The dramatic opening day of Assange’s extradition hearing saw U.S. shift from espionage to its superseding indictment as Vanessa Baraitser rejected a defense bid to excise the evidence and adjourn the case to January.
Dramatic Opening Day: First Witness Testifies After Judge Denies Adjournment to January
11:30 am EDT: The dramatic first day of the resumption of Julian Assange’s extradition hearing has ended, with technical problems cutting short the testimony of the first defense witness, Broadcast Journalism Professor Mark Feldstein.
Feldstein’s written testimony has been released to the public. On the virtual “stand”–online because of the pandemic–Feldstein was questioned by the defense. He testified that it was a daily occurrence for the press to publish classified information; that he did not expect publishers to be prosecuted for this because the First Amendment protects publishers, allowing them to expose the inner workings of government that citizens have a right to know. He said no publisher had ever been prosecuted for publishing secret material and that no president had ever gone so far as having a grand jury return an indictment against one.
Feldstein’s testimony was anti-climatic as it followed a last-minute defense attempt, rejected by Judge Vanessa Baraitser, to adjourn the hearing until January. The defense had argued it needed more time to prepare its defense as the prosecution’s argument has shifted to new evidence produced in a superseding indictment on the charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, and away from the charges of espionage, which Feldstein’s prepared testimony dealt with. It seemed almost irrelevant after the day’s events.
Judge Denies Adjournment Until January
10:30 am EDT: Judge Vanessa Baraitser has rejected the defense’s application for an adjournment of the hearing until January to give it time to gather new evidence to defend against the prosecution’s superseding indictment. She said Assange lawyers had ample time to apply for postponement and that it was wrong for them to argue to have new evidence excised from case and then after losing, to try to delay proceedings until January. The judge has bought the prosecution argument. Proceedings will continue with the first defense witness, Broadcast Journalism Professor Mark Feldstein.
Defense Asks for Adjournment Until January
10:06 am EDT: Defense attorney Mark Summers QC has asked Judge Vanessa Baraitser for an adjournment of the hearing until January to give time to gather new evidence to defend against the prosecution’s superseding indictment.
Summers said the defense cannot proceed without Assange, who alone has the knowledge to build a defense. Summers says Assange had not read the new indictment and he still hasn’t received all the documents he needs.
Baraitser asked how many times Assange’s lawyers have spoken to him in the past weeks and Summers said only twice by phone on a bad line making it difficult to hear his client.
The prosecution is arguing that there is no need for an adjournment, saying defense is only seeking one because it lost to Baraitser on request strike new evidence in superseding indictment from the case. They want to proceed with defense’s first witness in afternoon session.
Baraitser is considering the defense’s request for postponement until the new year.
Prosecution Shifting Argument to Evidence in Superseding Indictment; Defense Says it Has No Time in Three Weeks to Mount Defense Against It
8:40 am EDT: The prosecution appears to be shifting its case from Espionage Act charges, at least at this stage of the hearing, to new evidence (but no new charges) in the superseding indictment, filed in London in July, related to the charge against Assange of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.
It appears the prosecution may be poised to pursue an entirely new argument based on the evidence in the new indictment which brought about a new U.S. extradition request, and a re-arrest of Assange earlier in his Belmarsh cell on Monday.
He was re-arrested because of the new request, and new evidence, but not on new charges.
James Lewis, QC for the prosecution, mentioned in court some of the “new” evidence, most of which dates back to events in Iceland in 2010. Among this “new” evidence is that Assange helped a fugitive, NSA-whistleblower Edward Snowden, escape from Hong Kong. But Assange was never charged with such a crime. The prosecution also says Assange encouraged others to hack computers, tracked police vehicles in Iceland and encouraged the theft of a bank’s data.
This evidence comes primarily from two FBI informants who worked closely with Assange in 2010 in Reykjavík.
Mark Summers, QC for the defense, said the prosecution’s response to the defense’s argument that it was necessary for Assange to reveal evidence of war crimes, is to turn the tables and say it wasn’t necessary to hack a bank in Iceland. In reference to Snowden, Summers said: “Assisting a whistleblower in Hong Kong; attempting to evade arrest. How that is said to be criminal activity is anybody’s guess.”
Summers then argued that Assange’s team has not had enough time to respond to this evidence, filed on June 24 in Alexandria, Virginia, but in late July to the defense, and to the court. Summers said the lack of time would make it impossible to mount a defense sufficient to permit Judge Vanessa Baraitser to make a fair decision.
