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.