The extradition proceedings against Julian Assange resume in court next Monday and are expected to last several weeks.
It is a disgraceful case of political persecution on British soil.
An unconvicted journalist, Assange has been held in Belmarsh prison, a top security institution, in inhumane conditions. It took about a year for an unconvicted man to secure a radio in his prison cell.
The mainstream media has been complicit by its silence. Peter Oborne considers it shameful and that history will judge current journalists.
The UK judicial process is demonstrating that British justice is not blind but that it is very partial when it involves politics. No wonder when the ordinary citizen of the UK has unequal access to justice – British law is against Natural Justice. There is no “British” justice. There is only justice for those who can afford a top lawyer to plead their case.
The extradition contract between Britain and the United States of America is imbalanced and contrary to natural justice, just as the European Arrest Warrant is. The European Union undermined the British concept of habeus corpus with the result that men can be treated as guilty until proved innocent on the mere ‘say-so’ of an accusing woman.
Earlier this year, a rare visitor to Julian Assange in Belmarsh prison was the Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell who said this is “the Dreyfus case of our age”.
Wikipedia says of Belmarsh prison: “It is often used for the detention of prisoners for terrorist related offences.” This imprisonment of Assange is overkill, but no wonder when he has been almost killed already. His physical health is precarious after years of self-imposed and then judicially-imposed incarceration, to say nothing of his mental health and the torture of character assassination.
A film has been produced No Extradition and interviews Julian Assange’s father.
Amnesty International asserts that this case will be a key test of UK and USA justice.
Julian Assange has powerful supporters and does not need my input, but I wish to add my protest to the injustices perpetrated against him and to warn about the direction in which secular leaders are taking the UK. I watch proceedings with interest.
3 Oct 2020: the four-week trial of Julian Assange has concluded. The verdict is expected on 4th January. If you obtain your news from the BBC, you would probably not even know that there has been a trial. We are used to hearing of people ‘disappearing’ in certain regimes around the world, but Assange has disappeared from the mainstream media in the UK. We await the verdict. If it suits the BBC, there will be a Newsnight report on it; if not, an archival item may be substituted. However, surely even the BBC cannot avoid discussing it when the verdict is announced.
Journalist John Pilger was present at the Old Bailey trial for extradition of Julian Assange to the USA. He said: “It is the most important political trial of this century, certainly one of the most important of my lifetime and it has been virtually blacked out by most of the so-called misnamed mainstream media.” “British justice has been so trashed by this trial … those of us who have been in many courts around the world can no longer put the two words ‘British’ and ‘justice’ together.”
2 Nov 2020: little interest shown by the mainstream media in the Julian Assange case.
28 Nov 2020: an interview with a spokesman for Doctors for Assange claims that the mental strain on Assange amounts to torure and refers to the correspondence in Britain’s leading medical journal The Lancet last year. The British mainstream media hardly mentioned this correspondence. Doctors for Assange wrote to the UK Home Secretary in Nov 2019 and drew attention to the lack of progress by Mar 2020. The lack of progress continues to the present and there is now an outbreak of COVID-19 in Belmarsh prison.
14 Dec 2020: interviews with Doctors for Assange define Assange’s treatment by the British state as mental torture. Journalism is on trial. Innocent till proved guilty has already disappeared from the British scene. Habeus corpus was overturned by the UK involvement in the EEC/EU experiment and it will take some time to unwind under Brexit. The unequal Extradition arrangements between the USA and the UK need to be corrected. It would be appropriate for outgoing President Donald Trump to stop the extradition proceedings.
21 Dec 2020: expectations and calls for Donald Trump to release Julian Assange from US prosecution/persecution.
4 Jan 2021: 11:30 a.m. unexpected but good news – District Judge Vanessa Baraitser sitting in Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London has refused the request by the USA to extradite Julian Assange! The decision has astonished the watching world. 12:05 p.m. Apparently the decision is based upon Assange’s mental health, so there is still plenty scope for improving the law in Britain. So when his mental health improves, will ‘they’ resume the process and damage his mental health again? “The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel” Proverbs 12:10.
