Day 3 of Julian Assange’s Extradition Hearing

‘Assange blasts court for preventing communication with lawyers, alleges legal team is being SPIED on’, RT.com, 26 Feb, 2020

On the third day of his extradition hearing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has rebuked the court for preventing him from communicating with his legal team, saying his prosecutors have “100 times more contact hours each day.”
Amid a prosecution argument about whether or not he stands charged with “political offenses” Assange stood and told the court that the problem is I cannot participate, I cannot privately communicate with my lawyers.” 

Judge Vanessa Baraitser responded to the 48-year-old journalist and publisher by saying she would not allow him to address the court: “Mr Assange, generally defendants do not have a voice.”

The Australian continued to try and get his point across so the magistrate adjourned the court for five minutes while the defense team held a ‘private’ meeting.” [snip]

There is already enough spying on my lawyers as it is. There are a number of unnamed embassy officials here. There are two microphones in here. What’s the point of asking if I can concentrate if I can’t participate?

“I am as much a participant in these proceedings as I am at Wimbledon,” Assange wistfully joked while alleging that there was a microphone in the glass defendants dock.

The judge then asked whether they would like to submit a formal bail application to make that a reality. The defense team will now submit such a formal bail application and a decision will be made on Thursday morning. For the time being, Assange will remain in the dock away from his legal team.”

‘Julian Assange lawyers argue US charges are ‘purely political’; WikiLeaks founder likened to Alfred Dreyfus as QC argues extradition is prohibited’, Ben Quinn, theguardian.com, Feb. 26, 2020

“James Lewis QC, a barrister for the US authorities, said he would have no problem, for example, with Assange being allowed to sit in the well of the court handcuffed to a security official. However, he would oppose a bail application, which his counterpart had suggested he might do.

Judge Baraitser said that allowing Assange out of the dock was not a risk assessment she could make and questioned whether he would still technically be in custody if allowed out of the dock. Advice is to be sought overnight.

Earlier, Assange was likened to the Iraq war whistleblower Katharine Gun and the 19th-century French army officer Alfred Dreyfus as his lawyers argued that his extradition to the US should be prohibited.

A central plank of efforts to prevent him from being sent for trial in the US was laid out on the third day of hearings at Woolwich crown court, where Fitzgerald said the US-UK extradition treaty expressly ruled out extradition for political offences.” [snip]

“Prosecutors say Assange’s case is covered only by the Extradition Act 2003, which makes no exception for political offences.”

Oddly, the link to the Extradition Act 2003 has been removed since this morning.

‘Assange detention illegal under English, European and international law, defense argues’ 26 Feb, 2020, RT.com

“Day three of the Julian Assange extradition hearing is focusing on whether the allegations against Assange amount to “political offenses.” If so, it would likely be outside of the judge’s jurisdiction to approve extradition.

Kicking off proceedings at Woolwich Crown Court on Wednesday, defense counsel Edward Fitzgerald argued that 17 of the 18 counts with which the WikiLeaks founder has been charged fall under the US Espionage Act, which makes them political on face value. He added that the 18th count, of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, was in order to carry out the other alleged offenses.”

Quoting QC at length:

It is an essential fundamental protection, which the US puts in every single one of its extradition treaties.  Political defence from extradition goes back 100 years and is standard in treaties based on the UN model, including the European Union convention on extradition, the Interpol convention and many others. 

The more we research this, the more one sees this is a universal norm, and that while the US adds the ‘political defense’ extradition provision into all of its treaties, authorities there only take issue when it is invoked against them, despite using it to protect US citizens from extradition to hostile nations.” [snip]

“Presiding judge Vanessa Baraitser said during the close of Tuesday’s proceedings that, although Article 4.1 of the US/UK Extradition Treaty cited does forbid political extraditions, this does not, in fact, appear in the UK Extradition Act – the only legal document which has force in court.

Picking up that point on Wednesday, Fitzgerald argued that international human rights law provides jurisdiction for an abuse of process argument under Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which prohibits arbitrary detention.

However, the judge stated that the defense must establish whether Assange’s detention is unlawful under English law, not international law.

(the rest of Fitzgerald’s nuanced arguments are here)

Kevin Gosztola’s recap of Day 3, about 18 mins.

Defend.wikileaks.org doesn’t have Day 3 up yet.

(cross-posted at caucus99percent save for additional Tweets)

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