Julian’s Extradition Show Trial Resumed on Monday Sept. 21 [Updated]
with reports from Tues. and Wed.
‘Explosive evidence from Trump insider, Assange dragged from embassy “on the orders of the president”, Laura Tiernan and Thomas Scripps, 22 September 2020, wsws.org (with permission & my bolds)
“Alt-right media personality Cassandra Fairbanks’ witness testimony was read out in court yesterday, providing evidence that Julian Assange’s April 2019 arrest at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London was politically motivated and directed by United States President Donald Trump.
Fairbanks testified that Arthur Schwartz, a wealthy Republican Party donor and key Trump ally, had told her that Assange was taken from the Ecuadorian Embassy “on orders from the president.” The conversation between Schwartz and Fairbanks occurred in September 2019 and was recorded by Fairbanks.
Schwartz, a frequent visitor to the White House and “informal adviser” or “fixer” to Donald Trump Jr., told Fairbanks the president’s orders were conveyed via US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, who brokered a deal with the Ecuadorian government for Assange’s removal. Grenell was appointed acting director of national intelligence by Trump in February this year, holding the position until May.
Assange’s lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald QC, spelled out the significance of Fairbanks’ disclosures, telling Judge Vanessa Baraitser they were, “evidence of the declared intentions of those at the top who planned the prosecution and the eviction from the embassy.”
Fairbanks, who writes for the pro-Trump Gateway Pundit, is a prominent Assange supporter who visited the WikiLeaks founder at the Embassy on two key occasions. Her evidence was read into proceedings yesterday afternoon unopposed, with Fitzgerald explaining, “My learned friend [James Lewis QC for the prosecution] reserves the right to say ‘because she’s a supporter of Julian Assange you must take that into account in weighing her evidence.’ But we say [her evidence] is true.”
Given her close connections to leading figures in the Trump administration’s fascistic entourage, Fairbanks is uniquely positioned to expose key aspects of the politically motivated vendetta against the WikiLeaks founder. Throughout the extradition hearing, lawyers for the US government have repeatedly claimed the charges against Assange under the Espionage Act are motivated by “criminal justice concerns” and are “not political.”
Fairbanks’ evidence shreds the official narrative of the Department of Justice (DoJ) that Assange was arrested on April 11, 2019 in relation to “hacking.” In a phone call with Schwartz on October 30, 2018, he made clear that Assange would be arrested as political payback for his role in “the Manning case,” i.e., the disclosure by US Army whistle-blower Chelsea Manning of US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“He also told me that they would be going after Chelsea Manning,” Fairbanks recalled of her October 2018 phone conversation with Schwartz. This was one of several predictions by the Trump insider that were soon confirmed (Manning was re-arrested in March 2019), with Fairbanks concluding, “He knew very specific details about a future prosecution [of Assange] … that only those close to the situation then would have known.”
Fairbanks’ testimony provided chilling evidence of plans by the Trump administration to impose the death penalty. In his October 2018 phone call with Fairbanks, Schwartz said Assange would “probably” only serve life in prison, but went on to qualify this, “He told me that the US government has said they will not pursue the death penalty, something that would have prevented the UK and Ecuador from extraditing him here.”
Less than six months later, just hours after Assange’s seizure from the embassy, Fairbanks again messaged Schwartz to ask if he “knew anything.” “He responded with a series of messages about how Assange deserved a lethal injection and how both he and Manning should die in prison.” Further, “He sent me lots of messages about how everyone involved with WikiLeaks deserved the death penalty. I noted in our conversation that it had been reported that Grenell only got a verbal agreement that there would be no death penalty, nothing in writing. Schwartz’s response to this was to send me a shrug emoji and he continued his tirade about how Assange deserved to die.”
On January 7, 2019, Fairbanks travelled to London to warn Assange of US plans to seize him from the embassy and have him extradited to the US. They discussed quietly, Assange using “a little radio to cover up the conversation.” They exchanged written notes.
Fairbanks’ testimony recounts the extraordinary measures they faced during a second two-hour visit on March 25. She was left alone in a cold room for a full hour, while Assange was kept outside and subjected to a “full body scan with a metal detector” before being let in. The pair had only two minutes to talk. Fairbanks is later made to understand the reason for this aborted visit after Schwartz “called and informed me that he knew I had told Assange” during the earlier visit.
Fairbanks’ testimony provides insight into the criminal underworld surrounding the White House. After Trump fires National Security Adviser John Bolton and Grenell’s name is floated as a replacement, Fairbanks tweets about his involvement in Assange’s arrest, which elicits a “frantic” call from Schwartz. “He was ranting and raving that he could go to jail and that I was tweeting ‘classified information’… Schwartz informed me that in coordinating for Assange to be removed from the embassy, Grenell had done so on ‘direct orders from the president’” and that “other persons who Schwartz said might also be affected included individuals who he described as ‘lifelong friends’.”
These individuals included Grenell and Las Vegas Sands boss and long-time Trump ally Sheldon Adelson.”
They then describe Monday’s morning session at length with testimony by ‘Professor Christian Grothoff of the Bern University of Applied Sciences testified to the chronology of events leading up to the bulk release of unredacted US State Department cables in September 2011. He is a computer scientist with experience reporting on the Edward Snowden revelations. His evidence demolished the prosecution’s claim that Assange and WikiLeaks were responsible for this mass disclosure.’
Again, the rest is here.
