Judge Denies Assange Extension on Extradition Hearing
A judge at a hearing in London has denied the WikiLeaks’ publisher more time to prepare his defense, while a group of Australian politicians coalesce around a demand to return Julian Assange home.
By Joe Lauria
October 21, 2019
The judge in Julian Assange’s extradition process on Monday denied his lawyer’s appeal for more time to prepare his case as the imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher weakly told the court he was unable to “research anything” in the conditions under which he is being held in high-security Belmarsh Prison.
Assange appeared in person at Westminster Magistrate’s Court in London Monday morning for a case management hearing on the request by the United States for Assange to be sent to Virginia to face 18 charges, including allegedly violating the U.S. Espionage Act for possessing and disseminating classified information that revealed prima facie evidence of U.S. war crimes.
Mark Summers, Assange’s lawyer, told the court the charges were “a political attempt” by the U.S. “to signal to journalists the consequences of publishing information.” The Espionage Act indictment against Assange by the Trump Administration is the first time a journalist has been charged under the 1917 Act for publishing classified material.
“It is legally unprecedented,” Summers told Judge Vanessa Baraitser. He argued that President Donald Trump was politically motivated by the 2020 election to pursue Assange.
Summers also argued before Baraitser that the U.S. “has been actively engaged in intruding into privileged discussions between Assange and his lawyers.” It was revealed this month that the Central Intelligence Agency was given access to surveillance video shot by a private Spanish company of all interactions Assange had with lawyers, doctors and visitors.
“This is part of an avowed war on whistleblowers to include investigative journalists and publishers,” Summers said. “The American state has been actively engaged in intruding on privileged discussions between Mr Assange and his lawyer.”
Because of this surveillance, including “unlawful copying of their telephones and computers” as well as “hooded men breaking into offices,” Assange’s lawyers needed more time to prepare his defense, Summers argued. But Baraitser refused the request, and ordered Assange back in court for a second management hearing on Dec. 19. The full extradition hearing is scheduled to begin on Feb. 25 next year.
UK judge rejects delay in Assange extradition case
By Laura Tiernan
22 October 2019
Imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court in London yesterday—only his third public appearance since UK police seized him from the Ecuadorian embassy on April 11 and imprisoned him in the maximum-security Belmarsh Prison.
Assange, whose exposure of US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan garnered worldwide attention and multiple journalism awards in Australia, the United States, Europe and Latin America, arrived at court in a Serco prison van.
Standing in the dock—a room enclosed by reinforced glass panels—Assange mentally paused and appeared to stumble as Judge Vanessa Baraitser asked him to state his name and date of birth.
Baraitser’s vindictiveness towards Assange was clear from the first moments of the hour-and-a-half-long case management hearing. She told Assange’s supporters watching silently in the public gallery that “those causing a disturbance … will be asked to leave.” WikiLeaks’ editor and veteran journalist Kristinn Hrafnsson, investigative journalist John Pilger and former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone were among those seated.
James Lewis QC appeared on behalf of the US Department of Justice, stating, “Mr Assange is wanted by the United States government” for “spying” and “aiding and abetting Chelsea Manning” in relation to publication of US classified documents relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and of US State Department cables. Assange was “not a journalist,” Lewis asserted. His actions were “criminal in both the US and UK,” he claimed, citing the UK’s Official Secrets Act.
Read more at https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/10/22