The superseding indictment by the U.S. against Julian Assange has left the UK extradition process in a state of absolute farce, argues Craig Murray.
By Craig Murray
The imprisonment of Julian Assange has been a catalogue of gross injustice heaped upon gross injustice, while a complicit media and indoctrinated population looks the other way. In a truly extraordinary twist, Assange is now being extradited on the basis of an indictment served in the UK, which is substantially different to the actual indictment he now faces in Virginia if extradited.
The Assange hearing was adjourned after its first full week, and its resumption has since been delayed by coronavirus. In that first full week, both the prosecution and the defence outlined their legal arguments over the indictment. As I reported in detail to an audience of millions, Assange’s legal team fairly well demolished the key arguments of the prosecution during that hearing.
This extract from my report of the Defence case is of particular relevance to what has since happened:
For the defence, Mark Summers QC stated that the USA charges were entirely dependent on three factual accusations of Assange behviour:
1) Assange helped Manning to decode a hash key to access classified material.
Summers stated this was a provably false allegation from the evidence of the Manning court-martial.
2) Assange solicited the material from Manning
Summers stated this was provably wrong from information available to the public
3) Assange knowingly put lives at risk
Summers stated this was provably wrong both from publicly available information and from specific involvement of the US government.
In summary, Summers stated the U.S. government knew that the allegations being made were false as to fact, and they were demonstrably made in bad faith. This was therefore an abuse of process which should lead to dismissal of the extradition request. He described the above three counts as “rubbish, rubbish and rubbish”.
Summers then walked through the facts of the case. He said the charges from the USA divide the materials leaked by Manning to Wikileaks into three categories:
a) Diplomatic Cables
b) Guantanamo detainee assessment briefs
c) Iraq War rules of engagement
d) Afghan and Iraqi war logs
Summers then methodically went through a), b), c) and d) relating each in turn to alleged behaviours 1), 2) and 3), making twelve counts of explanation and exposition in all. This comprehensive account took some four hours and I shall not attempt to capture it here. I will rather give highlights, but will relate occasionally to the alleged behaviour number and/or the alleged materials letter. I hope you follow that – it took me some time to do so!
On 1) Summers at great length demonstrated conclusively that Manning had access to each material a) b) c) d) provided to Wikileaks without needing any code from Assange, and had that access before ever contacting Assange. Nor had Manning needed a code to conceal her identity as the prosecution alleged – the database for intelligence analysts Manning could access – as could thousands of others – did not require a username or password to access it from a work military computer. Summers quoted testimony of several officers from Manning’s court-martial to confirm this. Nor would breaking the systems admin code on the system give Manning access to any additional classified databases. Summers quoted evidence from the Manning court-martial, where this had been accepted, that the reason Manning wanted to get in to systems admin was to allow soldiers to put their video-games and movies on their government laptops, which in fact happened frequently.
Magistrate Baraitser twice made major interruptions. She observed that if Chelsea Manning did not know she could not be traced as the user who downloaded the databases, she might have sought Assange’s assistance to crack a code to conceal her identity from ignorance she did not need to do that, and to assist would still be an offence by Assange.
Summers pointed out that Manning knew that she did not need a username and password, because she actually accessed all the materials without one. Baraitser replied that this did not constitute proof she knew she could not be traced. Summers said in logic it made no sense to argue that she was seeking a code to conceal her user ID and password, where there was no user ID and password. Baraitser replied again he could not prove that. At this point Summers became somewhat testy and short with Baraitser, and took her through the court martial evidence again. Of which more…
Baraitser also made the point that even if Assange were helping Manning to crack an admin code, even if it did not enable Manning to access any more databases, that still was unauthorised use and would constitute the crime of aiding and abetting computer misuse, even if for an innocent purpose.
Now while there is no evidence that judge Baraitser is giving any serious consideration to the defence case, what this has done is show the prosecutors the holes in their argument which would cause them serious problems should they get Julian to trial in the United States. In particular, they are wary of the strong freedom of speech protections in the U.S. constitution and so are desperate to portray Julian as a hacker, and not a journalist. But, as you can see above, their case for this is not looking strong.
So the prosecution needed a different case. They have therefore entirely changed the indictment against Julian in Virginia, and brought in a superseding indictment.
As you can see, this is about switching to charges firmly grounded in “hacking”, rather than in publishing leaks about appalling American war crimes. The new indictment is based on the evidence of a “supergrass”, Sigurdur Thordarson, who was acting as a paid informant to the FBI during his contact with Wikileaks.
Thordarson is fond of money and is a serial criminal. He was convicted on December 22, 2014 by Reykjanes District Court in Iceland of stealing over $40,000 and over 13,000 euro from Wikileaks “Sunshine Press” accounts by forging documents in the name of Julian Assange, and given a two year jail sentence. Thordarson is also a convicted sex offender, and was convicted after being turned in to the police by Assange, who found the evidence – including of offences involving a minor – on Thordarson’s computer.
