Day One of the US Appeal for Assange’s Extradition Hearing
(Not really ready for prime time...)
First, some background: on Oct. 22 Joe Lauria at Consortiumnews.org had reported:
‘Chief Justice of England & Wales, Who Blocked Lauri Love Extradition, Joins Bench for Assange Hearing’; The most senior judge in England and Wales, who let activist Lori Love evade extradition to the U.S. on humanitarian grounds, will join Lord Justice Timothy Holroyde at the U.S. appeal hearing against Julian Assange next week.’
No one in the comments had asked how it works with an even number of judges works in their system. No tie-breaking vote?
“Instead they recommended that Love be tried in the United Kingdom on charges of hacking into U.S. government computers. (The U.S. then dropped the charges.) Unlike Love, Assange is accused of no crimes in Britain. But like Love, he has been deemed (by the magistrate’s court) at high risk of suicide if he were to be extradited to the United States.”
Oscar Grenfell at wsws.org in his Oct. 22 ‘Press freedom groups call for charges against Assange to be dropped ahead of US appeal’, a few outtakes:
“The statement, delivered last week to Biden’s Attorney General Merrick Garland, reflects the widespread popular opposition to the attempt to prosecute Assange in the United States for exposing US-led war crimes, surveillance operations and global diplomatic intrigues.
It also expresses the increasingly crisis-ridden state of the US campaign against Assange, which is widely viewed as an assault on core civil liberties. This is even more so since revelations last month of gangster-like plans by the Trump administration and CIA to kidnap or kill the Australian journalist while he was a political refugee in Ecuador’s London embassy.” [snip]
“The same coalition appealed to the Biden administration to end legal action against Assange shortly after Biden’s inauguration, but the request was rebuffed in another demonstration of the bipartisan character of the assault on Assange, WikiLeaks and democratic rights more broadly. The Democrat administration has not only continued the vendetta against Assange, but has played the lead role in crafting an appeal aimed at securing his dispatch to the US and life imprisonment.”
(Vault 7 Frenzy):
The documents exposed the agency’s vast cyberwarfare capacities, including its extensive use of malware, and capabilities to place “tell-tale” markers on its own hacks, aimed at ascribing them to foreign powers such as Russia and Iran. “Vault 7” demonstrated that the CIA was engaged in mass surveillance, including through smart phones and televisions, and was discussing the development of capabilities to remotely take over the computing systems of modern cars.” [long snip]
“Despite the complete exposure of the US case as a frame-up and a dirty-tricks operation, the record of the British judiciary means there can be no confidence that it will reject the US appeal when it is heard on October 27 and 28.”
Don't really understand what the U.S. plans to argue tomorrow? I put together a guide. https://t.co/7D1Kx3s3Ey
— Kevin Gosztola (@kgosztola) October 26, 2021
...or the 49 min video:
Previewing The US Appeal Hearing In The Assange Extradition Case https://t.co/LsDxQnzztb
— Kevin Gosztola (@kgosztola) October 26, 2021
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is in Belmarsh high-security prison, where he has been in custody since he was expelled from Ecuador embassy in April 2019. The district judge denied his release two days after blocking extradition due to his mental health.
Kevin is Tweeting up a storm; I’ll hit a few of the biggies, you can click in and read more, add what you’d like.
Programming note—After court proceedings wrap, at 12 pm ET/5 pm London Time I'll go live with a report on Day 1 of the appeal hearing in the extradition case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
— Kevin Gosztola (@kgosztola) October 27, 2021
Back from lunch. James Lewis begins by addressing the issue of "assurances" not being offered before the judge ruled against the extradition request. Lewis says assurances are not "fresh evidence" and can be given at any stage.
James Lewis: Position always was there was no real risk Assange would be held in SAMs or ADX Florence. "Issue of assurances only arisen because of the judge’s conclusions." That precipitated the requirement to give the "assurances."
We've moved on to Ground 3 of the appeal, which exclusively deals with seeking to discredit Professor Michael Kopelman.
Lewis says Assange went to extraordinary length to avoid extradition to United States. Went to Ecuador embassy and stayed for 7 years. "Those conditions were absolutely dire." He only "left when he was forced to do so by the Metropolitan Police."
Lewis continues that #Assange was adept at breaching protection by Ecuador. Hosted chat show on RT and assisted "Eric Snowden" in his flight from the United States.
For those interested, Assange is still following along, though he appears very tired with his head resting on his hand.
Lewis' objection to the judge is that she did not weigh facts presented in observations from their preferred doctors in manner that was more favorable to the US government. And the problem with that is the judge is entitled to determine which facts are most important
Let's be clear: An appeal hearing is not supposed to be a do-over for the prosecution, where they get to have another go at convincing judges that certain facts should persuade them. It's supposed to be focused on issues involving the law or court procedures.
US government insisted Assange had, as the judge acknowledged, a "strong incentive to feign or exaggerate his symptoms and that there was suspicion surrounding reports that he read scientific journals including the British Medical Journal (the BMJ)." They persist with this view.
We're building to a possible outcome where the justices on the High Court agree with the Crown prosecutors that not enough weight was given to other psychiatrists & when considering their observations extradition should've been granted. Which then Assange appeals to Supreme Court
Potentially important exchange with the Chief Justice, who points to how the judge said Kopelman was misleading but it did not mislead her. He says if accepted then the criminal procedure rules would allow experts to mislead the court, which Lewis agrees.
Fitzgerald counters that Nigel Blackwood, a psych favored by prosecutors, actually got it wrong as to why Assange was put into health care unit. He discussed suicidal thoughts with an officer and was moved on May 18, 2019. But Blackwood said had nothing to do with health care.
James Lewis discusses the Lauri Love case and says, "This was not a pure suicide case." The High Court made a "judgment on the combined factors of vulnerability - Asperger's, eczema, and asthma, which would be exacerbated by suicide watch."
One of the justices says it is possible he wouldn't even be sentenced at all, if not convicted. Then Lewis presents a rosy but improbable scenario where defense "apply for speedy trial" (?), challenge prosecution on First Amendment grounds, and Assange goes free.
To give you a sense of James Lewis' dense legal argument: "If on same factual matrix it would be impossible for there to be breach of Article 3 particularly when there is no ADX or SAMs, it’s very difficult to see there could ever be a breach of section 91.
James Lewis says US government must be allowed to impose SAMs to protect against a breach of national security. If not, that would give Assange a "blank check to do whatever he liked, and those conditions could not be imposed."
James Lewis: "Once conditions of SAMs and ADX Florence are removed, once there is assurance of appropriate medical care, once it is clear he will be repatriated to Australia to serve any sentence, then we can safely say" judge would not have ruled against Assange's extradition.
Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights is being raised by James Lewis. However, Assange's legal team did not highlight the inhumanity of US jails or prisons under Article 3. They did so under extradition law, which subsequently led to the judge's decision.
Stella Moris had put this on her Twitter account: US v Julian Assange David Rovics Behind these Prison Walls!