UK SUPREME COURT REFUSES ASSANGE APPEAL

UPDATED: The case of the imprisoned publisher of WikiLeaks now moves to the Home Secretary Priti Patel. Assange’s lawyers are set to cross appeal, reports Joe Lauria.

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News

Julian Assange, the publisher of WikiLeaks, has been denied his petition to appeal the High Court’s decision to extradite him to the United States, where he faces up to 175 years in prison for publishing U.S. state secrets that revealed evidence of American war crimes. 

Stella Moris, Assange’s fiancee, tweeted the news on Monday.

Assange has four weeks to make submissions to home secretary to persuade her not to send him to the U.S. Another possible step for Assange to forestall extradition is to ask the High Court to hear a cross appeal against the lower court’s judgement. Assange’s attorneys on Monday indicated that that would likely be their next step. They issued the following statement:

 

Background to the Case

Assange won in the magistrate’s court in January 2021. That court decided not to extradite Assange based on his mental state and the high probability he would commit suicide if he were sent to harsh prison conditions in the United States.

The U.S. appealed that decision to the High Court last December and won. It was on that decision the Supreme Court on Monday denied Assange’s petition (pdf) to appeal.  Though the magistrate’s court ruled that he should not be extradited on health grounds, the judge agreed with the United States on every point of law in her 132-page ruling. 

The judge, Vanessa Baraitser, rejected all of Assange’s legal arguments and agreed that his publishing activities violated the law.  As Australian pundit Caitlin Johnstone put it at the time:

“Baraitser’s frightening ruling supported virtually every U.S.  prosecutorial argument that was made during the extradition trial, no matter how absurd and Orwellian. This includes quoting from a long-discredited CNN report alleging without evidence that Assange made the embassy a ‘command post’ for election interference, saying the right to free speech does not give anyone ‘unfettered discretion’ to disclose any document they wish, dismissing arguments from the defense that U.K. law prohibits extradition for political offenses, parroting the false claim that Assange’s attempt to help protect his source Chelsea Manning while she was exfiltrating documents she already had access to was not normal journalistic behavior, saying U.S.  intelligence might have had legitimate reasons to spy on Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy, and claiming Assange’s rights would be protected by the U.S.  legal system if he were extradited.” 

However, Assange’s legal team appears set to now launch a cross appeal in which they will challenge the following points, as laid out here by British legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg QC:

  • The US-UK extradition treaty forbids extradition for political offences with the consequence that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case;

  • The allegations against Assange did not meet the dual criminality test found in section 137 of the Extradition Act;
  • Extradition would be unjust or oppressive under section 82 of the Extradition Act because of the passage of time;
  • Extradition is barred because it is being sough for the extraneous considerations mentioned in section 81 of the Extradition Act. These include the suspect’s political opinions;
  • Extradition is barred by section 87 of the Extradition Act because it would breach the human rights convention by violating article 6 (the right to a fair trial); article 7 (by exposing Assange to a novel and unforeseeable extension of US law); and article 10 (freedom of expression). The judge concluded that she did not need to decide an argument that extradition would expose Assange to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment contrary to article 3 of the convention, given her conclusion on oppressiveness;
  • The extradition request is an abuse of process because it proceeds on a misrepresentation of the facts and because the prosecution is being pursued for an ulterior political motive and is not brought in good faith.

When Must Assurances Be Given?

The High Court at the Royal Courts of Justice. (David Castor/Wikimedia Commons)

The High Court on Jan. 24 had left it up to the Supreme Court to determine whether it would grant permission to consider appeal on one legal issue, namely that assurances the United States gave to the magistrate’s court should have been made during the lower court’s hearing in September 2020 and not afterward. After Assange’s extradition had been barred on heath grounds, the U.S. gave Britain diplomatic assurances that it would not put Assange under the harshest incarceration regime, namely Special Administrative Measures (SAMS), and that he would receive adequate physical and mental health care. 

Assange’s lawyers argued to the High Court in December that the U.S. was trying to re-litigate Baraitser’s decision because it was only after the U.S. lost the case that it came up with these assurances.

The High Court on Jan. 24 left it up to the Supreme Court to decide on whether to hear Assange’s appeal on “a single point of law … in what circumstances can an appellate court receive assurances from a requesting state which were not before the court of first instance in extradition proceedings.” 

This appeared at the time encouraging for Assange because the Supreme Court was not being asked to judge the credibility of the U.S. diplomatic assurances — which it almost certainly would not do — but simply on the matter of when in the legal process those assurances should have been given. 

