopelman reiterated that he primarily evaluated Assange from May-December of 2019, as well as a visit this spring, but he doesn’t find these comments to preclude a diagnosis of severe depression. If anything, he said, these comments in the middle of court proceedings appear to Dr. Kopelman as evidence toward the diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome.

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Day 10: Christian Grothoff – WikiLeaks did not publish unredacted cables first; Cassandra Fairbanks: High-level plan to revoke Assange’s asylum

SEPTEMBER 21, 2020

  • See previous daily reports here and a video recap of last week’s proceedings here
  • See an overview of USA v. Julian Assange here
  • See a thread of live-tweets of today’s hearing here

Christian Grothoff: WikiLeaks did not publish unredacted cables first

Christian Grothoff

The first witness this week was German computer science professor Christian Grothoff, who testified about his research into the timeline of events surrounding the 2011 publication of the unredacted State Department cables. Three of the 18 counts against Assange charge him specifically for publishing the unredacted cables, and Grothoff’s testimony establishes that WikiLeaks was not the first outlet to publish that archive, that others published it first and have not been prosecuted for doing so, and that WikiLeaks took care to encrypt the file but actions outside of Assange’s control led to its release.

Grothoff went through the timeline in his statement and on the stand. In the summer of 2010, WikiLeaks shared the diplomatic cables with The Guardian journalist David Leigh via an encrypted file on a temporary website along with a strong passphrase to decrypt it. Assange had written just part of the passphrase down on paper.

WikiLeaks and its media partners began publishing the redacted cables in November 2010, in the release known as Cablegate. WikiLeaks was then subject to Distributed Denial of Server attacks which took the site down or made it very difficult to access, so it encouraged supporters to create mirrors of the site, replications of site data on different servers, and hundreds of people did so.

In February 2011, Leigh and fellow Guardian reporter Luke Harding published a book on working with WikiLeaks and Assange in which one chapter title was the full passphrase which could be used to decrypt the file containing the set of unredacted cables.

On August 25, 2011, German weekly Der Freitag published an article explaining that the password Leigh and Harding revealed could be paid with an encrypted file to find the documents — the article doesn’t say exactly what the password is or where exactly the file could be found, but it provided enough clues that sufficiently tech-savvy readers could figure it out. Der Speigel then confirmed the story, and on August 31, Nigel Parry published, ‘Guardian Investigative Editor David Leigh publishes top secret Cablegate password revealing names of U.S. collaborators and informants… in his book’, in which he says exactly what the passphrase was. 

When WikiLeaks discovered that this information was public, Assange and fellow WikiLeaks staff member Sarah Harrison called the State Department to warn them that the cables were online unredacted — those warnings were ignored.

Cryptome, a US-based leak site well-known in the tech community, published a file containing the full unredacted cables — Cryptome has never been prosecuted for publishing that file. Later that day, WikiLeaks posted an editorial, ‘Guardian journalist negligently disclosed Cablegate passwords.’, and on September 2nd WikiLeaks published the unredacted cables.

As Glenn Greenwald wrote that day,

“Once WikiLeaks realized what had happened, they notified the State Department, but faced a quandary: virtually every government’s intelligence agencies would have had access to these documents as a result of these events, but the rest of the world — including journalists, whistleblowers and activists identified in the documents — did not.  At that point, WikiLeaks decided — quite reasonably — that the best and safest course was to release all the cables in full, so that not only the world’s intelligence agencies but everyone had them, so that steps could be taken to protect the sources and so that the information in them was equally available.”

On cross-examination, the prosecution attempted to suggest that WikiLeaks shared the full archive with all 50 media partners that it worked with on Cablegate, but Grothoff said there is no evidence for that, and he suggested the prosecution “didn’t do [their] homework” as far as the chronology of publication. He pointed to David Leigh’s book, in which it’s clear that Assange was “reluctant” to hand over the unredacted archive to The Guardian. Leigh had to repeatedly badger Assange for the full archive and initially Assange suggested giving only half of the dataset. Other media partners were only given subsets of the data, relevant to their experience or geographical region.

Cassandra Fairbanks: High-level plan to revoke Assange’s asylum

Cassandra Fairbanks

This afternoon, the defense read a witness statement from Cassandra Fairbanks, a DC-based journalist who supports both President Trump and Julian Assange. In 2018-19, Fairbanks was in a Direct Message group on Twitter which included “multiple people who either worked for President Trump or were close to him”, such as German Ambassador Richard Grenell, and Arthur Schwartz, “a wealthy GOP donor who does communications for the Ambassador and works as an informal adviser to Donald Trump Jr.”

On October 30, 2018, Fairbanks posted an interview with Assange’s mother in the group chat, “hoping that someone would see it and be moved to help.” Schwartz, “outraged,” called her shortly after and “repeatedly insisted that I stop advocating for WikiLeaks and Assange, telling me that “a pardon isn’t going to fucking happen.”

“He knew very specific details about a future prosecution against Assange that were later made public and that only those very close to the situation then would have been aware of. He told me that it would be the ‘Manning’ case that he would be charged with and that it would not involve the Vault 7 publication or anything to do with the DNC. He also told me that they would be going after Chelsea Manning. I also recollect being told, I believe, that it would not be before Christmas. Both of these predictions came true just months later.”

Grenell brokers deal to evict and arrest Assange

Schwartz also knew in advance of plans to revoke Assange’s political asylum granted by Ecuador:

“He also told me that the US government would be going into the Embassy to get Assange. I responded that entering the embassy of a sovereign nation and kidnapping a political refugee would be an act of war, and he responded ‘not if they let us.’

I did not know at the time that Ambassador Grenell himself had that very month, October 2018, worked out a deal for Assange’s arrest with the Ecuadorian government.”

Fairbanks began to cry on the phone with Schwartz, which led to him “softening his tone and saying that Assange would ‘probably’ only serve life in prison.”

In January 2019, Fairbanks visited Assange in the Embassy and

“informed him of everything I had been told. I know that he was concerned about being overheard or spied on and he had a little radio to cover up the conversation. I had also met with Chelsea Manning in person and told her that I feared that they might come after her again.”

Two months later, in March 2019, she visited Assange again, but she said, “This visit was very different. I was shocked at the way in which both Assange and I were treated.” Fairbanks was “locked in a cold meeting room for an hour while Embassy staff demanded Assange be subjected to a full body scan with a metal detector before allowing him in the room.”

“I considered at the time ‘it seemed our government was getting what they wanted from Ecuador, as a former senior State Department official told Buzzfeed in January “As far as we’re concerned, he’s in jail”’. I noted ‘[i]n an interview with El Pais in July, President Moreno also said his “ideal solution” is that Assange may “enjoy” being ‘extradited’ if the UK promises that the US will not kill him.”

Fairbanks then messaged Schwartz, asking what he knew about the rumors that Assange may be evicted, and Schwartz called her and made clear that “knew I had told Assange what he had told me.” This appears to be corroborating evidence that Assange’s private conversations in the embassy were surveilled and that recordings were sent back to the U.S.

Assange was evicted from the embassy and arrested on April 11, 2019. Four days later, ABC News reported, ‘US gave verbal pledge of no death penalty for Assange: Sources’

The process of moving Assange out of the Ecuadorian Embassy started a year ago, on March 7, 2018, when the Ecuadorians made their first request to the U.K.: a letter asking for written assurances that the U.K. would not extradite Assange to a country where he could face the death penalty, according to the Ecuadorian Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo.

Ecuador’s direct outreach to the U.S. came six months later, through the country’s ambassador to Germany, Manuel Mejia Dalmau, according to U.S. and Ecuadorian officials. Dalmau sought a private “emergency meeting” in Berlin with the U.S. Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, viewed as one of President Donald Trump’s closest envoys in Europe, the officials said.


During one meeting, Dalmau asked whether the U.S. would commit to not putting Assange to death, according to a senior US. official.

Grenell then contacted the U.S Justice Department to see if he could provide assurances that the U.S. government would not seek the death penalty. According to the senior U.S. official, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein consented. That enabled Grenell to make the pledge. The agreement between the U.S. and Ecuador was a verbal one, according to a source in the Ecuadoran government.

Direct “orders from the President”

Finally, Fairbanks said,

Schwartz informed me that in coordinating for Assange to be removed from the Embassy, Ambassador Grenell had done so on direct “orders from the President”. I believed this connected President Trump to those who have been reported as having secured the deal to arrest Assange. I believed Schwartz’s statement to be correct because his close personal ties to both President Trump and Grenell are well-known.

The other persons who Schwartz said might also be affected included individuals who he described as “lifelong friends”. Arthur Schwartz is very well known and is publicly reported to be a right hand man or “fixer” for Donald Trump Junior and part of a circle extremely close to the White House which includes Richard Grenell, Sheldon Adelson and others. I am aware that Schwartz has frequented the White House all the time (his presence is recorded on many videos there) and is extremely close to the inner circle of people who are very close to the President.

In May 2020, The Grayzone’s Max Blumenthal reported “new details on the critical role Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands played in an apparent CIA spying operation targeting Julian Assange.”

Following Assange’s imprisonment, several disgruntled former employees eventually approached Assange’s legal team to inform them about the misconduct and arguably illegal activity they participated in at UC Global. One former business partner said they came forward after realizing that “David Morales decided to sell all the information to the enemy, the US.” A criminal complaint was submitted in a Spanish court and a secret operation that resulted in the arrest of Morales was set into motion by the judge.

Throughout the black operations campaign, US intelligence appears to have worked through Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands, a company that had previously served as an alleged front for a CIA blackmail operation several years earlier. The operations formally began once Adelson’s hand-picked presidential candidate, Donald Trump, entered the White House in January 2017.

Court resumes tomorrow morning, 10:00am London time.

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161 former heads of state, prime ministers, and ministers demand Assange’s freedom

London: September 21 2020

A remarkable international letter from 161 heads of state and former heads of state, and a raft of politicians and lawyers, has been released in support of Julian Assange. The letter argues that Julian Assange should not be prosecuted for his political opinions or his actions as a journalist and publisher.

The signatories include José Luis Zapatero, Prime Minister of Spain (2004- 2011), Alberto Fernández, President of Argentina (2019-) , Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil (2011-2016), Evo Morales Ayma, President of Bolivia (2006-2019), Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, President of Brazil (2003 -2010), and Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador (2007 – 2017).

The former Brazilian President, Lula da Silva, said, ‘Assange needs to be defended by all of us who love democracy, who love freedom of the press, freedom of trade unions, who love freedom of organisation.’

The signatories are supporting a statement by lawyers which challenges the legality of the Trump administration’s prosecution, in particular the extension of the reach of the US legal system beyond its own territory.

Kevin Rudd, the former Australian prime minister has also long condemned the prosecution: ‘If their case is essentially that Mr Assange broke the law by obtaining and disclosing secret information, then I struggle to see what separates him from any journalist who solicits, obtains and publishes such information. This includes the editors of the many American media outlets that reported the material…why should Mr Assange be tried, convicted and incarcerated while those who publicly release the information are afforded protection under provisions of the US constitution concerning press freedom?’

The letter comes as the recommenced Assange extradition hearing enters its third week at the Old Bailey.

The full letter is available here: https://www.lawyersforassange.org/en/open-letter.html

Background

The remaining three weeks of the Julian Assange extradition hearing began on 7 September 2020 at the Old Bailey will last for at least two more weeks.

Julian Assange is charged by the US administration for publications exposing war crimes and human rights abuses for which he faces a 175 years sentence.

Julian Assange’s lawyers have experienced a considerable difficulty communicating with their client. Speaking at a recent hearing, Edward Fitzgerald QC, said ‘We’ve had great difficulties in getting into Belmarsh to take instructions from Mr Assange and to discuss the evidence with him.’ Mr Fitzgerald continued: ‘We simply cannot get in as we require to see Mr Assange and to take his instruction.’

The UN working group on arbitrary detention issued a statement saying that “the right of Mr. Assange to personal liberty should be restored”.

Massimo Moratti of Amnesty International has publicly stated on their website that, “Were Julian Assange to be extradited or subjected to any other transfer to the USA, Britain would be in breach of its obligations under international law.”

Human Rights Watch published an article saying, “The only thing standing between an Assange prosecution and a major threat to global media freedom is Britain. It is urgent that it defend the principles at risk.”

The NUJ has stated “US charges against Assange pose a huge threat, one that could criminalise the critical work of investigative journalists & their ability to protect their sources”.

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Call to action: PROTEST at the Old Bailey as Assange hearing starts

04. 09. 2020

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will be back in court for the final part of his extradition hearing this Monday (7 September 2020) at the Old Bailey in London.

The protest outside the court will be addressed by Julian Assange’s father, John Shipton, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson, and Dame Vivienne Westwood among others.

‘This is the press freedom case of the 21st century’, said John Rees of the Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign, ‘anyone who cares about freedom of speech, about the ability of journalists to tell the public what the powerful would prefer to remain hidden should make their way to the Old Bailey and let their voice be heard’.

