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Press Clippings

Assange Case Action Alert

The appeal hearing at the High Court which will decide Julian Assange’s immediate fate has been set for Wednesday 27th and Thursday 28th October. This is a watershed moment in the most important press freedom case of the 21st century. If the appeal court upholds the decision to refuse extradition to the US made by Westminster Magistrates Court last January it will make it very difficult for the US to continue to seek extradition.

We encourage you to make every effort to keep this case in in the forefront of the attention of both politicians and the public. 

Please publicise these two important public events through all the networks and social media channels available to you. And please do come along to these events and encourage as many others as possible to come with you.

Demonstration: Saturday 23 October, 1pm, assemble at BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place for a march to the High Court.

On the day of the appeal, Wednesday 27th October, 9am, assemble outside the High Court, the Strand.

Categories
Press Clippings

Press Freedom Groups Renewed their Call Urging Biden Administration to Drop the Charges against Julian Assange

Amnesty International reiterated their call to end the politically motivated charges against WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange ahead of Wednesday’s preliminary appeal hearing.

This disingenuous appeal should be dismissed by the court and President Biden should take the opportunity to drop these politically motivated charges which have put media freedom and freedom of expression in the dock.

Amnesty’s legal advisor Simon Crowther, explains the importance of journalist’s right to freedom of expression and that no journalist or publisher should face charges simply for publishing information that governments don’t want in the public domain.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Director of International Campaigns, Rebecca Vincent, was observing the preliminary hearing in London’s High Court:

We call again for the Biden administration to drop its appeal and close the case against Julian Assange, which has alarming implications for journalism and press freedom. Assange should be immediately released and certainly not extradited to the United States

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joined the call asking the Biden administration to drop the politically motivated charges and for Assange’s immediate release.

IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said:

President Joe Biden must end the years of politically motivated prosecution of Julian Assange by finally dropping the charges against him. The criminalisation of whistleblowers and investigative journalists has no place in a democracy. Condemning Assange would not only endanger his life but also fundamental principles of press freedom.

Freedom of the Press Foundation was also amongst the organizations who monitored the hearing remotely and they continue to oppose the prosecution, renewing their call for the Biden administration to end the prosecution.

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) issued a statement after the High Court’s decision to allow the United States government to expand its appeal. CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney said:

A successful prosecution of the WikiLeaks founder, which hinges on an allegation of conspiracy between a publisher and sources, would hamper reporters’ ability to work with sources and whistleblowers and unearth information that the public should know. The Biden administration should stop trying to extradite Assange and drop all charges against him.

The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) continues to support Julian Assange and urge for his immediate and unconditional release.

PEN International and English PEN issued a joint statement following the outcome of the preliminary appeal hearing. Salil Tripathi, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee, said:

“The charges faced by Julian Assange in the US represent a huge threat to media freedom and investigative journalism everywhere. Our position is clear. Espionage laws should not be used against journalists and publishers for disclosing information of public interest. We once again urge the US authorities to drop the case against Assange and to withdraw their extradition appeal.

Daniel Gorman, Director of English PEN, said:

“The UK authorities must uphold their commitment to press freedom and prevent Julian Assange’s extradition to the US. Assange has been held in Belmarsh High Security Prison for over two years. This case has deeply concerning implications for press freedom and as such he should be released as a matter of urgency.

Rune Ottosen, head of the Norwegian PEN was also part of the monitoring groups remotely during the Wednesday’s hearing. He said:

“Loss for freedom of expression. We are talking about a publisher who risks 175 years in prison for documenting facts about war crimes.

The Global Network for Press Freedom (IPI) added their voice and call on Biden administration to drop the charges and end the prosecution.

Amnesty International – The US diplomatic assurances are inherently unreliable. Julian Assange must be released;

USA/UK: US authorities must drop politically motivated charges against Assange

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) – UK: High Court begins consideration of Assange extradition appeal

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) – IFJ backs calls to drop charges against Julian Assange

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) – UK court allows expanded US appeal for Assange extradition

PEN International – United Kingdom/USA: Immediately release Julian Assange and drop extradition case

English PEN – United Kingdom/USA: Immediately release Julian Assange and drop extradition case

PEN Norway – Skuffende tap for Assange og ytringsfriheten i retten 

Categories
Hearing Coverage

U.S. allowed to expand scope of Assange appeal

High Court appeal scheduled for October 27-28

Today Britain’s High Court granted the U.S. government’s request to expand the scope of its appeal of Julian Assange’s extradition ruling. Assange’s appeal hearing has been scheduled for October 27-28, 2021.

 In January of this year, the District Court blocked Assange’s extradition to the United States on the grounds that sending the WikiLeaks publisher to the harsh conditions of U.S. imprisonment would put him at grave risk of suicide. In the final days of the Trump administration, prosecutors acting on behalf of the U.S. filed an application to appeal that decision to the UK’s High Court, requesting permission to appeal on five lines of argument. A High Court judge granted the U.S. limited permission, on three of the five grounds for appeal, and today two separate High Court judges heard arguments over whether to allow the remaining two grounds.

These remaining lines of argument concern the testimony of Professor Michael Kopelman, the psychiatrist who evaluated Assange in prison and found that the combination of his Autism spectrum diagnosis and clinical depression put him at severe risk of suicide should his extradition be ordered. The U.S. wants to challenge whether Prof. Kopelman’s testimony should have been admissible and then whether the District Judge erred in her “overall assessment of the evidence going to the risk of suicide.” 

Professor Kopelman provided two reports to the Magistrate, in December 2019 and August 2020, regarding his assessment of Assange’s mental health as it pertained to potential extradition, and he testified in court in September 2020. At issue is the fact that in his first report, Professor Kopelman did not disclose that he was aware that Assange was in a relationship with Stella Moris and that they had two children together, though he referred to Assange’s children in general terms as relevant to his fears of extradition. By the time of his second report, this information was public knowledge, because the relationship was disclosed when Julian’s defense applied for bail in April 2020, and so Professor Kopelman made reference to it subsequently.

The prosecution questioned Prof. Kopelman over this omission on cross-examination in September, and he explained that he had made the difficult decision to exclude this information to respect the Assange family’s privacy. 

In her January ruling, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser recounted this chain of events and found that while Kopelman should have disclosed his knowledge of the relationship, the omission did not render his evidence inadmissible,

“I did not accept that Professor Kopelman failed in his duty to the court when he did not disclose Ms. Morris’s relationship with Mr. Assange….In my judgment Professor Kopelman’s decision to conceal their relationship was misleading and inappropriate in the context of his obligations to the court, but an understandable human response to Ms. Morris’s predicament.”

The U.S. appealed to the High Court on the grounds that Baraitser erred in this determination, contending that the omission should either render Kopelman’s testimony inadmissible or at the least should mean it is given “no, or far less, weight.” Edward Fitzgerald QC argued for the defense that, “it cannot be…that one lapse, no matter how reasonable given the human predicament, renders his whole submission inadmissible. It must be considered in context.”

The High Court’s came to the conclusion “that it is at least arguable” to challenge Kopelman’s testimony over this omission, noting Koeplman’s declaration that his duty to the court overrides any obligation to the defendant. Lord Justice Holroyde said, “To my mind, this goes more to the weight of the evidence than to its admissibility,” but the fact that it is “arguable” was enough to grant the U.S. request to appeal on the remaining two grounds. 

The High Court scheduled Assange’s appeal hearing for October 27-28. Julian followed today’s proceedings by video-link from HMP Belmarsh and will be invited to do the same in October. 

Categories
Hearing Coverage

Preliminary Assange Appeal Hearing Scheduled for August 11

“The US government will try to re-run arguments that have already been settled by two different judges. It is the latest move by the US government to try to game the British legal system.”

The United States government has been given limited permission to appeal the District Court’s decision to block the extradition of Julian Assange from the UK to the U.S. Britain’s High Court ruled that the U.S. government could appeal on some but not all of their requested points. Now a preliminary hearing has been scheduled for August 11th, at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, to argue the scope of that appeal, and whether the U.S. government will be allowed to appeal on its other two proposed lines of argument. Assange is expected to attend in person.

Following that hearing, the High Court will schedule a date to hear full appeal arguments.

Grounds for Appeal

The U.S. government set forth five lines of argument for its appeal of the extradition ruling, and two of them were denied. It will be allowed to argue that the judge misapplied section 91 of the 2003 Extradition Act, which says someone can’t be extradited if the “physical or mental condition of the person is such that it would be unjust or oppressive to extradite him,” and that the judge should have notified the prosecution that she found extradition would be unjust or oppressive so that it could have provided “assurances to the Court” ahead of time. Finally, the High Court will allow the U.S. to put forth said assurances in the appeal hearing.

The High Court denied the U.S. government’s request to appeal on the grounds that the testimony of Professor Michael Kopelman should have been ruled inadmissible. Professor Kopelman is a psychiatrist who evaluated Assange and determined that he would be at risk of suicide if his extradition were ordered. The court also denied the U.S. government’s request to argue that the judge erred in her overall assessment of evidence that Assange would be at risk of suicide.

On August 11th, the High Court will hold a preliminary hearing for the parties to argue these last two grounds.

Assange’s fiancé Stella Moris explained what the U.S. government is attempting to do with this move:

Any losing party, the US in this case, is allowed to attempt to have different judges review the grounds that they have lost on. But the US government’s attack on Dr. Kopelman is particularly vexatious. The US government will try to re-run arguments that have already been settled by two different judges. It is the latest move by the US government to try to game the British legal system. The US government’s handling of the case exposes the underlying nature of the prosecution against Julian: subverting the rules so that Julian’s ability to defend himself is obstructed and undermined while he remains in prison for years and years, unconvicted, and held on spurious charges. The “process” is the punishment.

However much the prosecution plays to the gallery on August 11th in its efforts to attack the reputation of one of the most well-respected neuropsychiatrists in Britain, the real substance of the appeal will take place when the main appeal hearing will be heard in full later this year. But the scope of that hearing, three or five grounds, will be determined on the 11th of August.

U.S. “Assurances”

The U.S. government purports to give “assurances” that if Assange is extradited to the United States, he won’t be placed in the highest-security prison, Supermax ADX Florence, and he won’t be subjected to Special Administrative Measures (SAMs). But these assurances include caveats that render them meaningless: according to its own filing, the United States can still use these measures if it decides that Assange “do[es] something subsequent to the offering of these assurances that meets the tests for the imposition of SAMs or designation to ADX.”

Amnesty International says, “Such latitude to alter the terms of the core assurances after Assange’s transfer to the US renders them irrelevant from the start since he would remain at risk of ill-treatment in US detention at the point of transfer and afterward.”

Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s Expert on Counter-Terrorism, Criminal Justice, and Human Rights, says, “Those are not assurances at all. It is not that difficult to look at those assurances and say: these are inherently unreliable, it promises to do something and then reserves the right to break the promise.”

Responding to the news of so-called “assurances,” Moris said, “What the US is proposing is a formula to keep Julian in prison effectively for the rest of his life.”

Categories
Parliamentary Actions Press Clippings

Politicians, journalists and artists write to Chancellor Merkel calling for freedom of Assange

Around 120 politicians, journalists and artists appealed to Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday in a letter asking her to raise the ongoing prosecution of Julian Assange with U.S. President Joe Biden in her upcoming trip to Washington.

