Court resumes in the extradition hearing of Julian Assange Monday morning. Consortium News is watching the proceedings and providing live updates throughout the day.
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Court Is Adjourned Until Tuesday After Sound of US TV Report Disrupted Proceedings
11:02 am EDT: Court was adjourned until Tuesday after it was interrupted by the sound of a U.S. TV report on Assange. A court official explained to the press that the technical issues were still to be sorted out but it was hoped they would be resolved by 10 am BST Tuesday.
9:26 am EDT: The court says it is investigating whether the interruption of the proceedings came from witness Eric Lewis’ computer (he is testifying online), or whether the court’s video feed was hacked. Just before lunch the sound of a U.S. TV report on Assange came through the video-link and into the courtroom. If it was a hack there are concerns among the press that the the remote video access could be stopped.
8:30 am EDT: Court has suddenly adjourned as it was interrupted by the sound of an American news report about the Assange case. The lawyers jumped to their feet throwing their arms in the air. Judge Vanessa Baraitser quickly fled the court. No one appears to have an idea how that happened. It was nearing lunch break so court will probably resume in about an hour.
James Lewis QC for the prosecution was cross examining the defense witness, American lawyer Eric Lewis, when the interruption occurred. Prosecutor Lewis has followed the same tactic he’s used on every defense witness, trying to undermine their claims of being an impartial expert.
He laid out that Eric Lewis is being paid for his testimony by the defense, and as he has with the previous defense witnesses, showed that this witness did not include a 36-page affidavit from Asst. U.S. Attorney Gordon Kromberg in his written testimony.
James Lewis then tried to show that because Eric Lewis is not a mental health or medical professional that he had no grounds in his written testimony to say that Assange would not receive adequate health care in prison.
The prosecutor also tried to establish that Assange would receive a fair jury trial because of the conviction of Zacarias Moussaoui in the 9/11 case. But Eric Lewis stood his ground, at times demanding that the prosecutor be fair in his questioning.
He rebutted the Moussaoui example by correcting the prosecutor that Moussaoui was convicted in the D.C. District Court, not in the Eastern District of Virginia where Assange would be sent. “That is a very different jury pool,” witness Lewis said.
He also resisted the prosecutor by saying his assessment that Assange would not receive adequate mental care in prison was based on the U.S. Bureau of Prison’s own report, which said only a fraction of inmates needing such care actually get it. The report said there was only one mental health practitioner for every 500 inmates in the U.S.
Prosecutor Lewis is also trying to trip up witness Lewis by pointing to a 2012 European Court of Human Rights extradition judgement in which a defendant found to have mental illness was still allowed to be extradited. Witness Lewis responded that knowledge of mental health issues in the law have been updated since 2012.
Prosecutor Lewis seeks to undermine witnesses by asking detailed questions, such as what the eight reforms have been in recent years in mental health care in U.S. prisons. Witness Lewis could not answer, but stressed that though he’s not a medical expert or a paid expert on prison conditions his own experience with clients incarcerated in the U.S. led him to the conclusion that under Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) Assange would not be treated humanely.
The prosecutor then tried to undermine the witness yet again.
He asked witness Lewis if he knew what Assange’s defense would be.
No. I’m not his lawyer.
Has the defense team spoken to you about what his defense will be?
Then how do you know SAMs would impede his defense?
Outburst From Prosecutor
to Judge Over Time Restraints
6:52 am EDT: Prosecutor James Lewis QC has just engaged in a bitter argument with Judge Vanessa Baraitser about the time limit she has imposed on his cross examination, referring to it as a “guillotine.” Baraitser responded that she asked Lewis for a time estimate before the trial began and he said he would need four hours a day for cross examination. Lewis complained that Baraitser was allowing the defense witness, Eric Lewis, to “ramble on.”
“I am giving a warning,” Lewis said. “I’m not prepared to be under a circumstance, where he is allowed to give long answers. It is not how cross examinations work.” He added: “I have never been guillotined in a cross examination ever, by no judge in 35 years experience in extradition cases that I have ever known.”
Baraitser said: “The court has power to ensure efficient movement through this case. There are 39 witnesses. I asked you and you provided that estimate. The word guillotine come from you,” she said. “I say it is time management and that’s the end of the matter.”