US Won on Assurances Alone

The High Court had ruled in December that Assange’s extradition could go ahead, vacating Baraitser’s decision. The High Court did not disagree with the substance of that ruling. However it accepted the U.S. “assurances.” On the basis of those assurances alone the High Court overturned Baraitser’s ruling, clearing the way for extradition. 

The High Court in December rejected the defense’s argument that the assurances came too late. “The court rejected various criticism argued on Mr. Assange’s behalf …that the assurances …were not sufficient,” said Lord Justice Timothy Holroyde. 

Siding with the United States, which argued that the assurances could come at any point in the legal process, he read:

“For the reasons given in the judgment which is today handed down, the court allowed the appeal on the grounds that .. a. the DJ [District Judge], having decided that the threshold for discharge under section 91 of the Extradition Act 2003 was met, ought to have notified the USA of her provisional view, to afford it the opportunity to offer assurances to the court; and b. the USA has now provided the United Kingdom with a package of assurances which respond to the DJ’s specific findings.” 

“In our view, a court hearing an extradition case, whether at first instance or on appeal, has the power to receive and consider assurances whenever they are offered by a requesting state,” the High Court judgment said.

It said further:

“An offer of assurances in an extradition case is a solemn matter, requiring careful consideration by the requesting state of its willingness to give specific undertakings to another state. It would not be appropriate to require that to be done on a contingent or hypothetical basis; and we doubt the practicability of such an approach. We do not accept that the USA refrained for tactical reasons from offering assurances at an earlier stage, or acted in bad faith in choosing only to offer them at the appeal stage.”

The High Court also tried to justify why the U.S. waited until after the extradition hearing in September 2020 to make its assurances. “We observe that the decision that all closing submissions should be made in writing, in a case in which the arguments had ranged far and wide over many days of hearing, may well have contributed to the difficulty faced by the USA in offering suitable assurances any earlier than it did,” the court said. 

Had the defense known about the assurances during the extradition hearing in district court it could have argued with evidence from previous cases about their unreliability. But they were never given that chance. 

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers, including The Montreal Gazette and The Star of Johannesburg. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London, a financial reporter for Bloomberg News and began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times.  He can be reached at joelauria@consortiumnews.com and followed on Twitter @unjoe  

 

28 comments for “UK SUPREME COURT REFUSES ASSANGE APPEAL

  1. Tom
    March 16, 2022 at 02:41

    Assange should appeal bevor a european court. They are more likely to be in favour of him. Now that Britain is not part of the EU anymore they can be put under sanctions. There is several countries in the EU who would love to do this. (France, Ireland, Spain, etc.)

    • March 18, 2022 at 02:58

      While former French justice minister Christiane Taubira, who served under the Hollande government, was at one point receptive to the idea of granting Assange (and Snowden) asylum in France back in 2015, I would nevertheless be at least somewhat skeptical about the quality of Assange’s legal advocacy and protections emanating in or from France and Spain as well (given the previous complicity of those governments in, e.g., the Evo Morales grounding incident of 2013).

  2. CNfan
    March 15, 2022 at 18:30

    Confirmation that the Supreme Court is controlled by the oligarchy when it counts.

  3. Alan Ross
    March 15, 2022 at 08:34

    From beginning to end the legal proceedings against Julian Assange have been a mockery. It shows how desperately frightened and angry are the people he exposed, especially because they know that, no matter how much they try and even succeed in intimidating journalists and whistleblowers, their masks have been ripped off permanently exposing them for what they are. I hope he survives this slow-motion extrajudicial murder. Julian may not live much longer but what he accomplished will always be in so many people’s minds to be passed on and never forgotten.

  4. alley cat
    March 15, 2022 at 08:27

    Julian Assange has committed no crime, except in the minds of enemies of the First Amendment and democracy. Assange exposed crimes committed by our government, and the American people have every right to know about those crimes, as well as a duty to punish the perpetrators.

    Much of the rest of the world has long admired the United States because it was one of the few countries where freedom of speech was taken seriously. Not any more. Human rights abusers can now point to Assange and Snowden as examples of America’s hypocrisy on human rights.

    Tell me again how exceptional we are—how different we are from the bad guys.

  5. susan
    March 15, 2022 at 06:57

    Our legal systems are a SHAM! They punish the innocent while the truly guilty are free to become government officials – including members of “Supreme Courts”. What a farce!

  6. Mike
    March 15, 2022 at 04:59

    “Well, he put the lives of our agents at risk, didn’t he? Lock him up and throw away the key!”