There appears scope to doubt the motives and credentials of the FBI’s supergrass.
The FBI have had Thordarson’s “evidence” against Assange since long before the closing date for submissions in the extradition hearing, which was June 19, 2019. That they now feel the need to deploy this rather desperate stuff is a good sign of how they feel the extradition hearing has gone so far, as an indicator of the prospects of a successful prosecution in the USA.
This leaves the UK extradition in a state of absolute farce. I was involved in discussion with Wikileaks about what would happen when the superseding indictment was introduced at the procedural hearing last month. It ought not to have been accepted – it is over a year since the closing date, and a week of opening arguments on the old indictment have already been heard. The new indictment is plainly designed to redress flaws in the old one exposed at the hearing.
The superseding indictment also is designed to counter defence witness affidavits which have been disclosed to the prosecution, including expert witness testimony which refutes the indictment on Assange’s alleged hacking assistance to Manning – until now the sole ground of the “hacking” accusation. This switch, we averred, was an outrageous proposition. Was the whole hearing to start again on the basis of the new indictment?
Outrage Upon Outrage
Then, to our amazement, the prosecution did not put forward the new indictment at the procedural hearing at all. To avoid these problems, it appears they are content to allow the extradition hearing to go ahead on the old indictment, when that is not in fact the indictment which awaits Assange in the United States. This is utterly outrageous. The prosecution will argue that the actual espionage charges themselves have not changed. But it is the indictment which forms the basis of the extradition hearing and the different indictment which would form the basis of any U.S. prosecution.
To have extradition decided on the merits of one indictment when the accused actually faces another is an outrage. To change the indictment long after the hearing is underway and defence evidence has been seen is an outrage. The lack of media outrage is an outrage.
None of which will come as any shock to those of us who have been paying attention. We have to continue to build public consciousness of the fact that the annihilation of a journalist for exposing war crimes, based on a catalogue of state lies and dodgy procedure, is not an act that the state can undertake without damage to the very soul of the nation.
Craig Murray is an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He was British ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004 and rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010.
This article is from CraigMurray.org.uk.
The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.
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Ever since these ”proceedings” begun I’ve been wondering what this cruel and sadistic magistrate Vanessa Baraitser actually looked like yet could not find any images…..till now.
Since Baraitser is on record to publish the names of Julian Assange’s children, lets turn the tables and reveal what she actually looks like.
Thanks to Wikispooks hXXps://wikispooks.com/wiki/Vanessa_Baraitser#cite_note-7
Don’t know about the “democracy” or “free speech”, but as for “peace”, it seems the people and the rulers of Russia and Iran seem to desire it far more than than either the people of the US or their elected representatives.
Not a peep nor a whimper from the AU flagship ABC – only more unverified claims about Russians hacking only this time they’re supposed to be hacking into CV19 vaccination programs.
As if it were written by same sources that supply the brain dead Rachael Maddoc with her daily broadcast of Deep State propaganda.
Link is only good for limited time – its on a live loop.
See ABC broadcast: youtube.com/watch?v=3YyVIl97CFM
“Damage to the Soul” is what Craig titles this article on his site. Also, the current interview of Julian’s father John Shipton has him answer a question on Mike Pompass that should get widespread hearing. He goes on very eloquently with his answer. Like father, like son, in this particular case.
Craig Murray’s powerful closing paragraph is worth repeating for emphasis:
“None of which will come as any shock to those of us who have been paying attention. We have to continue to build public consciousness of the fact that the annihilation of a journalist for exposing war crimes, based on a catalogue of state lies and dodgy procedure, is not an act that the state can undertake without damage to the very soul of the nation.”
Someone might advise United States President Donald Trump and United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson that their disgraceful perpetuated unjust persecution of the genuine peacemaker and hero-to-millions Julian Assange puts their respective nations’ very souls in great danger.
USA , UK and the EU are true examples of democracy, justice, equal rights, freedom of speech, free and fair elections, defenders of peace in the world , all to the benefit of its citizens. Ooops….
I guess you prefer Moscow, Beijing, and Tehran as true bastions of democracy, peace, and free speech.
The UK has past form in doing exactly what their US masters demand, even when it will obviously harm its economy (Re. Huawei blacklisting). Does anyone really believe Julian will receive justice in this banana republic ?
This fits with the the rationale of denying ICC any status for findings of truth that would expose the inhuman treatment of people.
What can you say but WOW!
Look at the snake in the garden.
The leadership at the highest levels of government in America are really no different than the leaders of China, Russia, India and other dictatorships. The Founding Fathers are weeping in their graves at what imperial bullies we have become.