It was an extraordinary outburst from a prosecution delivered in condescending tones to a judge. Lewis was clearly not getting the answers from the witness that he desired, no matter their length or shortness. When court returned Lewis apologized to the judge for any “intemperate” language he may have used.
5:17 am EDT: Defense witness appears on screen. He had used link from last week by mistake.
Pause as Court Waits for Defense
Witness Eric Lewis to Take the Stand
5:17 am EDT: Defense witness Eric Lewis has not logged onto the witness stand. Pause in the court as the defense team tries to locate him. Judge Vanessa Baraitser says Lewis has not responded to two email messages. Witness list says Lewis will be testifying online from Italy, which is now after 11 am there.
Use of Surgical Masks in Court Discussed
5:07 am EDT: Court begins with discussion of wearing masks in the court. Mark Summers, Assange lawyer, is asking that masks should be worn. Camera swung over to show Assange sitting behind a glass wall, wearing a surgical mask. Baraitser said rules do not require wearing of masks in the court, but it is “in the discretion of those in attendance” whether or not to wear one. “Taking instructions though the glass from Mr. Assange, one must get one’s face close” to his client, Summers said.
Defense Witness Eric Lewis to Take the Stand
3:50 am EDT: The extradition hearing of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange resumes on Monday morning at 10 am BST, 5 am EDT, after court was adjourned for two days on Thursday to await a Covid-19 test for one of the lawyers in the courtroom. It came back negative. Assange’s defense team has slated only one witness on Monday, American lawyer Eric Lewis, who wrote this piece last year in The Independent saying he did not want to see Assange extradited to his country.
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Revolution is in the air. I am surprised that the walls of Belmarsh prison have not yet been breached and Assange is on the road again. One can feel it on the wind and smell it in the air. The planet is on the cusp of an entire human revolt. Ex Prince Harry and Megan made the right move away from “Monarchy” that should have been mothballed a century ago. Free Assange and Reality Winner. Leave Chelsea Manning alone and no charges against Snowden.
“The autumn moon lights my way
For now I smell the rain
And with it pain
And it’s headed my way”
– Ramble On – Led Zeppelin
Seems like it’s all just for show and that Mr. Assange’s destiny has already been written before the show trial even started sadly.
This show trial is turning into a circus with Prosecutor James Lewis as a single-man clown car all by himself. Judge Baraitser seems only capable of reading out pre-arranged texts and nothing more. I applaud whoever got that TV news story blasted into Court. It seems to me that the technical staff of the Court is either willingly incompetent or just plain incompetent, judging by the amount of tech failures to date.
This entire shambles of a hearing is taking on the semblance of a Monty Python skit, much less a Benny Hill or The Two Ronnies or The Goon Show skits or the Yes, Minister / Yes, Prime Minister series. But then, what else can one expect from the detritus of Maggie Thatcher and her retrograde catastrophy-ridden followers, such as BoJo, John Major, Phony Tony Blair, and the current Labour leadership. Two questions: After paying his debt to society (50 weeks in the slammer), why was Assange still incarcerated in a maximum security establishment for a mere extradition hearing that has no bearing on guilt nor innocence? And why was he not granted bail while awaiting a mere hearing? The entire Limey justice system is under scrutiny now, as well it should be.
Dave: I was just thinking, I could not make this up. As I was reading the sequence backward I realized that the proceedings were almost ludicrous, whether read in or out of order.
Yes that whole “injustice” system is as you say is now “under scrutiny”. “As well it should be”.
Watching videos on American TV a few years back covering debates fought at British elite schools was a shocker – “winning” is all; “truth is irrelevant”
“we’re entitled as we should be”; snotty; arrogant; know it alls…cross us and we’ll hammer you into the ground….
And, sorry to say, the Queen and Royalty as much as they want to appear out of politics by default are a part of the ugliness…
They can only hang onto their cushy financial support and privilege if they help keep that corrupt ship afloat by patting the underclass on the shoulder while helping to serve the elite
– e.g. years ago I watched a newsclip of Charles marketing the military machinery (planes and guns) at an outdoor show for ME Royalty….
That’s how in part they earn their keep.
This ugly treatment of a courageous publisher/journalist who reveals the crimes done with our tax dollars and in our name shows us all the depths they’ve all sunk to….maybe were all along….
Shame on ‘em all.