Julian Assange is sought by the Trump administration for publishing US government documents which exposed war crimes and human rights abuses. The politically motivated charges represent an unprecedented attack on press freedom and the public’s right to know – seeking to criminalise basic journalistic activity. Assange’s defence team will argue that the extradition itself is an abuse of the UK extradition process. If convicted Julian Assange faces a sentence of 175 years, likely to be spent in extreme isolation.

Julian Assange has been held at HMP Belmarsh high security prison in London, his legal team have been denied in-person access to their client since March due to COVID19. The case is anticipated to last at least three weeks.

Join the socially-distanced PROTEST with us on Monday 9am at Old Bailey, EC4M 7EH London.

Read the press briefing here:

Background

Julian Assange’s extradition hearing will restart on Monday 7th September 2020 at the Old Bailey and is anticipated to last  three to four weeks.   

Julian Assange has been charged by the Trump administration for publications which exposed war crimes and human rights abuses — for which he now faces a 175 year prison sentence.

Julian Assange’s lawyers have experienced a considerable difficulty communicating with their client. Speaking at a recent hearing, Edward Fitzgerald QC, said ‘We’ve had great difficulties in getting into Belmarsh to take instructions from Mr Assange and to discuss the evidence with him.’ Mr Fitzgerald continued: ‘We simply cannot get in as we require to see Mr Assange and to take his instruction.’

The UN working group on arbitrary detention issued a statement saying that “the right of Mr. Assange to personal liberty should be restored”.

Massimo Moratti of Amnesty International has publicly stated on their website that, “Were Julian Assange to be extradited or subjected to any other transfer to the USA, Britain would be in breach of its obligations under international law.”

Human Rights Watch published an article saying, “The only thing standing between an Assange prosecution and a major threat to global media freedom is Britain. It is urgent that it defend the principles at risk.”

The NUJ has stated “US charges against Assange pose a huge threat, one that could criminalise the critical work of investigative journalists & their ability to protect their sources”.

Categories
Press Release

Julian Assange’s partner launches crowdfund campaign to fight his extradition to United States

20. 08. 2020

Assange faces 175 years in prison for “crime of journalism”

The partner of Julian Assange has today launched an appeal to crowdfund his fight against the US Government’s bid to extradite him over WikiLeaks publications exposing war crimes and human rights abuses.

WikiLeaks founder and editor Julian Assange has been held at HMP Belmarsh Prison for the past 16 months, ahead of his extradition hearing in September. He faces 175 years in a US prison if extradited.

Launching the appeal to fund his defence via the Crowdjustice platform, his partner Stella Moris, the mother of their two young children, said: “Julian is being targeted by the United States administration for the crime of journalism. He helped expose war crimes and human rights abuses which the US would have preferred to keep hidden from public view. He revealed the killing of unarmed civilians and the torture of innocent people. No-one has been held responsible for the serious crimes Julian has exposed. This extradition aims to entomb and silence him forever.

“This is a monumental legal case which is an attack on everyone’s right to know about scandals which politicians and governments want buried. If the US government is successful, the ramifications are unthinkable.

“It is a battle of David v Goliath and we can’t do this alone. We are calling on people everywhere to join us in this fight.

“All of Julian’s supporters recognise the responsibility placed upon us, and what is at stake. We are grateful to anyone who feels able to contribute. Even small amounts which might not feel significant from an individual will make a huge difference collectively.”

The US Government has conceded in court that no one was put at risk by any of WikiLeaks’ releases. Nonetheless, Mr Assange was charged by the Trump administration following the 2017 Presidential elections. The Obama administration maintained a long-held stance not to prosecute as it would lead to the prosecution of other newspapers and publications.

Mr. Assange has been accused under US laws which date back 100 years – during which time they have never previously been used to prosecute a publisher or journalist. The US legislation does not allow for a public interest defence. 

Stella Moris added: “Julian is confined to his cell at least 23 hours a day. He has had no visitors since March. I cannot see him and nor can his two sons. It is very difficult for us as a family.

“His targeting by the US is about politics. It is a case brought by an administration that refers to the press and whistleblowers as the “enemy” and important news as ‘fake’.”

In April last year, Julian was charged with 18 counts relating to receiving and publishing government documents, for which he faces a sentence of 175 years. A few weeks ago, just as his lawyers were consolidating preparation for a three-week hearing of defence evidence in September, the prosecution announced it was changing the indictment, hoping to double the reach of its claims, though the charges remained the same.

Baltasar Garzon, who leads Mr. Assange’s international defence, said: “This is an unprecedented legal battle and so much is at stake.
“Despite the clear weakness of the core allegations, it triggers lots of important legal issues. Doing justice to Mr Assange’s defence, which on its factual and legal merits ought without question to succeed, is a vast undertaking. 
“The legal team is having to do this with Julian, the most able person to contribute, locked away in prison.”

The full extradition hearing is due to begin on the 7th September 2020 at the Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey) in London.

Mr Assange is represented by Gareth Peirce of Birnberg Peirce.

Supporters can donate via Crowdjustice here:

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/julianassange/

Background

Julian Assange is charged by the US administration for publications exposing war crimes and human rights abuses for which he faces a 175 years sentence.

Julian Assange’s lawyers have experienced a considerable difficulty communicating with their client. Speaking at a recent hearing, Edward Fitzgerald QC, said ‘We’ve had great difficulties in getting into Belmarsh to take instructions from Mr Assange and to discuss the evidence with him.’ Mr Fitzgerald continued: ‘We simply cannot get in as we require to see Mr Assange and to take his instruction.’

The UN working group on arbitrary detention issued a statement saying that “the right of Mr. Assange to personal liberty should be restored”.

Massimo Moratti of Amnesty International has publicly stated on their website that, “Were Julian Assange to be extradited or subjected to any other transfer to the USA, Britain would be in breach of its obligations under international law.”

Human Rights Watch published an article saying, “The only thing standing between an Assange prosecution and a major threat to global media freedom is Britain. It is urgent that it defend the principles at risk.”

The NUJ has stated “US charges against Assange pose a huge threat, one that could criminalise the critical work of investigative journalists & their ability to protect their sources”.

Categories
Press Release

Lawyers and academics call on Government to end Julian Assange extradition

17. 08. 2020

On the day of Julian Assange’s final administrative hearing before his substantive extradition hearings scheduled for 7 September, 152 legal experts and 15 lawyers’ associations have today written to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, accusing government authorities of violating “national and international law” in the Australian WikiLeaks founder’s case.

The international group of legal practitioners, professors, judges, doctors of law and eminent jurists has called upon the UK government to bring an end to Julian Assange’s extradition proceedings, and grant his “long overdue freedom”, on legal grounds.

Among the signatories are Lord Hendy QC, a leading expert in UK labour law, prominent Australian barrister Julian Burnside AO QC, and 15 lawyers’ associations, including the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) and the Association of American Lawyers (AAL), both of which have consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, the highest UN status granted to NGOs.

In a 10-page letter (attached), translated into French, German, Italian, Spanish and Swedish, the legal experts charge the UK government with breaching several legal acts and treaties, citing the prima facie illegality of the US extradition request, serious violations of human rights and due process, and denial of a fair trial, including “judicial conflicts of interest”. 

“Senior District Judge (Magistrates’ Courts) Emma Arbuthnot, who as Chief Magistrate oversees Mr. Assange’s extradition proceedings, has been shown to have financial links to institutions and individuals whose wrongdoings have been exposed by WikiLeaks”, the letter states. Her vested interest in the case violates the right to “a fair and public hearing before an impartial tribunal”, a “cornerstone of democracy”, the legal experts warn.

The signatories allege that Assange’s legal privilege has been “grossly violated” through illegal seizure of privileged legal documents, and “constant and criminal” audiovisual surveillance of “meetings and conversations” with his lawyers inside the Ecuadorian embassy.

They add that, despite the case’s complexity, “prison authorities have failed to ensure that Mr. Assange can properly consult with his legal team and prepare for his defence, by severely restricting both the frequency and duration of his legal visits.” 

Lawyers for Assange member Dr. Polona Florijančič commented on today’s hearing: “Today we observed a further breach of the right to a public trial, with journalists and the public unable to follow the proceedings through the court’s dial-in system. Meanwhile, Assange was allowed a short video conference with his lawyers before the hearing, the first time this has been possible for several months. It is no surprise that the continuing breaches of due process rights and Assange’s unlawful detention have led to a further deterioration in his psychological health, as per a new psychiatric report from the defence.”

Preview link to letter: https://l4assange.mironet.ch/en/open-letter.html

Preview link to signatories: https://l4assange.mironet.ch/en/signatories-all.html

Download the Open Letter to the British Government

Quotes from signatories:

AAL General Secretary Luís Carlos Moro: “The extradition of Mr. Assange sets a risky precedent for the entire democratic world, because it represents, rather than due process of law, an undue process of political persecution.”

Former National President of the Australian Lawyers Alliance, Greg Barns SC: “One of the most dangerous features of the Assange case is the idea that the US can seek to extradite any person, anywhere in the world, if they upset US interests. This extraterritorial reach is contrary to the rule of law and a dangerous attempt to undermine freedom of speech, a right all of us should cherish.”

Slovenian law Professor Andraž Teršek: “The case of Julian Assange is about political transparency, democratic legitimacy, free journalism and public media, which no individual should ever give up, and which no political institution, power or government should deny, prevent or punish. The trial’s implications are of great importance in modern society.”

Notes:

The final administrative hearing before extradition proceedings resume was held today, Friday 14 August, in Westminster Magistrate’s Court at 10am BST.

Despite no new information and no new charges, 24 hours prior to today’s hearing the US Department of Justice (DoJ) lodged a superseding indictment with the court, to replace the existing indictment against Assange, 14 months after the UK court deadline of 14 June, 2019. The defence argued that accepting the new indictment, lodged just three weeks prior to extradition proceedings, constitutes ‘an abuse of legal process.’ The defence has until August 19 to apply for postponement of the main hearings. Since this is now an entirely new extradition request Assange will have to be re-arrested at some point in the future.

The second phase of Julian Assange’s extradition hearing will be held in the Old Bailey in central London for three weeks from September 7th, with a possible further week at a later date.

Website: www.lawyersforassange.org

Categories
Events

WikiLeaks’ Iraq War Logs and what it means for Press Freedom

15 August 2020

Preview(opens in a new tab)

The Iraq war is the defining military conflict of the 21st century.

Almost 10 years ago WikiLeaks published the Iraq War Logs along with The New York Times, The Guardian, El Pais, Washington Post and other news outlets.

The Iraq War logs showed the true numbers of civilian deaths in Iraq, at least 15,000 more people had died than previously thought, as well as the abuse and torture of prisoners by police and military in full knowledge of coalition forces. This also resulted in creating the Iraq Body Count project.

The Guardian at the time stated “The US figures appear to be unreliable in respect of civilian deaths caused by their own military activities.”

WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange remains held at a maximum security prison in London in relation to a US extradition request – he faces a sentence of 175 years for publishing truthful information in the public interest which include the Iraq War Logs.

Don’t Extradite Assange campaign organized an online panel with investigative journalists Iain Overton and Chris Woods to discuss the impact of their release.

Categories
Press Release

Chaos in Assange case management hearing

14. 08. 2020

Attorney General William Barr issued a replacement extradition request just two days after Julian Assange’s defence team submitted their full and final evidence for the extradition hearing due in September, Westminster Magistrates court heard today (Friday 14th August).

The clear attempt to blindside the defence by US Attorney General William Barr emerged as the court heard Julian Assange has not even seen the warmed-over extradition request, which contains no new charges but introduces new narrative content that the defence argued should be excluded from the proceedings.

The defence argued the replacement indictment introduced alleged conduct from 2010 and 2011 which the US had investigated almost a decade ago, and could therefore not plausibly be argued to be new information to the US investigation.

The defence considered the move by the prosecution to bring in the replacement extradition request at the eleventh hour “astonishing”, given the case had been prepared over the course of one year and was well into substantive hearings which began in February.

The defence was given a week to decide whether to ask for the September hearing to be adjourned, or to proceed as planned on 7 September.

And that was only part of the chaotic hearing in which Belmarsh prison did not initially bring Assange to the video room to join proceedings, the US prosecution failed to turn up (having got the time of the hearing wrong), and every journalist and NGO observer that tried to dial-in was directed to another trial entirely and never made it into the Assange hearing.

That left a mere of handful of journalists that could gain access to the court to report proceedings.

‘This was the worst hearing so far’, said Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-chief . ‘The US government seem to want to change the indictment every time the court meet, but without the defence or Julian himself seeing the relevant documents’.

Even now Julian Assange has not been re-arrested under the replacement extradition request. Instead the re-arrest will take place on the first day of the hearings.

The reissued request appears to serve a PR purpose since it contains no new charges though still threatens Assange with 175 years in jail.

Julian Assange’s legal team have been denied in-person access to their client since March. Today was the first day Julian Assange was able to have a short video link meeting with his lawyers, prior to the hearing. Belmarsh prison denied Assange any facilities to talk to his lawyers after the hearing ended.

Julian Assange has not seen his family and young children since March.


Background

Julian Assange’s extradition hearing is due to re-start on 7 September 2020 at the Old Bailey and is anticipated to last for at least three weeks.

Julian Assange is charged by the US administration for publications exposing war crimes and human rights abuses for which he faces a 175 years sentence.