At one point Summers jumped to his feet, exclaiming, “Wrong, wrong, wrong, Madam” to Baraitser. He accepted that it is legal to make repeated extradition requests, but not six weeks before the resumption of the hearing.
Baraitser responded that she had offered the defense the option to postpone the hearing to give them more time, but it refused. Summers said that because of Assange’s health concerns under continued detention it would have been unfair to postpone the hearing any further.
The court has adjourned for lunch.
Meanwhile, WikiLeaks editor Kristinn Hrafnsson, was not allowed to enter the public gallery to view proceedings and was sent to a room to watch on a monitor that he had trouble viewing.
We learn that @khrafnsson was refused entry to the court, offered a place in a room with screen that he couldn't see. He heads the organisation that is on trial. He says being barred, is not open justice. This is the kind of trial we condemn in other countries. #FreeAssange
— Flick Ruby (@FlickRubicon) September 7, 2020
40 civil society organizations also had their remote access to the trial revoked, including Reporters Without Borders.
Statement from @rebecca_vincent from @RSF_inter about today's difficulties how they're access was denied as NGO observers#DontExtraditeAssange #FreeAssange #AssangeCase #pressfreedom pic.twitter.com/OWGilElq4G
— Don't Extradite Assange (@DEAcampaign) September 7, 2020
Judge Tried to Prevent Defense Witness
Statements From Being Read in Court
6:15 am EDT: The extradition trial of Julian Assange has begun in London and there are already fireworks between the defense team and Judge Vanessa Baraitser.
Assange’s lawyers requested that defense witness statements be read in court before direct and cross examination begins. But Baraitser said that because she has already read the statements herself she did want to allow them to be heard by the court or the media, who are both inside Old Bailey, or watching remotely online.
After several minutes of discussions, in which the defense team said preventing the statements from going public was a departure from the legal norm, Baraitser relented and said only 30 minutes would be allotted for each witness statement.
One defense witness is scheduled for the afternoon session.
The Queens Councillor for the prosecution, James Lewis, then argued that the defense’s expert witnesses weren’t experts at all, but only “people giving their opinion.” Lewis objected to a journalism professor who is listed as a defense witness.
Assange entered the courtroom at 10 am local time wearing a suit, after he had been rearrested in his cell on the basis of the superseding indictment the U.S. filed, though no new charges were added.
The opening day of the hearing was paused after little more than an hour to allow Assange to confer with his lawyers.
Thanks to Mary Kostakidis, Kevin Gosztola and Juan Passarelli, whose tweets contributed to this report.
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Let’s NOT forget that Washington has always been known for the HIGH bribes they pay to forces their OPPONENTS their way & a British -low paid – Judge will be glad to receive US handouts in Dollars on an overseas account in the Virgin Islands !
‘British Justice’ (Ha!) is on trial NOT Assange. Will it be ‘Guilty’ or ‘Not Guilty’? I’m not holding my breath. We have all witnessed how it has failed
Is this a show trial, to demonstrate how British Justice bends to the service of the American government? That is the impression this Judge seems content to leave in the minds of those following the case with concern for Freedom and Truth, as we have till now generally known it in this country.
Well thought out, Sir.
Outside the court, German MP Heike Hänsel called for the German government to offer political asylum to Assange, and asked why, when her government immediately had Navalny flown to Germany for treatment in a famous Berling hospital, they did not offer to do the same for Assange.
??Yea, obviously the “military” perpetrators of murdering civilians including journalists had continued for some time & that is why the “accused” journalists had to present the crimes against Human Rights to the public, The People, not the control-freaks !!!????… the abusers of technology were the murdering abusive not the whistleblowers????
I hope the judge knows what she’s doing as she maybe complicit in the cover up of War Crimes.
This show gives me an idea of how it must have felt like for those people rounded up an put n concentration camps.
Waiting and hoping for a glimmer of humanity.
This case increasingly looks as if it is being ‘rigged’ to suit the prosecution, and the extradition application. This is legal jiggery-pokery which does not conform with common expectations of the rule of law. To put it more bluntly, it looks as if power trumps (excuse the pun) justice. I don’t know Assange, I have no opinion about him as a human being, but I do recognise when there are attempts to pull the wool over my eyes. I am also old, and have no vested interest in the outcome of this case, one way or the other. But I do fear for future generations, and what is going on here stinks to high heaven of corruption of the rule of law.
