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.” [snip]
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 on Twitter:

@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 at caucus99percent.com)

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