They ask the Chancellor for her assistance in ensuring that “Assange does not have to remain in detention” and to make clear in their discussions “how important the dropping of the charges against the WikiLeaks founder is in terms of defending press freedom – in order for him to return to good health in liberty in the company of his family.”

The letter also says: “Like many well-known human-rights organisations and journalists’ organisations, we view the persecution of Julian Assange as an attack on press freedom and freedom of speech, which must be decisively rejected. Anybody committed to human rights and democracy must work to achieve Assange’s freedom.”

The letter was initiated by the investigative journalist and writer Günter Wallraff and was co-signed by Sigmar Gabriel (former Federal Foreign Minister), Sevim Dagdelen (Member of the Bundestag), Wolfgang Kubicki (Vice-President of the Bundestag), Alice Schwarzer (editor of Emma magazine), Günter Verheugen (former Minister of State), Friedrich Küppersbusch (television producer) and more.

https://assange-helfen.de/

Another letter was sent by members of Icelandic Parliament last week to President Biden asking to drop the charges against Julian Assange.
“Recent revelations, where a key witness in the case admits to fabricating accusations against Mr Assange, should mark the end of this year-long assault on an award-winning journalist,” the letter says.

95 Greek parliamentarians joined the appeal to Biden calling to “drop this prosecution, an act that would be a clarion call for freedom that would echo around the globe.” The letter follows: “Our countries are also increasingly confronted with the contradiction of advocating for press freedom abroad while holding Mr. Assange for years in the UK’s most notorious prison at the request of the US government.”

Around 250 doctors from across the globe urge President Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland to “drop the appeal and all charges in this case that constitutes an egregious violation of the rule of law, human rights and press freedom.” The doctors implore the President “to end the misguided case you have inherited that violates the bedrock principles of our democracy.”

Politicians from Australia, Germany, Italy to Great Britain call on US President Joe Biden to drop the prosecution against Julian Assange.

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Parliamentary Actions Press Clippings

Germany – Letter of 120 politicians, artists and journalists, calling for the freedom of Julian Assange

12 July 2021

Dear Madam Chancellor,

We are extremely concerned about the health and life of the journalist Julian Assange, and are writing to you in advance of your planned visit to US President Joe Biden in Washington this month.

For eleven years now, Julian Assange, founder of the whistleblowing platform Wikileaks, has been deprived of his liberty. Since April 2019, he has been in detention at Belmarsh high-security prison in London, where he must await the decision on whether he is to be extradited from the United Kingdom to the USA. There, he faces the threat of a 175-year prison sentence for his work as a journalist, including his exposure of US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Like many well-known human-rights organisations and journalists’ organisations, we view the persecution of Julian Assange as an attack on press freedom and freedom of speech, which must be decisively rejected. Anybody committed to human rights and democracy must work to achieve Julian Assange’s freedom.

Madam Chancellor, we request your assistance in ensuring that Julian Assange does not have to remain in detention, where his health is being systematically destroyed through continued isolation. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, Professor Nils Melzer, has been warning for some time that Julian Assange shows signs of exposure to psychological torture and that he must be immediately released. His fiancée, Stella Morris, reported after her last visit to Belmarsh that his imprisonment was driving him into a “deep depression and despair”, after she and their two young children had previously been refused any direct contact for eight months.

Julian Assange’s poor state of health was the main argument made in the ruling by a British judge on 4 January 2021, disallowing his extradition to serve a lengthy prison sentence of unknown duration in the US. Against this background, the fact that the journalist is still imprisoned in Belmarsh under extremely harsh conditions is even more incomprehensible. Julian Assange is still being deprived of his freedom in the UK, for the sole reason that the US government has appealed against the ruling for political reasons, and is still insisting on Assange’s extradition, which would be life-threatening for him.

The treatment of Julian Assange contradicts principles of the rule of law; the harsh conditions of his detention constitute a humanitarian scandal. In view of his critical state of health, urgent action must be taken.

It is now up to Joe Biden to end the judicial process against Julian Assange begun by his predecessor in office and drop the charges against him. A new turn of events may be brought about by the most recent revelations of the key US prosecution witness, Icelander Sigurdur Ingi Thordarson, who admitted in an in-depth interview with the international press having lied in his accusations incriminating Julian Assange and that he was paid for doing so. We ask you to take into account these exonerating statements.

Madam Chancellor, we urgently appeal to you to build bridges in the case of Julian Assange. Please make clear in your discussions with US President Joe Biden in Washington how important the dropping of the charges against the Wikileaks founder is in terms of defending press freedom – in order for him to return to good health in liberty in the company of his family.

We know what great hopes are resting on you – on the part of Julian Assange’s family, as well as numerous international supporters of the journalist. We ask you to find a humanitarian solution for Julian Assange which is also face-saving for the US President.

This would be a striking and enduring humanitarian gesture at the end of your time in office and would after all offer Joe Biden and opportunity to now break with the era of Donald Trump in defending press freedom and freedom of expression.

We hope for your support.

Yours sincerely,

Günter Wallraff

Further signatories:

Jakob Augstein (journalist, publisher), Berivan Aymaz (Member of the North-Rhine Westphalian Landtag), Dietmar Bartsch (Member of the Bundestag, chairman of the Left Party parliamentary group), Gerhart Baum (former Federal Minister of the Interior), Canan Bayram (Member of the Bundestag), Markus Beckedahl (journalist), Rolf Becker (actor), Konrad Beikircher (satirist), Sibylle Berg (author), Roswitha and Erich Bethe (Bethe Foundation), Paul Böhm (architect), Nora Bossong (author), Micha Brumlik (writer), Anke Brunn (former State Minister of Science for North-Rhine Westphalia), Frank Castorf (theatre director), Sevim Dagdelen (Member of the Bundestag), Herta Däubler-Gmelin (former Federal Minister of Justice), Fabio de Masi (Member of the Bundestag), Hans Demmel (media manager), Bijan Djir-Sarai (Member of the Bundestag), Petra Erler (former Head of Cabinet at the EU Commission), Lisa Fitz (satirist), Sigmar Gabriel (former Federal Foreign Minister), Kerstin Gleba (publisher), John Goetz (journalist), Katrin Göring-Eckardt (Member of the Bundestag, chairwoman of the Alliance 90/The Greens parliamentary group), Anselm Grün (Benedictine monk, author), Serap Güler (State Secretary for Integration), Gregor Gysi (Member of the Bundestag), Hektor Haarkötter (media scientist), Robert Habeck (chairman of Alliance 90/The Greens), Lutz Hachmeister (film producer), Heike Hänsel (Member of the Bundestag), Frank Heinrich (Member of the Bundestag), Monique Hofmann (General Secretary of the German Journalists’ Union), Elfriede Jelinek (author, Nobel Laureate in Literature), Hans Jessen (journalist), Tilo Jung (journalist, Jung & Naiv), Barbara Junge (journalist, taz newspaper editor-in-chief), Markus J. Karsten (publisher), Navid Kermani (author), Markus Kompa (lawyer), Reiner Kröhnert (satirist), Gabriele Krone-Schmalz (writer), Sebastian Krumbiegel (musician), Wolfgang Kubicki (Member of the Bundestag, Vice-President of the Bundestag), Friedrich Küppersbusch (television producer), Oskar Lafontaine (former Federal Minister of Finance), Karl Lauterbach (Member of the Bundestag), Klaus Lederer (Deputy Governing Mayor and State Senator for Culture and Europe for Berlin), Hans Leyendecker (journalist), Volker Lösch (theatre director), Albrecht von Lucke (writer), Markus Meckel (theologian), Jeanine Meerapfel (President of the Akademie der Künste), Nils Melzer (UN Special Rapporteur on Torture), Eva Menasse (author), Franz Meurer (Catholic priest), Robert Misik (author), Amira Mohamed Ali (Member of the Bundestag, chairwoman of the Left Party parliamentary group), Hans Mörtter (Protestant pastor), Andy Müller-Maguhn (IT expert), Albrecht Müller (writer), Linus Neumann (Chaos Computer Club spokesperson), Wolfgang Niedecken (musician), Bahman Nirumand (author), Max-Jacob Ost (journalist, podcaster), Cem Özdemir (Member of the Bundestag), Osman Okkan (filmmaker), Pagonis Pagonikas (filmmaker), Claus Peymann (theatre director), Fritz Pleitgen (journalist, former WDR Director-General), Dagmar Ploetz (translator), Emitis Pohl (entrepreneur), Sabine Poschmann (Member of the Bundestag), Christine Prayon (actor, satirist), Anja Reschke (journalist, editor and host of Panorama), Georg Restle (journalist, ARD Monitor), Rezo (Youtuber), Moritz Rinke (author), Claudia Roth (Member of the Bundestag, Vice-President of the Bundestag), Eugen Ruge (author), Susana Santina (journalist), Joachim Sartorius (former Director of the Berliner Festspiele), Frank Schätzing (author), Volker Schlöndorff (film director), Gerhard Schmidt (President of the German Televison Academy), Renate Schmidt (former Federal Minister of Health), Wolfgang M. Schmitt (film critic), Wolfgang Schorlau (author), Matthias Schreiber (pastor), Ingo Schulze (author), Frank Schwabe (Member of the Bundestag), Gesine Schwan (political scientist), Alice Schwarzer (writer, editor of “Emma” magazine), Winfried Seibert (lawyer), Martin Sonneborn (Member of the European Parliament), Michael Sontheimer (journalist), Klaus Staeck (poster artist), Bernd Stegemann (dramaturge), Uli Stoll (author), Hans-Christian Ströbele (former Member of the Bundestag), Margit Stumpp (Member of the Bundestag), Wolfgang Thierse (former President of the Bundestag), Valentin Thurn (filmmaker), Uwe Timm (author), Ilija Trojanow (author), Georg Stefan Troller (author), Max Uthoff (satirist), Günter Verheugen (former Minister of State, former Vice-President of the European Commission), Antje Vollmer (former Vice-President of the Bundestag), Sahra Wagenknecht (Member of the Bundestag), Jörg Wagner (media journalist), Norbert Walter-Borjans (chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Germany), Harald Welzer (sociologist), Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul (former Federal Minister for Economic Development and Cooperation), Ulrike Winkelmann (journalist, taz newspaper editor-in-chief), Ranga Yogeshwar (physicist, scientific journalist)

German version:  https://assange-helfen.de/ 

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Parliamentary Actions Press Release Statements

Icelandic Lawmakers call on the Biden Administration to Drop the Charges Against Julian Assange

U.S. Embassy in Iceland
Engjateigur 7
105 Reykjavik
Iceland

Statement from members of the Icelandic Parliament regarding the Prosecution of Julian Assange.

We, undersigned, members of Parliament in Iceland, from across the political spectrum, urge the U.S. Government to drop the prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and withdraw the extradition request against him in the UK.

The “espionage” charges against Mr Assange are an attempt to criminalize investigative journalism and set a dangerous precedent for press freedom worldwide. As confirmed by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer, Mr Assange has been “dehumanized through isolation, ridicule and shame” and deprived fundamental human rights, a price he has paid for exposing war crimes and torture committed by US service personnel during the Iraq War.