This sham trial is a disgrace. The USA and Britain are no better than some tin pot country run by a tip pot dictator. Instead of the USA being prosecuted for war crimes, we are shooting the messenger. We are no longer the good guys, maybe we never were.
??We might be (the good guys) but there Not !!!???
On every front, this country has descended into the corrupt pit.
There are other victims here besides Julian Assange. Both the USA and the UK
systems of justice are being made a joke. What’s happening is ludicrous! These
were once honored countries in the field of law; countries which made progress
in the advancement of human rights. What gave these powers that be the right to mercilessly
persecute an innocent man? Oh yes, they can confuse and deceive their fellow man, but their
job is to clarify and inform and render justice rising from fair trials according to the rule
of law. This is not what’s happening!This is not reflective of the historic spirit of
justice of either country. I bow my head in mourning that two such great countries should be
As a publisher of top secret history, no one has ever arrested me so it appears that Julian Assange should not have been arrested either since freedom of the press should prevail. Of course, people like Julian Assange and I wouldn’t have to publish the truth if the mainstream media did, but according to my professor of Mass Communications, freedom of the press has been dead for over 100 years now in the USA. And aside from some truth being published in the UK, more articles are untrue such as the reason why the CIA deposed the Shah of Iran that it published back in 1979 when the CIA carried out that crime on a man who loved his country and was tolerant of all religions.
To access my e-zine, which is internationally acclaimed and free to the world, click on the icon that says Magazine.
I’m sad and furious beyond words.The US system of Law is broken and has been for decades.Free Assange.Prosecute the Military criminals that murdered civilians.That would be a start.
As someone who has spent my working life in the pursuit of crime, and relied on the Law to look at the facts & then any only then make a ruling on facts.
I truly hope that Judge Vanessa Baraister doesn’t bring the justice system into disrepute, but instead holds firm to the Letter of the Law and is not politically motivated or in any way influenced by as we have in the World very bad political leaders.
Truth is Not a Crime and any person or political leader who would attempt to make it so we people of the World are much worse off. Truth is of such Great Value worth more then gold and the pursuit of greed without Truth the World is on a very slippery slope where Law has no meaing and will have no place, we are then in the hands of unscrupulous political leaders.
I have made several attempts to raise the Assange case in our local paper the Christchurch Press, but all to no avail. Western mainstream media remain dead silence on one of the most high profile hot topics of the 21st century. Free speech is at stake, journalism has arrived at a dead end.
It is sounding like Les Miserable’s more every day.
The wickedness of the judge and the barristers knows no bounds.
The whole case needs to be thrown out.
It is amazing to me that in light of this judge so demonstrably showing her bias by ruling against absolutely every defence application over a period of months that a public outccy for her recusal has not burst out … I realize that, as usual, the ‘Vichy Press’ has failed to properly report her risible conduct of this kangaroo court, but surely the truth would have leaked out via social media and a major outcry would have arisen.
Come on, people of conscience!! — It’s time to hit the streets in number!
Horrendous! Sinister! Scrupless and Obnoxious!
The Judges proceeding this case is NOT in it for JUSTICE, but effectively to PROTECT the WAR-CRIMINALS revealed by the couragous journalism of the Wiki-Leaks team and its editor, Mr. Julian Assange.
First they KILL Assanges network-expert Arjen Kamphuis. Then they invade a foreign embassy to put Assange away – for life. Which is supposed to be as short as possible, as sson as he’s out of the lime-light.
Nazi-Germany lost the war.
But the nazis survived it – apparently – to get back on track as the financiaal and thus plitical HEADS of the Axi-powers – today extended to comprise the EU as well as the NATO. With the ‘invisible hands’ from behind the shades of the Alps – all over again.
With Soviet-Russia and Communist-China as ‘role-models’ – tracking, chasing and destroying any and every kind of free speach and democratic practices – by violence.
The moral high-grounds the UK once held – in relation to brute dictatorships in other countries – are already lost. If the brute persecution of Assange doesn’t END – pretty g.d. soon – the entire Kingdom, including the Royal Family and everybody in its service, will be doomed by the verdict of History.
“The moral high-grounds the UK once held – in relation to brute dictatorships in other countries” – is to be blind to history. The UK once had the largest empire in history, lands it took by force and corruption and peoples whose lives it dictated. The UK has never held the moral high ground.
Soviet-style show trial.
US style show trial.