Julian Assange’s lawyers have experienced a considerable difficulty communicating with their client. Speaking at a recent hearing, Edward Fitzgerald QC, said ‘We’ve had great difficulties in getting into Belmarsh to take instructions from Mr Assange and to discuss the evidence with him.’ Mr Fitzgerald continued: ‘We simply cannot get in as we require to see Mr Assange and to take his instruction.’

The UN working group on arbitrary detention issued a statement saying that “the right of Mr. Assange to personal liberty should be restored”.

Massimo Moratti of Amnesty International has publicly stated on their website that, “Were Julian Assange to be extradited or subjected to any other transfer to the USA, Britain would be in breach of its obligations under international law.”

Human Rights Watch published an article saying, “The only thing standing between an Assange prosecution and a major threat to global media freedom is Britain. It is urgent that it defend the principles at risk.”

The NUJ has stated “US charges against Assange pose a huge threat, one that could criminalise the critical work of investigative journalists & their ability to protect their sources”.

.





Categories
Press Release

Barr’s re-issued extradition request puts Assange September hearing in jeopardy

13. 08. 2020

US Attorney General William Barr has issued a replacement extradition request for Julian Assange.

Assange was notified today, just three weeks before the full extradition hearing is scheduled to resume on 7th September. The hearing began in February and lasted one week.

The reissued extradition request contains the same 18 charges and 175 year-sentence as before.

170 years relate to receiving and publishing the so-called Chelsea Manning leaks, which revealed evidence of war crimes and serious human rights violations. The lesser charge carries a 5 year sentence and is not clearly defined.

At an administrative hearing on 27 July Assange’s lawyers said that the apparent intention to introduce a changed extradition request half-way into Assange’s extradition case appeared to be an attempt by the Trump administration to derail the case and force the postponement of the hearing until after the US election, which will take place on 3 November.

‘Barr is instrumentalising the UK justice system to avoid political embarrassment ahead of the US election’ said WikiLeaks ambassador Joseph Farrell.

‘The question is, why is the Trump Administration afraid of Julian’s case being heard before the US election? ‘.

Julian Assange has not seen his lawyers since March. His lawyers argue that lack of access to their client since his arrest has severely undermined their ability to prepare his case, and since prisons denied legal visits in March this problem has become much worse.

It is unlikely that Julian Assange will have been able to see his lawyers for an entire 6 month period before the extradition hearing restarts in September.

Julian Assange’s fiancee and their children, aged 1 and 3, have not been able to visit Assange, who is an unconvicted ‘remand’ prisoner, for the past five months.

Julian Assange is expected to appear at the final procedural hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ court on Friday 14 August via videolink. He had previously not appeared after following doctors’ advice related to underlying health problems combined with a chest infection, which made him especially vulnerable to Covid.

During this period, UK authorities finally supplied Julian Assange with a largely non-functional computer. Assange cannot type notes for his lawyers because the computer keys are glued down and all text-editing programs have been removed from the computer.

The Don’t Extradite Assange campaign said ‘Given that the replacement extradition request contains the same 18 charges and 175 year sentence, the purpose appears to be to force a postponement to the extradition hearing and as part of a larger PR strategy.’

Background

Julian Assange’s extradition hearing is due to re-start on 7 September 2020 at the Old Baily and is anticipated to last for at least three weeks.

Julian Assange is charged by the US administration for publications exposing war crimes and human rights abuses for which he faces a 175 years sentence.

Julian Assange’s lawyers have experienced a considerable difficulty communicating with their client. Speaking at a recent hearing, Edward Fitzgerald QC, said ‘We’ve had great difficulties in getting into Belmarsh to take instructions from Mr Assange and to discuss the evidence with him.’ Mr Fitzgerald continued: ‘We simply cannot get in as we require to see Mr Assange and to take his instruction.’

The UN working group on arbitrary detention issued a statement saying that “the right of Mr. Assange to personal liberty should be restored”.

Massimo Moratti of Amnesty International has publicly stated on their website that, “Were Julian Assange to be extradited or subjected to any other transfer to the USA, Britain would be in breach of its obligations under international law.”

Human Rights Watch published an article saying, “The only thing standing between an Assange prosecution and a major threat to global media freedom is Britain. It is urgent that it defend the principles at risk.”

The NUJ has stated “US charges against Assange pose a huge threat, one that could criminalise the critical work of investigative journalists & their ability to protect their sources”.

Categories
Events

What would Julian Assange face in the U.S.?

8 August 2020

Organized by Courage Foundation an online panel of experts to examine what Julian Assange would endure and be up against if the United Kingdom extradites him to the U.S., from pre- and potentially post-trial prison conditions, the lack of a public interest defense under the Espionage Act, and the extremely high rate of convictions in U.S. federal courts.

Barry Pollack, Julian Assange’s attorney in the U.S.

Jeffrey Sterling, CIA whistleblower who was convicted under the Espionage Act

Lauri Love, U.K. activist who successfully defeated an extradition request from the United States

Moderated by Kevin Gosztola, independent U.S. journalist at Shadowproof.com who has covered Chelsea Manning’s military court martial and Julian Assange’s extradition proceedings thus far.

Categories
Press Release

DoJ may attempt to delay Assange hearing past US election, warns Assange’s partner

29. 07. 2020

In a series of tweets, Julian Assange’s partner Stella Moris, who on Monday testified before the Spanish court Audiencia Nacional, wrote that she had spoken to Julian Assange and that she anticipates “the US will drop its existing extradition request and then re-arrest him on the very same 18 charges, under a different extradition request.”

She added: “We don’t know if this means he’ll be brought to court to be ‘re-arrested’.”

The DoJ had been given a deadline by Westminster Magistrates’ Court to finalise any further extradition requests by 14 June 2019. “That makes the latest superseding indictment 14 months late”, said Moris.

The latest indictment was publicised on the Department of Justice website on 24 June 2020, over one month ago.

“Five weeks have passed since the DoJ publicised the indictment” on its website, said Moris; adding “the US has so far made no attempt to incorporate the superseding indictment into UK jurisdiction”, a process that was “inexplicably delayed” she said.

“Hence lawyers have been working on arguments and evidence in relation to an effectively defunct extradition request.”

Moris called the US’s behaviour an “inexplicable procrastination”, adding that “the snail-pace of the incorporation of the indictment into UK jurisdiction should not be used as an excuse for the US to try to seek to delay the extradition hearing until after the November US presidential election”.

Ms. Moris also called for an ‘educational surge’ – starting now and to be sustained throughout the September hearings – “to educate, foster empathy for Julian and manifest that fundamental principles of democracy could perish with this case, alongside Julian Assange.”

Moris noted that the extradition hearings would restart on September 7th at the Central Criminal Court (The Old Bailey) in London.

Categories
Press Release

Quote from Kristinn Hrafnsson: 27.7.20 Westminster Magistrates’ Court Assange Hearing

Westminster Magistrates’ Court
Monday 27th July 2020


Quote from WikiLeaks Editor-in-Cheif Kristinn Hrafnsson regarding the US prosecution’s new superseding indictment against Julian Assange.

“What the US is doing is truly unprecedented. A new indictment is being introduced halfway into extradition proceedings, which have been a year in the making’ said Kristinn Hrafnsson, Editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks.

“The Assange extradition case started in February and was scheduled to resume in May, but was then forced to adjourn until September due to the COVID lockdown.

The ‘new’ superseding indictment actually contains nothing new. All the alleged events have been known to the prosecution for years. It contains no new charges. What’s really happening here is that despite its decade-long head-start, the prosecution are still unable to build a coherent and credible case. So they’ve scrapped their previous two indictments and gone for a third try. They are wasting the court’s time and flagrantly disregarding proper process.”

Categories
Events

WikiLeaks, Afghan War Logs and Press Freedom

25 July 2020

On the 10th year anniversary of the release of the Afghan War logs former soldier Joe Glenton, jailed for refusing to fight in Afghanistan, and WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson will discuss the effects of that war and the importance of the freedom of the press, moderated by Labour MP Claudia Webbe.

Afghan War logs reveal torture, evidence of human rights violations and extrajudicial killings that involve abundant and compelling evidence of war crimes committed by US and coalition forces in Afghanistan. This is one of the reasons why Julian Assange has been indicted for by releasing these documents by WikiLeaks. You can watch from 2010 Amnesty International’s reaction to US military files released by WikiLeaks here.

Categories
Press Release

WikiLeaks, Afghan War Logs and Press Freedom

25. July 2020

On the 10th year anniversary of the release of the Afghan War logs former soldier Joe Glenton, jailed for refusing to fight in Afghanistan, and WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson discussed the effects of that war and the importance of the freedom of the press. Moderated by Labour MP Claudia Webbe.

Afghan War logs reveal torture, evidence of human rights violations and extrajudicial killings that involve abundant and compelling evidence of war crimes committed by US and coalition forces in Afghanistan. This is one of the reasons why Julian Assange has been indicted for by releasing these documents by WikiLeaks. You can watch from 2010 Amnesty International’s reaction to US military files released by WikiLeaks here.

Categories
Press Release

Assange to appear over video link at Monday 27 July hearing

24. 07. 2020

Julian Assange is expected to appear over video link at Westminster Magistrates’ Court’s hearing on Monday (27 July), despite medical advice that he risks contracting COVID-19. A lung infection combined with a pre-existing condition and the risk of exposure to COVID-19 had prevented him from attending recent hearings.

For the past seventeen weeks, Julian Assange has not been able to meet with his lawyers to prepare his extradition case.

The US extradition hearing against Assange began in February and will resume on 7 September at The Old Bailey in central London for three weeks. It is unclear whether Assange will be permitted to meet with his lawyers before the extradition hearings resume.

WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said “Julian has not been able to see his lawyers for seventeen weeks. The computer supplied to him after over a year of asking has its keys glued down and the typing function is disabled. The case material consists of tens of thousands of pages, and Julian cannot even type up notes or instructions for his lawyers. Each and every step of the way, the tools Julian should have to be able to put up a fight are being taken away from him. I call on UK prisons minister Robert Buckland to take every step necessary to reverse restrictions that are preventing Julian from being able to take part in and prepare his legal defence.”

Julian Assange is half-way through the US extradition case, in which he is accused of receiving and publishing leaks from whistleblower Chelsea Manning documenting war crimes and human rights abuses. The prosecution concerns the 2010 publication of the Collateral Murder Baghdad helicopter gunship war crimes, US embassy correspondence, as well as the publications about Guantanamo Bay and the Iraq and Afghan wars. Julian Assange faces 175 years in prison in the United States if convicted.

US prosecutors say that Julian Assange will not be able to rely on US constitutional free press protections because he is not a US citizen. According to reports in The Washington Post last year, several prosecutors who worked on the investigation disagreed with the Trump administration’s decision to prosecute him under the 1917 Espionage Act.

According to former officials, the Obama Administration discontinued efforts to prosecute Julian Assange for the so-called “Manning Leaks” in 2013, because of the press freedom implications. The defence argued in February that the decision to indict Assange under the Trump Administration is politically motivated, and comes amidst a general crackdown on press freedoms in the United States.

Press freedom organisations agree. With the US prosecution of Assange a new precedent is set that criminalises normal journalistic practices. The case is already having a chilling effect. The decision to indict Assange means non-US journalists working in their home countries are liable to prosecution in the United States, where they can be imprisoned for doing their jobs.

Barristers Edward Fitzgerald QC (Doughty Street Chambers) and Florence Iveson (Matrix Chambers) will be in court appearing for the defence.

Kristinn Hrafnsson will be available for interviews after the hearing.

Categories
Press Release

Commons motion asks MPs to oppose extradition of Julian Assange

17. 07. 2020

MPs have tabled a Commons’ motion opposing the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. This is yet another sign of cross parliamentary support.
 
The Early Day Motion has been tabled by Richard Burgon, the former Shadow Justice Secretary, and is supported by Labour’s Diane Abbott, the former Shadow Home Secretary, Caroline Lucas from the Green Party, Liz Saville Roberts of Plaid Cymru, Kenny MacAskill from the SNP, and Gavin Robertson from the DUP..
 
The motion notes the anti-extradition stances taken by the ‘National Union of Journalists, the International Federation of Journalists, and Reporters Without Borders’ and ‘affirms its commitment to press freedom and public-interest journalism’.
 
Other signatories include former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Claude Webbe, Clive Lewis and Bell Reberio-Addy.
 
‘This is a welcome sign of cross-party parliamentary support’ said WikiLeaks ambassador Joseph Farrell, ‘we urge every MP who cares about press freedom to add their name to this EDM. It’s an important way for MPs to register their concerns about this landmark civil liberties case’.
 
The Don’t Extradite Assange campaign is urging its supporters to write to MPs urging them to support the EDM No. 719.
 
The EDM can be found here: Julian Assange, press freedom and public-interest journalism.
 
 
Background
 
The remaining three weeks of the Julian Assange extradition hearing is due to start on 7 September 2020 at the Old Bailey and is anticipated to last for three weeks.

Julian Assange is charged by the Trump government with publishing the Afghan and Iraq War Logs for which he could face 175 years in jail. 
 
