Judge Beyotch Baraitser refuses to delay Assange’s hearing over coronavirus pandemic

I’ll do this by Storify, as I can’t get into the Washington Times; perhaps you can.

@bossi_jennifer Replying to @wikileaks

"They made it. Got rid of the global protests, lockdown. Now they can carry on their s***show without us interfering..they wish. Are we bothering about lockdown rules if it comes to this: a matter of freedom for JA, for all? Getting yet, what this is ppl?"

From computer weekly, sorry I hadn't had time to unwind any of this last night:

'Barrister Edward Fitzgerald, representing Assange, said his lawyers had been unable to communicate with their client or take instructions from Assange since before the lockdown.
“It is an exceptional situation we find ourselves in. We cannot do justice to Mr Assange if the case goes ahead in May,” he told the court.

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser said that the case should be heard quickly and that the second part of Assange’s extradition hearing was still five weeks away.

“It is my current contention to hear as much of this case as possible in May. Mr Assange is in custody, there is some urgency for this to be heard,” she said.

Lawyers presented arguments by telephone

The 7 April hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court took place under conditions of lockdown in a sparsely populated court room.

Assange, who is being held at Belmarsh Prison, was unable to attend the hearing through video link because of Covid-19 restrictions. Lawyers and many journalists dialled into the hearing by phone.

Fitzgerald told the court that Assange’s legal team had been unable to discuss the case with Assange, either by phone or video link, since before the coronavirus lockdown.

Extradition should be delayed to September

Fitzgerald argued that extradition should be delayed until September to allow Assange to participate in the proceedings and to prepare a defence. “We say the only way he could have a fair hearing is to be present in court, and to see the witnesses,” he added.

The Magistrates’ Court has no provision for live streaming. If there are witnesses being heard by video link, it would not be possible for Assange to see or hear what is going on in court unless he could attend in person, the court was told.

He added that going ahead with the case during the lockdown would interfere with the principles of open justice. “There are real issues of open justice. It is impossible to see a situation in May where the press and public can be present,” he said.

James Lewis, representing the US government, said that he was neutral on when the hearing took place. “We recognise there are considerable difficulties for defence, and considerable practical difficulties,” he said.

Assange considers judicial review to protect identity of partner

Mark Summers QC, representing Assange, asked the court to continue reporting restrictions to protect the identity of Assange’s partner, who had given a witness statement in support of an application to release him on bail.

Fitzgerald earlier told the court that Assange’s partner was at risk of harassment, and that the court should consider the privacy of her two young children who were not yet at school. The judge said that there was a strong public interest in contemporaneous reporting of extradition hearings.

Fitzgerald pointed to evidence that the US attempted to take a DNA sample from one of the children’s nappies, but Baraitser said that evidence had not been tested in court.

“There is no evidence before court that any US agency intends harm to Assange’s partner,” she said. “The evidence provided by the witness is the sort routinely provided by a witness in application of bail. In my judgement, the balance falls in favour of open justice.”

The judge gave Assange’s legal team until 4pm on 14 April to lodge a judicial review, otherwise reporting and anonymity restrictions would be lifted.

The court has scheduled an administrative hearing at Belmarsh for 22 April to give Assange a chance to instruct his lawyers. The hearing is “in the hope that, during that morning, additional instructions can be heard from Assange”, Baraitser said.”

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wendy davis's picture

tonight la luna bella is full, and will shine pink.

for julian and his partner, whomsoever and wherever she may be:

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Roy Blakeley's picture

I suppose Julian's people have to do the best they can, to at least expose the injustice and hypocrisy of the security-establishment-controlled legal system, but we should not delude ourselves into believing there is a chance that he will be treated fairly. They are simply trying to kill him as an example of what can happen to anyone who dares challenge our lords and masters.

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wendy davis's picture

@Roy Blakeley

We can not expect judges to be just.

not lady emma arbuthnot earlier, married to Tory MP Lord Arbuthnot, nor Vanessa Baraitser, who's being overseen by...arbuthnot.

but kick in the ass to me was this, and sorry i hadn't had the time to unwind any of the links last night:

James Lewis, representing the US government, said that he was neutral on when the hearing took place. “We recognise there are considerable difficulties for defence, and considerable practical difficulties,” he said.

and still, baraitser's got her fascist marching orders. what was it mafia don pompeo ha called wikileaks? worse than 'a hostile intelligence service', but that's as close as i can come.

i hadn't even checked mama assange's twitter account...

thanks, roy. his attorneys are epic, dedicated, resourceful, and indomitable, aren't they?

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Shahryar's picture

someone pulls frog's legs off for fun? Or uses a magnifying glass to burn ants? Or uses human skin for a lampshade?

I think they do care about Assange's health in the same malevolent way.

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wendy davis's picture

@Shahryar

thank you; at least tears bring endorphins. last night my rage was so strong i was committing thought crimes a la bruce cockburn:

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wendy davis's picture

she's fightin' mad, and good on her!

@MrsC_Assange 11h

Who is Magistrate Vanessa Baraister hearing the US Extradition of my son journalist Julian Assange?
We dont know
Background scrubbed

But we know who supervises her
Lady Emma Arbuthnot

Forced to step down from hearing it herself when her defence/intel connections were exposed!

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wendy davis's picture

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