Last April the US submitted a request to the UK to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is charged with 17 Espionage Act offenses, and 1 count of conspiracy to commit computer crime (for allegedly attempting to protect a source’s anonymity). He risks a possible 175 years prison sentence.
The full extradition hearing is set to begin in London on 24th February 2020, for one week, then to resume for three weeks on May 18th 2020.
See USA vs Julian Assange extradition hearing Part 1 24-28 Feb for a page specifically dedicated to the first part of the extradition hearing.
Wikileaks founder and journalist Julian Assange is held at Belmarsh high-security prison in London, since April 2019 when Ecuador terminated the political asylum granted to him in 2012 under Correa's presidency, rendered him to the UK authorities and the USA officially requested to the UK his extradition for trial. Indeed after years of investigation by a secret grand jury in the USA, paralleled by multiparty political persecution which severely damaged his body and mind, Julian Assange is now charged in the USA with 17 Espionage Act offenses, and 1 count of conspiracy to commit computer crime for allegedly attempting to protect a source’s anonymity - totaling a possible 175 years prison sentence.
The charges all relate to Wikileaks journalistic activities of publishing authentic information in the interest of the public, many times in collaboration with other news outlets. Specifically in this case, the charges relate to the publishing by Wikileaks of documents transmitted by ex-army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, revealing US war crimes in Irak and Afghanistan.
Hence the charges basically equate journalism and truthtelling to treason, when in fact the duty of journalists, whistleblowers, activists, citizens, is to the people, not to the power.
This first use ever of the 1917 Espionage Act against a publisher makes Julian Assange the unwilling sacrificial frontperson of an unprecedented attack on the free press, and on democracy. It comes in the context of a larger crackdown on freedom, human rights, and globalized abuse of the living planet.
To let this extradition and prosecution happen would inaugurate an era darker than we know.
Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg reacts to the indictment saying espionage charges against Assange are the most significant attack on the press since the Pentagon Papers
See also In Defense of Julian Assange
Extradition treaty between the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America
Jeremy Corbyn praises Julian Assange and calls for extradition to US to be halted. The prime minister Boris Johnson acknowledged: “To be frank, I think Mr Corbyn has a point in his characterisation of our extradition arrangements with the United States and I do think there are elements of that relationship that are imbalanced. I certainly think it is worth looking at.”
High-ranking CIA agent Anne Sacoolas is charged with killing a teenage British citizen. While the US demands Julian Assange’s extradition, it refuses to give up its spy.
A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman has said the Queen will not intervene to release Julian Assange, vowing to remain “non-political.” The statement seemingly confirms that Assange’s detention is a political, not criminal, matter.
1. Client-lawyer confidentiality breached
2. The initial charge is flawed
3. Initial charge relies on co-operation from Manning
4. Additional charges raised by the US are political
5. US legal precedent argues that Assange’s work is protected by the US Constitution
6. Threats of violence against Assange mean he’s unable to receive a fair trial
“ Among other matters of importance in which I took an active part, but which excited little interest in the public, two deserve particular mention. I joined with several other independent Liberals in defeating an Extradition Bill introduced at the very end of the session of 1866, and by which, though surrender avowedly for political offences was not authorized, political refugees, if charged by a foreign Government with acts which are necessarily incident to all attempts at insurrection, would have been surrendered to be dealt with by the criminal courts of the Governments against which they had rebelled : thus making the British Government an accomplice in the vengeance of foreign despotisms”
John Stuart Mill (Autobiography), quoted by Naomi Colvin in the 36C3 talk The case against WikiLeaks
Judge De la Mata questioned Assange after sending a European Investigation Order (EIO) on September 25 requesting assistance from British authorities. As part of the request, the judge said that David Morales, owner of UC Global SL, “invaded the privacy of Assange and his lawyers by placing microphones inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London without consent from the affected parties.” The request also stated that the information thus collected was distributed to other people and institutions, including “authorities from Ecuador and agents from the United States.”
According to the evidence provided by the witnesses – videos, audio tapes and dozens of emails the spying operation was intensive. Under Morales’s express orders, the security team photographed the passports of all of Assange’s visitors, took apart their cellphones, downloaded content from their iPads, took notes and put together reports on each meeting.
The three witness statements all spoke of the phrases Morales used with his most-trusted workers in reference to the alleged collaboration with the US secret service: “We are playing in the first division,” “I have gone to the dark side,” “Those in control are the American friends,” “The American client,” “The American friends are asking me to confirm,” “The North American will get us a lot of contracts around the world,” and “US intelligence.” The obsession over any Russian visit or sign of a link between Assange and Russia was also reflected in the photographs that were taken of the passport visas of some visitors.
A few days before Christmas, Julian Assange testified to a Spanish court that a Spanish security company, UC Global S.L., acting in coordination with the CIA, illegally recorded all his actions and conversations, including with his lawyers, and streamed them back in real time to the CIA. He will, at the end of February, make a similar complaint to a British extradition court about the CIA’s alleged misbehavior.
Will such misbehavior, if proven, set Assange free?
The Daniel Ellsberg case may be instructive. You may recall that after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the “Pentagon Papers” case, Ellsberg was indicted under the Espionage Act for leaking Pentagon documents to The New York Times and The Washington Post.
After the trial commenced in San Francisco, it was brought to the judge’s attention that the “White House plumbers” broke into the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist. Based on that information and other complaints of government misbehavior, including the FBI’s interception of Ellsberg’s telephone conversations with a government official, Judge William Matthew Byrne decided that the case should be dismissed with prejudice because the government acted outrageously.
For similar reasons, the case against Assange should be dismissed, if it reaches the U.S. courts.
The usual remedy for warrantless surveillance is to exclude any illegally obtained information from the trial, but that remedy is inapplicable here. The government’s advantage in surveilling Assange is not the acquisition of tangible evidence but, rather, intangible insights into Assange’s legal strategy. There is no way, therefore, to give Assange a fair trial, since his opponents will know every move he will make.
When Assange begins his extradition hearing, this will be part of his argument — that the CIA’s misbehavior violates his human rights by depriving him of his right to a fair trial.