Julian Assange’s lawyers have experienced a considerable difficulty communicating with their client. Speaking at a recent hearing, Edward Fitzgerald QC, said ‘We’ve had great difficulties in getting into Belmarsh to take instructions from Mr Assange and to discuss the evidence with him.’ Mr Fitzgerald continued: ‘We simply cannot get in as we require to see Mr Assange and to take his instruction.’
 
The UN working group on arbitrary detention issued a statement saying that “the right of Mr. Assange to personal liberty should be restored”.
 
Massimo Moratti of Amnesty International has publicly stated on their website that, “Were Julian Assange to be extradited or subjected to any other transfer to the USA, Britain would be in breach of its obligations under international law.”
 
Human Rights Watch published an article saying, “The only thing standing between an Assange prosecution and a major threat to global media freedom is Britain. It is urgent that it defend the principles at risk.”
 
The NUJ has stated “US charges against Assange pose a huge threat, one that could criminalise the critical work of investigative journalists & their ability to protect their sources”.

Categories
Press Release

Trade unionists back campaign to Free Assange

16. 07. 2020

In Birmingham, Plymouth, and Newcastle trades councils have voted to join the campaign to halt the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States where he could face 175 years in jail.

In recent weeks the three metropolitan trades councils, which are attended by delegates from all the local unions, have voted overwhelmingly to support Assange.

Even in Plymouth where a similar motion was defeated last year the National Union of Journalists’ inspired resolution sailed through last week.

Both Birmingham and Plymouth meetings invited a speaker from the Don’t Extradite Assange campaign to address them before the vote was taken.

Julian Assange’s extradition hearing is set to resume in September. The National Union of Journalists’ resolution has become a template used across the trade union movement and is being circulated for other trade unions, Labour Party bodies, and campaign organisations to adapt for their own use.  

‘Please put this resolution to your next meeting’, said John Rees from the Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign, ‘this is the defining free speech case of the 21st century. Freedom of information, free from government censorship, is the lifeblood of an effective labour movement. The NUJ have made a stand. Follow their example’.

The NUJ resolution is reproduced in full below and can be found here.

Please adapt it as required for your own organisation and let us know when it passes at: office@dontextraditeassange.com

Here are four other useful campaigning tools. 
Our petition: Release Julian Assange from Belmarsh Prison before COVID-19 spreads
Write to your MP: UK – Contact your MP
To donate click here.
For the full breadth of support for Julian Assange: Statements




National Union of Journalists’ resolution notes:

1. That WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is held in Belmarsh prison awaiting United States extradition proceedings, a process that can take many years.

2. If Assange is successfully prosecuted in the US he faces 175 years in prison.

3. That the extraterritorial application of the Espionage Act in the indictment of Assange criminalises journalistic activities, in this case activities carried out on UK soil by a non-US national, in collaboration with numerous UK media (including The Guardian, Channel 4 and The Telegraph).

4. That previous statements by the General Secretary of the NUJ, by the Australian Journalists Union MEAA, and by the International Federation of Journalists’ organisations have supported Assange. 

5. That there is a political dimension to extraditions and that the ‘special relationship’ between the UK and US makes the extradition of Assange more likely to go ahead.

Believes:

1. That Assange’s indictment comes at a time of heightened threats to the press in Western countries in the form of raids on newspapers and broadcasters, government claims that the press are ‘the enemy of the people’, and actual prosecutions involving life-long sentences for publishing accurately.

2. That Assange’s extradition to the United States would establish a dangerous precedent with regard to the prosecution of journalists in this country under the UK Official Secrets Act given the requirement for the UK courts to accept US arguments as to dual criminality for the extradition to go ahead. 

3. That press freedoms in this country will be weakened if the courts accept that NUJ members’ publishing activities in this country can give rise to criminal liability in foreign states and to their consequent lawful extradition.

4. That the publication of the Afghan and Iraq war logs and other material by WikiLeaks that are the subject of the US indictment revealed important information that has benefitted the public.

5. Disclosing information to the public should never be equated with espionage 

Resolves

1. To campaign to stop the extradition of Julian Assange to the US.

2. To write to the Home Secretary, the Shadow Home Secretary, and the Shadow Justice Secretary making the union’s case on this issue.

Categories
Events

‘NOT IN OUR NAME: The Psychological Torture of Julian Assange’

14 July 2020


Don’t Extradite Assange campaign special event

Official launch of a film about the state torture on Assange, written, produced and directed by John Furse. A a film that will confound viewers just as the UN Special Rapporteur was confounded when he discovered the truth behind the headlines. This revelatory film shows how WikiLeaks founder Assange is a victim of prolonged psychological torture, an abuse of human rights and international law recognised and classified by the United Nations (UN).

We discover how a sustained assault on his credibility as a journalist and publisher and a deliberate enterprise to break his psychological and physical health has developed.

Follow up discussion with Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and John Furse, moderated by Rebecca Vincent from Reporters Without Borders.

Categories
Press Release

The premiere of John Furse’s myth-busting new documentary ‘NOT IN OUR NAME: The Psychological Torture of Julian Assange’

10. 07. 2020

 “No-one should make any judgement about Julian Assange without watching this short and powerful film.”  (Peter Oborne, journalist and broadcaster)

“This film is shocking, a real wake-up call. It should be watched by anyone concerned about human rights, the moral responsibilities of democratic states and the importance of justice for all individuals.”  (John McCarthy, author & broadcaster)

“A powerful film that makes you think twice about Julian Assange.”  (Peter York, author & broadcaster)
 
The premiere of John Furse’s myth-busting new documentary ‘NOT IN OUR NAME: The Psychological Torture of Julian Assange’ (24 mins) is taking place on Tuesday July 14th at 6.00pm at a special Zoom Forum organised by Don’t Extradite Assange campaign.

This revelatory film shows how WikiLeaks founder Assange is a victim of prolonged psychological torture, an abuse of human rights and international law recognised and classified by the United Nations (UN).

In February 2020 the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) published a landmark report on psychological torture. It was written by their Special Rapporteur on Torture Professor Nils Melzer.

Melzer had been responsible for reporting to UNCHR on the world-famous case of Assange. He’d been asked by Assange’s defence team to investigate the condition of a man who for 9 years had been the target of US authorities for publishing a treasure trove of US intelligence files given to the online publisher by whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

Once he started to look into the case he realised that “When you scratched the surface things didn’t add up.” His findings were explosive.

In the film we discover how a sustained assault on his credibility as a journalist and publisher and a deliberate enterprise to break his psychological and physical health has developed.

‘NOT IN OUR NAME: The Psychological Torture of Julian Assange’ is a film that will confound viewers just as the UN Special Rapporteur was confounded when he discovered the truth behind the headlines.

Don’t Extradite Assange info: http://www.dontextraditeassange.com
The Courage Foundation: https://www.couragefound.org

Click here to watch the trailer.
Click here to register for the event.

Categories
Press Release

40+ Rights Groups Call on UK to Free Julian Assange

03. 07. 2020

WikiLeaks publisher turns 49 in prison, facing U.S. extradition

Dozens of press freedom, human rights, and privacy rights organizations across five continents have co-signed an open letter to the U.K. Government calling for the immediate release of imprisoned WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The publisher, who turns 49 years old today in HMP Belmarsh, is facing extradition to the United States where he has been indicted under the Espionage Act for WikiLeaks’ 2010-11 publications of the Iraq War Logs, the Afghan War Diaries, and State Department cables. If convicted, Mr Assange would face up to 175 years in prison, “tantamount to a death sentence.”

The co-signers write,

“This [indictment] is an unprecedented escalation of an already disturbing assault on journalism in the US, where President Donald Trump has referred to the news media as the ‘enemy of the people’. Whereas previous presidents have prosecuted whistleblowers and other journalistic sources under the Espionage Act for leaking classified information, the Trump Administration has taken the further step of going after the publisher.”

Seventeen of the 18 charges against Mr Assange are under the 1917 Espionage Act, marking the U.S.’s first-ever attempt to prosecute the publication of truthful information in a fundamental test of the First Amendment’s protection of press freedoms. Mr Assange has also been charged with conspiring to violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which uses language similar to the Espionage Act.

Reporters without Borders, PEN International, ARTICLE19, the International Federation of Journalists, and the National Union of Journalists are among the 40 rights groups who have signed on to the letter, initiated by the Courage Foundation, a whistleblower support network which campaigns for Mr Assange’s freedom and the public’s right to know.

Carles Torner, Executive Director of PEN International, said:

“This indictment effectively opens the door to criminalising activities that are vital to many investigative journalists who write about national security matters. Beyond the case itself, we are concerned that the mere fact that Assange now risks extradition and potentially decades behind bars if convicted in the USA has a chilling effect on critical journalism, which is essential for exposing the truth about crimes committed by governments.”

Rebecca Vincent, Director of International Campaigns for Reporters without Borders said,

“As Mr Assange spends his 49th birthday behind bars, it remains clear that the US government will continue to target him at all costs. It is up to the UK government to uphold its own obligations to protect freedom of information and not enable a politically motivated prosecution by another state. Mr Assange has clearly been targeted for his contributions to public interest reporting. All charges against him should be dropped and he should be released without further delay.”

On 24 June 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a second superseding indictment against Mr Assange, adding no new charges but expanding on the charge for conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.

“The government’s relentless pursuit of Julian Assange poses a grave threat to journalists everywhere and to the public’s right to know”, said Barry Pollack, an attorney for Mr Assange in the United States, calling the new indictment “yet another chapter in the U.S. Government’s effort to persuade the public that its pursuit of Julian Assange is based on something other than his publication of newsworthy truthful information.”

Press freedom groups have warned since his arrest and initial indictment in April 2019 that a U.S. conviction for Mr Assange—an Australian citizen who operated in Europe and was granted asylum and citizenship by Ecuador—would criminalize publishing around the world, allowing the United States to dictate what journalists can publish beyond its borders. The United Kingdom, which is detaining Mr Assange on the U.S.’s behalf, has the power to stop the extradition process and let him walk free immediately.

The letter concludes,

“We call on the UK government to release Mr Assange without further delay and block his extradition to the US – a measure that could save Mr Assange’s life and preserve the press freedom that the UK has committed to championing globally.”

Mr Assange’s extradition proceedings, which commenced for one week in February 2020 in London, are scheduled to continue for three weeks beginning 7 September.

The Courage Foundation hosts a defense campaign website for WikiLeaks and Mr Assange at defend.WikiLeaks.org.

Read the Open Letter here.

Categories
Statements

Open Letter

Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP
Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor
Ministry of Justice
102 Petty France
London
SW1H 9AJ

3 July 2020

RE: Open letter calling for the release of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange

CC: Rt Hon Dominic Raab, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Dear Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP,

On 8 June 2020, responding to a question in the House of Lords about the United Kingdom’s stance regarding the protection of journalists and press freedoms, Minister of State Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said, “Media freedom is vital to open societies. Journalists must be able to investigate and report without undue interference”.

We, the undersigned, agree with this statement and call on the UK government to uphold its commitment to press freedom in its own country. At the time of Lord Ahmad’s remarks, WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange had been imprisoned on remand in the high-security HMP Belmarsh for more than a year as he faces extradition to the United States on charges of publishing. We call on the UK government to release Mr Assange from prison immediately and to block his extradition to the US.

The US government has indicted Mr Assange on 18 counts for obtaining, possessing, conspiring to publish and for publishing classified information. The indictment contains 17 counts under the Espionage Act of 1917 and one charge of conspiring (with a source) to violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which uses Espionage Act language. This is the first ever use of such charges for the publication of truthful information in the public interest, and it represents a gravely dangerous attempt to criminalise journalist-source communications and the publication by journalists of classified information, regardless of the newsworthiness of the information and in complete disregard of the public’s right to know.

On 24 June 2020, the US Department of Justice issued a second superseding indictment against Mr Assange, adding no new charges but expanding on the charge for conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. This new indictment employs a selective and misleading narrative in an attempt to portray Mr Assange’s actions as nefarious and conspiratorial rather than as contributions to public interest reporting.

­The charges against Mr Assange carry a potential maximum sentence of 175 years in prison. Sending Mr Assange to the US, where a conviction is a near certainty, is tantamount to a death sentence.

This is an unprecedented escalation of an already disturbing assault on journalism in the US, where President Donald Trump has referred to the news media as the “enemy of the people”. Whereas previous presidents have prosecuted whistleblowers and other journalistic sources under the Espionage Act for leaking classified information, the Trump Administration has taken the further step of going after the publisher.

Mr Assange himself has been persecuted for publishing for nearly a decade. In 2012, with fears of a US prosecution that later proved prescient, Mr Assange sought and was granted asylum from the government of Ecuador, and he entered the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Because the UK declined to guarantee Mr Assange wouldn’t be extradited to the US, the United Nations’ Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled that Mr Assange’s detention was indeed arbitrary and called on the UK to “immediately [allow] Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to walk free from the Ecuadorian embassy in London”.