Tuesday: ‘US Prosecution Accuses Assange Of Exaggerating Symptoms Of Depression’, Sept.22, 2020, Kevin Gosztola, shadowproof.com (my bolds; nothing is labeled by copyright, so it’s unclear how much I can use, but there IS a donate button…)
“During the extradition trial for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, James Lewis, the lead prosecutor, strongly suggested Assange reads the British Medical Journal to help him exaggerate his psychiatric symptoms. He speculated that Assange consulted his attorneys on how to effectively deceive doctors.
Lewis also repeatedly pressured a forensic psychiatrist, who took the witness stand in the Old Bailey Courthouse, to alter his diagnosis of Assange to match the prosecution’s view of Assange’s health. […]
Professor Michael Kopelman first met with Assange on May 30, 2019, and has visited with Assange numerous times during his detention at the Belmarsh high-security prison. He offered testimony on Assange’s clinical depression and the risk of suicide if Assange is extradited to the United States.
Kopelman told Lewis Assange reads the British Medical Journal “because he’s very preoccupied by his state of health.” He is a “little bit hypochondriacal.”
Around the one-year anniversary of Assange’s arrest, Stella Morris revealed to the press that she was Assange’s partner, and they had two children while he was living in the embassy.
Kopelman prepared two reports that included quotes from a visit with Morris, and Lewis brashly objected to the psychiatrist’s decision to withhold personal information about Morris’ relationship with Assange from the first report. […]
“Lewis scolded Kopelman, arguing he had a duty to the court that overrode not “embarrassing” Assange. It did not matter if he wanted to be sensitive to Morris’ privacy and keep it “confidential.”
In Lewis’ view, it was crucially important for Judge Vanessa Baraitser to know about Morris and his children because it could be a key “protective factor against suicide.” (Kopelman noted married people commit suicide too, and there may not be much difference at all. It’s a myth.)
Assange’s depressive state was especially severe in December 2019 and then it became moderately severe in February and March of this year, according to Kopelman. But the lockdown at Belmarsh during the pandemic led to a regression for several months.
He is apparently reluctant to “volunteer” statements to prison medical staff about his health. He drafted farewell letters to family and friends, drawn up a will, and even engaged in confession with a Catholic priest, which Kopelman documented as signs of potential suicide risk.
Assange was held in isolating confinement conditions at Belmarsh for a period, but Kopelman argued the “isolation he would experience in North America would be far worse than anything experienced in the embassy or Belmarsh.”
“If extradition became imminent,” it would be the “trigger to a suicide attempt,” Kopelman declared.
Assange was greatly concerned about Chelsea Manning, the source of documents published by WikiLeaks, which are the focus of this case. Manning was held at Alexandria Detention Center when she resisted a grand jury subpoena and attempted suicide right before she was released. This is where Assange is likely to be held in pretrial confinement.” […]
“Lewis attacked [United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils] Melzer’s work on the Assange case as “palpable nonsense” that was “neither balanced or accurate.” He pushed Kopelman to distance himself from Melzer’s conclusions, even though it was not an “important factor” in his conclusions.
Finally, it became exceptionally petty, even for the U.S. government, as Lewis asked if his depression “prevented Mr. Assange’s solicitation or leaking of material from the U.S. government.”
Lewis pressed Kopelman on whether it was severe enough to affect his public speaking or coordination with media outlets nearly a decade ago. His mental health did not prevent him from “doing a chat show” for Russia Today, he added.”
May I also recommend, in the spirit of Aussie Assange attorney Jennifer Robinson who'd noted that it was ironic that these final extradition hearings had been moved to the Old Bailey, as it used to be that justice was not only been served there, but had been seen to have been served. there.
From IMDB: ‘Garrow’s Law’ (a BBC production) is the true tale of William Garrow(1760-1840) , who acted as counsel for the accused, introducing the concept of ‘innocent until proved guilty‘ at London’s Old Bailey. That may be so, but by my lights, he’d shown that defendants were entitled to most vigorous defenses, which mooted much of the power of the Court Judge.
Also: ‘Thirteen former national presidents demand an end to the British show-trial of Julian Assange’, Oscar Grenfell, 22 September 2020, wsws.org
“A group of 161 prominent international political figures, including thirteen former national presidents, past prime ministers and current or retired members of national parliaments, have announced their opposition to the British extradition show-trial of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange and have joined demands for his immediate freedom.
The politicians who have taken up this demand include José Luis Zapatero, prime minister of Spain (2004–11), Alberto Fernández, president of Argentina (2019–), Dilma Rousseff, president of Brazil (2011–16), Evo Morales Ayma, president of Bolivia (2006–19), Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, president of Brazil (2003–10), Rafael Correa, president of Ecuador (2007–17), Kevin Rudd, prime minister of Australia (2007–10 and 2013) and Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the British Labour Party (2015–2020).”
Via KevinGosztola on Twitter, it seems that today is medical testimony about Assange, both from the prosecution and the defense. I admit that I’m eager to hear if Baraitser will allow Andy Worthington to appear when he can manage to be there. As you likely know, he’d worked with Julian on the Gitmo files in defense of his clients.
(sorry for typos; my eyes are misbehaving badly today.)
It's hard to imagine I can come back until late afternoon as my RL obligations are backed up big-time. In the meantime, please add to the discussion at will, add links including to other coverage, Tweets, and yes, even long videos that I'm unable to handle, but others may love.
(cross-posted from Café Babylon)