    Well, actually, he did everything possible to avoid that risk – and probably none have been.
    Well, the combined UK government and judicial system has already carried out that suggestion: isolation in a concrete cage and untreated medical conditions leading to a long slow death. Who needs waterboarding when you don’t need a confession?

    The reality is that the governments of the united states of Britain and America cannot allow their good name to be sullied by someone telling the truth.

  7. SomeSalt
    March 15, 2022 at 04:12

    Clowns as ever sawing the ideological branches upon which they perch.

    Thanks are due for the further demysification of the “rule of law”and the addition of acknowledgements of the hoped for rule of man/woman, which will be useful worldwide when the illusions of we are all in this togetherness is further dissipated.

    Mr. Lenin was of the view that capitalists would sell you the rope with which to hang them, whilst the vindictive scared give you it for free.

    Unfortunate for Mr. Assange and his family, but hopefully he is not subjected to the further indignity of being turned into a T shirt like Mr. Guevara to facilitate another Condor iteration.

  8. March 15, 2022 at 01:17

    These are sad and depraved moments in the modern history of juris prudence, when so-called “Supreme” courts in both Great Britain and the United States formally deny the basic human right to a trial by law, and opt instead for retreating to the practice of the intransigent inquisitions of the dark ages.
    Viva Julian Assange; Be Safe & Stay Strong!
    As we used to say back in the 60’s; The PIGS will get what’s com’in to them?
    As Usual,
    Thom Williams aka (EA?)

  9. GEORGE PHILBY
    March 14, 2022 at 23:40

    Updated, but still relevant:

    FOR JULIAN
    Orwell and Huxley warned –
    Journalists get suborned –
    Tell lies to please the state,
    Start wars, or spew out hate.

    Julian‘s different, though.
    He’ll tell us every time
    U.S. kills children – no
    One is jailed for that crime.

    Clinton and Britain too
    Haunt Julian like snakes.
    Crush him, as pythons do.
    At justice, they are fakes,

    Killing him slowly. Now,
    Journalists shouldn’t sup
    Biden’s Kool-Aid – one day
    They may be learning how
    It feels to be shut up.

  10. March 14, 2022 at 19:45

    Cue all of the neoconservative-adjacent pundits, policymakers, and Twitterati situated roughly in the liberal-center and sometimes even in purportedly progressive quarters (alongside the out-and-out neoconservatives, of course, being the progeny of bitter, disaffected social democrats/Trotskyites-turned-Straussian/Machiavellian authoritarians that they are) now poised to pile on Assange. Be prepared as they renew the erroneous claim that he is some kind of witting Russian asset with greater vigor (which even the US Justice Department has not alleged) and seek his extradition as some misguided tactic to stick it to Putin, even though WikiLeaks has exposed many nefarious activities by the Russian government, the Syrian government, the Chinese government, etc. in various past instances as well, alongside crimes, offenses, and injustices committed by the US government; Western-based governments, banks, and corporations; and myriad other private and public actors the world over.

  11. Sam F
    March 14, 2022 at 19:10

    The US judiciary is at least as corrupt as that of the UK, due to several very effective processes:
    1. Their prior careers are as crooked lawyers seeking deceptions and excuses rather than fair interpretations of law;
    2. They are appointed for making decisions favoring those who control political parties by economic power; and
    3. Their primitive tribalism defends only their political party and other lawyers and judges, rather than the people.
    These processes ensure that corruption increases from the district to the appeals courts, and to the Supreme Court.
    The Supreme Court denies all but one percent of the cases submitted as petitions for consideration (Certiorari).
    A judiciary controlled by political parties seeking bribes of the rich and big business will never serve the people.

  12. MrK
    March 14, 2022 at 19:01

    “The US-UK extradition treaty forbids extradition for political offences with the consequence that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case;”

    Political offenses are crimes against the state – Gathering, transmitting or losing Defense Information (17 of the 18 counts) and Conspiracy to Commit Computer Intrusion of government computers are both crimes against the state, and are therefore no basis for extradition.

    “ARTICLE 4”

    “Political and Military Offenses”

    “1. Extradition shall not be granted if the offense for which extradition is requested is a political offense.”

    Source: Treaty Series No. 13 (2007)
    Extradition Treaty
    between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the United States of America with Exchange of Notes

  13. Ray Peterson
    March 14, 2022 at 18:12

    Isn’t Priti Patel the justice minister deciding whether or not Julian may be extradited,
    herself the author of a 1989 extension of punishments for journalists and
    whistle blowers? What chance has Julian for even for even a speck of justice?
    And could there be a coincidence in the U.K. MI6 CIA using Ukraine as a
    proxy war to “bleed Russian White” and its Western media propaganda machine
    in full regalia and WikiLeaks founder being prepared for a torturous death?
    “. . . and the whole world is in the power of the evil one” (1 Jn.5.19).

