updates on the slow-mo death of Julian Assange

…plus a likely minuscule hope of a reprieve from extradition.  First, and given that editor Joseph Kishore has kindly given me persmission to use all their content I wish, I’ll past most all of it in.  At the bottom, I’ll explain the irony of why I haven’t used snippets from two other papers with similar content.

‘Julian Assange denied access to lawyers and vital evidence in US extradition case’, Thomas Scripps, 14 December 2019

“WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared via videolink at Westminster Magistrates Court in London yesterday for a brief administrative hearing. The half-hour proceedings confirm that the fundamental legal rights of the world-famous investigative journalist are being trampled in what amounts to an extraordinary rendition.”

He was in a visibly worse state than at his last court appearance, appearing fidgety, tired and downcast. Witnesses in the public gallery agreed his health seemed to have deteriorated further. Naomi Colvin from Bridges for Freedom later tweeted that Assange was, “Visibly depressed, slumped shoulders. He had his arms crossed with hands inside his sleeves throughout.

The hearing began with the court clerk reading aloud Assange’s name and date of birth and asking him to confirm these were correct. Next, the clerk asked Assange to confirm he was “a Swedish national.” Assange corrected him that he was an Australian citizen.

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser began the hearing by referring to complaints by Assange’s defence lawyer Gareth Peirce that her client’s access to legal counsel is inadequate. Baraitser claimed she had “no desire to stand in the way of any lawyer having proper access to their client. It is clearly in the interest of justice that they do so.”

Her subsequent actions proved this to be a barefaced lie.

Baraitser stated, “What I can do and say is to state in open court that it would be helpful to this extradition process that Mr. Assange’s lawyers have access to their client.” However, she then insisted, as she has done in the past, that she has “no jurisdiction over the prison system” and could exercise “no influence” over the decisions of Belmarsh prison’s governor regarding visiting rights for Assange’s lawyers.

Peirce countered with legal precedent. She noted that a judge presiding over the recent case of another defendant at Belmarsh had requested the governor provide the defendant a legal visit. As Peirce explained, facilities are available in Belmarsh’s healthcare wing for additional legal visits. The “deficiency of what ought to be available” was a result of the governor’s prioritising different uses of that space.

Baraitser was unmoved. She repeated that she had “made a clear statement in open court” that it would be “helpful” for Assange to have sufficient contact with his lawyers: “At this stage that’s all I’m going to do.”

Peirce moved on to the practical impossibilities of carrying out Assange’s defence under these conditions. She explained the defence team had prepared a “summary of issues” which they intended to raise in future proceedings, including some 20-25 witnesses and extensive footnotes in reference to other evidence.

The deadline for the submission of evidence is December 18, and the next case management hearing scheduled for December 19. However, Peirce explained she has not yet been able to discuss the document or underlying evidence with Assange. The next available date for such a meeting at Belmarsh was December 18, with prison authorities giving him less than a day to review the details.

Astoundingly, Baraitser asked, “Do you agree that it is perhaps less important that that information is gone through in detail with your client?

Peirce replied that the document was “incredibly detailed… essential and integral… some of it is recently acquired evidence, some of it is subject to months of investigation not always in this country, of which [Assange] is unaware because of the blockage in visits.”

“Despite our best efforts, Mr. Assange has not been given what he must be given, and we are doing our utmost to cut through this.”

Baraitser replied that she was “hopeful” that they could “serve at least some of the evidence” and conclude their discussions on December 18.

The videolink was ended without Assange being asked any further questions.

When Baraitser asked if it would be helpful to have Assange appear in court in person on December 19, Peirce responded that she would have to discuss that with her client since it was a “difficult and claustrophobic journey” from Belmarsh. Her response points to the degrading conditions endured by Assange. Prior to his last appearance at court, he was strip searched on arrival and held in a room described by prisoners as the “hot box.” [snip]

With their treatment of Assange, the ruling class hopes to establish the reverse precedent: an evisceration of democratic rights and the destruction of anti-war whistleblowers, journalists and publishers to pave the way for new and even more catastrophic conflicts.

Yesterday’s half-hour proceedings took place just hours after the UK general election that delivered a Conservative government. The most right-wing government in modern British history is headed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose “special relationship” with the Trump administration saw him welcome the brutal expulsion of Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy on April 11, writing, “It’s only right that Julian Assange finally faces justice. Credit to @foreignoffice officials who have worked tirelessly to secure this outcome.”

