Day 3 of Julian Assange’s Extradition Hearing

‘Assange blasts court for preventing communication with lawyers, alleges legal team is being SPIED on’, RT.com, 26 Feb, 2020

On the third day of his extradition hearing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has rebuked the court for preventing him from communicating with his legal team, saying his prosecutors have “100 times more contact hours each day.”

Amid a prosecution argument about whether or not he stands charged with “political offenses” Assange stood and told the court that the problem is I cannot participate, I cannot privately communicate with my lawyers.” 

Judge Vanessa Baraitser responded to the 48-year-old journalist and publisher by saying she would not allow him to address the court: “Mr Assange, generally defendants do not have a voice.”

The Australian continued to try and get his point across so the magistrate adjourned the court for five minutes while the defense team held a ‘private’ meeting.” [snip]

There is already enough spying on my lawyers as it is. There are a number of unnamed embassy officials here. There are two microphones in here. What’s the point of asking if I can concentrate if I can’t participate?

“I am as much a participant in these proceedings as I am at Wimbledon,” Assange wistfully joked while alleging that there was a microphone in the glass defendants dock.

The judge then asked whether they would like to submit a formal bail application to make that a reality. The defense team will now submit such a formal bail application and a decision will be made on Thursday morning. For the time being, Assange will remain in the dock away from his legal team.”

‘Julian Assange lawyers argue US charges are ‘purely political’; WikiLeaks founder likened to Alfred Dreyfus as QC argues extradition is prohibited’, Ben Quinn, theguardian.com, Feb. 26, 2020

“James Lewis QC, a barrister for the US authorities, said he would have no problem, for example, with Assange being allowed to sit in the well of the court handcuffed to a security official. However, he would oppose a bail application, which his counterpart had suggested he might do.

Judge Baraitser said that allowing Assange out of the dock was not a risk assessment she could make and questioned whether he would still technically be in custody if allowed out of the dock. Advice is to be sought overnight.

Earlier, Assange was likened to the Iraq war whistleblower Katharine Gun and the 19th-century French army officer Alfred Dreyfus as his lawyers argued that his extradition to the US should be prohibited.

A central plank of efforts to prevent him from being sent for trial in the US was laid out on the third day of hearings at Woolwich crown court, where Fitzgerald said the US-UK extradition treaty expressly ruled out extradition for political offences.” [snip]

“Prosecutors say Assange’s case is covered only by the Extradition Act 2003, which makes no exception for political offences.”

Oddly, the link to the Extradition Act 2003 has been removed since this morning.

‘Assange detention illegal under English, European and international law, defense argues’ 26 Feb, 2020, RT.com

“Day three of the Julian Assange extradition hearing is focusing on whether the allegations against Assange amount to “political offenses.” If so, it would likely be outside of the judge’s jurisdiction to approve extradition.

Kicking off proceedings at Woolwich Crown Court on Wednesday, defense counsel Edward Fitzgerald argued that 17 of the 18 counts with which the WikiLeaks founder has been charged fall under the US Espionage Act, which makes them political on face value. He added that the 18th count, of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, was in order to carry out the other alleged offenses.”

Quoting QC Fitzgerald at length:

It is an essential fundamental protection, which the US puts in every single one of its extradition treaties.  Political defence from extradition goes back 100 years and is standard in treaties based on the UN model, including the European Union convention on extradition, the Interpol convention and many others. 

The more we research this, the more one sees this is a universal norm, and that while the US adds the ‘political defense’ extradition provision into all of its treaties, authorities there only take issue when it is invoked against them, despite using it to protect US citizens from extradition to hostile nations.” [snip]

“Presiding judge Vanessa Baraitser said during the close of Tuesday’s proceedings that, although Article 4.1 of the US/UK Extradition Treaty cited does forbid political extraditions, this does not, in fact, appear in the UK Extradition Act – the only legal document which has force in court.

Picking up that point on Wednesday, Fitzgerald argued that international human rights law provides jurisdiction for an abuse of process argument under Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which prohibits arbitrary detention.

However, the judge stated that the defense must establish whether Assange’s detention is unlawful under English law, not international law.

(the rest of Fitzgerald’s nuanced arguments are here)

Kevin Gosztola’s recap of Day 3, about 18 mins.

Defend.wikileaks.org doesn’t have Day 3 up yet.

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Comments

WaterLily's picture

WTAF?!

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wendy davis's picture

@WaterLily

sit down and STFU. no excited utterances!

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I have no strong opinion on this, and my belief is always in the presumption of innocence. But am I alone in noting some irony in JA asserting that it's wrong for his private communications be intercepted and heard by unintended listeners? Not the strongest argument to turn to in his case, IMHO.