How can the deeply compromised and biased Baraitser be allowed to continue in charge of this “trial” in a country pretending to be some sort of modern democracy? The whole case should have been abandoned at once, at least from the time Assange was grabbed from his refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy where he reasonably expected to be safe. He has committed no crimes, and anyone finding the US case against him justified has not observed the actions of the last three years at all.
You are aware, of course, that the current El Presidente of Equador, shortly after his inauguration was bought off by a massive loan of some millions of dollars. He then allowed the British goon force to forcibly extract Julian Assange from the Embassy. The morally bankrupt and terminally ill Uncle Sam territory.is slowly sucking other countries, particularly the ‘five eyes’ countries, into its rancid cesspit of moral degradation. The world would be a much better place if all current US politicians were to disappear in a mushroom cloud of smoke.
Such a farcical trial yet an innocent man’s life is at stake. How low the UK justice system has stopped to carry out the bidding of the war machine and it’s profiteers.
IS THERE A MORE MORONIC TIME WASTING TRIAL THAN A KANGAROO TRIAL? THIS IS IT ..A 2020 BRITISH KANGAROO COURT.
THE SANITY OF THE WORLD HAS TO PREVAIL AND DEMAND THE RELEASE OF JULIAN ASSANGE….BY WHATEVER MEANS NECESSARY.WHO IS NOW THE LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD?.CIVILISATION REQUIRES SUCH A LEADER NOW.
simply put, the fellows from the US flanelled their way into our UK lawful proud British traditional fairness. And that I think Baraitser actually went for fag break. To rap down the blower to Arbuthnot and her hidden cohort. In order to settle her nerve’s as she then sold the Assange issue down the swannae….
basically I’m writing in a loose vernacular with local idioms because I feel it’s all I now have left.
The entire extradition scene is a heap.
I’m here and thinking…. and we will save Assange from extradition… the defence can’t allow the disregard now being so blatant and callous. We will succeed….we have to
Nieve. Traditional British fairness. We’re the archetype for manipulation and double dealing ffs.
“UK lawful proud British traditional fairness” – really? Is this the same UK that has a vast number of people – disproportionately poor and of colour – in its prisons? Perhaps you have a definition of ‘fair’ which differs from that in the dictionary.
Couldn’t find a finer example of a Kangaroo Court!!! Absolutely shocking!!
This should concern the WHOLE world. The procedings are not an example of a just system.
My blood pressure is exp!doing,this is a Soviet style show trial!! I hope they all burn in Hell!
Even the Soviets have more finesse in their trials, This is farcical.
Once again, we see that procedural justice is sacrificed to an overriding principle: the state cannot tolerate timely exposure of its corruption.
Imagine how different the world would have been if the truth about the U.S. relation with Chile had been known in 1970 and the following years?
A few days ago the admirable institution known as the National Security Archive revealed that “on September 15, 1970, [U.S. President Richard] Nixon gave an explicit order to CIA Director Richard Helms to foment a military coup in Chile in order to prevent Allende’s inauguration.”
Corruption needs continuing suppression of truth and spreading of deception.
As recently as September 20, 1995 the Canadian newspaper, the Globe and Mail, published a letter from Lawrence E. Harrison, identified as an associate of the Center for International Affairs at Harvard University, in which he wrote “not one shred of evidence. . . has ever been uncovered” between the coup that overthrew Allende and the US government.
That was despite the abundant evidence produced by Committee headed by Senator Frank Church in 1975.
Journalistic facilitators of state corruption abound today as in 1995. I believe they see their mission in an honorable light, protecting the world against Communism, for example. But as the signs French railway stations warn you, “one train can hide another.” The train of anti-Communism hides economic and epistemic injustice, disregard for law, and the suppression of truth.
The same echo of Star Chamber proceedings is with us today regarding Assange, and would be with regard to Edward Snowden had he not had the smarts to foresee and avoid this travesty in his own case. Unless and until Edward Snowden is recognized for the courageous whistle-blower that he was and is, the corruption in the U.S. system will continue.
It’s unbelievable this happens in the so called “Oldest democracy” of the world. This shows the bias towards personal and political interests of USA and UK far beyond the limits of Justice.It’s a fake. As it is said by John Pilger , this trial can’t be hold as a democratic trial but as a Stalinist trial, It doesn’t deem worthy of a democracy.
They have no shame, no moral compass, no sense of fairness or decency. All they cling to is their power to inflict harm and hide their crimes so the can hold onto power one more day, week & year.