Judge: UK to imprison Julian Assange after his sentence ends

From defend.wikileaks on Sept. 19, 2019:

‘In a surprise “technical hearing” at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 13 September 2019, Julian Assange was told that he will continue to be detained at HMP Belmarsh to the United States’ extradition request even after his bail sentence ends on 22 September 2019.

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser, who will preside over Julian’s extradition hearing, told Assange, who appeared by video-link,

“You have been produced today because your sentence of imprisonment is about to come to an end. When that happens your remand status changes from a serving prisoner to a person facing extradition.”

The judge’s comments did not appear to be part of any formal ruling, as no bail application had yet been made.

Speaking to Assange, the judge also alleged, “I have given your lawyer an opportunity to make an application for bail on your behalf and she has declined to do so.”

In fact, as Julian Assange’s father John Shipton, who was in the courtroom, explained in an interview, the judge decided on her own to discuss Julian’s bail at what was supposed to be merely a “technical hearing.”

Judge Baraitser “decided to hear a bail application case which wasn’t before her,” Shipton said, “which she promptly refused.” When asked who brought the bail application, he said, “She made it herself.”

Assange himself was clearly caught off guard as well. When explicitly asked by the court if he understood these developments, Assange responded, “Not really. I’m sure the lawyers will explain it.

The surprise hearing is especially troubling given ongoing concerns over Julian Assange’s ability to defend himself against the United States’ extradition request, the trial for which is scheduled for February 2020. In response to the abrupt nature of the hearing, a member of the public has written an open letter to Westminster Magistrates Court calling for more transparency about their proceedings.

“Absconding” to asylum

The grounds for which Assange was preemptively denied bail are troubling as well. Judge Baraitser told him, “In my view I have substantial ground for believing if I release you, you will abscond again.” To describe Assange’s decision to request asylum from Ecuador and to stay in Ecuador’s Embassy in London since 2012 as him having “absconded” is to willfully ignore overwhelming evidence that Assange’s fears of political persecution were entirely well-founded.

Ecuador granted Assange asylum in 2012 explicitly because of the likelihood that he would otherwise be at serious risk of extradition to the United States, which has now realized Assange’s fears with an indictment threatening 175 years in prison for journalistic activity. The judge’s claim that Assange “absconded” further ignores the United Nations’ Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s multiple statements ruling that Assange has been arbitrarily detained.

Following Assange’s 50-week sentence on a bail violation conviction on 1 May 2019, the UN Working Group wrote that it was “deeply concerned about this course of action including the disproportionate sentence imposed on Mr. Assange.”

Continuing Assange’s solitary

Julian Assange is currently being held in solitary confinement at HMP Belmarsh. He remains in the health ward and is only transported in and out of his cell under so-called ‘controlled moves’, meaning the prison is locked down and hallways are cleared. Furthermore, the prison hasn’t delivered mail to him for over a month, and Julian is unable to call his parents or his US lawyer. Continuing to imprison him beyond his sentence furthers this inhumane treatment and should be condemned.

Labour MP Chris Williamson responded to the news on Twitter:

@DerbyChrisW   ‘Plans to hold Julian Assange in detention after his unjust sentence ends is an outrage.
Britain is increasingly behaving like a tin-pot dictatorship in its dealing with him. I’m raising his unjust treatment with the Home Sec#FreeJulianAssange https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-49689167 …

An administrative hearing in Assange’s case is scheduled for 11 October at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, and a status update hearing is scheduled for 21 October.’

On May 14 Oscar Grenfell at wsws.org had explained why the end of his sentence came on that day, rather than the full 50 weeks of his original sentence:

“Assange was convicted of absconding on bail, as a result of his application for political asylum, just hours after he was illegally expelled from Ecuador’s London embassy and arrested by the British police on April 11.

The British judge presiding over the hearing ignored the fact that Assange had forfeited the bail monies his supporters had paid; that he had spent close to seven years effectively detained by the British authorities in the small embassy building; and that his right to seek political asylum had been repeatedly upheld by United Nations’ bodies.

Assange was sentenced to 50 weeks. Under British legislation, the maximum sentence for a bail violation is 52 weeks. Those convicted of such an offence, however, are eligible for release after half of that time served.