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"Fear is the mind-killer" - Frank Herbert, Dune

WaterLily's picture

@p gorden lippy n/t

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wendy davis's picture

@p gorden lippy

among his supporters you're alone in conflating julian's having published leaks...his and his visitors, attorneys, and being spied on by UC global in the ecuadorian embassy recorded by sound cameras, and now while in the dock.

yes. like this from his attorney jen robison:

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snoopydawg's picture

@p gorden lippy

Assange's private communications weren't intercepted. The USA hired a company to spy on every aspect of his life in the embassy including his conversations with his lawyers and when he was in the bathroom. Every. Aspect.

How you can think that's okay because Assange wrote about what whistleblowers sent him is beyond comprehension. This country is supposed to give whistleblowers protections from you know blowing the whistle on government wrongdoing and crimes.

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America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

@p gorden lippy not be the same for Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers? How about the break in to his shrink's office, would that be OK because he had essentially leaked documents to an unintended audience so it was OK to leak his psychiatric records to whoever wanted to read them? So then, in Daniel's case, if he released documents showing government malfeasance, to put it lightly, he would not be entitled to an actual legal defense as to why he did what he did? I'm not explaining it particularly well, but I think conflating Julian's motives to the US government openly spying on a legal defense team doesn't make much sense in reality, unless we're going to say that any leaker can no longer count on putting on an adequate defense, so guilty as charged and no legal recourse allowed? I'm not sure that's what the founders had in mind but hey, it's a brave new world now, screw that Bill of Rights and Constitution UNLESS that is used to defend the state, not the person being charged by the state and attempting to put on an actual defense to those charges, many of which are specious at best?

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Only a fool lets someone else tell him who his enemy is. Assata Shakur

@p gorden lippy The US might be the only country where you are presumed innocent. Everywhere else, at least as far as I know, forces the defendant to prove their innocence.

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wendy davis's picture

@on the cusp

A system cannot fail those who it was never built to protect.’

~ W.E.B. DuBois

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@p gorden lippy

Assange was letting the populace know what their rulers were up to. In democratic governments, the people have a right to know what is being done in their name, because in democracies, the people are the ultimate rulers. Demos = people. Cracy = rule.

Julian's personal life is no one else's business.

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Lurking in the wings is Hillary, like some terrifying bat hanging by her feet in a cavern below the DNC. A bat with theropod instincts. -- Fred Reed https://tinyurl.com/vgvuhcl

@p gorden lippy Right up there with the 'Collateral Murder' or GITMO cables?

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There is no honor among thieves.

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May we be united and strong -- laurel

wendy davis's picture

@QMS

although i'm not able to grasp this:

There is no honor among thieves.

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@wendy davis
by the thieving 'honorables'
in UK and US

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May we be united and strong -- laurel

wendy davis's picture

@QMS

thank you for explaining.

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wendy davis's picture

i'd just discovered thru jen robinson on twitter that defend.wikileaks.org is now up with:

USA v Julian Assange: Extradition Day 3

it opens with several of the treaty links i'll try to provide; i'd last the whole mess earlier:

"Article 4 of the 2003 treaty

https://fas.org/irp/world/uk/extradite.pdf

which was ratified in 2007, says, “Extradition shall not be granted if the offense for which extradition is requested is a political offense.”

But the US government claimed that the judge must rely on domestic UK law, rather than the international Treaty. Even if the offenses Assange is accused of in the extradition request are political, the prosecution said, “he is not entitled to derive any rights from the [US-UK Extradition] Treaty” because it has not been incorporated into domestic law.

The same year the Extradition Treaty was written, the UK Parliament passed the Extradition Act 2003,

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/41/contents

a UK domestic law that does not feature a bar to extradition for political offenses. But in 2007, the US-UK Extradition treaty was ratified in the United States, without removing the political offense exemption. “Both governments must therefore have regarded Article 4 as a protection for the liberty of the individual,” the defense argues, “whose necessity continues (at least in relations as between the USA and the UK).”

The US government claims that for the Treaty to take precedence over the domestic Act would deny Parliamentary sovereignty. “There’s no such thing as a political offense in ordinary English law,” the prosecution said, “it only arises in context of extradition.”

The defense fundamentally disagrees. “True the 2003 Extradition Act
itself provides no ‘political offence’ bar,” the defense says, “but authority establishes that it is the duty of the Court, not the executive, to ensure the legality of extradition under the terms of the Treaty. “

Defense lawyer Edward Fitzgerald QC says that the judge must take the political exemption into account, as extradition treaties for more than a century consistently feature such provisions. He also argued that the judge must consider Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights

https://defend.wikileaks.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/CETS_024.docx.pdf

and principles in the Magna Carta to resolve that the use of a political offense in this extradition request constitutes an abuse of process."

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wendy davis's picture

tonight's closing song will be for julian and chelsea from playing for change's 'world peace thru music'.

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