I look at fundamentals. – Who is “doing a Kashoggi” on Assange, and why? Who was most damaged by Julian’s reporting? And who was (inadvertently I believe) helped to election victory? – The answers make it abundantly clear to me that the fate of Julian Assange is inextricably tied to the fate of Donald Trump.
No soul of that or this nation – or Julian Assange would be free not caught in the clutches of this grotesque and obvious kangaroo court presided over by the hanging judge Baraitser with all the animus she can muster. Shameful aversion of the eyes by the same western multitudes with so much to lose if he goes down and who should be helping him now. ‘Manufacture of consent’ based on a long and discredited smear and disinformation campaign which despite all its untruths appears to have vaguely stuck in whatever’s left of the lazy and confused public mind. Don’t let Julian Assange become Leonard Peltier. Don’t know what that means? So learn then rise up and put right what is so wrong. Free Julian Assange! Free all prisoners including those who think they’re free.
The Hillary supporters, and all the power behind them, blame Assange (and the Russians) for her defeat. They are casual consumers of the propaganda narrative espoused by the DNC controlled democratic party. They have been taught to hate Julian. Trump has so much dirty laundry that he fears Wikileaks could ruin him. Empire fears the truths made public by Wikileaks will expose their lawlessness to the masses and dilute their power. The MSM has been completely brought to heel in recent years. There is no longer any room at all for any journalist who would depart from the mandatory narrative anywhere in the MSM. Blasphemy means the end of your career, or worse. Ask the ghost of Michael Hastings what happens when you speak truth to power too loudly.
Nothing shows the true mendacity, indeed blatant evil, of the UK and US national security state corporate oligarchies as clearly as the ongoing persecution of Julian Assange. Such tyrannical governments truly should and must be supplanted by new institutions which repudiate entirely the use of extra-judicial means to punish anyone who exposes their numerous horrific crimes around the world.
B I N G O !
True (plus of course their never-ending eagerness to accuse, without evidence, the usual “suspects” of many of those things they do and have done for many decades; and their equally deep-rooted, unquenchable thirst for slaughtering millions of other peoples around the world with bombs or via starvation with economic sanctions). The silence of the majority of the general public in both countries is abominable at worst, pathetic at best. The MSM have, it would seem, worked their Bernaysian, Orwellian and Huxleyan “magic.” Repeated and repeated and repeated lies combined with silence where and when “necessary” works well, apparently. Even among those who consider themselves totally “woke” (?), “progressive,” and “leftist.”
Magistrate Vanessa Baraitser is forging a place in history for herself alongside Roland Freisler, the screaming Nazi judge infamous for his show trials. One wonders what makes someone like her compromise every principle that is expected of a member of the judiciary in a fair society. Surely it cannot simply be blind ambition. What this appalling vista highlights is the need for every person in society, from the lowest to the holder of the highest office, to be accountable to the people, perhaps through citizens’ councils. Only then will we have a functioning democracy without the widespread corruption that is rampant today.
True. She is the psychopathic, definitely ethic-less, amoral sort perfect for the task assigned her – at least from the equally socio/psychopathic US & UK ruling elites’ point of view.
Baraitser – despite the wig which must be being donned to give her actual classification, Magistrate, more gravitas in this particular case. Ordinarily she’d be wigless and gownless (to my knowledge, admittedly some decades old now).
With Trump wanting an extradition order for Steele, it will be interesting how the British Government will handle it.
Perhaps, they will declare that it is political and that therefore it cannot proceed, something that was denied to Julian Assange.
I am amazed that a British Judge can appear to be so partial almost to the point of telling the prosecution how they should run their case.
I am afraid Julian Assange will never get justice, he will either die or be assisted in a UK prison or a US prison.
As for the so called evidence from a paid FBI informer of very dubious character, is the judge allowing his misdemeanours to be aired or will it be said that these are irrelevant.
Julian’s only freedom will come in the next world as the only thing you can rely on is Boorish Johnson kowtowing or boot licking Trump’s feet.
Changing the charges the Extradition is based on violates the Extradition Treaty and that blocks Extradition! Unfortunately for Julian they will violate the Treaty and Extradite him anyway.
Very good point ! Anothe Treaty for USG to “pull out of”. What an infinitely vile bunch of Criminals we have somehow arranged over us.
It should be clear that the U.S. is trying to railroad Asange. If he is extradited he will not get a fair trial.
The UK and the USA are nations without souls. There is no rule of law for Empire, only raw power. The judiciary in the UK and the USA engage in theater, nothing more, in support of the violence of the State. The judges are shills for Empire, and entirely without conscience. The higher they climb the ladder, the more they are vetted to ensure this is the case.
What about the criminal and dumbed down Australian politicians together the most gutless and treacherous public and treacherous main stream lying media.
The choice between the two dominant political parties in Australia (to qu0te a comment made on this site in respect to another article) is a choice between syphilis and herpes.