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

September 24, 2020

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

Cryptome published unredacted cables first; medical testimony continues

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

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

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

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

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

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

Medical experts on the dangers of extradition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Sondra Crosby

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proceedings continue tomorrow at 10:00am London time.

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Day 12: Prosecution attacks Assange’s autism spectrum diagnosis

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

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

Prosecution attacks Assange’s autism spectrum diagnosis

Dr. Quinton Deeley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prosecution’s first witness, Seena Fazel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 22, 2020

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

Psychiatrist: High risk of suicide if Assange is extradited

Dr. Michael Kopelman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SEPTEMBER 21, 2020

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

Christian Grothoff: WikiLeaks did not publish unredacted cables first

Christian Grothoff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Glenn Greenwald wrote that day,

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

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

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

Cassandra Fairbanks

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

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

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

Grenell brokers deal to evict and arrest Assange

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

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

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

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

In January 2019, Fairbanks visited Assange in the Embassy and

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Direct “orders from the President”

Finally, Fairbanks said,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
Press Release

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

London: September 21 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Background

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
Press Release

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

04. 09. 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the press briefing here:

Background

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
Press Release

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

20. 08. 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr Assange is represented by Gareth Peirce of Birnberg Peirce.

Supporters can donate via Crowdjustice here:

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

Background

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
Press Release

Lawyers and academics call on Government to end Julian Assange extradition

17. 08. 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download the Open Letter to the British Government

Quotes from signatories:

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

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

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

Notes:

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

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

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

Website: www.lawyersforassange.org

Categories
Events

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

15 August 2020

Preview(opens in a new tab)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
Press Release

Chaos in Assange case management hearing

14. 08. 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Background

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

.





Categories
Press Release

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

13. 08. 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Background

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
Events

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

8 August 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
Press Release

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

29. 07. 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
Press Release

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

Westminster Magistrates’ Court
Monday 27th July 2020


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

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

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

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

Categories
Events

WikiLeaks, Afghan War Logs and Press Freedom

25 July 2020

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

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

Categories
Press Release

WikiLeaks, Afghan War Logs and Press Freedom

25. July 2020

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

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

Categories
Press Release

Assange to appear over video link at Monday 27 July hearing

24. 07. 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kristinn Hrafnsson will be available for interviews after the hearing.

Categories
Press Release

Commons motion asks MPs to oppose extradition of Julian Assange

17. 07. 2020

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

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

Categories
Press Release

Trade unionists back campaign to Free Assange

16. 07. 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




National Union of Journalists’ resolution notes:

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

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

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

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

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

Believes:

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

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

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

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

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

Resolves

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

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

Categories
Events

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

14 July 2020


Don’t Extradite Assange campaign special event

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

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

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

Categories
Press Release

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

10. 07. 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
Press Release

40+ Rights Groups Call on UK to Free Julian Assange

03. 07. 2020

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

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

The co-signers write,

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

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

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

Carles Torner, Executive Director of PEN International, said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The letter concludes,

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

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

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

Read the Open Letter here.

Categories
Statements

Open Letter

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

3 July 2020

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

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

Dear Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Signed:

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

Categories
Press Release

Free speech and the Assange case

30. June 2020

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

Categories
Press Release

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

29. 06. 2020

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

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

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

Categories
Press Release

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

28. 06. 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
Press Release

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

21. 06. 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
Events

The Assange Case and Collateral Murder

20 June 2020, Online

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

Categories
Events

Julian Assange: Doctors speak out

6 June 2020, Online

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

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

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

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

Categories
Post

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

03. 06. 2020

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

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

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

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

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




National Union of Journalists’ resolution notes:

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

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

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

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

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

Believes:

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

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

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

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

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

Resolves

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

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

Categories
Press Release

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

01. 06. 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
Statements

Australian Legal Professionals

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

PO Box 5317
Cobargo
NSW 2550

27 May 2020

Dear Minister,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regards,

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

Categories
Statements

MPs, Former MPs and Councillors

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

PO Box 5317
Cobargo
NSW 2550

27 May 2020

Dear Minister,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We await a reply at the earliest possibility,

yours faithfully,

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

Categories
Statements

Writers, Publishers and Journalists

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

PO Box 5317
Cobargo
NSW 2550

27 May 2020

Dear Minister,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

in trust,

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

Categories
Post

Scott Ludlam’s email to Senator Payne

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

Dear Minister Payne,

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

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

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

In trust,

Scott Ludlam

Former Senator for Western Australia

+61XXXXXXXXX

Attachments:

PDFs:

Categories
Press Release

Covid risk for Julian Assange at next court hearing

28. 05. 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
Statements

Human Rights Advocates

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

PO Box 5317
Cobargo
NSW 2550

27 May 2020

Dear Minister,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We await your response,

yours sincerely,

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

Categories
Events

Prisons and the Covid crisis

16 May 2020, Online

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

Categories
Press Release

Assange extradition hearing set to restart 7th September

13. 05. 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
Events

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

9 May 2020, Online

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

Categories
Press Release

Assange Extradition Hearing Date to Be Set Tomorrow

03. 05. 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The judge has previously refused to bail Julian Assange.

Categories
Events

Whistleblowers for Assange

25 April 2020, Online

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

Categories
Press Release

Assange court hearig scheduled for April 27th

24. 04. 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Journalists and members of the public will be unable to properly and fully attended the trial if it goes ahead in the current health emergency. During the first week of the hearing in February most journalists could not gain access to the courtroom and were consigned to a portacabin in the grounds of the Belmarsh court with an inadequate video link. But even that option would be unavailable or unusable with coronavirus still a significant danger.

The remainder of the hearing, likely to last three weeks, will constitute the vast majority of the trial and will hear all the witnesses, many of whom will be travelling from abroad.

“It is quite clear that this hearing cannot go ahead in just a few week’s time,” said Joseph Farrell, WikiLeaks ambassador. “Julian’s lawyers cannot prepare adequately, witnesses will not be able to travel, and journalists and the public will not have free, adequate and safe access to the proceedings. Justice will neither be done, nor seen to be done.”

The Don’t Extradite Assange campaign will organise a twitter storm on Sunday evening at 6pm ahead of the hearing.

Categories
Events

Journalists speak out for Assange

18 April 2020, Online

Discussion between journalists about Julian’s current situation in prison and how his persecution affects journalism and the democracy. On the panel: John Pilger – award winning journalist, Stefania Maurizi– investigative journalist, Charles Glass – author, journalist, broadcaster

Categories
Events

Collateral Murder – 10 Years On

5 April 2020, Online

The cockpit video of an Apache helicopter shooting journalists and Iraqi civilians became one of the greatest journalistic coups of this century when it was released 10 years ago. Ann Wright – retired United States Army colonel and retired U.S. State Department official, Kristinn Hrafnsson – editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, and columnist and essayist Nozomi Hayase discussed the global political impact of that revelation, with a new video presentation that interviews the families of the Iraqis who lost their relatives in the attack.

Categories
Press Release

WikiLeaks makes new content available free to broadcasters and websites

03. 04. 2020

Ten year anniversary of the “Collateral Murder” release   This Sunday, April 5th, marks the ten year anniversary of WikiLeaks publication of Collateral Murder, the video taken from the cockpit of two US Apache helicopters of the shooting dead of 2 Reuters journalists and 11 civilians on the streets of Baghdad. The release had a global political impact.  

This package has been produced to mark the ten year anniversary and contains new interviews those who were involved.

This material is free for broadcasters, media organisations, and campaign websites to use.

The Collateral Murder publication by WikiLeaks included the US military Rules of Engagement, for which the US now seeks Julian Assange’s imprisonment. He faces 175 years in prison if extradited to the United States.The new Collateral Murder – Ten Years On Video Package can be found here.