Recent revelations, where a key witness in the case admits to fabricating accusations against Mr Assange, should mark the end of this year-long assault on an award-winning journalist. We urge leaders, governments and parliamentarians around the world to speak up and side with press freedom, the rule of law and the public’s right to know.

Reykjavik, July 9th 2021

Helga Vala Helgadóttir, Social Democratic Alliance
Guðmundur Andri Thorsson, Social Democratic Alliance
Ari Trausti Guðmundsson, Left Green Movement
Halldóra Mogensen, Pirate Party
Þórhildur Sunna Ævarsdóttir, Pirate Party
Björn Leví Gunnarsson, Pirate Party
Andrés Ingi Jónsson, Pirate Party
Hanna Katrín Friðriksson, Liberal Reform Party
Jón Steindór Valdimarsson, Liberal Reform Party
Inga Sæland, People’s Party

Categories
Press Clippings

Julian Assange’s fiancée reacts to reports that US authorities have given assurances regarding conditions should the publisher be extradited

After yesterday’s news that a UK court has given US prosecutors limited permission to appeal January’s ruling that Julian Assange should not be extradited, Julian Assange’s fiancee took to twitter to debunk the claims.

Julian Assange’s fiancée Stella Moris said:

“Reports about US undertakings are grossly misleading. On any given day 80,000 prisoners in US prisons are held in solitary confinement. Only a handful are in ADX/under special administrative measures. ADX is just one of dozens of self-described supermax prisons in the United States. The US government also says it may change its mind if the head of the CIA advises it to do so once Julian Assange is held in US custody.

“With regard to the supposed concession of allowing Julian to serve jail time in Australia, it was always his right to request a prisoner transfer to Australia to finish serving his sentence because he is an Australian. It is no concession at all. There are existing agreements between the US and Australian authorities. What is crucial to understand is that prisoner transfers are eligible only after all appeals have been exhausted. For the case to reach the US Supreme Court could easily take a decade, even two.

“What the US is proposing is a formula to keep Julian in prison effectively for the rest of his life. The only assurance that would be acceptable would be for the Biden Administration to drop this shameful case altogether, once and for all. He should not be in prison for a single day, not in the UK, not in the United States, not in Australia–because journalism is not a crime.

Categories
Press Clippings

High Court gives US government limited permission to appeal January decision that Assange should not be extradited

7 July 2021

The UK High Court has notified the parties involved in Julian Assange’s extradition case that the United States government’s appeal will be listed for a hearing.

The decision by the High Court simply gives permission for the US government to attempt to challenge the ruling, but it does not reflect the merits of the US arguments.

Permission has been granted on a limited basis, allowing only narrow, technical grounds to form the basis of the appeal. Crucially, the High Court did not allow the United States to appeal any of the factual findings concerning Assange’s condition. No date has been set for the hearing.

Assange’s extradition was blocked in January on the grounds that it would be “oppressive”, citing the circumstances of the extradition, as well as his clinical history and Autism Spectrum disorder diagnosis, which, combined, would drive him to suicide. The High Court affirmed Judge Vanessa Baraitser’s conclusions concerning his clinical condition, as well as the independent expert evidence on which she relied.

Assange faces a sentence of up to 175 years in prison if extradited.

The appeal was lodged by the Trump Administration, just two days before President Biden took office, but revelations reported last weekend dealt a new blow to the credibility of the Department of Justice case.

Icelandic investigative journalists revealed that the DoJ’s lead witness, an Icelandic man convicted of sex crimes against minors, fraud and embezzlement, who is also a diagnosed sociopath, now admits that he fabricated allegations against Assange in exchange for immunity from US prosecutors (https://stundin.is/grein/13627/). Those discredited allegations form the basis of the Second Superseding indictment against Assange and were even cited in the extradition judgment delivered on January 4th.

Julian Assange’s fiancee, Stella Moris, said:

“Six months ago, Judge Vanessa Baraitser blocked the extradition of my partner, Julian Assange, because consigning him to the US prison system would have amounted to signing his death warrant. That should have been the end of it.

“The new revelations concerning the DoJ’s lead witness, Sigurdur Ingi Thordarson, confirm what we all knew: that the case against Julian has been built on lies. The case is rotten to the core, and nothing that the US government can say about his future treatment is worth the paper it is written on.  This is a country whose agents plotted to kill Julian on British soil; who harried his solicitors and stole legal documents; who even targeted our six-month-old baby.

This entirely baseless, abusive, anti-First Amendment case was driven by the previous administration for nefarious reasons. The administration instrumentalised the law to pursue the political objective of disappearing Julian as a deterrent to journalists in the United States and elsewhere.

“I am appealing directly to the Biden government to do the right thing, even at this late stage. This case should not be dragged out for a moment longer. End this prosecution, protect free speech and let Julian come home to his family.

“The current administration admits that the Trump Department of Justice lacked independence. It seems inconceivable that President Biden would want to continue with this case – because Julian’s freedom is coupled to all our freedoms and no democratic society can ever make journalism a crime.

“If the Biden Administration does not end this now, the case will limp through the courts while Julian remains in prison indefinitely: unconvicted, suffering and isolated, while our young children are denied their father. Julian spent his 50th birthday on the 3rd of July behind bars in Belmarsh prison, where he has been on remand since April 2019. He is not a criminal. He is a journalist and a publisher, and he is being punished for doing his job.

“This case shows nothing but contempt for the First Amendment. Repressive regimes welcome the Biden administration’s prosecution of Julian because it signals that imprisoning the press and silencing political dissent is practised and endorsed by the United States. Bringing this shameful prosecution demeans the values that the United States says it stands for. It reduces trust in both the US and the UK legal systems.

“Julian’s prosecution is vigorously opposed by The New York Times and the Washington Post, as well as the National Union of Journalists, Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders and virtually every press freedom and human rights organisation in the West, together with parliamentarians from around the world”.

Lawmakers in the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Australia have renewed their calls for the Biden Administration to abandon the prosecution as international political pressure grows. A group of German MPs have written to Chancellor Angela Merkel, asking her to raise the issue with President Biden during her forthcoming trip to Washington.

Categories
Press Clippings

Doctors for Assange Letter to the US Government urging to drop all charges against Julian Assange

To: President Joseph Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland
From: Doctors for Assange: https://doctorsassange.org

Date: July 7, 2021

Doctors for Assange[i] joins politicians, human rights, press freedom, and rule of law advocates across the globe in urging you to end the unwarranted US legal persecution and torture of Julian Assange, by dropping all charges against him now. The Trump administration’s efforts to entrap a publisher in an extradition scheme, for the purpose of subjecting an Australian citizen to the US Espionage Act, have violated judicial due process, international law, press freedom and human rights. We implore you to end the misguided case you have inherited that violates the bedrock principles of our democracy.

Doctors for Assange is alarmed by recent reports that Julian Assange continues to suffer severe psychological abuse in HMP Belmarsh Prison. Having won his case against extradition to the United States on unprecedented Espionage Act charges against him as a publisher, the UK judge nevertheless has been holding Mr. Assange in unjustified indefinite detention pending your appeal of the decision. It has been five months since that verdict, and the UK High Court has only issued its ruling today on whether it will permit your appeal to proceed.

In its ruling today, the High Court has accepted all previous evidence, and the judge’s previous finding, regarding Mr. Assange’s health status. The High Court has also prevented you from appealing any facts relating to Mr. Assange’s clinical condition. As his extradition was denied in January on the grounds that it would be oppressive in light of his medical and psychological history and diagnoses, your avenues for appeal appear limited.  

Meanwhile, Mr. Assange continues to suffer serious, life threatening effects of the psychological torture he has been subjected to for more than a decade. His partner, Stella Moris, reports Mr. Assange is having “severe episodes” in prison, and that he is suffering “mental turmoil.” These symptoms, like the psychological trauma and suicidal ideation evidenced during Mr. Assange’s extradition hearing last Fall, are expected consequences of psychological torture, as reported by the United Nations Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer. 

Although the judge decided against extradition based on oppressive conditions in US prisons, which would place Mr. Assange at high risk of suicide, the US appeal of that decision keeps him in conditions amounting to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in the UK. While detained pending progression of the US appeal, Mr. Assange remains in maximum security conditions, held in the UK’s most punitive and repressive prison despite being a non-violent prisoner who has not been convicted of any crime. His risk of suicide or death from prolonged psychological torture and medical neglect remains high.[ii] Moreover, Mr. Assange remains at high risk of both contracting and suffering the worst outcomes of COVID-19. 

In addition, Mr. Assange’s continued pursuit by the Biden Administration calls into question the legitimacy of the United States’ stated commitment to press freedom, civil liberties and human rights. The world’s leading authorities in such matters, including Amnesty International, Reporters without Borders, the Freedom of the Press Foundation and the International Bar Association Human Rights Institute, to name a few, are unequivocally denouncing the US Government’s pursuit of Julian Assange. Cross-party groups of parliamentarians from the UK, Australia, Germany and Italy, have weighed in as well, warning  that the extraterritorial reach and unprecedented criminalization of publishing activity threatens journalists and freedom of speech worldwide.

For these reasons, we urge you to drop the appeal and all charges in this case that constitutes an egregious violation of the rule of law, human rights and press freedom. Failing to do so would establish a precedent with permanent, devastating effects on the foundations of our democracy, and irrevocably damage the United States’ reputation in the international community’s eyes. We urge you to put an end to this case before its dire consequences become your personal responsibility.

Respectfully,

Dr. Marco Chiesa, MD, FRCPsych, Consultant Psychiatrist and Visiting Professor, University College London (United Kingdom)

Dr. C Stephen Frost, BSc, MBChB, Specialist in Diagnostic Radiology (Stockholm, Sweden), United Kingdom and Sweden

Dr. Bob Gill, MBChB, MRCGP, General Medical Practitioner, United Kingdom

Prof William Hogan, MD, Specialist in Internal Medicine; Professor of Biomedical Informatics, United States

Dr. Lissa Johnson, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, Australia

Prof. Tony Nelson, Department of Paediatrics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Dr. Anne Noonan, Psychiatrist, SONT, Specialist Outreach Northern Territory, Australia

Prof. Thomas G Schulze, MD, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY; University Hospital, LMU Munich; Member, Executive Committee of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA); Past President of the American Psychopathological Association (APPA) and the International Society of Psychiatric Genetics (ISPG), Germany and United States

Dr. Jill Stein, MD, Internist, Lexington, Massachusetts; Former instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, United States

Dr. Derek Summerfield, Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College, University of London; Former Chief Psychiatrist at the Medical Foundation for Victims of Torture, United Kingdom

Dr. Sue Wareham OAM (Order of Australia), MBBS, General Medical Practitioner (retired); Co-founder of ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (2017 Nobel Peace Prize), Australia

For and on behalf of 

Doctors for Assange signatories.

Go to the official website.