President Obama’s administration prosecuted US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning for disclosing hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks on the US’ wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as State Department cables and files on inmates at the Guantanamo Bay prison. But the administration, which had empanelled a Grand Jury investigation into WikiLeaks as early as 2010, explicitly decided not to prosecute Mr Assange due to what it termed the “New York Times problem.” As the Washington Post explained in November 2013, “If the Justice Department indicted Assange, it would also have to prosecute the New York Times and other news organizations and writers who published classified material, including The Washington Post and Britain’s Guardian newspaper”.

When President Trump came to power, then-Attorney General of the US Jeff Sessions announced that prosecuting Assange would be a “priority”, despite the fact that no new evidence or information had come to light in the case. In April 2017, in a startling speech against WikiLeaks’ constitutional right to publish, then-CIA director Mike Pompeo declared WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service” and said, “Julian Assange has no First Amendment privileges”.

On 11 April 2019, Ecuador illegally terminated Mr Assange’s diplomatic asylum in violation of the Geneva Refugee Convention and invited the British police into their embassy, where he was immediately arrested at the request of the US. Mr Assange served a staggering 50 weeks in prison for a bail violation, but when that sentence ended in September 2019, he was not released. Mr Assange continues to be detained at HMP Belmarsh, now solely at the behest of the US.

Even before the lockdown initiated by the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Assange has been held in conditions approaching solitary confinement, confined to his cell more than 22 hours a day. Now under containment measures, Mr Assange is even more isolated, and he hasn’t seen his own children in several months. Furthermore, Mr Assange has been allowed extremely limited access to his lawyers and documents, severely hampering his ability to participate in his own legal defence. Following a visit to HMP Belmarsh accompanied by medical doctors in May 2019, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer determined that Mr Assange had endured psychological torture.

Mr Assange’s extradition hearing, which commenced for one week in February 2020 and is scheduled to continue for three more weeks, is set to resume in September. But the coronavirus, which has reportedly already killed at least one fellow inmate at HMP Belmarsh and which continues to spread through prisons at an alarming rate, puts the health and well-being of Mr Assange, who suffers from a chronic lung condition that makes him especially vulnerable to Covid-19, at serious risk.

The continued persecution of Mr Assange is contributing to a deterioration of press freedom in the UK and is serving to tarnish the UK’s international image. Reporters Without Borders cited the disproportionate sentencing of Mr Assange to 50 weeks in prison for breaking bail, the Home Office’s decision to greenlight the US extradition request, and Mr Assange’s continued detention as factors in the UK’s decline in ranking to 35th out of 180 countries in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index.

We call on the UK government to release Mr Assange without further delay and block his extradition to the US – a measure that could save Mr Assange’s life and preserve the press freedom that the UK has committed to championing globally.

Signed:

Nathan Fuller, Executive Director, Courage Foundation
Rebecca Vincent, Director of International Campaigns, Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
Adil Soz, International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech
Anthony Bellanger, General Secretary – International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
Archie Law, Chair Sydney Peace Foundation
Carles Torner, Executive Director, PEN International
Christine McKenzie, President, PEN Melbourne
Daniel Gorman, Director, English PEN
Kjersti Løken Stavrum, President, PEN Norway
Lasantha De Silva, Freed Media Movement
Marcus Strom, President, MEAA Media, Australia
Mark Isaacs, President of PEN International Sydney
Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary, National Union of Journalists (NUJ)
Mousa Rimawi, Director, MADA – the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms
Naomi Colvin, UK/Ireland Programme Director, Blueprint for Free Speech
Silkie Carlo, Director, Big Brother Watch
Nora Wehofsits, Advocacy Officer, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
Peter Tatchell, Peter Tatchell Foundation
Ralf Nestmeyer, Vice President, German PEN
Rev Tim Costello AO, Director of Ethical Voice
Robert Wood, Chair, PEN Perth
Ruth Smeeth, Chief Executive Officer, Index on Censorship
Sarah Clarke, Head of Europe and Central Asia, ARTICLE 19
William Horsley, Media Freedom Representative, Association of European Journalists
Jeanne Mirer, President – International Association of Democratic Lawyers
Peter Weisenbacher – Institut Ludskych Prav (Human Rights Institute)
Foundation for Press Freedom (Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa)
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
Bytes for All (B4A)
Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR)
The Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding (CEMESP-Liberia)
The Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ)
Muhammad Rabbani, Managing Director, Cage UK
Free Media Movement Sri Lanka
Freedom Forum Nepal
IFoX / Initiative for Freedom of Expression – Turkey
International Association of Democratic Lawyers
Statewatch
International Press Centre (IPC)
Media Foundation for West Africa
Mediacentar Sarajevo
National Lawyers Guild International Committee
Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)
South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)
World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC)

Categories
Press Release

Free speech and the Assange case

30. June 2020

The right to free speech has always been as important to art as it is to politics. Perhaps that’s why so many performers, musicians and artists have spoken out in favour of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Joining us to discuss this issues the Assange case raises are internationally renowned musician Brian Eno, filmmaker Suzie Gilbert and comedian Alexei Sayle.

Categories
Press Release

‘We haven’t seen new indictment’ Assange’s lawyers tell court

29. 06. 2020

The US government has failed to show its new indictment of Julian Assange either to his legal team or the Judge. This extraordinary fact emerged in Westminster magistrates court earlier today (Monday 29th June).
 
Mark Sommers QC, acting for Assange, told the court he was ‘concerned that we are only hearing about this fresh indictment in the press’ and that neither he nor the court have been served with the document.
 
The US Department of Justice’s Superseding Indictment was released to the press last Wednesday. It is meant to strengthen the US case against Assange but contains no new charges and little information that is not already in the public realm.
 
‘A superseding indictment is supposed to do what it says on the tin, it’s supposed to replace the existing indictment’, said WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson, ’But the US have no new charges to bring, and they can’t even be bothered to send the court or the defence team the document. That just shows this is a glorified press release and not a new indictment at all.’  Hrafnsson continued ‘This shows how they are abusing due process in the UK and flaunting the legal system’s rules’.
 
The US government is showing contempt both for the court and the defence lawyers by trying to run a prosecution in the press rather than in front of the judge.
 
Without official sight of the fresh indictment the defence could make no response in court, despite the fact that it has been issued just days before the deadline for defence evidence on 10th July.
 
Ill health prevented Julian Assange, on Doctors advice, from making the journey to the video room in Belmarsh prison to be part of the court proceedings. He has not  been able to join these routine procedural court proceedings for more than 3 months.
 
The Covid crisis has further restricted contact between Assange and his lawyers.
 
Judge Vanessa Baraitser also announced that the remainder of the extradition hearing is almost certain be heard in the Old Bailey, starting on Monday 7th September.
 
The Don’t Extradite Assange campaign have said they will be protesting in a socially distanced manner when the hearing restarts.  
 
 

 
Background
 
The remaining three weeks of the Julian Assange extradition hearing is due to start on 7 September 2020.

Julian Assange is charged by the Trump government with publishing the Afghan and Iraq war logs for which he could face 175 years in jail. 
 
Julian Assange’s lawyers have experienced a considerable difficulty communicating with their client. Speaking at a recent hearing, Edward Fitzgerald QC, said ‘We’ve had great difficulties in getting into Belmarsh to take instructions from Mr Assange and to discuss the evidence with him.’ Mr Fitzgerald continued: ‘We simply cannot get in as we require to see Mr Assange and to take his instruction.’
 
The UN working group on arbitrary detention issued a statement saying that “the right of Mr. Assange to personal liberty should be restored”.
 
Massimo Moratti of Amnesty International has publicly stated on their website that, “Were Julian Assange to be extradited or subjected to any other transfer to the USA, Britain would be in breach of its obligations under international law.”
 
Human Rights Watch published an article saying, “The only thing standing between an Assange prosecution and a major threat to global media freedom is Britain. It is urgent that it defend the principles at risk.”
 
The NUJ has stated “US charges against Assange pose a huge threat, one that could criminalise the critical work of investigative journalists & their ability to protect their sources”.

Categories
Press Release

Assange’s lawyers to respond to US superseding indictment at Monday’s court hearing

28. 06. 2020

Julian Assange’s legal team will have their first chance to respond to the US Department of Justice’s superseding indictment in court this coming Monday, 29th June.

The indictment, publicised last Wednesday night, has not yet been formally served on the defence. It comes over a year after the court’s deadline for serving an indictment on Julian Assange–14 June 2019.

The new superseding indictment contains no new charges and is primarily based on the witness testimony of a convicted conman, who has previously been imprisoned over embezzling wikileaks. He was also imprisoned over sex offences against minors.

‘This is a bluff, and a pretty poor bluff at that’, said WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson,’the US have no new charges to bring, just hearsay from paid FBI informants long ago disgraced in the press.’

The fresh indictment has been issued just days before the final deadline for defence evidence on 10th July in an attempt to limit defence lawyers, already prevented from effective contact with Assange, from effective responding.

The Covid crisis has further restricted contact between Assange and his lawyers. In a previous hearing Assange’s QC, Ed Fitzgerald, said that there had only been two phone calls between the legal team and Assange across a four week period.

The issuing of a superseding indictment is meant to play on the advantage that the US legal team enjoy due to Assange’s restricted access to his legal team.

The hearing on Monday is routine but lawyers are hoping that Judge Vanessa Baraitser will announce in which court the remainder of the full extradition case would be heard.
 
 

Background
 
The remaining three weeks of the Julian Assange extradition hearing is due to start on 7 September 2020.

Julian Assange is charged by the Trump government with publishing the Afghan and Iraq war logs for which he could face 175 years in jail. 
 
Julian Assange’s lawyers have experienced a considerable difficulty communicating with their client. Speaking at a recent hearing, Edward Fitzgerald QC, said ‘We’ve had great difficulties in getting into Belmarsh to take instructions from Mr Assange and to discuss the evidence with him.’ Mr Fitzgerald continued: ‘We simply cannot get in as we require to see Mr Assange and to take his instruction.’
 
The UN working group on arbitrary detention issued a statement saying that “the right of Mr. Assange to personal liberty should be restored”.
 
Massimo Moratti of Amnesty International has publicly stated on their website that, “Were Julian Assange to be extradited or subjected to any other transfer to the USA, Britain would be in breach of its obligations under international law.”
 
Human Rights Watch published an article saying, “The only thing standing between an Assange prosecution and a major threat to global media freedom is Britain. It is urgent that it defend the principles at risk.”
 
The NUJ has stated “US charges against Assange pose a huge threat, one that could criminalise the critical work of investigative journalists & their ability to protect their sources”.

Categories
Press Release

Assange’s partner makes a televised father’s day plea for his prison release

21. 06. 2020

STELLA Moris, the fiancé of Julian Assange and mother of his two children, has made a heartfelt plea to the Australian Prime Minister to help secure his release from Belmarsh Prison so he can be reunited with his family.

Speaking today (Sunday) in her first television interview, she revealed that she had made a direct appeal to father-of-two Scott Morrison, asking him to intervene so Assange can spend time with his own sons, Gabriel, aged three and Max, two.

In the letter, written jointly with Assange’s father, John Shipton, she urges him to understand their anguish and show compassion by lobbying the British authorities to grant him bail:

“Family is everything to Julian. Reuniting Julian with his children and family is obviously something which is constantly in our thoughts. As Julian’s father, and his partner and mother of his two young children, we ask merciful consideration of Julian’s deteriorating mental and physical health. Detention in Belmarsh Maximum security prison, confined to a cell 23 hours each day, a lung condition, COVID 19 and prohibition on visitors are dire, injurious circumstances.

Each moment, Julian is threatened with the all too real nightmare of extradition to the United States and 175 years gaol, effectively, a penalty of death. We are not asking for you to intervene in the current legal proceedings. Our concern is getting Julian out of Belmarsh so he can be with his family”.

Assange, 48, is being held as a remand prisoner at the maximum-security prison alongside convicted killers and terrorists. He has been imprisoned since April 2019, despite having already served a 50 week-sentence for breaching the Bail Act. He is fighting extradition to the US over the Wikileaks publication of classified documents that revealed details of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The hearing, which opened in February, has been delayed until September because of the Covid epidemic, extending his imprisonment to almost 18 months.

Interviewed on the Channel 9 show, 60 Minutes, broadcast in Australia, Moris said: “I don’t want our lives to be determined by an incredible injustice. I would like to ask Scott Morrison (to intervene), he’s a father, he knows what it means to deprive the children of their father’s love. No child should have that”.

She fell in love with Assange five years ago while working on his legal fight against extradition and the couple became engaged in 2017. Revealing the reality of Assange’s life in the Ecuadorian embassy, where a private Spanish security firm kept him under secret surveillance, she said: “When I got pregnant the first time there were microphones everywhere so I had to write it down on a piece of paper to tell him”.

Journalism organisations and civil liberties groups around the world are campaigning against Assange’s extradition, saying it would set a chilling precedent for freedom of the Press, criminalising journalism and the right of journalists to receive and publish unauthorised information.

Julian’s father, John Shipton, said: “Julian misses Stella and their kids, Gabriel and Max. He just wants to come home and be with his family. These governments are not just punishing Julian for exposing their crimes against humanity, they are punishing us as a family. We are all suffering.”

