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Press Release

US/UK: “Drop the charges, stop the extradition and free Julian Assange,” says Amnesty head

26 October 2021

Ahead of the US appeal hearing on the extradition of Julian Assange Amnesty International’s Secretary General has called on US authorities to drop the charges against him and the UK authorities not to extradite him but release him immediately.

The call by Agnès Callamard follows an investigation by Yahoo News revealing that US security services considered kidnapping or killing Julian Assange when he was resident in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. These reports further weaken already unreliable US diplomatic assurances that Assange will not be placed in conditions that could amount to ill-treatment if extradited.

“Assurances by the US government that they would not put Julian Assange in a maximum security prison or subject him to abusive Special Administrative Measures were discredited by their admission that they reserved the right to reverse those guarantees. Now, reports that the CIA considered kidnapping or killing Assange have cast even more doubt on the reliability of US promises and further expose the political motivation behind this case,” said Amnesty Secretary General, Agnès Callamard.

“It is a damning indictment that nearly 20 years on, virtually no one responsible for alleged US war crimes committed in the course of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars has been held accountable, let alone prosecuted, and yet a publisher who exposed such crimes is potentially facing a lifetime in jail.”

The appeal hearing, scheduled for 27-28 October, is expected to consider five grounds of appeal by the US, including the reliability of assurances offered by the US after a lower UK court ruled against Assange’s extradition in January 2021. Amnesty International has concluded that the assurances are unreliable.

“The US government’s unrelenting pursuit of Julian Assange makes it clear that this prosecution is a punitive measure, but the case involves concerns which go far beyond the fate of one man and put media freedom and freedom of expression in peril,” said Agnès Callamard.

“Journalists and publishers are of vital importance in scrutinizing governments, exposing their misdeeds and holding perpetrators of human rights violations to account. This disingenuous appeal should be denied, the charges should be dropped, and Julian Assange should be released.”

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Press Release

Australian visitors to Assange demand answers

Australian visitors to Assange have expressed concern to their government arising from recent reporting of surveillance or worse at the hands of the CIA and UK authorities, asking what their government knew about the efforts of their allies.

c/o Felicity Ruby
PO Box 5317
Cobargo, NSW 2550

Hon Scott Morrison MP
Prime Minister
PO Box 6022
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600


Senator the Hon Marise Payne,
Minister for Foreign Affairs
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Dear Prime Minister Morrison and Foreign Minister Payne

RE: Surveillance of Australian citizens visiting Julian Assange in London

We the undersigned are journalists, lawyers, academics, and activists who visited Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

In those various capacities we visited Assange to interview him, to receive instruction from a client, or to enquire as to the welfare of a colleague and friend.

Recent investigative reporting by Zach Dorfman, Sean D. Naylor and Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News cites numerous former intelligence and government officials stating that extensive spying was justified and undertaken on associates of Assange.

This included our “patterns of life,” and “what these individuals were saying and who they were saying it to, where they were traveling or going to be at a given date and time, and what platforms these individuals were communicating on.”

In addition, “agency executives requested and received “sketches” of plans for killing Assange and other Europe-based WikiLeaks members who had access to Vault 7 materials…”

We wish to know what surveillance or monitoring we have been subjected to by the intelligence agencies of our allies, the United Kingdom and United States.

Were any of us placed on speculative kill lists?

We also believe we have a right to know whether the Australian government was informed or consented to our communications and movements being tracked.

We would appreciate a written response to the address above.


Sincerely

Phillip Adams
Felicity Ruby
Scott Ludlam
Suelette Dreyfus
Greg Barns SC
Elizabeth O’Shea
Bernard Keane
Mary Kostakidis
Andrew Fowler
Tim Norton
Ciaron O’Reilly
George Gittoes
Hellen Rose
George Newhouse
Alex Kelly
Julian Burnside AO, QC
Jennifer Robinson
Professor John Keane
David Paris
Kathy Lette
Archie Law
Guy Rundle
Violeta Ayala
Dan Fallshaw
Dr Niraj Lal
Mark Davis


30 September 2021

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Parliamentary Actions Press Release Statements

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reykjavik, July 9th 2021

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

Categories
Parliamentary Actions Press Release

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

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

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

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

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

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


Categories
Parliamentary Actions Press Release

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

28 June 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The letter says:

Dear Governor,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours sincerely,


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

Categories
Parliamentary Actions Post Press Release

EDM 220 – Assange Meeting with Parliamentarians

Please email your MP using our app to ask them to sign Early Day Motion 220.