WikiLeaks on Twitter had retweeted both of the following yesterday, and I was laughing to SnoopyDog on my NDAA thread, cc9%verson: ‘nice sucking up…now’ as we’d been talking about an earlier ‘helpful’ piece from the ever-Lying Guardian possibly been driven by WikiLeaks’ lawsuit against the UK ‘paper of record’:

‘Lawyers complain about lack of access to Julian Assange in jail,  Defence team say he is unaware of some evidence in his case because of blockage in visits, the Guardian, Dec. 13, 2019

‘WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been BLOCKED from seeing key evidence from US authorities who want to extradite him for ‘leaking sensitive military data’, court hears’, dailymail fishwrap, Dec. 13, 2019

Underneath the first, iirc, was this:

@schestowitz  Replying to @wikileaks ‘‘Why link to Daily Fail and Guardian? They’re among the reasons Assange is in prison and those who protected him in trouble.’

File under: We Can Only Hope this Will be a Game-Changer; T. Scripps had written about the precdent involved in his  piece at the top:

“There is a clear and direct precedent for doing so. When US President Richard Nixon used the Espionage Act to prosecute Daniel Ellsberg for releasing the Pentagon Papers exposing criminal wrongdoing in the Vietnam War, the case collapsed after it was revealed the Nixon administration had overseen illegal spying on consultations between the whistleblower and his doctors.

‘Assange lawyer discloses conditions for British justice TO RETHINK his extradition’, 14 Dec, 2019, RT.com

“A Spanish judge will question Julian Assange on a Spain-based security firm thought to have spied on him in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. His lawyer hopes it may help thwart the WikiLeaks founder’s extradition to the US.

Set for next week, the questioning is part of a criminal inquiry the Spanish High Court is carrying out into UC Global, a private security company suspected of gathering surveillance on Assange and passing it further to US intelligence services.

“December 20 is an important day,” Aitor Martinez, a lawyer in charge of defending Assange in Spain, told Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency. The Spanish judge will go to Westminster Magistrates Court to receive a video conference testimony from Mr Assange as a victim of the alleged spy plot,” he revealed.

The firm’s name surfaced this summer when El Pais newspaper reported that it was eavesdropping on Assange during his exile at the Ecuadorian diplomatic mission in London. Citing recordings it has had access to, the paper alleged that the firm – tasked to guard the embassy – specifically focused on Assange’s legal matters discussions.

Now, Assange’s input is invaluable as it can pave the way to shooting down US efforts to try the publisher on their soil, Martinez explained. “Obviously, once Spanish justice receives such testimonies from Mr. Assange … the British justice should rethink the usefulness of his extradition [to the US],” he argued.

It can become a reason for the United Kingdom to deny an extradition request issued by the country where basic legal guarantees are not ensured.

As the inquiry progressed, the Spanish High Court arrested the company’s owner David Morales, a former member of the Spanish military, believed to have liaised with the US side. He was released on bail, but his company’s premises were searched and his bank accounts frozen.”

Security firm at Ecuadorian embassy created ‘profiles’ on Russian & American visitors to Julian Assange, gave info to CIA – report; 9 Oct, 2019, RT.com

“Former employees at the firm told El Pais the CIA was also granted access to a web server where those records were stored, which included “profiles” containing all manner of personal information on the individuals. American and Russian visitors were reportedly given the highest priority, especially lawyers and those working in media.

All guests were required to hand over phones and computers to embassy security before entering the compound, potentially giving Undercover Global – and, in turn, US intelligence – access to any files stored on the devices.

Interest in Assange’s meetings with Russians may have been piqued by the US Department of Justice (DOJ), which accused the cyber activist of cooperating with Russian intelligence to leak Hillary Clinton’s emails, among other pilfered documents, prior to the 2016 US election – a claim Assange has fervently denied and which the DOJ has never backed up with evidence.”