Categories
Events

The Assange Case and Collateral Murder

20 June 2020, Online

For the 10th year anniversary of WikiLeaks releasing Collateral Murder video, we commemorated this event with an online panel which you can watch here: Collateral Murder – 10 Years On
The video shows how two Apache helicopters murdered 11 Iraqi people including two Rueters journalists. This is one of the publications Julian Assange is being indicted for espionage. He faces 175 years in a US jail if extradited from the UK.
We are doing a special follow up broadcast with WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson, Assange’s lawyer Jen Robinson, Iraqi Democrat Sami Ramadani and special guest Dean Yates Former Reuters journalist, who was in charge of the bureau in Baghdad when his Iraqi colleagues Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh were killed in July 12 2007.
You can read his story here.

Categories
Events

Julian Assange: Doctors speak out

6 June 2020, Online

Julian Assange has been subjected to psychological torture. That is the conclusion of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. But it is not the only medical issue in a case where the defendant is held in a prison where two inmates have died of coronavirus.

Three doctors who have been campaigning over the treatment of Julian Assange. Dr Lissa Johnson – Psychologist and New Matilda columnist, Dr Derek Summerfield – Honorary senior lecturer at London’s Institute of Psychiatry and Dr Bob Gill – NHS doctor and producer of The Great NHS Heist discuss these vital concerns.

All three speakers are members of Doctors for Assange who have written both to the Australian and the British governments to voice their serious concerns about the health of Julian Assange and to condemn the violations of his right to be free from torture, right to health, and right to doctor-patient confidentiality.

If you would like to join the signatories and you are a Medical Professional you can sign it here: https://doctorsassange.org/

Categories
Post

A resolution campaign is being launched across the labour movement in solidarity with Assange

03. 06. 2020

A new call for solidarity with Julian Assange has been issued as his extradition hearing is set to resume in September. Following motions in support of Assange at Birmingham TUC and from the National Union of Journalists a resolution campaign is being launched across the labour movement. The comprehensive resolution adopted by the NUJ is to be circulated for other trade unions, Labour Party bodies, and campaign organisations to adapt for thier own use.  

‘Please put this resolution to your next meeting’, said John Rees from the Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign, ‘this is the defining free speech case of the 21st century. Freedom of information, free from government censorship, is the lifeblood of an effective labour movement. The NUJ have made a stand. Follow their example’.

The NUJ resolution is reproduced in full below and can be found here.

Please adapt it as required for your own organisation and let us know when it passes at: office@dontextraditeassange.com

Here are four other useful campaigning tools. 
Our petition: https://www.change.org/p/release-julian-assange-from-belmarsh-prison-before-covid-19-spreads
Write to your MP: https://dontextraditeassange.com/mp 
Donate: https://dontextraditeassange.com/donate
For the full breadth of support for Julian Assange: https://dontextraditeassange.com/statements




National Union of Journalists’ resolution notes:

1. That WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is held in Belmarsh prison awaiting United States extradition proceedings, a process that can take many years.

2. If Assange is successfully prosecuted in the US he faces 175 years in prison.

3. That the extraterritorial application of the Espionage Act in the indictment of Assange criminalises journalistic activities, in this case activities carried out on UK soil by a non-US national, in collaboration with numerous UK media (including The Guardian, Channel 4 and The Telegraph).

4. That previous statements by the General Secretary of the NUJ, by the Australian Journalists Union MEAA, and by the International Federation of Journalists’ organisations have supported Assange. 

5. That there is a political dimension to extraditions and that the ‘special relationship’ between the UK and US makes the extradition of Assange more likely to go ahead.

Believes:

1. That Assange’s indictment comes at a time of heightened threats to the press in Western countries in the form of raids on newspapers and broadcasters, government claims that the press are ‘the enemy of the people’, and actual prosecutions involving life-long sentences for publishing accurately.

2. That Assange’s extradition to the United States would establish a dangerous precedent with regard to the prosecution of journalists in this country under the UK Official Secrets Act given the requirement for the UK courts to accept US arguments as to dual criminality for the extradition to go ahead. 

3. That press freedoms in this country will be weakened if the courts accept that NUJ members’ publishing activities in this country can give rise to criminal liability in foreign states and to their consequent lawful extradition.

4. That the publication of the Afghan and Iraq war logs and other material by WikiLeaks that are the subject of the US indictment revealed important information that has benefitted the public.

5. Disclosing information to the public should never be equated with espionage 

Resolves

1. To campaign to stop the extradition of Julian Assange to the US.

2. To write to the Home Secretary, the Shadow Home Secretary, and the Shadow Justice Secretary making the union’s case on this issue.

Categories
Press Release

Yet again Julian Assange and the press unable to attend court proceedings

01. 06. 2020

Julian Assange was, once again, unable to attend his own proceedings on medical advice. He remains at high risk of contracting Covid-19 due to an underlying lung condition exacerbated by years of confinement recognised by the UK as arbitrary detention.

The Judge failed to keep her undertaking to announce the venue for the remainder of the full extradition hearing starting September 7th

The audio link for journalists was unusable and the court proceedings inaudible so only the small numbers allowed in the court could hear.

‘It’s ridiculous that we still don’t have a time and a place for the remainder of the hearing’, said WikiLeaks Ambassador Joseph Farrell, ‘The delay has been a punishment in itself. Whether Julian can get proper access to his legal team remains unlikely, as Belmarsh prison remains in full lockdown. And to add insult to injury the court is unable to provide reporters with the most basic levels of access.’

Assange’s legal team have throughout complained that they have not had adequate access to Assange, but the judge has refused to intervene to ensure that both sides have equal access to their legal representation. The district judge refused bail even as the Covid infection took hold of Belmarsh.

The Don’t Extradite Assange campaign joins calls by the UN for Assange’s immediate release from prison to avoid the risk of contracting Covid 19, along with all other political prisoners around the world. Julian Assange’s pre-existing health problems make him particularly vulnerable to Covid-19. He is a remand prisoner kept in jail despite the fact that he is not serving a sentence, and he poses no threat whatsoever to the public.

Categories
Statements

Australian Legal Professionals

Senator the Hon Marise Payne,
Minister for Foreign Affairs
senator.payne@aph.gov.au
foreign.minister@dfat.gov.au
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

PO Box 5317
Cobargo
NSW 2550

27 May 2020

Dear Minister,

We the undersigned current and former practicing members of the Australian legal profession, are writing to seek your urgent intervention on behalf of Australian citizen Julian Assange.

We do this with due recognition that diplomatic intercessions in the legal processes of foreign countries is not lightly undertaken. We also recognise that under certain circumstances it is appropriate and necessary. Careful interventions on behalf of Peter Greste, Melinda Taylor, David Hicks, James Ricketson and many others made a meaningful difference to positive outcomes in each case.

We strongly argue that it is time Mr Assange received a similar level of meaningful support

As legal practitioners, we are deeply concerned about the precedent effect of prosecuting an awarded publisher for nothing more than doing his job. We also hold grave concerns about the conduct of this particular case given the enormous difficulties of conducting hearings amidst a pandemic. Mr Assange has been unable to meet with or instruct legal counsel, hearings have been disrupted and nearly impossible to follow by teleconference, and resolution has now been pushed back to September at the earliest. With viral spread throughout the UK prison system, the situation has become untenable.

Before the court reconvenes on 1 June, we request of you the following:

1. To make representation on Mr Assange’s behalf that he be released on bail immediately;
2. To relay to us the outcome of this representation.

An Australian citizen needs the active support of his Government, now more than ever. We await a reply at the earliest possibility,

Regards,

Julian Burnside AO QC
Elizabeth O’Shea
Malcolm Ramage QC
Benedict Coyne
Dr Spencer Zifcak, Allan Myers Professor of Law, Australian Catholic University
Allan Myers QC
Mark Davis
Adjunct Professor George Newhouse
David McBride
Stephen Keim SC
Phillip Segal

Categories
Statements

MPs, Former MPs and Councillors

Senator the Hon Marise Payne,
Minister for Foreign Affairs
senator.payne@aph.gov.au
foreign.minister@dfat.gov.au
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

PO Box 5317
Cobargo
NSW 2550

27 May 2020

Dear Minister,

We the undersigned currently serving and former Members of Parliament, Senators and Councillors are writing to seek your advice and your urgent intervention to protect Australian publisher Julian Assange.

Mr Assange is detained in Belmarsh prison in the UK in the midst of extradition proceedings wholly relating to publications for which the Walkley Foundation awarded WikiLeaks the 2011 “Most outstanding contribution to journalism”.

The extradition hearings have been disrupted and delayed, leaving Mr Assange unable to have his case heard until September 2020 at the earliest, while deaths within the UK prison populations and illness amongst judicial and penal staff cohorts continue to rise.

Even absent the heightened risks of a global public health crisis, Mr Assange is in poor health and has never needed the support of his Government more.

We are well placed to understand the diplomatic sensitivities given that the countries responsible for detaining and prosecuting Mr Assange are two of our closest allies. But one of the things that gives an alliance value is the ability to advocate directly in the interests of Australian citizens without such advocacy being mistaken for hostility.

Today we are asking you to convey our concerns, and any that you may share through appropriate channels, with the greatest of urgency. The court will convene next by teleconference on 1 June. Before this time we request of you the following

1. To make representation on Mr Assange’s behalf that he be released on bail immediately
2. To relay to us the outcome of this representation

You will note that the signatories below encompass a very wide range of Australian political representation, from government, opposition and the crossbench, from former Ministers to independents. We believe this accurately reflects that concern for the well being of Mr Assange and the work of a free and open media transcends political loyalties.

We await a reply at the earliest possibility,

yours faithfully,

Andrew Wilkie MHR
Senator Peter Whish-Wilson
George Christensen MHR
Susan Templeman MHR
Zali Steggall MHR
Tony Zappia MHR
Julian Hill MHR
Adam Bandt MHR
Senator Richard Di Natale
Senator Rex Patrick
Senator Nick McKim
Maria Vamvakinou MHR
former Senator Christine Milne
former Senator Scott Ludlam
former Senator Andrew Bartlett
former Senator Lee Rhiannon
Arthur Chesterfield-Evans
Sylvia Hale
James Ryan
Cathy Griff
Rochelle Porteous
Toni Wright-Tu
Greg Clancy
Phillip Bradley
Rohan Leppert
Vanessa Ekins
Brent Hoare
Philipa Veitch

Categories
Statements

Writers, Publishers and Journalists

Senator the Hon Marise Payne,
Minister for Foreign Affairs
senator.payne@aph.gov.au
foreign.minister@dfat.gov.au
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

PO Box 5317
Cobargo
NSW 2550

27 May 2020

Dear Minister,

We the undersigned journalists, publishers and writers are seeking your urgent intervention to have Julian Assange immediately released on bail.

Mr Assange is facing life in prison for publications in partnership with the Guardian, the New York Times, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and other major media partners in 2010 and 2011.

You will be aware that Australia’s Walkley Foundation recognised WikiLeaks with its 2011 “Most outstanding contribution to journalism” award, for breaking the stories for which Mr Assange is now facing 175 years in prison. For anyone who cares about freedom of the press as a cornerstone of democracy, this is completely unacceptable.

There is no doubt these extradition proceedings are intended to send a message to other publishing organisations large and small, independent and institutional, that reporting of unapproved national security stories will not be tolerated.

We hear this message, and we reject it. The use of espionage charges against people publishing materials provided by whistleblowers is deeply alarming, and runs directly against the foundational principles of free and fearless reporting.

Now, in the midst of a pandemic, court proceedings have been thrown into chaos. The UK prison system is no place for a publisher at the best of times, and these are not the best of times.

Before the court reconvenes on 1 June we request of you the following:

1. To make representation on Mr Assange’s behalf that he be released on bail immediately
2. To relay to us the outcome of this representation

We represent a wide cross-section of Australian journalists and publishers, having worked in public and private broadcasting, print, radio and online media. We are determined to raise our voices to free one of our own, and we ask that you raise your voice with us.

in trust,

Jeff Sparrow
Wendy Bacon
Mary Kostakidis
Andrew Fowler
Quentin Dempster
Valerie Krips
Antony Loewenstein
Dylan Welch
Dr Alison Broinowski
Jon Altman
Paddy Manning
Phillip Adams AO
George Burchett
Giordano Nanni
Cathy Vogan
Alison Caddick
Sarah Bailey
Jordan Brown
James Ricketson
Curtis Levy
Richard Broinowski AO
Timothy Erik Ström
Stefan Moore
Simon Cooper, Aren
Peter Cronau
Michael Williams
Michael Rubbo
Guy Rundle
David Bradbury
Chas Licciardello
Bernard Keane
Helen Razer
Benedetta Brevini
Julian Morrow
Rohan Connolly

Categories
Post

Scott Ludlam’s email to Senator Payne

From: scottludlam <xxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.com>
Date: Wed, May 27, 2020 at 5:29 PM
Subject: correspondence relating to Julian Assange court appearance
To: senator.payne@aph.gov.au <senator.payne@aph.gov.au>,
foreign.minister@dfat.gov.au <foreign.minister@dfat.gov.au>

Dear Minister Payne,

I have been invited to convey the attached four pieces of correspondence
for your urgent review and response. The undersigned represent a
cross party alliance of serving and former MPs, a cross-section of the
Australian legal profession, diverse human rights advocates and a large
number of writers, publishers and journalists.