Motion Text:

‘That this House expresses its concern at the refusal of the UK Government and prison authorities to allow an online video meeting between Julian Assange and a cross-party group of British parliamentarians; notes that the request was first made in December 2020 in a letter signed by 17 British parliamentarians from four parties; believes parliamentarians must be allowed to discuss important issues relating to press freedoms and the UK-US Extradition Treaty with interested parties; and calls on the Government to facilitate this meeting between Julian Assange and a cross-party group of parliamentarians.’

Categories
Press Release

Julian Assange Extradition Verdict

5 January 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Press Release

MEDIA ADVISORY – Julian Assange Extradition Case Decision

03 January 2021

Julian Assange Extradition Case Decision

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Interview opportunities

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


Court Access and Video streaming

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

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

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

For background only:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

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Press Release

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

31 December 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

United Kingdom: UN expert calls for immediate release of Assange after 10 years of arbitrary detention

Read the statement here

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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”.

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Hearing Coverage Press Release

Julian Assange Defence Skeleton Arguments

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Press Release

Julian Assange’s partner calls for his release on eve of extradition hearing + In-depth Press Briefing

06. 09. 2020

Julian Assange Extradition Hearing Press Briefing 2020 – English

Julian Assange Extradition Hearing Press Briefing 2020 – Spanish

Stella Moris, Julian Assange’s partner, has called for the WikiLeaks founder to be freed on the eve of the resumption of his extradition hearing at the Old Bailey.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s (Monday 7th September) court case she issued this statement:

“Julian will be taken from his cell in Belmarsh tomorrow to the Old Bailey in a prison van that is like a ventilated coffin. He has been confined to his cell for up to 24 hours a day, deprived of intellectual stimulation, and has had no access to his lawyers for the last six months.

Two weeks ago, I was able to see him for the first time since lockdown. He looked a lot thinner than on my last visit. He was in a lot of pain and his health is not good. I was able to take Gabriel and Max to see him for 20 minutes, but we were warned by the prison staff that if they tried to touch him the visit would be ended. We had to wear masks and visors. To the boys, Julian has become a voice on the telephone, not their father whom they can see and hug.

It is heart breaking to think that if Julian is extradited and put in a US super-max prison the boys will never get to know their father and he will never see them grow up. That is what is at stake for us as a family. But there are also much bigger issues that we are fighting for. Julian’s case has huge repercussions for freedom of expression and freedom of the Press.

This is an attack on journalism. Julian is charged with practising journalism and for publishing. If he is extradited to the US for publishing inconvenient truths about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan then it will set a precedent and any British journalist or publisher could also be extradited in the future. Julian faces 175 years in prison, but he has had to prepare for tomorrow’s hearing without even seeing the legal papers or seeing his legal team. There have been so many abuses of the legal process throughout the case, including a replacement indictment being introduced at the last minute even though the hearing began in February, and it should be thrown out for that reason alone.

But there are also fundamental legal reasons why the extradition should be blocked. This is a political act by the Trump government and Julian is accused of a political offence, which is outside the terms of the UK-US Extradition Treaty.

Anyone who cares about freedom of expression and freedom of the Press should support Julian’s fight against extradition”. They will explain that the extradition should be thrown out because Julian is accused of a political offence, which is outside the terms of the UK-US Extradition Treaty. They will also show the numerous grave abuses of process have taken place during the case – and highlight the various statutory bars which apply to Julian being extradited. “It’s not just Julian in the prison. It’s the kids that are being deprived of their father. It’s me that’s being deprived.”

Also read the exclusive interview from Sunday Times magazine cover story about Julian Assange and his partner Stella Moris – Julian Assange’s fiancée, Stella Moris, on their secret family

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

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
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”.

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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
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
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
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
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.

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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”.

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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”.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Press Release

Assange court hearing 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.

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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

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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.

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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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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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Press Release

National Union of Journalists (UK) issues resolution on Assange extradition case

13/11/2019

National Union of Journalists issues resolution on Assange extradition case

The union’s executive passed a comprehensive motion last Friday demanding that Assange should not be sent to the US where he could face 175 years for revealing information about the Iraq and Afghan wars.

Assange has been held in Belmarsh prison since he was committed for extradition by then Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

The union is now writing to the Home Secretary, the Shadow Home Secretary, and the Shadow Justice Minister encouraging them to take action on the Assange case.

The Don’t Extradite Assange campaign said: ‘this is an important development which gives the lie to the US governments argument that Julian Assange is not a journalist. It also provides an important initiative that other trade unionists can rally behind’. 

The full text of the motion is as follows.

This executive 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.

This executive 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.


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

This executive 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. 

Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign
Website: dontextraditeassange.com
twitter, facebook: @DEAcampaign