For more information:   Stay Informed – Don’t Extradite Assange: https://dontextraditeassange.com/#initiatives

Background: Julian Assange extradition and imprisonment – current status

Council of Europe: Platform to Promote the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists – Alert 1/2020 – Continued Detention of WikiLeaks Founder and Publisher Julian Assange (Level 1) EFJ/IFJ, AEJ, Index on Censorship

Continued Detention of WikiLeaks Founder and Publisher Julian Assange

Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic (Council of Europe)

Julian Assange should not be extradited due to potential impact on press freedom and concerns about ill-treatment

Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

International Bar Association – Human Rights Institute

IBAHRI condemns UK treatment of Julian Assange in US extradition trial

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe

OSCE – Media Freedom Representative calls on UK authorities not to extradite WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange to the US, ahead of Monday’s hearing

Amnesty International

USA must drop charges against Julian Assange

Assange bail application highlights COVID-19 risk to many vulnerable detainees and prisoners

The Lancet: Letter from 117 doctors – End torture and medical neglect of Julian Assange

End torture and medical neglect of Julian Assange

The Council of Bar and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE)

Letter regarding the interception of communications between Julian Assange and his lawyers

New York TimesEditorial Board

Julian Assange’s Indictment Aims at the Heart of the First Amendment

Categories
Press Release

WikiLeaks marks 10th anniversary of the ‘Collateral Murder’ video

02. 04. 2020

The cockpit video of an Apache helicopter shooting journalists and Iraqi civilians became one of the greatest journalistic coups of this century when it was released 10 years ago.

In this special online event we’ll be discussing the global political impact of that revelation, with a new video presentation that interviews the families of the Iraqis who lost their relatives in the attack.

Hosted by Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign the event will hear from editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks Kristinn Hrafnsson and columnist and essayist Nozomi Hayase.

There will be a question and answer session after the speakers introduce the meeting. 

Reserve your place here for Zoom webinar: www.is.gd/cm10years

The event will take place on Sunday 5 April at 5pm UK time.

Categories
Press Release

Campaigners slam ‘dangerous and cruel judgement’ to expose Julian Assange to coronavirus

25. 03. 2020

Judge Vanessa Baraitser brushed aside the advice about coronavirus from both of the Prison Officers Association and the Prison Advisory Service and told Julian Assange he would not be bailed on fears that he would contract the virus. 

Assange’s lawyers argued that the virus can spread rapidly in Britain’s overcrowded prisons and that there are already 100 staff off sick with coronavirus symptoms at HMP Belmarsh, the high security prison where Assange is held.

Yet despite Assange’s already weakened medical condition, including a previously reported lung complaint, the Judge refused to accept that there were fresh grounds for granting bail, even though the Justice Minister is currently reviewing whether remand prisoners like Julian Assange should be released.

Citing Assange’s previous asylum in the Ecuadorean Embassy as a reason for not granting bail the Judge refused to accept the offer of house arrest and electronic tagging made by the Assange’s QC, Edward Fitzgerald.

HMP Belmarsh could not even arrange for Assange to be connected by video link for the whole hearing. He was removed to his cell while the proceedings went on without him. 

‘This is a dangerous and cruel decision’, said WikiLeaks Ambassador Joseph Farrell. ‘Coronavirus will spread in Belmarsh. With 100 Belmarsh staff off ill Julian is already at risk. Visits have been cancelled. He will have no access to friends and family and his time with his legal team will be reduced further. How is anyone supposed to prepare a defence in such conditions’

Kristinn Hrafnsson, editor in chief of WikiLeaks, added, ‘to expose another human being to serious illness, and to the threat of losing their life, is grotesque and quite unnecessary. This is not justice, it is a barbaric decision’.

Julian Assange is not imprisoned for any crime and is at risk of infection. Like other prisoners who pose no risk to the public he should be released to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, his legal team argued. Belmarsh is a remand prison with 300 new intakes every month.