In a matter of only a few days, Julian Assange will face court again in
the UK. As detailed in the letters, we seek your urgent intercession in
this matter while there is still time.

Physical copies will be delivered to your office shortly; in the
meantime I would appreciate acknowledgement of receipt of these
electronic copies.

In trust,

Scott Ludlam

Former Senator for Western Australia

+61XXXXXXXXX

Attachments:

PDFs:

Categories
Press Release

Covid risk for Julian Assange at next court hearing

28. 05. 2020

Julian Assange is due to appear in court by video link from Belmarsh prison next Monday, 1st June, just days after the Ministry of Justice admitted that Covid 19 is far more widespread in prisons than was previously announced.

On doctor’s advice, Assange did not participate in the last two procedural hearings, as moving through the prison to use the communal video room would put him at even greater risk of contracting the virus.

Assange has an underlying lung condition that makes him especially vulnerable to Covid 19.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Justice provided a ‘more robust way’ of reporting coronavirus cases which saw the number of staff who have tested positive jump from 563 to 873 in a week.

‘The court seems to be chaotic’, said WikiLeaks editor in chief Kristinn Hrafnsson, ‘Julian could not attended the last hearing even by video link because of health concerns, no lawyer was in court because of the lockdown, and most journalists couldn’t join the conference call to listen to proceedings because of a foul-up in the court’s technical facilities. Justice has to be seen to be done. It wasn’t’.

Edward Fitzgerald QC told the court on 4 May that the defence team had had no more than two phone calls with Assange in the last month. The hearing on Monday is a routine hearing to renew Assange’s detention until the extradition hearing restarts on 7th September 2020.

Campaigners continue to insist that as a remand prisoner held in jail for no crime Assange should be immediately released on bail to avoid the risk of contracting Covid 19.

Categories
Statements

Human Rights Advocates

Senator the Hon Marise Payne,
Minister for Foreign Affairs
senator.payne@aph.gov.au
foreign.minister@dfat.gov.au
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

PO Box 5317
Cobargo
NSW 2550

27 May 2020

Dear Minister,

We the undersigned representatives of Australian human rights, digital rights and civil society organisations are calling for your urgent intervention on behalf of Mr Julian Assange.

Mr Assange and his colleagues at WikiLeaks helped extend the power of investigative journalism and truth-telling into the digital age, exposing war crimes and human rights abuses to public view. As a result, he has paid a heavy penalty.

In May 2019, Professor Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture declared that Mr Assange had been “exposed to persistent, progressively severe abuse ranging from systematic judicial persecution and arbitrary confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy, to his oppressive isolation, harassment and surveillance inside the embassy, and from deliberate collective ridicule, insults and humiliation, to open instigation of violence and even repeated calls for his assassination.” He stated that Mr Assange shows the symptoms of an individual subjected to torture.

Professor Melzer’s review was undertaken well before the global pandemic, which has severely disrupted the UK’s prison and judicial systems. Since then, the situation has deteriorated gravely, with remand prisoners now subjected to effective solitary confinement.

The Australian government should be willing to intervene to protect the lives of Australians caught up in legal processes in foreign countries, where those proceedings violate international law.

Before the court reconvenes on 1 June, we request of you the following:

1. To make representation on Mr Assange’s behalf that he be released on bail immediately;
2. To relay to us the outcome of this representation.

Mr Assange is a publisher, a father and an Australian citizen. It is time he had the support of his Government.

We await your response,

yours sincerely,

Suelette Dreyfus, Blueprint for Free Speech
Stuart Rees, Sydney Peace Foundation
George Newhouse, National Justice Project
Lizzie O’Shea, Digital Rights Watch
Victorian Council for Civil Liberties (Liberty Victoria)
Nicholas Cowdery AO QC,President, New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties
Valerie Joy, Alternatives to Violence Queensland
Christine McKenzie, PEN Melbourne Margaret Pestorius, Australian Nonviolence Projects
Cate Adams, Wage Peace
Dr Sue Wareham OAM, Medical Association for the Prevention of War Tony Kevin, Canberra
Stanley Koulouris, Unions Australia, Sydney.
Dr K.H. Sievers, Australian Voice
Ian Rose, Support Assange & WikiLeaks Coalition (Sydney Aus)
Lorese Vera, Convenor, Canberra Action 4 Assange.
Tristan Sykes Convenor, Free Assange Hobart
Clare Smith, Adelaide support group for Assange
Margaret Grace Richardson, Founder – Julian Assange Supporters Alice Springs
Sean O’Reilly, Brisbane Assange Action Brisbane Queensland
Rod Lemin, Brisbane Assange Action Brisbane Queensland
Paul Oboohov, Socialist Alliance, Canberra Branch
Melbourne Activist Legal Support (MALS)
Raine Sinclair, Melbourne4WikiLeaks
Tom Cooper, Melbourne4WikiLeaks
Lorine Anita Brice, Melbourne4WikiLeaks
Kate Hecimovic, Melbourne4WikiLeaks
Joe Lorback, Solidarity Sound System
Danielle Wood, People For Assange
Mitchell Duirs, Perth 4 Assange, WA
Walter Mellado, Australians For Assange
Amelia Ryan, Australians For Assange
Dianne Andary, Australians For Assange
Desmond McMillan, Australians For Assange
Phillip Adams, Australians For Assange
Camillo De Luca, Australians For Assange
Rosemary Gower, Riverland Support Group for Julian Assange’s Freedom Jean Lee, Adelaide Friends of Wikileaks

Categories
Events

Prisons and the Covid crisis

16 May 2020, Online

The UK’s already overcrowded prison system has been thrown into crisis by the outbreak of Covid 19. Prisoners and staff have suffered a high infection and death rate. The government at first promised an early release programme to reduce overcrowding, but then quickly abandoned it. What is happening in our prisons? Why haven’t even remand prisoners who are convicted of no crime, like Julian Assange, been released on bail? These pressing questions were discussed by the following experts: Richard Garside – Director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, Faith Spear – Criminologist and Former Prison Monitor, Steve Gillan – General Secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association.

Categories
Press Release

Assange extradition hearing set to restart 7th September

13. 05. 2020

The start date for the remainder of the Julian Assange extradition hearing has been set by Judge Vanessa Baraitser for 7th September. The long-awaited decision comes in the wake of a recent procedural hearing when defence and prosecution lawyers both told the court that the original date of the 18th May was unworkable.

There is no location set for the hearing although Woolwich Crown Court, attached to Belmarsh prison, the location of the initial week of the hearing in February, is not available.

The judge had previously resisted rescheduling the hearing in spite of the Covid19 crisis which has prevented defence lawyers from meeting with Julian Assange.

‘The court seems to be chaotic’, said WikiLeaks editor in chief Kristinn Hrafnsson, ‘Julian could not attended the last hearing even by video link because of health concerns, no lawyer was in court because of the lockdown, and most journalists could not join the conference call to listen to proceedings because of a foul-up in the court’s technical facilities. Justice has to be seen to be done. It wasn’t, and we’ve always said that a fair trial would not be possible at the time the judge originally set’.

Edward Fitzgerald QC told the court at the last hearing that the defence team had had no more than two phone calls with Assange in the last month.

Campaigners continue to insist that as a remand prisoner held in jail for no crime, who poses no risk to the public and with a young family in the UK, Assange should be immediately released on bail to avoid the risk of contracting Covid19.

Categories
Events

The US-UK Extradition Treaty – Should it be replaced?

9 May 2020, Online

The Treaty under which the United States is seeking to extradite Julian Assange has been widely condemned, even by Boris Johnson, as unbalanced. Some 200 UK citizens have been extradited from Britain to the US. Only 11 Americans have been extradited to the UK. Our panel will ask if the Extradition Treaty is fit for purpose. On the panel – David Davis MP, British Conservative Party politician with Radd Seiger legal advisor for Harry Dunn family, moderated by Baronnes Helena Kennedy QC, Scottish barrister and Labour member of the House of Lords.

Categories
Press Release

Assange Extradition Hearing Date to Be Set Tomorrow

03. 05. 2020

Julian Assange’s interrupted procedural hearing will resume tomorrow, 4 May, at Westminster Magistrates’ Court at 10am. The video-linked proceedings will decide when his extradition case should restart.

Judge Vanessa Baraitser previously held that the case should resume as scheduled on 18 May, in the court attached to Belmarsh prison in southeast London, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic which has spread into British prisons and puts Assange at grave risk. Now that both defence and prosecution lawyers have called for a delay, Judge Baraitser has finally agreed to move the date.

‘The judge was forced to agree a change in the hearing date despite her previous stubborn decision that it should go ahead this month’ said Joseph Farrell, WikiLeaks ambassador, ‘It’s not the first time she has had to back down from her own unworkable timetable. She now needs to urgently reconsider her life-threatening refusal to grant bail for Julian Assange’.

The extradition hearing, in which the United States is asking the U.K. to send Assange to the U.S. to stand trial for unprecedented charges of Espionage for publishing, ran for its first week in February and is expected to take three more weeks. The earliest date under discussion is in July, but it could be postponed until November.

Assange’s lawyers have consistently argued that they have not had full and unfettered access to their client throughout the case, but the situation has markedly worsened in recent months.

In court last week Ed Fitzgerald QC said that the coronavirus crisis has reduced already restricted access to unacceptable levels. He said the legal team had only had a couple of phone conversations with Assange in the last month.

Julian Assange was not even able to appear by video link at the court last Monday because he has been advised on medical grounds that moving to and using the video link room in the prison is too great a risk.

Two prisoners have already died in Belmarsh and prisoners are now locked down 23 hours a day. The government has virtually halted its prisoner release programme which was already too limited to reduce the prison population to safe levels.

The judge has previously refused to bail Julian Assange.

Categories
Events

Whistleblowers for Assange

25 April 2020, Online

A chance to learn first-hand from some of whistleblowers who have shaped what we know about modern politics, the importance of free speech, a free press, and the case of Julian Assange. With, who leaked the Pentagon Papers, Katharine Gun who revealed Iraq War secrets from GCHQ and former CIA officer John Kiriakou who confirmed that waterboarding was used to interrogate al-Qaeda prisoners.

Categories
Press Release

Assange court hearig scheduled for April 27th

24. 04. 2020

Julian Assange’s lawyers will return to court on Monday to argue that his extradition trial should be postponed.

The hearing is due to resume in the court attached to Belmarsh prison on 18 May. But Assange’s lawyers will argue that they have not had full and unfettered access to their client.

The onset of the coronavirus crisis has reduced that already restricted access to unacceptably low levels.

Julian Assange will not even be able to appear by video link at Westminster court on Monday because he has been advised on medical grounds that moving to, and using, the video link room in the prison is too great a risk.

Two prisoners have already died in Belmarsh and inmates are now locked down 23 hours a day. The government has halted its prisoner release programme which was already too restricted to reduce the prison population to safe levels.

The Judge, Vanessa Baraitser, has previously refused to bail Julian Assange.

The prosecution lawyers acting on behalf of the US government have agreed that the remainder of the trial should be postponed.

Journalists and members of the public will be unable to properly and fully attended the trial if it goes ahead in the current health emergency. During the first week of the hearing in February most journalists could not gain access to the courtroom and were consigned to a portacabin in the grounds of the Belmarsh court with an inadequate video link. But even that option would be unavailable or unusable with coronavirus still a significant danger.

The remainder of the hearing, likely to last three weeks, will constitute the vast majority of the trial and will hear all the witnesses, many of whom will be travelling from abroad.

“It is quite clear that this hearing cannot go ahead in just a few week’s time,” said Joseph Farrell, WikiLeaks ambassador. “Julian’s lawyers cannot prepare adequately, witnesses will not be able to travel, and journalists and the public will not have free, adequate and safe access to the proceedings. Justice will neither be done, nor seen to be done.”

The Don’t Extradite Assange campaign will organise a twitter storm on Sunday evening at 6pm ahead of the hearing.

Categories
Events

Journalists speak out for Assange

18 April 2020, Online

Discussion between journalists about Julian’s current situation in prison and how his persecution affects journalism and the democracy. On the panel: John Pilger – award winning journalist, Stefania Maurizi– investigative journalist, Charles Glass – author, journalist, broadcaster

Categories
Events

Collateral Murder – 10 Years On

5 April 2020, Online

The cockpit video of an Apache helicopter shooting journalists and Iraqi civilians became one of the greatest journalistic coups of this century when it was released 10 years ago. Ann Wright – retired United States Army colonel and retired U.S. State Department official, Kristinn Hrafnsson – editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, and columnist and essayist Nozomi Hayase discussed the global political impact of that revelation, with a new video presentation that interviews the families of the Iraqis who lost their relatives in the attack.

Categories
Press Release

WikiLeaks makes new content available free to broadcasters and websites

03. 04. 2020

Ten year anniversary of the “Collateral Murder” release   This Sunday, April 5th, marks the ten year anniversary of WikiLeaks publication of Collateral Murder, the video taken from the cockpit of two US Apache helicopters of the shooting dead of 2 Reuters journalists and 11 civilians on the streets of Baghdad. The release had a global political impact.  