Baraitser’s refusal to release Assange demonstrates the vindictive disregard of the British establishment for the warnings about his physical and mental health.”

‘Dedicated to David Allen Green, Joshua Rosenberg, Joan Smith, Hadley Freeman, Jess Phillips, David Aaronovitch and the entire staff of the Guardian/Observer’, 22 Sep, 2019, Ambassador Craig Murray

“As of today Julian Assange has finished his jail sentence for missing police bail. There is no Swedish charge or request for his extradition, those risibly flimsy sexual allegations no longer being needed by the state.

As of today, Julian Assange is in prison purely and simply for publishing secrets of the US state, revealing war crimes and the dirtiest of diplomacy. I should like to dedicate this post to all of those in the title and dozens of their colleagues in the British “liberal” establishment, all of whom claimed that Julian’s fears of being incarcerated in the UK or Europe facing extradition for publishing US secrets were entirely bogus and a mere pretext for hiding, and that this would never happen. Those of us who said this was a real fear and a real danger were, myself most definitely included, derided as fantasist, deluded, paranoid and conspiracy theorist.

So now Julian is a political prisoner, a journalist in a maximum security prison, probably for years, waiting for his case to be heard and extradition faced for the grievous crime of doing his job and publishing. While the British liberal establishment simply buries its nose in its perfumed handkerchief and pretends that the fear it derided as imaginary, has not come true.”

(cross-posted from Café Babylon)

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Shahryar's picture

...a chilling effect on any future whistleblower who sees wrongdoing

well maybe it's some other whistleblower she's talking about, one that fits her class better.

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wendy davis's picture

@Shahryar

but i'm not getting it. she isn't saying that in defense of julian assange's persecution and slow death in belmarsh gitmo? i do remember bernie sanders saying that he shouldn't be prosecuted under the espionage act (some cold comfort that drivel is)...

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Shahryar's picture

@wendy davis @wendy davis

says Trump said something to the Ukrainians. That's her idea of a whistleblower.

but yeah, I bet she would say that about Assange, hoping it would be chilling for the next person.

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wendy davis's picture

@Shahryar

i haven't kept up, have i? i saw on some site or other today that miz botox is looking into impeach trump (something-or-others). thanks for explaining to an out-of-touch thickwit.

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People get suicided in prisons. Uncle Sam enforces domestic laws on foreign entities. Like they have the upper hand in matters of human rights?

Does no one else notice the crimes being propagated in the 'land of the free' on behalf of the citizens by our authorities? World wide weakness.

Shizkers batman

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wendy davis's picture

@QMS

been accomplished by: sweden, ecuador (post-rafael correa who'd given him sanctuary to begin with), the UK, and amerika. ecuadorian president lenin moreno was bribed to hand him over with IMF loans and a memo of military understanding with the present administration. and of course scott morrison, australian PM could repatriate him, but no no no. another amerikan puppet client with bases for US war, inc.

all for publishing the truth.

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travelerxxx's picture

Someone please explain to me how Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, or Stalin's dictatorship would have acted differently than how the UK (at the behest of the United States government) is acting? Hell, at least Hitler bragged that he always followed the laws; the UK and Trump's government simply make it up on the fly.

Show trials, hearings, and falsified charges? Check.
Arbitrary rulings? Check.
Torture? Check.
Lapdog, sycophant press? Check.
High-level, scientific propaganda? Check.

Donald Trump could end this with one phone call or one Tweet. That he does not tells me all I need to know about him.

All these actions against Assange are the work of the most despicable, authoritarian despots and liars in the world today. They are well beyond evil.

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wendy davis's picture

@travelerxxx

evil in spades, as well as fascist. as is your entire bullet list of checks. thank you, buster keaton. it's all so infuriating and depressing, and most of us can aid his slo-mo death and medical torture in gitmo belmarsh at all.

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"Without the right to offend, freedom of speech does not exist." Taslima Nasrin

wendy davis's picture

@Fishtroller 02

amigo/a.

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WaterLily's picture

@wendy davis Disgusting, and infuriating. And the fact that we're powerless to effect a different outcome ...

F*CK.

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wendy davis's picture

@WaterLily

defend assange on twitter recommends:

sometimes it was send him mail; it's the highlight of his day (and his elaborate address at belmarsh gitmo) but..now? no mail? it's all so hard to bear.