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Press Release

Assange to apply for bail as experts warn of COVID-19 spread in prisons

23. 03. 2020

On Wednesday, 25th of March, Julian Assange’s lawyers will make a bail application at Westminster Magistrates Court. They will argue that he is vulnerable to the COVID-19 outbreak in the prison where he is on remand.   The WikiLeaks founder and publisher is being held at HMP Belmarsh on a US extradition warrant for WikiLeaks’ 2010 publications about the Iraq and Afghan wars and US foreign policy. UN officials and the OSCE have called for Julian Assange’s immediate release and for the US request to be thrown out. He faces 175 years in prison if extradited to the U.S.   Prisons are considered epicentres for the spread of COVID-19 due to overcrowding and the propensity of the virus to spread in closed environments. Andrea Albutt, the President of the Prison Governors Association, has warned that “there will be deaths” in UK prisons.   It is not only prisoners whose lives are at risk but also prison staff and their families.   Spain, the U.S and Iran have released thousands of low-risk prisoners. Iran has released UK national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. She wears an ankle tag and her movements are restricted to a 300-metre radius around her parents’ home.   The UK Prison Officers’ Association (POA) has likened the infection risk in UK prisons to that of cruise ships. The POA has called on the Johnson government to enact an executive release to address the crisis. Former chief inspector of prisons Nick Hardwick has also called for low-risk prisoners to be released.   The Johnson government has not yet released any low-risk prisoners, although it has released 300 people from immigration detention centres.  

Julian Assange falls into a category of persons who should be released to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 under the recommendations of independent legal charity, the Prison Advisory Service.

Last week, campaigners called for Julian Assange’s release and the release of all low risk prisoners to slow the spread of the virus and minimise the number of deaths in prisons.

Julian Assange’s case is one week into a four-week extradition hearing. The case began on February 22nd and has been adjourned until May 18th. It could be further adjourned due to the virus. More than 20 witnesses will be giving evidence for the defence.

All major newspapers, journalists associations and rights groups have denounced the Trump administration’s prosecution of Julian Assange as politically motivated and setting a disastrous precedent by criminalising normal journalistic behaviour.

Julian Assange has been on remand since 22 September 2019 when he finished serving a sentence for obtaining asylum at the embassy of Ecuador in 2012.

HMP Belmarsh receives 300 new prisoners every month, most of whom are then dispersed to prisons around the country. HMP Belmarsh has a total of approximately 800 prisoners and the highest suicide rate in the prison system.

The UK has 83.500 prisoners, the highest prison population in western Europe.

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Press Release

Julian Assange must be released on fears of spread of coronavirus in prison

17. 03. 2020

Julian Assange must be released before the coronavirus spreads through the prison population, the Don’t Extradite Assange campaign said today.

Prison authorities are signalling that prison inmates will be especially vulnerable to the virus. There are already 113 prison staff and 75 prisoners in isolation because they have coronavirus symptoms.

The President of the Prison Governors Association, Andrea Albutt, has said that prison conditions are a fertile breeding ground for Covid 19. She added, ‘there will be deaths’.

Christine Assange, Julian Assange’s mother, has called for her son’s release to remove the threat of infection in prison. 

Assange has not been convicted of any crime, and is a low risk prisoner who should not be held in jail in any case. The increased health risk means he should be released immediately. 

Indeed, all low risk prisoners should be released to slow the spread of the virus and minimise the number of fatalities. 

The Prison Officers Association say that ‘in the past, governments have done what is called an executive release. This involves low category prisoners who maybe coming to the end of their sentences being released to free up prisons’.

WikiLeaks ambassador Joseph Farrell said, ‘With the authorities about to end social visits it’s essential that Julian Assange be included in any release policy. His health is already in jeopardy and further isolation would be damaging in itself, let alone the threat that he might contract the virus itself.’

Prisons in the United States are already releasing inmates to slow the spread of the virus.

Julian Assange is facing 175 years in jail if he is extradited to the US for releasing the Afghan and Iraq war logs which revealed the truth about the Afghan and Iraq wars.

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Press Release

WikiLeaks caused no harm admits US government

24. 02. 2020

No physical harm has occurred to a single individual as a result of documents published by Wikileaks. That’s the startling admission made by the US government at the beginning of the Assange extradition trial.

All that the US government QC, James Lewis, could muster was that there might be a ‘risk’ of harm…but no actual harm occurred.

To try and bolster this flimsy claim the US government argued that Wikileaks material was read by enemies of the United States. Yet this could be true of any story critical of government, and certainly true of any material revealed by a whistleblower.

What is however certain is that WikiLeaks has repeatedly revealed war crimes committed by the US government which did indeed cause harm. Not the ‘risk’ of harm but the actually maiming and killing of innocent citizens.

The US government then went on to make the untrue claim that Wikileaks released unredacted material…an accusation previously refuted by Wikileaks.

The Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign/Wikileaks will be making full press statements Woolwich Magistrates Court at lunchtime and at the end of the day’s court business.

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Events

Demonstration over the extradition of Julian Assange at Parliament Square

22 February 2020, Parliament Square London

First major protest march to Parliament Squaren in support of Assange was lead by Roger Waters of Pink Floyd and Greek MP Yanis Varoufakis.They were joined in their call not to extradite Julian Assange by Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders, John Shipton (Julian Assange’s father), musician Brian Eno, rapper and activist Lowkey, Kristinn Hrafnsson from WikiLeaks, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, Tariq Ali writer and activist, and Tim Dawson from the National Union of Journalists. The march was from Australia House to Parliament Square.

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Press Release

Yanis Varoufakis visits Julian Assange 1 day before hearing, press conference

22. 02. 2020

Most recognised economist Yanis Varoufakis to visit Julian Assange at Belmarsh prison, will hold a press conference after visit.
 
On 23rd February, today’s most recognised economist Yanis Varoufakis will visit WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in prison, after his visit we will hold a press conference at Belmarsh prison.
 
This visit will be the day before Assange’s full extradition hearing which begins on 24th February, also at Belmarsh.
If Julian Assange is extradited and is charged by the Trump government with publishing the Afghan and Iraq war logs he could face 175 years in jail.
 
The former Greek finance minister, leader of the MeRA25 party and Professor of Economics at the University of Athens has been a principled supporter of “the original WikiLeaks concept”.
 
Yanis will be joined by Julian Assange’s father John Shipton as he goes to visit Assange in prison. They will both enter the prison at 2pm and leave at 4pm for the press conference outside.
 
Time: 4pm

Date: Sunday 23rd February

Place: Belmarsh prison gates,  Western Way, London SE28 0EB

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Press Release

Saturday Feb 22 Assange protest

21. 02. 2020

Protests over the extradition of Julian Assange hit Parliament Square
 
Roger Waters of Pink Floyd will join Greek MP Yanis Varoufakis to head a protest march to Parliament Square tomorrow.
 
They will be joined in their call not to extradite Julian Assange by Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders, John Shipton (Julian Assange’s father), musician Brian Eno, rapper and activist Lowkey, Kristinn Hrafnsson from WikiLeaks, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, Jennifer Robinson from Assange’s legal team, singer M.I.A., and Tim Dawson from the National Union of Journalists.
 
Assange’s trial begins next week at Woolwich Crown Court and the campaign to free him is gaining huge momentum. Labour Party leaders Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have spoken our condemning the extradition hearing and so have Amnesty International and the European Commissioner for Human Rights.
 
Saturday’s protest is the first major demonstration in support of Assange.
 
 
When: Saturday 22nd February 2020
Where: Australia House to Parliament Square
Time: 11:30am – 15:30pm
Key timings for the day in the day:
Assemble: 11:30am Australia House, Strand, London WC2B 4LA
11:30 People start assembling at Australia House
12:15 Photo call at front of Demo
12:30-13:30 March from Australia House to Parliament Square
13:30 15:30 SPEAKERS

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Events

Press Freedom and the case of Julian Assange

4 February 2020, Logan Hall London

Former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell spoke at a public rally in central London joined by former Shadow Secretary of state Richard Burgon as well as Tim Dawson an executive of the National Union of Journalists, Nils Melzer the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Kristinn Hrafnsson editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, Jen Robinson from Julian Assange’s legal team, and activist and writer Tariq Ali.

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Events

M.I.A at UK Home Office: “Don’t extradite Assange!”

5 November 2019, Home Office London,

World famous artist MIA, Croatian philosopher, author and political activist Srećko Horvat, and British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, joined Julian Assange’s father John Shipton with this protest to halt the extradition case against Julian Assange.

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Events

Roger Water “Wish You Were Here” at Home Office

2 September 2019, Home Office London

World famous musician Roger Waters, the co-founder of Pink Floyd performed the band’s classic  ‘Wish You Were Here’ after speaking about the importance of empathizing with Julian and defending him. John Pilger, filmmaker and journalist, opened the event with an impassioned speech before calling on Julian’s brother Gabriel Shipton and Roger Waters to the stage.