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Press Clippings

Messages for Julian Assange’s 50th Birthday

https://twitter.com/RobVincentMusic/status/1411287866479611907?s=20
Categories
Parliamentary Actions Press Release

Politicians globally call on US President Joe Biden to drop the prosecution against Julian Assange

Politicians around the world are sending a message to US President Biden to drop the charges against Julian Assange ahead of his 50th birthday. Julian Assange, an unconvicted, remand prisoner who hasn’t been charged in Britain is spending 3rd birthday inside high-security Belmarsh prison despite winning his extradition case last January.

A cross party group of UK parliamentarians took the opportunity of Biden’s visit during G7 summit in Cornwall and appealed to President in an open letter saying: “The effect of your predecessor’s decision to take a criminal case against a member of the press working in our country is to restrict the scope of permissible press activities here, and set a precedent that others will no doubt exploit. We appeal to you to drop this prosecution, an act that would be a clarion call for freedom that would echo around the globe.”

Last Wednesday, a coalition of Australian parliamentarians from across the political spectrum urged the US Government to revoke its appeal of the UK judgement against extradition. In the video they pronounce: “We are elected to defend our citizens’ rights. Voters expect us to hold accountable those who commit wrongdoing, not to punish those who expose it, such as Julian Assange. Citizens expect us to protect journalists and publishers, not to imprison them for their work.”

Members of Italian Parliament have also voiced their concern and presented a motion to recognize Assange the status of political refugee.

Members of German Bundestag joined the call yesterday demanding the US President to end the extradition proceedings against Julian Assange. “We call upon the new US administration under President Joe Biden to end the extradition proceedings started by the previous administration led by Donald Trump one and for all and to stop the persecution of the WikiLeaks founder.”


Categories
Parliamentary Actions Press Clippings

Open Letter to Joe Biden by 95 Greek MPs: “Drop all charges against Julian Assange!”

President Joe Biden
White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington DC 20500
USA

2nd July 2021

Dear Mr President,

We are addressing you as Members of Greece’s Parliament to congratulate you for your recent comments in defence of media freedom.

As President Obama’s Vice President,you played an important role in the decision not to prosecute Julian Assange over publications relating to the Afghan and Iraq wars and conditions in Guantanamo Bay. You, like us, must have been disappointed when your predecessor launched a prosecution carrying a 175-year sentence against a globally renowned publisher and free press campaigner for his 2010 award-winning publishing work, which was carried out in the United Kingdom.

Civil liberties groups and top newsrooms alike view the government’s prosecution against this publisher with alarm. The Washington Post’s Executive Editor writes that the indictment is “criminalizing common practices in journalism that have long served the public interest”. The New York Times Editorial Board considers it to be “aimed straight at the heart of the First Amendment”, and for Amnesty International, “the charges against him should never have been brought in the first place” because it is “putting media freedom and freedom of expression on trial”.

Earlier this year Westminster Magistrates Court, in the United Kingdom,refused the US application to extradite Julian Assange to the US. The Guardian Editorial Board noted that your incoming administration “can, and should, let Mr. Assange walk free”. We had hoped that this might be the occasion to draw a line under this prosecution. Unfortunately, the US Department of Justice is still pursuing this case, leaving Julian Assange facing a third year of incarceration in Belmarsh High-Security prison.

Mr. Assange, an Australian member of the press who had been invited to this country by The Guardian in 2010 to work on these publications in concert with the UK’s free press traditions, is the subject of a US criminal case. The effect of your predecessor’s decision to take a criminal case against a member of the press working in our country is to restrict the scope of permissible press activities anywhere around the world, and set a precedent that others will no doubt exploit.

The case against Mr. Assange weakens the right to publish important information that a government finds uncomfortable. Indeed, this value is central to a free and open society. The case against Mr. Assange also undermines public confidence in our legal systems. Our countries are also increasingly confronted with the contradiction of advocating for press freedom abroad while holding Mr. Assange for years in the UK’s most notorious prison at the request of the US government.

We appeal to you to drop this prosecution, an act that would be a clarion call for freedom that would echo around the globe.

Sincerely

The Members of the Parliamentary Groups of MeRA25 and SYRIZA in Greece’s Parliament.

Read in the media.

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Parliamentary Actions Press Clippings

Members of the cross-party working group in Germany letter to President Joe Biden

Berlin, 1 July2021

“President Biden, end the persecution of the journalist Julian Assange”

To mark the 50th birthday of Julian Assange on 3 July 2021, and in light of the ongoing persecution of the detained journalist and Wikileaks founder by the administration of US President Joe Biden, the members of the cross-party working group “Free Julian Assange” (Freiheit für Julian Assange) Sevim Dagdelen (The Left Party), Bijan Djir-Sarai (FDP), Frank Heinrich (CDU), Frank Schwabe (SPD) and Margit Stumpp (Alliance90/The Greens) issue the following statement:

“The latest revelations of fictitious hacking accusations from a key witness cooperating with the FBI show once again that the allegations against the journalist Julian Assange are construed and unfounded. We call upon the new US administration under President Joe Biden to end the extradition proceedings started by the previous administration led by Donald Trump once and for all and to stop the persecution of the Wikileaks founder. Julian Assange has been kept for over two years under conditions akin to torture at Belmarsh high security prison in London, where he is forced to spend his 50th birthday in solitary confinement despite the critical condition of his health. We call upon German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel to urgently advocate, during her forthcoming visit to Washington to meet with US President Biden,an end to the persecution of Julian Assange and to insist that freedom of speech and of the press are upheld.”

Sevim Dagdelen (The Left Party) stated the following: “For eleven years, Julian Assange has been robbed of his freedom at the instigation of the US leadership, because he made US war crimes public. The German Federal Government must at last make the case for the release of this journalist and the end to this political persecution. Especially following the revelation that key aspects of the accusations on which the US indictment is based have been found to be patently fictitious.”

Bijan Djir-Sarai (FDP) stated the following: “The refusal by the British judiciary to release Julian Assange on bail is, in light of the dire conditions of his detention, a rule-of-law and humanitarian scandal. If only for the protection of his life and his fragile health, Julian Assange must be released immediately from Belmarsh high security prison.”

Frank Heinrich (CDU) stated the following: “President Biden’s administration should use the opportunity to leave the Trump era well and truly behind them in this respect, too, and to withdraw the extradition request against Julian Assange in the spirit of protecting freedom of opinion and of the press.”

Frank Schwabe (SPD) stated the following: “The treatment of Julian Assange is in no way compatible with rule-of-law principles. In light of his very poor health, this circus needs to come to an end immediately.”

Margit Stumpp (Alliance90/The Greens) stated the following: “If the United States and the Western community of nations credibly wish to stand up for the protection of freedom of the press and the rule of law, they need to stop using Julian Assange as an example of how to persecute disagreeable journalists. The criminalisation of investigative journalism, which in the case of Wikileaks brought terrible war crimes, torture and corruption scandals to light, not only weakens democracy and the rule of law, but also undermines people’s trust in public institutions.”

Sevim Dağdelen, Member of the German Bundestag
Bijan Djir-Sarai, Member of the German Bundestag
Frank Heinrich, Member of the German Bundestag
Frank Schwabe, Member of the German Bundestag
Margit Stumpp, Member of the German Bundestag

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Parliamentary Actions Press Clippings

Australian Politicians Call on President Biden to Drop the Charges Against Julian Assange

30 June 2021

MPs and Senators urge the US Government to revoke its appeal of the UK judgement against extradition

In a video message to the US President Joe Biden, 11 Australian politicians from across the political spectrum have appealed to the US Government to drop its Espionage Act charges against Australian citizen, Julian Assange.

The MPs and Senators have urged President Biden to take the “opportunity for urgent reconsideration”, following a UK court’s decision to deny the US extradition request, rendered earlier this year.

Julian Assange is currently held in HMP Belmarsh, a high security London prison, pending a High Court ruling on whether the US may appeal against the UK refusal to extradite. He is detained for publishing activity that won him Australia’s highest journalistic honour, the Walkley Award for most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism.

The Australian politicians warn that Assange’s prosecution threatens journalists worldwide.

Susan Templeman, MP, Australian Labor Party (ALP) said: “Citizens expect us to protect journalists and publishers, not to imprison them for their work”.

Senator Carol Brown ALP added: “The world’s leading human rights and press freedom groups are unequivocally denouncing the charges against [Julian Assange]. And we join them.”

Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, Australian Greens, told Biden: “Australian citizens want Julian Assange to be free”

And Peter Khalil MP, ALP, noted: “Indeed, one of the largest petitions in Australia’s history, with over 600,000 signatures, has been tabled in the Australian Parliament, calling on the US to free Assange.”

Julian Hill MP, ALP, who has spoken in parliament about Assange, appeals to the UK: “We are imploring the British government to release him from prison, and send him home.”

Speakers (in order of appearance)

Andrew Wilkie MP, Independent
Julian Hill MP, Australian Labor Party (ALP)
Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens
Dr Helen Haines MP, Independent
Susan Templeman MP, ALP
Maria Vamvakinou MP, ALP
Josh Wilson MP, ALP
Senator Carol Brown, ALP
Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, Australian Greens
Peter Khalil MP, ALP
George Christensen MP, Liberal National Party

Transcription:

We are Australian parliamentarians and we’re calling on the government of the United States to drop the unprecedented Espionage Act charges against Julian Assange. And we are imploring the British government to release him from prison, and send him home.

Like politicians in the US and the UK, we are elected to defend our citizens’ rights. Voters expect us to hold accountable those who commit wrongdoing, not to punish those who expose it, such as Julian Assange. Citizens expect us to protect journalists and publishers, not to imprison them for their work.

Julian Assange is right now being arbitrarily detained in the UK for publishing activity. His treatment violates the Convention against Torture and his persecution threatens journalists worldwide. The world’s leading human rights and press freedom groups are unequivocally denouncing the charges against him. And we join them.

Australian citizens want Julian Assange to be free. Indeed one of the largest petitions in Australia’s history, with over half a million signatures has been tabled in the Australian Parliament, calling on the US to free Assange.

The ruling by UK District Judge (Magistrates Court) Vanessa Baraitser on January 4 of this year to deny extradition provides the opportunity for urgent reconsideration. President Biden, we implore you, please drop the US Government’s appeal in light of the judgement rendered in the UK.


Categories
Parliamentary Actions Press Release

Richard Burgon MP will hand in a letter at Belmarsh prison about the ongoing refusal to allow a meeting with Assange

28 June 2021

In an unprecedented move MP Richard Burgon will be handing in a cross-party letter to UK’s high-security Belmarsh prison on Tuesday 29 June to raise the prison and Justice Secretary’s ongoing refusal to allow a meeting with Julian Assange.

A large cross party group of MPs have repeatedly raised their request to be briefed by Assange with the prison governor and the Justice Secretary without success. Now they are taking the demand to the gates of the prison.

Richard Burgon MP, who coordinated the letter from 20 parliamentarians from 4 parties said:

“Julian Assange’s case has huge implications for press freedoms in the UK and for the US-UK Extradition Treaty

“It’s in the public interest that British Parliamentarians are able to discuss these issues with Julian Assange.

“That the authorities have repeatedly stopped an online meeting going ahead speaks volumes.

“The Justice Secretary and Prison Governor must now put a stop to their intransigence and allow it to go ahead without further delay”

They will meet Stella Moris, Assange’s partner, as she emerges from a social visit at 11:30am and will hand in a letter to the prison governor highlighting that COVID restrictions are eased now inside the prison.