I’d swear I’d never seen this one‘Spanish security firm spied on Assange 24/7, reveals plan to smuggle him to Russia or Cuba – report’, 9 Jul, 2019, RT.com

From stefania maurizzi’s Twitter account:

@SMaurizi Dec 13
‘curious how the Spanish security company, #UCGlobal, which spied on all of us inside the @EmbajadaEcuUK during our visits to Julian #Assange, registered the #WashPost Pulitzer prize winner, @nakashimae, as representing @amazon rather that her newspaper, @washingtonpost post’

(cross-posted from Café Babylon)

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wendy davis's picture

This is youtube page of various speakers at the 'free the truth' symposium at St Pancras New Church in London on Dec. 28; Craig Murray, John Pilger, Nils Melzer, Low Key, Deepa Driver, and Fidel Navaez. Kinda, jiggly, must be a hand-held camera.

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ggersh's picture

@wendy davis if they can do this to him they can do
this to anyone, and it will get much worse
when tinyhands wins re-election.

It makes me wonder if the UK election wasn't
fixed just cuz of this.....sigh

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trump will be amerika's last president

What if the impeachment of tRumpolini is meant
to destroy the D party, makes sense doesn't it?

elections = tptb excuse for sayin ameriKa is a
democracy

wendy davis's picture

@ggersh

'corbyn shows his true colors', as in: he should go to sweden to answer the (non-existing) rape charges against him. wsws had always claimed jeremy has long been silent since. but i now see articles saying 'jeremy corbin breaks his silence on asasange', like this one: 'Jeremy Corbyn calls on UK to block Julian Assange extradition', Financial times, April 12, 2019

long time comin', jeremy.

from the little i've read, he lost because he lost the young working class vote, perhaps even for #Brexit. but remember: it was putin and russians who'd rigged the election: to destroy europe./s

but yeah, 'they' can do it to anyone, and have been (including in australia), but not to this disgusting unconstitutional and kangaroo court extreme. the five 'fearless investigative journalists' (plus snowden) who've smeared him as 'the bad whistleblower' and in other ways are apt to say: "no matter what you think of assange, PRESS freedom!'. pfffft.

sorry to be so angry and cynical, but they all helped him into this mess. and the tipping point to the 17 new charges of espionage were because: the CIA vaults, as julian had long noted. see tweet about alleged CIA vault leaker joshua schulte above. they'd said earlier that IF schulte were to rat him out one way or another (soliciting the leaks as w/ chelsea manning?) he'd receive immunity for doing so.

don't mind me; this is just too depressing to bear some days, ggersh. and yeah, trump who'd 'loved wikileaks' could free him in a milwaukee minute, couldn't he?

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wendy davis's picture

Kristinn Hrafnsson got ‘devil’s island across the atlantic’ only too right.

for rastafarians. the amerikan empire is 'the great satan, Babylon!

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travelerxxx's picture

@wendy davis

for rastafarians. the amerikan empire is 'the great satan, Babylon!

Were I a religious person, I would have no choice but to believe the United States is exactly the Babylon of the Christian bible ... especially of the King James bible. The rastafarians see this clearly.

So, I'm not a religious person, and yet there it is. I'm not able to find any force more evil than the American Empire.

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wendy davis's picture

@travelerxxx

though i'm not a bible scholar, nor religious, buster keaton. but bless you hear for seeing so clearly. hence: the reason i'd named my home website Café Babylon.

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travelerxxx's picture

@wendy davis

hence: the reason i'd named my home website Café Babylon.

Funny, I'd always assumed it was so.

As I recall, I found your corner of the web well before c99. I've had it bookmarked for quite a while. My bookmarks contain a tab titled "The Resistance," the name of which I've often thought of changing. Your site has been in there a long time. So long that I've often had to open my bookmarks and move it back up toward the top, due to additions mucking up the order.

Even though I named that tab "The Resistance" decades ago, these days have me contemplating changing that name so no one is tempted to believe that I'm supporting pink hat-wearing right-wing Democrat neo-libs.

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wendy davis's picture

@travelerxxx

pink pussy hats & all... now as to when i opened the café, i live in a time warp and can't say. but i began building it because at my.firedoglake readers diaries...i was a bit too radical for miz hamsher and company, and reckoned i'd be banned sooner or later. i did a brief stint in the meantime as a co-administator at a site whose super-administrator failed to deliver what he'd promised incipiently (john irving's definition of irony)

but now that you mention it, a couple denizens of c99% had asked in they might join the cafe a as authors, so i'd emailed them invitations thru the site...and hadn't heard acceptances back. but i guess the got ost in the shuffle. ; )

if i'm not following you, it's small wonder, as i've been awake since 1:30, and need some zzzzzleeep. g' night, sweet drams if you're able; julian, too. tell it, annie!