This package has been produced to mark the ten year anniversary and contains new interviews those who were involved.

This material is free for broadcasters, media organisations, and campaign websites to use.

The Collateral Murder publication by WikiLeaks included the US military Rules of Engagement, for which the US now seeks Julian Assange’s imprisonment. He faces 175 years in prison if extradited to the United States.The new Collateral Murder – Ten Years On Video Package can be found here.

For more information:   Stay Informed – Don’t Extradite Assange: https://dontextraditeassange.com/#initiatives

Background: Julian Assange extradition and imprisonment – current status

Council of Europe: Platform to Promote the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists – Alert 1/2020 – Continued Detention of WikiLeaks Founder and Publisher Julian Assange (Level 1) EFJ/IFJ, AEJ, Index on Censorship

Continued Detention of WikiLeaks Founder and Publisher Julian Assange

Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic (Council of Europe)

Julian Assange should not be extradited due to potential impact on press freedom and concerns about ill-treatment

Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

International Bar Association – Human Rights Institute

IBAHRI condemns UK treatment of Julian Assange in US extradition trial

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe

OSCE – Media Freedom Representative calls on UK authorities not to extradite WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange to the US, ahead of Monday’s hearing

Amnesty International

USA must drop charges against Julian Assange

Assange bail application highlights COVID-19 risk to many vulnerable detainees and prisoners

The Lancet: Letter from 117 doctors – End torture and medical neglect of Julian Assange

End torture and medical neglect of Julian Assange

The Council of Bar and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE)

Letter regarding the interception of communications between Julian Assange and his lawyers

New York TimesEditorial Board

Julian Assange’s Indictment Aims at the Heart of the First Amendment

Categories
Press Release

WikiLeaks marks 10th anniversary of the ‘Collateral Murder’ video

02. 04. 2020

The cockpit video of an Apache helicopter shooting journalists and Iraqi civilians became one of the greatest journalistic coups of this century when it was released 10 years ago.

In this special online event we’ll be discussing the global political impact of that revelation, with a new video presentation that interviews the families of the Iraqis who lost their relatives in the attack.

Hosted by Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign the event will hear from editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks Kristinn Hrafnsson and columnist and essayist Nozomi Hayase.

There will be a question and answer session after the speakers introduce the meeting. 

Reserve your place here for Zoom webinar: www.is.gd/cm10years

The event will take place on Sunday 5 April at 5pm UK time.

Categories
Press Release

Campaigners slam ‘dangerous and cruel judgement’ to expose Julian Assange to coronavirus

25. 03. 2020

Judge Vanessa Baraitser brushed aside the advice about coronavirus from both of the Prison Officers Association and the Prison Advisory Service and told Julian Assange he would not be bailed on fears that he would contract the virus. 

Assange’s lawyers argued that the virus can spread rapidly in Britain’s overcrowded prisons and that there are already 100 staff off sick with coronavirus symptoms at HMP Belmarsh, the high security prison where Assange is held.

Yet despite Assange’s already weakened medical condition, including a previously reported lung complaint, the Judge refused to accept that there were fresh grounds for granting bail, even though the Justice Minister is currently reviewing whether remand prisoners like Julian Assange should be released.

Citing Assange’s previous asylum in the Ecuadorean Embassy as a reason for not granting bail the Judge refused to accept the offer of house arrest and electronic tagging made by the Assange’s QC, Edward Fitzgerald.

HMP Belmarsh could not even arrange for Assange to be connected by video link for the whole hearing. He was removed to his cell while the proceedings went on without him. 

‘This is a dangerous and cruel decision’, said WikiLeaks Ambassador Joseph Farrell. ‘Coronavirus will spread in Belmarsh. With 100 Belmarsh staff off ill Julian is already at risk. Visits have been cancelled. He will have no access to friends and family and his time with his legal team will be reduced further. How is anyone supposed to prepare a defence in such conditions’

Kristinn Hrafnsson, editor in chief of WikiLeaks, added, ‘to expose another human being to serious illness, and to the threat of losing their life, is grotesque and quite unnecessary. This is not justice, it is a barbaric decision’.

Julian Assange is not imprisoned for any crime and is at risk of infection. Like other prisoners who pose no risk to the public he should be released to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, his legal team argued. Belmarsh is a remand prison with 300 new intakes every month.

Categories
Press Release

Assange to apply for bail as experts warn of COVID-19 spread in prisons

23. 03. 2020

On Wednesday, 25th of March, Julian Assange’s lawyers will make a bail application at Westminster Magistrates Court. They will argue that he is vulnerable to the COVID-19 outbreak in the prison where he is on remand.   The WikiLeaks founder and publisher is being held at HMP Belmarsh on a US extradition warrant for WikiLeaks’ 2010 publications about the Iraq and Afghan wars and US foreign policy. UN officials and the OSCE have called for Julian Assange’s immediate release and for the US request to be thrown out. He faces 175 years in prison if extradited to the U.S.   Prisons are considered epicentres for the spread of COVID-19 due to overcrowding and the propensity of the virus to spread in closed environments. Andrea Albutt, the President of the Prison Governors Association, has warned that “there will be deaths” in UK prisons.   It is not only prisoners whose lives are at risk but also prison staff and their families.   Spain, the U.S and Iran have released thousands of low-risk prisoners. Iran has released UK national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. She wears an ankle tag and her movements are restricted to a 300-metre radius around her parents’ home.   The UK Prison Officers’ Association (POA) has likened the infection risk in UK prisons to that of cruise ships. The POA has called on the Johnson government to enact an executive release to address the crisis. Former chief inspector of prisons Nick Hardwick has also called for low-risk prisoners to be released.   The Johnson government has not yet released any low-risk prisoners, although it has released 300 people from immigration detention centres.  

Julian Assange falls into a category of persons who should be released to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 under the recommendations of independent legal charity, the Prison Advisory Service.

Last week, campaigners called for Julian Assange’s release and the release of all low risk prisoners to slow the spread of the virus and minimise the number of deaths in prisons.

Julian Assange’s case is one week into a four-week extradition hearing. The case began on February 22nd and has been adjourned until May 18th. It could be further adjourned due to the virus. More than 20 witnesses will be giving evidence for the defence.

All major newspapers, journalists associations and rights groups have denounced the Trump administration’s prosecution of Julian Assange as politically motivated and setting a disastrous precedent by criminalising normal journalistic behaviour.

Julian Assange has been on remand since 22 September 2019 when he finished serving a sentence for obtaining asylum at the embassy of Ecuador in 2012.

HMP Belmarsh receives 300 new prisoners every month, most of whom are then dispersed to prisons around the country. HMP Belmarsh has a total of approximately 800 prisoners and the highest suicide rate in the prison system.

The UK has 83.500 prisoners, the highest prison population in western Europe.

Categories
Press Release

Julian Assange must be released on fears of spread of coronavirus in prison

17. 03. 2020

Julian Assange must be released before the coronavirus spreads through the prison population, the Don’t Extradite Assange campaign said today.

Prison authorities are signalling that prison inmates will be especially vulnerable to the virus. There are already 113 prison staff and 75 prisoners in isolation because they have coronavirus symptoms.

The President of the Prison Governors Association, Andrea Albutt, has said that prison conditions are a fertile breeding ground for Covid 19. She added, ‘there will be deaths’.

Christine Assange, Julian Assange’s mother, has called for her son’s release to remove the threat of infection in prison. 

Assange has not been convicted of any crime, and is a low risk prisoner who should not be held in jail in any case. The increased health risk means he should be released immediately. 

Indeed, all low risk prisoners should be released to slow the spread of the virus and minimise the number of fatalities. 

The Prison Officers Association say that ‘in the past, governments have done what is called an executive release. This involves low category prisoners who maybe coming to the end of their sentences being released to free up prisons’.

WikiLeaks ambassador Joseph Farrell said, ‘With the authorities about to end social visits it’s essential that Julian Assange be included in any release policy. His health is already in jeopardy and further isolation would be damaging in itself, let alone the threat that he might contract the virus itself.’

Prisons in the United States are already releasing inmates to slow the spread of the virus.

Julian Assange is facing 175 years in jail if he is extradited to the US for releasing the Afghan and Iraq war logs which revealed the truth about the Afghan and Iraq wars.

Categories
Press Release

WikiLeaks caused no harm admits US government

24. 02. 2020

No physical harm has occurred to a single individual as a result of documents published by Wikileaks. That’s the startling admission made by the US government at the beginning of the Assange extradition trial.

All that the US government QC, James Lewis, could muster was that there might be a ‘risk’ of harm…but no actual harm occurred.

To try and bolster this flimsy claim the US government argued that Wikileaks material was read by enemies of the United States. Yet this could be true of any story critical of government, and certainly true of any material revealed by a whistleblower.

What is however certain is that WikiLeaks has repeatedly revealed war crimes committed by the US government which did indeed cause harm. Not the ‘risk’ of harm but the actually maiming and killing of innocent citizens.

The US government then went on to make the untrue claim that Wikileaks released unredacted material…an accusation previously refuted by Wikileaks.

The Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign/Wikileaks will be making full press statements Woolwich Magistrates Court at lunchtime and at the end of the day’s court business.

Categories
Events

Demonstration over the extradition of Julian Assange at Parliament Square

22 February 2020, Parliament Square London

First major protest march to Parliament Squaren in support of Assange was lead by Roger Waters of Pink Floyd and Greek MP Yanis Varoufakis.They were joined in their call not to extradite Julian Assange by Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders, John Shipton (Julian Assange’s father), musician Brian Eno, rapper and activist Lowkey, Kristinn Hrafnsson from WikiLeaks, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, Tariq Ali writer and activist, and Tim Dawson from the National Union of Journalists. The march was from Australia House to Parliament Square.

Categories
Press Release

Yanis Varoufakis visits Julian Assange 1 day before hearing, press conference

22. 02. 2020

Most recognised economist Yanis Varoufakis to visit Julian Assange at Belmarsh prison, will hold a press conference after visit.
 
On 23rd February, today’s most recognised economist Yanis Varoufakis will visit WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in prison, after his visit we will hold a press conference at Belmarsh prison.
 
This visit will be the day before Assange’s full extradition hearing which begins on 24th February, also at Belmarsh.
If Julian Assange is extradited and is charged by the Trump government with publishing the Afghan and Iraq war logs he could face 175 years in jail.
 
The former Greek finance minister, leader of the MeRA25 party and Professor of Economics at the University of Athens has been a principled supporter of “the original WikiLeaks concept”.
 
Yanis will be joined by Julian Assange’s father John Shipton as he goes to visit Assange in prison. They will both enter the prison at 2pm and leave at 4pm for the press conference outside.
 
Time: 4pm

Date: Sunday 23rd February

Place: Belmarsh prison gates,  Western Way, London SE28 0EB

Categories
Press Release

Saturday Feb 22 Assange protest

21. 02. 2020

Protests over the extradition of Julian Assange hit Parliament Square
 
Roger Waters of Pink Floyd will join Greek MP Yanis Varoufakis to head a protest march to Parliament Square tomorrow.
 
They will be joined in their call not to extradite Julian Assange by Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders, John Shipton (Julian Assange’s father), musician Brian Eno, rapper and activist Lowkey, Kristinn Hrafnsson from WikiLeaks, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, Jennifer Robinson from Assange’s legal team, singer M.I.A., and Tim Dawson from the National Union of Journalists.
 
Assange’s trial begins next week at Woolwich Crown Court and the campaign to free him is gaining huge momentum. Labour Party leaders Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have spoken our condemning the extradition hearing and so have Amnesty International and the European Commissioner for Human Rights.
 
Saturday’s protest is the first major demonstration in support of Assange.
 
 
When: Saturday 22nd February 2020
Where: Australia House to Parliament Square
Time: 11:30am – 15:30pm
Key timings for the day in the day:
Assemble: 11:30am Australia House, Strand, London WC2B 4LA
11:30 People start assembling at Australia House
12:15 Photo call at front of Demo
12:30-13:30 March from Australia House to Parliament Square
13:30 15:30 SPEAKERS

Categories
Events

Press Freedom and the case of Julian Assange

4 February 2020, Logan Hall London

Former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell spoke at a public rally in central London joined by former Shadow Secretary of state Richard Burgon as well as Tim Dawson an executive of the National Union of Journalists, Nils Melzer the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Kristinn Hrafnsson editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, Jen Robinson from Julian Assange’s legal team, and activist and writer Tariq Ali.

Categories
Events

M.I.A at UK Home Office: “Don’t extradite Assange!”

5 November 2019, Home Office London,

World famous artist MIA, Croatian philosopher, author and political activist Srećko Horvat, and British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, joined Julian Assange’s father John Shipton with this protest to halt the extradition case against Julian Assange.

Categories
Events

Roger Water “Wish You Were Here” at Home Office

2 September 2019, Home Office London

World famous musician Roger Waters, the co-founder of Pink Floyd performed the band’s classic  ‘Wish You Were Here’ after speaking about the importance of empathizing with Julian and defending him. John Pilger, filmmaker and journalist, opened the event with an impassioned speech before calling on Julian’s brother Gabriel Shipton and Roger Waters to the stage.