The letter says:

Dear Governor,

We are deeply concerned by the ongoing refusal of you and the Justice Secretary to allow an online video meeting between Julian Assange and a cross-party group of British parliamentarians. 

As you know Julian Assange is currently on remand in HMP Belmarsh, not for the violation of any UK law, but over extradition to the USA for his journalistic work carried out in the UK at the invitation of The Guardian and published in numerous leading newspapers worldwide. 

In the US, Julian Assange faces a prison sentence of up to 175 years, meaning he could spend the rest of his life in jail.

This case has important implications for press and publishing freedoms in the UK and for the US-UK Extradition Treaty including its ban on extradition for political offences. 

We, therefore, believe it is vital that parliamentarians be allowed to discuss these important issues with interested parties. We are not making this request as private citizens but as British Parliamentarians deeply concerned by the potential consequences of this high-profile case. 

This could be permitted under the rules for Official Visits which state that there can be visits from “public officials whom the Governor permits to visit”. 

A cross-party group of parliamentarians first requested an online meeting in December 2020. It is simply unacceptable that six months on this simple request continues to be met with such intransigence. 

You have the authority to grant such a meeting and we call on you to facilitate an online meeting without further delay. 

Yours sincerely,


Richard Burgon MP 
Diane Abbott MP 
Baroness Christine Blower   
Ian Byrne MP
Jeremy Corbyn MP 
Lord Bryn Davies   
Neale Hanvey MP 
Lord John Hendy  
Ian Lavery MP 
Caroline Lucas MP 
Kenny MacAskill MP 
John McDonnell MP 
Ian Mearns MP 
Grahame Morris MP 
Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP 
Tommy Sheppard MP 
Lord Prem Sikka   
Zarah Sultana MP 
Claudia Webbe MP 
Mick Whitley MP

Categories
Press Clippings

Assange Week – Julian turns 50

Six months have passed since an English court refused Julian Assange’s extradition to the United States – ruling that sending him to America would be so oppressive it would drive him to suicide. The US is now appealing that decision and the UK’s High Court is yet to announce whether it will grant permission for the appeal. This means Julian is spending 3rd birthday inside high-security Belmarsh prison. 

Show support by joining the global protest on 3rd July and write a birthday message to Julian telling him what actions you have taken to raise awareness of this case.

Press freedom groups and members of the UK Parliament will also be holding events during the Assange week, showing support and solidarity on the occasion of Julian’s 50th birthday.

Details subject to confirmations. We’ll continue to update this page with event details, how to get involved, video content, & more.

Sunday 26 June
Freedom for Julian Assange, San Francisco Bay Area Presents: Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Alice Walker will be joining the Shiptons live with Daniel Ellsberg , Noam Chomsky, Mamia Abu-Jamal and more.

Sunday 27 June
Julian Assange’s father John and brother Gabriel Shipton – Wrap up and overview of their US tour #HomeRun4Julian.

Monday 28 June
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) will be mobilising supporters around the world to send birthday messages to Julian Assange via Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #HappyBirthdayAssange. Tweets using the hashtag through his 50th birthday on 3rd July will be compiled and printed to be delivered to him in Belmarsh prison. Check @RSF_inter for key birthday messages that will be shared throughout #AssangeWeek.

“Julian Assange’s continued arbitrary detention as he begins another decade is a blight on the US and UK’s press freedom records. Let this be the last birthday he spends in Belmarsh or any prison. Join us in showing that it’s time to right this legal and moral wrong. Join our call to free Assange!” RSF’s Director of International Campaigns Rebecca Vincent.

Tuesday 29 June
11.30 am BSTMembers of Parliament Protest at Belmarsh prison about the ongoing refusal to allow a meeting between Julian Assange and a cross-party group of British parliamentarians. 

Ask your MP to sign Early Day Motion 220 – Meeting between parliamentarians and Julian Assange

06:30 pm BSTFrom Guantanamo to Belmarsh, the story of imprisonment – In the evening join Julian Assange’s partner Stella Moris and Mohamadou Salahi, whose story of imprisonment in Guantanamo was recently told in the film The Mauritanian, for an online discussion. Moderated by Suzie Gilbert.

Wednesday 30 June
The National Union of Journalists – Important message from Tim Dawsn: Why Julian Assange should be freed now, and how we can stop extra-territorial judicial harassment for good.

Thursday 1 July
10.45 am BSTRiver Thames protest boat ride – Tickets available on Eventbrite.

Friday 2 July
11:00 am BST / 8pm AESTThreats to the freedom of the press in 21st century – Online panel with Chamira Gamage from Amnesty International Australia, Julian Assange’s lawyer Jen Robinson and Scott Ludlam, former Australian Senator. Moderated by journalist Mary Kostakidis.

Join Amnesty International Australia‘s movement of 110,000 Australians calling for the charges to be dropped, halt the extradition and release Julian Assange. Send your tweet now!

Saturday 3 July – Julian Assange’s 50th birthday
Picnic at Parliament Square for Julian Assange’s 50th birthday, from 1pm to 4pm BST. Please bring your own picnic. Due to Covid19 regulations, please wear face masks where required and use hand sanitizer regularly. Observe social distancing at all times.

Read messages collected for Julian Assange’s 50th birthday.

Monday 5 July – DiEM Voice organising a very special TV episode: Why are you so afraid of Julian Assange?
This exclusive episode will feature artists such as Davide Dormino and Angela Richter, who have been fighting over the years for Assange’s freedom, and for the future of the free press. They will discuss how the silencing of whistle-blowers, including cancel culture, hinders progressive change, and how art can have an impact in the defence of freedom of expression.

Thursday 6 JulyOR Books are offering a deep discounts this week in honor of Assange’s 50th birthday on Free Assange Reading List, with 10% off the purchase of one book, 20% off two, 30% off three, and 50% off four or more. Check out their website for book collections.

Thursday 8 July 6:30pm – Scotland for Assange
The growing campaign moves further to North. Join the conversation with Tommy Sheppard, SNP MP; George Kerevan, former associate Editor of the Scotsman and columnist for The National; Stella Moris, Julian Assange’s partner; and Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks editor in chief.

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Parliamentary Actions Press Clippings

Cross party group of UK parliamentarians call on President Biden to drop the charges against Julian Assange ahead of G7 Summit in Cornwall

A coalition of UK members of parliament from 5 different parties have appealed in an open letter to US President Joe Biden to drop the politically motivated charges against WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange. The letter states: “We appeal to you to drop this prosecution, an act that would be a clarion call for freedom that would echo around the globe.” The letter continues, “Our countries are also increasingly confronted with the contradiction of advocating for press freedom abroad while holding Mr. Assange for years in the UK’s most notorious prison at the request of the US government.”

Yesterday, during a parliamentary discussion on World Press Freedom and safety of journalists, UK MP and former Justice Secretary Richard Burgon appealed to President Biden to drop the charges and bring an end to extradition proceedings.

“I appeal to President Joe Biden, now in a country for the G7, to drop the charges so the extradition is called off.” Burgon continued, “President Biden was Vice President when President Obama took the decision not to prosecute Julian Assange because of the huge damage it would have done to press freedom.”

John McDonnell MP who was present at the debate via video link added his concern about Assange’s current state inside a British prison: “It’s a continuing stain on the reputation of this country that Julian Assange remains in Belmarsh prison. There are no justifiable grounds for keeping imprisoned a journalist who had the courage to expose war crimes and abuse of human rights.”

Categories
Press Clippings

Geneva mobilizes to demand the release of Julian Assange

Julian Assange’s partner, Stella Moris, traveled to Geneva last weekend to attend the Geneva call to free Assange. A press conference hosted by the Geneva Press Club launched the appeal, followed by a public inauguration of the AnythingToSay? Statue the following day.

The initiative’s six demands, included a call on the U.S. administration to drop the charges without delay, while urging the British authorities to resist any extradition attempt.

Among the personalities and speakers present were United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer, the mayor of Geneva Frédérique Perler, Geneva Councilor of States Carlo Sommaruga, the secretary general of Reporters Without Borders Christophe Deloire, Member of the Grand Conseil Geneva Jean Rossiaud and the executive director of the Swiss Press Club Pierre Ruetschi.

“In no sane world should Julian Assange be in a prison cell for revealing concrete evidence of state crimes”

Watch Stella Moris’ full speech at the Geneva press conference here.

While in Geneva, Ms. Moris gave several interviews emphasizing that “All organizations defending press freedom are against the prosecution”, and that this case presents “the greatest threat to freedom of expression and of the press.” Ms. Moris added that she was pleased to see so much support in Geneva and the governments’ concern for Julian’s well-being.”

Prior to visiting Geneva. Ms. Moris attended a Paris press conference together with Julian Assange’s French lawyer Antoine Vey, in conjunction with the Association des Juristes de Sciences Po.

Watch Stella Moris’ interview with L’Humanité discussing the conditions Julian Assange faces while continuing to be unjustly detained. Unable to visit her partner since last October, Stella speaks of the “life and death” struggle for her partners life.

“It is unacceptable for a foreign power to be able tell Britain what to do. It’s time for President Joe Biden to drop the charges against Julian and Boris Johnson should ask him to do so at the G7 meeting in Cornwall this week. Hopefully then, justice will prevail.”

Read the latest interview in the Mail on Sunday with Stella Moris on Julian Assange’s indefinite imprisonment in a UK prison.

Categories
Press Clippings

Public inauguration of the AnythingToSay? statue

June 5 – opening at 11:00 a.m.

Installed on the Pâquis pier, in front of the Geneva Jet d’eau, the sculpture by Davide Dormino anythingToSay? representing whistleblowers Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will be officially inaugurated on Saturday, June 5, the day after the launch of the Geneva Call. These same guests will participate in the Geneva Appeal, launched by the Swiss Press Club, to demand the release of Julian Assange.

The Association of users of the Bains des Pâquis, initiator and organizer of the event, will also present an exhibition on whistleblowers and will host a debate at 6pm. Throughout the day, the public will be able to show their solidarity and everyone will be able to take turns to stand on the statue in the place assigned to the citizen.

The detailed program of the inauguration on June 5 from 11am is available on the website of the Bains des Pâquis, host of the statue: www.bains-des-paquis.ch.

Categories
Press Clippings

Geneva calls for the immediate release of Julian Assange


Press Conference

June 4, 2pm – Bains des Pâquis, Quai Wilson, Geneva

By video-conference on Zoom

In the name of the humanitarian values rooted in Geneva, City of Peace
and Human Rights, a dozen personalities, including the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer and the Mayor of Geneva, are mobilizing on June 4 to launch the “Geneva Call to Free Assange” #GVA_FreeAssange. The “AnythingToSay” statue dedicated to whistleblowers Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning as well as to Julian Assange will be installed at the same time on the Pâquis pier in front of the Geneva Jet d’eau.

The Geneva Appeal to free Assange, which includes six demands, will be made public and open for signature on June 4 at www.pressclub.ch.

The press conference will be broadcast live on www.pressclub.ch, the YouTube channel of the Swiss Press Club, and on Facebook Live.