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Shahryar's picture

the United States military is not used to defend the United States. It's purpose is to protect business interests. Similarly all laws are in place to protect those interests. They are arbitrary and subject to the needs of those interests.

Laws are not absolutes because a higher authority, which is as despotic as any in history, decides what is acceptable.

See "lenient sentences for elites". These are the dark ages. We can say these things here because we're kettled. If we were well-known and had millions of people listening we'd be dealt with.

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@Shahryar @Shahryar

Our kettle is tough. We see the system for what it is. Many many of us are angry to be represented by sociopaths. short futures dealing in lives lost.

Makes me mad in several ways

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wendy davis's picture

@Shahryar

my friend. and you reminds us again that war is a racket, but full hegemonic command-and-control is all that the western hegemon can allow. no sharing, no planetary cooperation, all is zero-sum.

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earthling1's picture

is in prison for reporting wrongdoing, we have no free press.
Just hacks. And none are to be believed ever again.
Their silence screams their names.

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After six years, still getting robo-calls from Marriot Hotels.
They're like herpes.

@earthling1

just ask Joe Pine
or George Carlin
Rowan and Martin
Smothers brothers
John Kennedy
John Lennon
Martin King
Bob Kennedy
and the millions of war dead

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wendy davis's picture

@earthling1

and corrupt 'journalists' (and i use the term in all it's past-orwellian irony).

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@earthling1 Just as Assange earlier helped free us of our illusions about American exceptionalism and a "Free Press." That only makes us stronger and able to think more clearly and speak for ourselves. Now, what do we do with our freedom?

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Assange is being tortured.
"our country" is responsible.

we must not let it go.

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wendy davis's picture

@irishking

and thanks for putting "our country" in quotation marks, as this is a full hegemonic and evil project.

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wendy davis's picture

depleted and exhausted. tonight's closing song's gotta be from the late, great, santee sioux AIM leader john trudell, who'd turned poison into medicine by some alchemy i cannae even begin grasp. blessings on you and buffy, john.

Some ones are crazy or
Maybe we take turns
Dreaming about some kind of life
We say it could have been different
But it wasn't because we weren't

Some things start good and go bad
Some things get bad and stay bad
Are we caught in between
Living a lie or not living at all

Eliminated choices
Lost in dreams we let go
Memories we never got to have
Something else to think about

g'night; it couldda been a better world.

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TheOtherMaven's picture

Who really won World War II, anyway?

Isn't this a lot like the real and practical results of the American Civil War? Lip service to ideals that are consistently and constantly violated and trampled in practice....

And why don't we ever learn?

Are we more stupid than yeast?

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There is no justice. There can be no peace.

@TheOtherMaven That question answers itself, I'm afraid.

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wendy davis's picture

@TheOtherMaven

the truth lost. yanno, 'the fog of war and all'? i'm guessin' you have an answer to propose. but referring to '5 eyes', i assume you mean the NSA five eyes nations?

civil war practical results: i don't expect you're thinkin' carpetbaggers, Nixon's southern strategy, nor why the war was fought (i've watched ome of those debates), are you? lincoln campaigning on banning slavery altogether, then winning? i should hush, having no idea where you're going.

but black people and first american people are still murdered by police with almost total impunity, at far higher rates per capita than anglos. at least bill 'broken windows policing' de blasio dropped out of the race for prez.

on edit: wish you'd come back to respond, but this a.m. i thought: the USSR lost 200 million citizens fighting the nazis, not that trump or obomba had even included putin in the remembrances of VE day, but NATO also won.

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wendy davis's picture

They’re Murdering My Son: Father of Julian Assange Tells of Pain and Anguish; John Shipton, the father of imprisoned whistleblower Julian Assange, says that if his son is extradited to the US, “They will murder Julian one way or the other.”
by Finian Cunninghan, mintpressnews.com, Sept. 25, 2019

“Julian Assange’s father, John Shipton, gave an interview to Strategic Culture Foundation over the weekend. After arriving from his home country of Australia, Shipton is visiting several European states, including Russia, to bring public attention to the persecution of Julian Assange by British authorities over his role as a publisher and author.”

i can't begin to imagine john's and christine's pain, dread, and terror. blessings on them both, and all of who ache for julian and chelsea.

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