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snoopydawg's picture

sorta. He never interviewed Assange and was never able to confirm that Russia gave him the DNC information. But apparently he was busy doing other stuff.

On December 2, graphic designer and WikiLeaks supporter Somerset Bean revealed he had received a letter from Google informing him that the company had complied with a US Department of Justice (DOJ) warrant “compelling the release of information related to your Google account.”

The letter did not indicate what information had been handed over. It stated that Google had been subject to a now expired gag order, which had prevented it from previously disclosing the existence of the warrant.

A cross-reference of the case number with the publicly-accessible DOJ database showed that Bean was targeted as part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) probe, headed by Robert Mueller, into purported Russian interference in the 2016 US election. More than 500 subpoenas similar to that relating to Bean had been issued.

These facts alone demonstrated that the Mueller investigation—which ended without finding any proof for its bogus conspiracy theories about Russia—was used to carry out mass spying on supporters of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and political dissidents.
....
The following section of the document makes clear that the DOJ investigation was a catch-all fishing expedition. It asserted is was seeking evidence regarding crimes as diverse as “aiding and abetting,” “accessory after the fact,” “misprision of a felony,” “conspiracy,” “wire fraud,” “attempt and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.”
....
The subpoena is further confirmation that the Mueller probe, and the entire “Russiagate” narrative of the Democrats, the intelligence agencies and the corporate media, has been used to carry out surveillance of alternative and anti-war websites and organisations—above all, WikiLeaks—in an attempt to concoct false charges.
....
As WikiLeaks editor Kristinn Hrafnsson and others have explained, even if Russia was the source of the material, it would have no bearing on whether or not it should have been published. The DNC emails and related material were true, newsworthy and in the public interest, providing the American population with unprecedented insight into the machinations of one of the two parties of the US oligarchy in the lead-up to an election.

Well it would have mattered to the Russia Gate airheads because then they'd have their smoking gun that Russia did indeed do the deed. Hillary blamed Russia for that just to keep people from focusing on the content of the information released and it worked didn't it? Now they think that the DNC putting its thumbs on the election is CT. Doofuses!

“Our democratic rights are being ground into dust, not only on a national level but—as revealed so many times, from this small case up to the far more significant cases of Lauri Love and Julian Assange—at a global level with imperialist US overreach and mass surveillance. But we stopped Lauri’s extradition and we can save Julian, with overwhelming pressure on the UK government.”

The WSWS asked Bean to elaborate on the comment, in his initial tweet revealing the spying, in which he stated: “You think the Assange case is just about Assange? Think again.

The graphic designer responded: “Assange is the canary in the coalmine. The increasingly poisonous air is the oncoming dystopia. We save Assange and we provide a breath of fresh air to counter the growth of state tyranny. If we lose Julian Assange, we risk the atmosphere becoming poisonous for all of us. First they came for…

How can people not see this? They will bitch all day about Trumps war on the press, but then say that what is happening to Assange is okay because he cost Herheinous the empire election. Oh yeah, and he's a rapist.

I'm still holding on to hope that Wikileaks has a hell of a deadman's switch that will cost everyone involved in this travesty of justice!

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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

@snoopydawg and they are not afraid to use it.

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ppnortney's picture

@snoopydawg

I'm still holding on to hope that Wikileaks has a hell of a deadman's switch that will cost everyone involved in this travesty of justice!

to God's ear.

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The smaller the mind the greater the conceit. --Aesop

wendy davis's picture

@snoopydawg

and i can't even imagine how you choose which paragraphs to feature. i agree with you that it matters that russians hacked the elections, but i like how you've reversed engineered it here:

Well it would have mattered to the Russia Gate airheads because then they'd have their smoking gun that Russia did indeed do the deed. Hillary blamed Russia for that just to keep people from focusing on the content of the information released and it worked didn't it? Now they think that the DNC putting its thumbs on the election is CT. Doofuses!

dunno how i'd missed that one, but i'm almost glad i did as far as making it 2L2R. thank you for bringing that disgusting report. i've always love this excerpt from his book 'when google met wikileaks': 'google is not what it seems'. the accompanying photos are worth a million bucks, too.

Wikileaks just published another tranche of OPCW leaks on suppressed and altered reports.

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