With the presence and participation of:
Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture
Stella Moris, Julian Assange’s fiancée
Frédérique Perler, Mayor of Geneva (from June 1st)
Yves Daccord, Director General of the ICRC (2010 – 2020), former journalist
Carlo Sommaruga, State Councillor, Swiss Parliament
Antoine Vey, Julian Assange’s attorney
Denis Masmejan, secretary general, Reporters Without Borders Switzerland
Jean Rossiaud, former geneva parliamentarian, initiator of the Swiss visa idea for Assange
Blaise Lempen, president of Press Emblem Campaign (PEC)
Joseph Farrell, WikiLeaks ambassador
Davide Dormino, sculptor (AnythingToSay?), member of DiEM25
Sarah Ducret, Association des Usagers des Bains des Pâquis
Christophe Deloire, Secretary general of Reporters Without Borders

Click here to see the program.

Go to the official Geneva Press Club website.

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Press Clippings

Truth Assange face mask on World Press Freedom Day

Tomorrow on World Press Freedom Day we invite you to download our TRUTH ASSANGE face mask available at dontextraditeassange.com/mask.pdf (PDF) or https://dontextraditeassange.com/mask.jpg (Image)
Take a selfie, and share it with #WorldPressFreedomDay and #DontExtraditeAssange on social media.

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Events

Our Friend Julian – Writers defend Julian Assange

On May 3rd, World Press Day, eleven distinguished writers will be heard in defence of Julian Assange. Assange is still being held in Belmarsh prison, as he awaits an appeal from the US government against Westminster Magistrates Court’s earlier refusal to extradite him. His only ‘crime’ is to have revealed the truth of US and UK war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.

These eleven voices represent the eleven years since WikiLeaks released filmed footage of the killing of Iraqi civilians on a pavement in Baghdad by a US gunship. One of the participants, Marina Warner says:

The main principle of uncovering truth needs to be defended and the rights of prisoners who have not been charged or tried are in urgent need of defence.  Marina Warner DBE

The event will be introduced by world famous musician Brian Eno and he and Marina Warner will be joined by A.L. Kennedy, Charles Harris, Jan Woolf, Matt Devereaux, Richard Bradbury, Robert Ilson, George Szirtes, Michael Rosen, and actors Zoe Aaronson and Gilles Madan reading Adrian Mitchell’s great poem ‘To Whom it May Concern’.

Organiser Jan Woolf says, ‘Writers aren’t moralists, but their work carries moral weight. These writers are representing so many others who would have taken part. All realise that the case of Julian Assange represents the freedom of investigative journalism and a refusal to cover up war crimes. One day Julian Assange will universally be hailed as a hero.

‘This is an important statement from some of the UK’s leading writers on World Press Day. This country prides itself on a free press, but it cannot avoid the charge of hypocrisy while it holds Julian Assange in jail.’

Live-streamed May 3, 6pm BST on Don’t Extradite Assange campaign Twitter, Facebook and YouTube channels. – https://linktr.ee/DEAcampaign

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Press Clippings

The National Union of Journalists (SNJ) in France calls on British authorities to release Assange

Two years ago today, Julian Assange was incarcerated in a British high security prison. He could only be taken out of it in overwhelming circumstances, to attend hearings where he was largely silenced. Last September, he was lugged daily from his cell to court, during the four-week trial on his extradition across the Atlantic.

If it has so far opposed the American request, the British justice refuses to give Julian Assange his freedom, on the pretext that he would take the opportunity not to appear in court during the appeal by the American side. An appeal that the Biden administration recently confirmed to have made.

As a reminder, the founder of WikiLeaks faces up to 175 years in prison in the United States, where he is notably accused of espionage. His crime: to have made it possible to reveal those of the American army in Iraq, in Afghanistan or even the conditions of detention in the prison of Guantánamo. The SNJ reiterates its support for Julian Assange, whose work has received journalism awards around the world and helped make possible the most massive public interest information leaks of the 21st century.

Julian Assange has, among other things, revealed the American espionage of the Elysee Palace: to good understanding …

The National Union of Journalists (SNJ), the profession’s leading organization, calls on all colleagues, to whom it has rendered an immense service to the detriment of his freedom and his health, to show him his support, to call on the British authorities to release him!

Paris le 11 Avril 2021

Read their statement from the official website.

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Statements

Julian Assange’s second anniversary in Belmarsh this Sunday 11 April 2021 – Read the latest case update by Stella Moris

On Sunday, April the 11th, Julian will have spent 2 full years in Belmarsh prison. 730 days. It marks the beginning of the third year of Julian’s incarceration.

Protests and solidarity actions are planned around the world to raise awareness.
Reporters Without Borders (@rsf_inter on Twitter) has changed its banner into a Free Assange message for the anniversary. When I tell Julian about these actions it lifts his spirits.

Anniversaries are a platform to educate, nurture compassion and solidarity, and bring like-minded people onboard.

I was recently speaking to someone who was not particularly familiar with the case. The striking thing to them, they said, was the passage of time. It changes people’s perception of the situation.

Remind people that the judge threw out the US extradition request in January. Remind them that Julian published information because he defends people’s right to know what the government does in their name. Remind them that he has done nothing wrong and to put him in prison is to criminalize journalism. Remind them that he has a family and that he is suffering.

Please join protests and solidarity actions where you are, and share information online too. Follow @DEAcampaign and my account (@StellaMoris1) and others, and please share this fundraiser to your networks too.

And don’t forget to take pictures!
Stella Moris

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Press Clippings

Assange Countdown to Freedom

With Randy Credico

Sunday, April 11,  will mark the two year anniversary of the kidnapping, incarceration, and torture of journalist and publisher Julian Assange.

Coincidentally April 11, 2017 marks the four year anniversary of the launch of Assange Countdown to Freedom. That initial show featured both Julian Assange and legendary filmmaker, author and war correspondent John Pilger.

Four years since the start of Countdown to Freedom, Pilger returns for his 12th significant appearance and typically pulls no punches in his scorching critique of the US and UK governments’ unrelenting ten year persecution of the courageous Wikileaks founder. In addition Mr. Pilger condemns, in no uncertain terms, the traitorous MSM shameless complicity with the powers that be  in its continuous sinister attempts to destroy Julian Assange.

The multi award winning John Pilger,  whose 61 critically important documentaries have been included on the archives of the British Library, categorically expounds on every incident and aspect of the kafkaesque treatment of Assange with his unequalled passion, knowledge and eloquence.

In addition, Nathan Fuller, executive director of the Courage Foundation, close the program with an update on Assange’s current legal status and upcoming events revolving around the two year arrest anniversary April 11.

For more episodes visit the official website here.

Listen to audio version here.

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Events

International Symposium of Parliamentarians – Saturday 17 April 12pm noon BST (UK time)

Julian Assange is facing a 175 year sentence for publishing US government documents revealing evidence of war crimes and human rights abuses. The publication of these public interest releases were the result of collaboration between WikiLeaks and multiple news organizations including The New York Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Der Spiegel, Le Monde and many others. The politically motivated decision to prosecute is unprecedented and would set a chilling precedent for every journalist and publisher in the world.

Despite a 4 January 2021 UK Magistrates Court ruling that his extradition would be oppressive and must be stopped, Assange continues to be denied bail and remains in detention. He has been detained in one form or another for over 10 years – either under house arrest, seven years while under political asylum in London’s Ecuadorian embassy, or for the past two years in Belmarsh Maximum security prison.

Due to Covid restrictions Assange has been unable to receive any visitors for more than a year, including his fiancee and two young children. Communication with his lawyers has been difficult and Assange’s ability to prepare for the US appeal against him severely hampered.

There has been mounting pressure on the US Department of Justice to distance itself from the Trump-era prosecution of Julian and drop the charges entirely. The proceedings against Mr. Assange “jeopardizing journalism that is crucial to democracy.”

This international public symposium of parliamentarians and legislators will discuss and examine the issues at stake in the Julian Assange case. The event will also be live-streamed by the Don’t Extradite Assange campaign on their YouTube, Twitter and Facebook channels.

All major Human Rights and Free Press Organizations have opposed Assange’s extradition including Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Watch and many more. Newspaper Editorial boards including The Guardian, New York Times, El, Pais, Der Speigel, Le Monde, as well as major Journalist Unions including the UK’s NUJ and Australia’s MEAA have voiced their strong opposition to the proceeding against Assange and the threat it posses to Journalism and the Free Press.

Saturday 17 April 12pm noon BST (UK time).

Programme:

  • Session 1. Briefing on the Julian Assange case with UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer and Stella Moris, Julian Assange’s partner. Chaired by Richard Burgon MP. Followed by questions and contributions. 
  • Session 2. Country Reports: A chance for attendees to discuss the situation in their countries.
  • Session 3. How to take the campaign forward. With former Nobel prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, German Member of Parliament Sevim Dagdelen and UK MP Richard Burgon – with questions and contributions from attendees.
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Post Press Clippings

2-year anniversary of Julian Assange’s incarceration in Belmarsh prison – 11 April

April 11th marks two years since Julian Assange has been held in maximum security Belmarsh prison in London for his work as a publisher.

Mark this week by calling at least one of your local representatives and demanding they speak up about Julian Assange’s case which has profoundly dangerous implications not only for Assange but also for the freedom of expression and the press.

We encourage you to video and upload your call as this will encourage others to do likewise – the campaign will promote the best recordings

If you are in the UK contact your Local MP, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Home Secretary.
This is the recommended UK Script:

Hello –
I am calling to express my extreme concern about the situation of Julian Assange. His prosecution is a huge threat to all publishers and our rights to hold foreign and domestic governments to account. All major newspapers and Human Rights organizations, from the Telegraph and Guardian to Amnesty International oppose this prosecution.
My family and I are very angry about this issue and want it stopped now.

If you are in the United States contact your Local Congressman, State Senator, The White House, Department of Justice.
This is the recommended US Script:

Hello –
I am calling to express my extreme concern about the situation of Julian Assange.
His prosecution is huge threat to all publishers, and to citizens’ rights to hold government accountable. It is a very dangerous violation of the first amendment, which if allowed to continue would fundamentally change the relationship between citizens and the state. All major newspapers and Human Rights organizations, from the  New York Times to Amnesty International oppose this prosecution.
My family and I are very angry about this issue and want it stopped now.

If you are in Australia contact your MP, Senator, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
This is the recommended Australian Script:

Hello –
I am calling to express my extreme concern about the situation of Julian Assange. His prosecution is a huge threat to all publishers and our rights to hold foreign and domestic governments to account. The editors of the New York Times, Washington Post and all major freedom of speech and Human Rights organizations oppose this prosecution.
My family and I are very angry about this issue and want it stopped now. Tell Scott Morrison to make the call and bring our boy home before its too late.

If you are in France contact the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs.
This is the recommended French Script:

Bonjour –
Je vous contacte pour relayer et exprimer mon extrême inquiétude face à la situation de Julian Assange. Sa persécution est une énorme menace pour tous les éditeurs et pour nos droits de demander des comptes aux gouvernements étrangers et nationaux. Tous les principaux journaux et organisations de défense des droits, Le Monde au Mediapart à Amnesty International, s’opposent à ces poursuites.
Ma famille et moi sommes très en colère contre cette persécution et voulons qu’elle cesse immédiatement.