12: 15 p.m. The judge threw out the political and the public interest defence but at the end of her judgment she said that the conditions in the probable American prisons were such that Assange was at a high risk of suicide to avoid extradition and that for this reason she refused the extradition. The same could possibly be said about his detention in Belmarsh prison, so his application for bail should also be granted. At least the judgment draws attention to the state of American prisons and it might lead to a useful debate in America with beneficial results. One may think that the case could be appealed on the basis that it was not judge’s role to decide on the state of American prisons, but I would answer that it is only necessary to judge the state of Assange’s mental health. Within minutes of the decision the US said that they will appeal.
12:19 p.m. John Rees, the organiser of Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign said while the application for Bail is being heard: “It is absolutely remarkable that in Britain a high profile, globally-important, civil liberties case goes first to the [magistrates’] court, where you normally go when you have a motoring offence!” So it is almost inevitable that it will be appealed to a higher court, but this is the opportunity for the US to extricate itself from the extradition proceedings because the state of American jails will not change quickly. The US has 15 days to appeal the decision, within the remaining days of the Donald Trump presidency. Joe Biden has previously described Assange as close “to being a high-tech terrorist” on ABC News 19 Dec 2010.
The US Espionage Act is still there as a threat to journalists, and the UK Secrets Act as a threat to freedom of speech.
Extradition is in the same league as the European Arrest Warrant and both need reassessment.
The application for bail will be considered on Wednesday 6th Jan 2021.
6:10 p.m. Fiona Bruce, the BBC Newsreader, introduced the news item about the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine thus: “Well, there has been some good news today. The Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is now being administered.” [her emphasis]. Does this suggest that the Julian Assange decision might not be included in ‘good news’? No doubt the BBC will defend itself by claims of impartiality, but Freudian slips are common enough.
6:45 p.m. the judgment is long, but the sections relevant to the judge’s ultimate decision are 278, 279, 295, 305, 316, 318, 319, 337, 346, 355, 363, 410.
363. “I find that the mental condition of Mr. Assange is such that it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America.”Judge Vanessa Baraitser. Section 363 of her judgment.
However, it is quite unjust that a Christian who would not contemplate suicide would not have this defence against extradition. Relying too heavily on the risk of suicide simply increases the use of this defence among prisoners in the future. The other issues raised by investigative journalists are more weighty and the judgment in this respect is of great concern.
“Justice delayed is justice denied.”
The timeline thus far.
6 Jan 2020: as expected, the judge has refused bail to Julian Assange on account of his going to ‘extraordinary’ lengths to avoid extradition in the past and his previous jumping bail and seeking refuge in the Ecuadorial Embassy in London for seven years. In that case Assange sought political asylum, which is a political right. Mexico has now offered him political asylum. Some view the London judgment as supporting the American Espionage Act, which they claim criminalises investigative journalism.
It highlights the whole issue of detention without trial of an unconvicted person, contrary to habeus corpus that was sidelined during the UK’s time in the EEC and the European Union.
The easiest way for the USA and all concerned to save face in this impasse is for US President Donald Trump to drop the extradition case. On the one hand commentators opposing the USA say that Assange faces 175 years in a top-security US prison, which has supported his mental health defence, while others seeking to minimise this defence have said that in practice he would face 5-6 years. If so, then he has already lost his liberty for longer than this, and what further purpose is incarceration supposed to accomplish? This is unchristian behaviour.
20 Jan 2021: even the courageous and maverick US President Donald Trump could not find it in his heart to drop the extradition case, but pardoned 73 others on his last day in office.
28 Jan 2021: Trump let Julian Assange down.
17 Feb 2021: the law of extradition is being tested in the Harry Dunn-Ann Sacoolas case. US citizen Sacoolas fled from Britain and resisted British jurisdiction for a crime on British soil and the US administration refused the UK request for her extradition. In recent developments that may allow a trial on US soil, the “British government takes the view that British citizens can bring their case in whichever court they think appropriate.” This in interesting. My contention against the laws of extradition is that it is contrary to natural justice to expect a defendant to defend themselves in a foreign jurisdiction. It is more appropriate in international cases that the defendant should be able to choose the jurisdiction in which to defend themselves. The same applies to the European Arrest Warrant.