Extraditing Assange to the US has been opposed by all major newspapers including The Washington Post, New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, El Pais and many more. He faces a sentence of 175 years for exposing war crimes, governmental abuses and corruption.

Despite a 4 January 2021 UK Magistrates Court ruling that his extradition would be oppressive and must be stopped, Assange continues to be denied bail and remains in detention. He has been detained in one form or another for over 10 years – either under house arrest, seven years while under political asylum in London’s Ecuadorian embassy, or for the past two years in Belmarsh Maximum security prison.

Read the timeline of events of Julian Assange’s Expulsion & Arrest.

Due to Covid restrictions Assange has been unable to receive any visitors for more than a year, including his fiancee and two young children. Communication with his lawyers has been difficult and Assange’s ability to prepare for the US appeal against him severely hampered.

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Events

Lightning Talks: Assange Case – Next Steps

23 March 2021

UK Magistrates Court issued a ruling blocking the US government’s request to extradite Julian Assange. The court ruled that extraditing him would be unsafe and it accepted that the evidence showed a high likelihood that Julian would die if the UK decided to extradite him.

The extradition is an attempt to criminalise journalism, not just in the US but in the UK and the rest of the world as well; and that the decision to indict Julian was a political act, a violation of the treaty, a violation of his human rights.

With the growing support of politicians around the world, press freedom, civil liberties, and international human rights advocacy organizations raising awareness of the Assange indictment we discussed the steps we can take to save Julian Assange and with that press freedom and investigative journalism.

Speakers:

  • John Kiriakou, CIA torture whistleblower
  • Clare Daly, Member of the European Parliament
  • Peter Oborne, British author, The Assault on Truth
  • Taylor Hudak, Journalist & editor
  • Sami Ramadani, Iraqi Democrat
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Press Clippings

Australian Members of Parliament call for Assange’s release

Australian Federal MP Andrew Wilkie, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson and Senator Janet Rice joined John Shipton, Julian Assange’s father during #HomeRun4Julian tour around Australia. Speaking at Parliament House in Canberra, Andrew Wilkie called on the Australian Government to press the US Government to drop the extradition:

“I can speak with personal experience of what a dreadful place Belmarsh prison is. It’s the last place to detain a journalist, it’s the last place to detain someone who won their court case and should have been allowed to walk free. This is indefinite detention – wrong on so many levels.”

Senator Peter Whish-Wilson sent a message to supporters and people to make a stand against the extradition of Julian Assange:

“If we go after the truth tellers of the Iraq war, what does it say about the importance of the truth? The road from here will only get more dark & more dangerous.”

Senator Janet Rice asked everyone for speaking up for Julian Assange to get him out of Belmarsh prison:

“For telling the truth, for revealing war crimes, for speaking truth to power. That’s why he is there because the powerful did not want to hear the truth that he was telling.”

Australian Member of Parliament Julian Hill also called on the Australian government to do the right thing to save Assange, saying this case is inherently political:

“The persecution of Julian Assange must end now. With the right diplomacy the Biden administration could conclude this immediately. The treatment of Assange corrupts our alliances with the US and makes a mockery of the UK’s justice system and international law.”

Senator Peter Whish-Wilson made a heartfelt appeal last week of February in the Australian Senate chamber to new Attorney General Merrick Garland and president Joe Biden urging them to cut the umbilical cord with Trump’s admin and #DropTheCharges against Assange once and for all.

Christine Milne Global Greens Ambassador and former Leader of the Australian Greens posted on her twitter:

@ScottMorrisonMP refuses to assist Assange because it’s LNP policy to silence those who expose crimes and protect those who committed them.”

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Press Clippings

Australian Council of Trade Unions Resolution – Julian Assange

10th & 11th March 2021

ACTU Executive supports global calls for the United States Government to drop its appeal to the British High Court over the rejection of its request to extradite Australian citizen and MEAA member Julian Assange on charges of espionage for the publication of information revealing US war crimes.

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, which received the 2010 Walkley for Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism, should be immediately release from Belmarsh Prison. His continuing detention in a high-security cell is unjustified, particularly in light of his well-documented health problems.

We further support the campaign for all extradition proceedings to be dropped, allowing his safe return to Australia.

We noted the support for Assange from journalist unions around the world, including the MEAA, and also the International Federation of Journalists. The charges against Assange relate entirely to his work which brought to light serious war crimes committed by the US military in Iraq. Continuing to prosecute him for this work constitutes an attack on journalists, journalism and the public right to know.

We urge the Australian Government to do all in its power to lobby US authorities to end their prosecution.

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Press Clippings

Irish MPs requesting a meeting with Julian Assange

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Events

Assange Case — What next

20 February 2021

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser has blocked Julian Assange’s extradition! While her ruling adopted the U.S. government’s extremely dangerous arguments undermining press freedom, the judge found that because U.S. prison conditions are so deleterious, it would be unjust and oppressive to extradite Julian. Almost immediately the lawyers representing the U.S. announced their intent to appeal that decision.

Two days later, the same lower courtjudge denied Assange’s bail application, meaning he will remain in the freezing cold, COVID-infected maximum-security HMP Belmarsh prison in London as he waits for the appeal process to unfold. That process could take weeks, months, or longer if the U.S. refuses to drop the case altogether.

Online meeting hosted by Bristol branch of Don’t Extradite Assange campaign

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Press Clippings

Press freedom coalition call on Biden’s Justice Dept. to drop the Assange prosecution

U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

February 8, 2021

Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson:

We, the undersigned press freedom, civil liberties, and international human rights advocacy organizations, write today to share our profound concern about the ongoing criminal and extradition proceedings relating to Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, under the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.1

While our organizations have different perspectives on Mr. Assange and his organization, we share the view that the government’s indictment of him poses a grave threat to press freedom both in the United States and abroad. We urge you to drop the appeal of the decision by Judge Vanessa Baraitser of the Westminster Magistrates’ Court to reject the Trump administration’s extradition request.2 We also urge you to dismiss the underlying indictment.

The indictment of Mr. Assange threatens press freedom because much of the conduct described in the indictment is conduct that journalists engage in routinely—and that they must engage in in order to do the work the public needs them to do. Journalists at major news publications regularly speak with sources, ask for clarification or more documentation, and receive and publish documents the government considers secret. In our view, such a precedent in this case could effectively criminalize these common journalistic practices.

In addition, some of the charges included in the indictment turn entirely on Mr. Assange’s decision to publish classified information. News organizations frequently and necessarily publish classified information in order to inform the public of matters of profound public significance.We appreciate that the government has a legitimate interest in protecting bona fide national security interests, but the proceedings against Mr. Assange jeopardize journalism that is crucial to democracy.

The Trump administration positioned itself as an antagonist to the institution of a free and unfettered press in numerous ways. Its abuse of its prosecutorial powers was among the most disturbing. We are deeply concerned about the way that a precedent created by prosecuting Assange could be leveraged—perhaps by a future administration—against publishers and journalists of all stripes. Major news organizations share this concern, which is why the announcement of charges against Assange in May 2019 was met with vociferous and nearly universal condemnation from virtually every major American news outlet,3 even though many of those news outlets have criticized Mr. Assange in the past.

It is our understanding that senior officials in the Obama administration shared this concern as well. Former Department of Justice spokesperson Matthew Miller told the Washington Post in2013, “The problem the department has always had in investigating Julian Assange is there is noway to prosecute him for publishing information without the same theory being applied to journalists.”4 It was reportedly the press freedom implications of any prosecution of Mr. Assange that led Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department to decide against indicting him after considering doing so.

It is unfortunately the case that press freedom is under threat globally. Now more than ever, it is crucial that we protect a robust and adversarial press—what Judge Murray Gurfe in in the Pentagon Papers case memorably called a “cantankerous press, an obstinate press, an ubiquitous press”5—in the United States and abroad. With this end in mind, we respectfully urge you to forgo the appeal of Judge Baraitser’s ruling, and to dismiss the indictment of Mr. Assange.

Respectfully,

Access Now
American Civil Liberties Union
Amnesty International – USA
Center for Constitutional Rights
Committee to Protect Journalists
Defending Rights and Dissent
Demand Progress
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Fight for the Future
First Amendment Coalition
Free Press
Freedom of the Press Foundation
Human Rights Watch
Index on Censorship
Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University
National Coalition Against Censorship
Open The Government
Partnership for Civil Justice Fund
PEN America
Project on Government Oversight
Reporters Without Borders
Roots Action
The Press Freedom Defense Fund of First Look Institute
Whistleblower & Source Protection Program (WHISPeR) at ExposeFacts

1 “WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Charged in 18-Count Superseding Indictment.” Department of Justice. May 3,2019. <https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/wikileaks-founder-julian-assange-charged-18-count-superseding-indictment>and “WikiLeaks Founder Charged in Superseding Indictment.” Department of Justice. June 24, 2020.<https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/wikileaks-founder-charged-superseding-indictment>
2 Order of District Judge (Magistrates’ Court) Vanessa Baraitser In the Westminster Magistrates’ Court, January 4,2021. <https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/USA-v-Assange-judgment-040121.pdf>
3 Fassett, Camille. “Press freedom advocates and news outlets strongly condemn new charges against Julian Assange.” Freedom of the Press Foundation. May 24, 2019.<https://freedom.press/news/press-freedom-advocates-and-news-outlets-advocates-strongly-condemn-new-charges-against-julian-assange/>
4 Horwitz, Sari, “Julian Assange unlikely to face U.S. charges over publishing classified documents.” The Washington Post. November 25, 2013.<https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/julian-assange-unlikely-to-face-us-charges-over-publishing-classified-documents/2013/11/25/dd27decc-55f1-11e3-8304-caf30787c0a9_story.html>
5United States v. N.Y. Times Co., 328 F. Supp. 324, 331 (S.D.N.Y. 1971)

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Press Clippings

Letter to the Home Secretary about Julian Assange from Caroline Lucas MP

The Rt Hon Priti Patel MP

Home Secretary

2 February 2021

Dear Home Secretary,

I write further to the high court ruling on 4th January preventing the extradition of Julian Assange to the US, on the grounds that “extradition would be oppressive by reason of mental harm”. As you will know, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that the US was incapable of preventing the Wikileaks founder from attempting to take his own life.

I share the widespread view that Mr Assange’s prosecution under the US Espionage Act set a dangerous precedent for press freedom and criminalised investigative journalism –  in common with other journalists he should be protected by  the European Convention on Human Rights and the right to freedom of speech. It is therefore deeply worrying that the Judge did not find the legal basis for extradition to the US was flawed and the UK has been complicit in putting media freedom and freedom of expression on trial.

There is a clear and compelling requirement for you to review the decision to order Julian Assange’s extradition to the US and ensure that he is released with immediate effect. I also wish to express my deep concern that he has been refused bail. Given Judge Baraitser’s clear warnings about Julian Assange’s mental health and the risk of suicide, it is particularly unacceptable for him to remain incarcerated any longer under the harsh conditions of high security detention at Belmarsh Prison.  I further note the views of Amnesty International that Julian Assange should not have been jailed pending extradition in the first place; the charges against him were politically-motivated; and the UK government should never have so willingly assisted the US in its unrelenting pursuit of Assange.

If  there is evidence that Julian Assange has committed any offences under UK law, he should be tried here and not detained arbitrarily on an ongoing basis without due process.

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely

Read from official website.

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Post

Award and prize nominations 2021

Julian Assange, who was again nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize this year is also eligible for the following awards in 2021:

Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought

Awarded for the first time in 1988 to Nelson Mandela and Anatoli Marchenko, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is the highest tribute paid by the European Union to human rights work. It gives recognition to individuals, groups and organisations that have made an outstanding contribution to protecting freedom of thought. Through the prize and its associated network the EU assists laureates, who are supported and empowered in their efforts to defend their causes.

Deadline for nominations – 1 June 2021

For more information click here.

Olof Palme Prize

The prize is annually given to a single recipient or to several for an outstanding achievement in any of the areas of anti-racism, human rights, international understanding, peace and common security.

Deadline for nominations10 September.

For more information click here.

Jaime Brunet International Prize for Human Rights

The prize is to promote and disseminate the protection of human rights and contribute to the eradication of degrading and inhumane treatment, and situations which violate the inherent right to dignity.

Deadline for nominations30 September.

Details for 2021 are not published yet.

Free Press Award – Most Resilient Journalist.

Free Press Unlimited wants to honour journalists who risk everything to bring us the news, media pioneers who pave the way for equality and justice and those who persevere under the most difficult circumstances.

Details for 2021 are not published yet.

Check back for latest updates here.

Don Bolles Medal

The award recognizes investigative journalists who have exhibited extraordinary courage in standing up against intimidation or efforts to suppress the truth about matters of public importance.

For more information click here.

Liberal International Prize for Freedom

Awarded annually to honour an individual who has made an exceptional contribution to the advancement of human rights and political freedoms. Recipients come from across the world and have fought on issues from women’s empowerment to establishing democracy.

For more information click here.

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Press Clippings

A letter from Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire to President Biden

25 January 2021

A letter from Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire to President Biden. To address the following requests:

 
Dear Mr President
 
Please accept my congratulations and best wishes in your work as President.
 
I have two urgent requests to ask of you.
 
l)  Free Julian Assange.

Please do all you can to free Julian Assange and release him to let him go home to his family.
He has served long enough and his family long for his presence and his punishment to be ended.
 
2) Save the Children of Yemen.

Your Foreign Policy is causing death and starvation of thousands of Yemeni children as the ports are blocked and people cannot get food.  Do not let history record again that powerful Governments played politics with little children’s lives. I implore you Mr. President to stop immediately with the UK Government the war on Yemini. Please end the arms sales to Saudi Arabia and make peace.
Sadly more and more Yemeni children are being starved by warring parties whose blockades and bomb attacks have and continue to decimate their country.
 
Please learn from Northern Ireland, and solve this horror of war on Yemen, through dialogue.

Peace and Love
Mairead Maguire
Nobel Peace Laureate

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Press Clippings

Open Letter from Republican Liberty Caucus requesting the President to pardon Julian Assange

15 January 2021

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Press Clippings

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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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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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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Press Clippings

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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Press Clippings

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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Press Clippings

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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Press Clippings

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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Press Clippings

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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Press Clippings

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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Press Clippings

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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Press Clippings

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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Press Clippings

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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Press Clippings

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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Press Clippings

Nomination of Julian Assange for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize

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

4 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

Australian Senators Peter Whish-Wilson and Janet Rice

31 January 2021

Jean-Luc Mélenchon – French politician serving as the member of the National Assembly for the 4th constituency of Bouches-du-Rhône

28 January 2021

“More than ever, Julian #Assange needs the protection of the peoples of the world. Granting him the Nobel Peace Prize would allow that.”

A Nobel Peace Prize for Julian Assange!

I decided to nominate journalist Julian Assange for the Nobel Peace Prize, as I have the power to do as a parliamentarian. Julian Assange is a hero of freedom. The WikiLeaks initiative has raised awareness of war crimes and serious human rights abuses. It is right that the peoples of the world express their gratitude to him.

On January 4, 2021, British justice refused his extradition to the United States, but maintained his imprisonment. More than ever, Julian Assange needs the protection of the peoples of the world. Granting him the Nobel Peace Prize would allow that.

Several other rebellious parliamentarians will share this process with me. I thus continue my fight for Assange’s freedom. After going to see him in London in 2012, after having held a videoconference meeting with him in 2013, I asked for political asylum in France in 2019 then 2020. At the time, the Minister of Justice Dupont- Moretti made the same request. Julian Assange served France, including revealing the spying on three Presidents by the United States.

I call on all French parliamentarians to in turn commit to having the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Julian Assange.

Click here to read the official statement.

Mathilde Panot – French politician, member of French National Assembly

31 January 2021

“As a parliamentarian, I can nominate a personality for the Nobel Peace Prize. As @JLMelenchon , I propose the whistleblower and journalist Julian #Assange . He is a hero and France would be honored to offer him political asylum.#NobelPeacePrize4Assange

Steve Keen – Australian economist and author

31 January 2021

Violeta Tomić – Slovenian politician, member of PACE

31 January 2021

Nomination of Julian Assange to the Nobel Peace Prize

By Elisabeth Eide, Professor emerita, Oslo Metropolitan University and Rune Ottosen, Professor emeritus Oslo Metropolitan University

By publishing documents on war crimes committed in Afghanistan and Iraq, the nominee has contributed to an important global public debate on warfare and its consequences.

By publishing documents about war crimes committed by the U.S. and their allies, Julian Assange has contributed to public debate on their warfare, with special emphasis on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. If such crimes were to continue to be unnoticed, the large warring powers and alliances may be able to create illusions of “clean” wars against the “criminal others”, at a time when thorough investigations of atrocities show that such responsibilities oftentimes are equally shared.

Therefore, Assange’s publications are important. To an increasing degree, modern wars claim civilian victims, and the weapons used, turn more sophisticated, some with lasting human effects far into the future.

Assange is imprisoned in the UK awaiting a possible extradition to the U.S., where he is charged referring to the Espionage Act and risks 175 years of imprisonment. If revelations of war crimes are treated as serious criminal acts equivalent to treason, it will create a dangerous precedent and a chilling effect on the public debate.

In Norway as well as in other countries, several media have contributed to publishing the WikiLeaks revelations. By doing so, they have strengthened the knowledge basis on modern wars, as well as freedom of expression linked to the legitimacy of acts of war. They would not have been able to do this without the courageous work of Assange, shedding light on the dark sides of war.

It takes great courage to defend freedom of expression by going public with information about abuse of power in warfare, this perhaps most difficult societal issue. Citizens’ right to information is a prerequisite for democracy. Without a democracy with informed citizens, it is hard to correct and put a stop to atrocities and abuse of power. Julian Assange has defended the core of democracy. As several predecessors, he has shouldered the role as whistle blower in this sensitive area, a role often criticised by contemporaries. Nevertheless, in many cases, such deeds by whistle blowers have been recognized as very important when historians later present their version.

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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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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

In German

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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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Press Clippings

Pacific Media Workers Guild joins call to stop chasing Assange

3 December 2020

The Guild Executive Committee has authorized the Local’s co-signing a petition by the activist group Action Network supporting a U.S. House of Representatives resolution calling for the government to end its pursuit of journalist Julian Assange.

Assange is fighting extradition to the United States from Britain, accused by U.S. authorities of espionage in the wake of publication by his WikiLeaks muckraking group of confidential diplomatic cables. He could face a 175-year prison sentence if convicted.

Press-freedom advocates argue that Assange and WikiLeaks are protected by the First Amendment and that the effort to prosecute him could make other journalists and news outlets afraid to expose government misdeeds.

Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) are chief sponsors of House Resolution 1175 calling for the government to drop the case.

Guild leaders, acting on a recommendation from the Legislative and Political Committee, voted unanimously to join the Action Network petition. The matter was brought to the LPC’s attention by Guild Freelancers unit member Steve Zeltzer.

Read from their official website.

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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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Press Clippings

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

12 November 2020

Unite welcomes the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) condemnation of the detention of Julian Assange pending his extradition proceedings. We applaud the NUJ’s campaign to draw to broad attention concern about the implications of this for free speech.

 Unite further joins the NUJ in further condemning the attempted use of the US Espionage Act to prosecute Assange for his work exposing the war crimes committed by US service personnel in the Iraq and Afghan war logs. The Espionage Act has also been used in the past to jail trade unionists and criminalise the activities of those who wish to report on the incompetence, corruption and illegality of the powerful.

 Unite believes that the use of these judicial measures by the US constitutes a grave threat to free speech and a free press and that this attempted prosecution is without precedent in US law.

 The report of UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, concluded that there was “overwhelming evidence that Assange had been subject to psychological torture”. This report also notes the conclusion of more than 60 doctors from around the world that Assange’s health has deteriorated to such an extent that he is in no fit state to stand trial.

 Unite calls on all trade unions and civil society to support this campaign and to oppose the persecution of Julian Assange.

Read from Unite’s website.

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Press Clippings

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

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Press Clippings

NUJ letter to trade unions

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Hearing Coverage

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.

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Hearing Coverage

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.

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Press Clippings

National Writers Union – Free Julian Assange

September 30, 2020

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition hearing is currently taking place in London. He has been behind bars in a British prison in the east of London since April 2019, and was initially held in solitary confinement. Assange is a member of the IFJ Australian affiliate MEAA and holds an IFJ press card.

He is being charged under the 1917 Espionage Act and faces 175 years in prison if he is extradited to the US and convicted. He is charged with aiding and encouraging Chelsea Manning to hack a US government computer in 2010, in order to publish hundreds of thousands of documents detailing US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. These include the video Collateral murders, shot from onboard a US Apache helicopter and showing the deliberate shooting of Iraqi civilians by the US military. At least 18 people were killed in the incident, including two journalists from the Reuters agency.

While many in the US don’t “like” Assange for the role WikiLeaks played in aiding Trump in the 2016 election, that is not what he is on trial for. A conviction would be used against journalists around the world and could criminalize the possession of leaked documents, which is often at the heart of investigative journalism.

The Assange trial reminds us of the 1973 trial of Daniel Ellsberg who faced 115 years in prison under the same Espionage Act for leaking the Pentagon Papers and revealing the secret bombing of Laos and Cambodia and the murderous lies by the US government.

WikiLeaks has partnered with five major news outlets: the New York Times, The Guardian(UK), Le Monde (France), Der Spiegel (Germany) and El País (Spain). Yet those publications have provided little coverage of Assange’s extradition hearing. The Times has not even mentioned that it was one of WikiLeaks’ five major partners in leaking information that became known as CableGate.

NWU joins the 600,000 journalists represented by the IFJ and it’s 147 member unions, plus the other press freedom advocates, like PEN, Reporters Without Borders, the National Lawyers Guild, the Center for Investigative Journalism, FAIR and many more in demanding freedom for Julian Assange!

Read from the official website.

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Hearing Coverage

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
Hearing Coverage

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
Hearing Coverage

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
Hearing Coverage

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.

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Hearing Coverage

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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Hearing Coverage

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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Hearing Coverage

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