  14. March 14, 2022 at 17:57

    Objectively speaking, a cross appeal to the High Court would be a reasonable next step. The offenses charged in the 18-count US indictment are transparently political in nature.

    However, lapdogs are neither objective nor reasonable. I place no confidence in any UK court in the case of Julian Assange. I share Professor Marjorie Cohn’s view that prospects are much better in the European Court of Human Rights.

  15. Ian Stevenson
    March 14, 2022 at 17:49

    The Home Secretary Priti Patel, is the nastiest Home Secretary of my lifetime. She was found guilty of bullying civi servants by a tribunal but because she is a top Minister ( one the three ‘Great Offices of State” under the Prime Minister) the verdict has to be acted on by the PM Boris Johnson. He has done nothing.
    The present cabinet is made up of people who supported Brexit or decided to change their beliefs to hold office. Few of them have the necessary level of talent. Brexit was helped by support and money from the US. Nigel Farage has close connections with Steve Bannon whose values are, IMO, far right. The circle around Boris Johnson will not want to displease Washington. They are still desperate for a US-UK trade deal, especially as Brexit is increasingly seen as failing.
    Extradition to America would be a disgrace to British justice but I am not hopeful for Julian Assange.

  16. alley cat
    March 14, 2022 at 16:12

    Julian Assange has committed no crime, except in the minds of enemies of the First Amendment and democracy. He exposed crimes committed by our government, and the American people have every right to know about those crimes, as well as a duty to punish the perpetrators.

    Much of the rest of the world has long admired the United States because it was one of the few countries where freedom of speech was taken seriously. Not any more. Human rights abusers can now point to Assange and Snowden as examples of America’s hypocrisy on human rights.

    Tell me again how exceptional we are—how different we are from the bad guys.

  17. Evan Jones
    March 14, 2022 at 15:44

    A corrupt and morally bankrupt judiciary and political class from top to bottom.
    hxxps://dissidentvoice.org/2022/03/the-crime-of-julian-assange/
    Sanctions anyone?

  18. John Ressler
    March 14, 2022 at 15:25

    Julian Assange . . . remember him and what he did for us? I know it’s difficult to recall because our MSM, as well as the pretend darlings of the non-existent souled out Left press i.e., the NYT (paper of record) WaPo, PBS, MSNBC, BBC, NPR, CNN – all have intentionally ignored him. I imagine they think “why can’t he just die already.” HRC has openly talked of assassinating him. We’ve got it all ass backwards. Ready to die for the lie(s) ?

    • Anna
      March 14, 2022 at 20:27

      Julian Assange was imprisoned on the trumped charges, at the heart of which was consensual sex with a 30-year-old woman.

      Enters a crowd of men – including Wexner, Bronfmans, Lauder, and other members of the influential Mega Group, who financed and maintained the pedophilia operation in Manhattan/Rape Island, and such Epstein’s clients as Clinton, Barak, and Derschowitz, who were never investigated and punished.

      Julian Assange is a journalist; freedom of speech and press is still protected by the US Constitution. The First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” By persecuting Assange, the US government violates the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

      Moreover, the name of Assange should be tied to the US government’s leniency towards pedophilia and high places. The names of Wexner, Bronfman, Lauder, Clinton, Barak, Derschowitz and other clients of Epstein must be mentioned every time the US government attempts to punish Assange.

  19. Andrew Nichols
    March 14, 2022 at 15:12

    The Wests Man in the Iron Mask. Just look at how stifling the western narrative is unchalkenged by their lies being revealed. We are screwed.

  20. JonT
    March 14, 2022 at 14:50

    Thanks once again to CN and Mr. Lauria for being quick off the mark with this report. If Julian Assange was imprisoned in Russia on the same ‘charges’, and subjected to the same judicial farce, do we think that for one nanosecond that the UK and US would not be calling for his release? Or course not. Incidentally, I am half way through Nils Melzers book: The Trial of Julian Assange, which should be read by everyone and anyone with an interest in this case. However, I think that the title of the book should perhaps be ‘The Setup of Julian Assange

  21. rosemerry
    March 14, 2022 at 14:13

    To call this justice makes a mockery of everything the UK claims to stand for.

  22. Me Myself
    March 14, 2022 at 13:58

    Unbelievable becomes believable.

    At times where the truth really needs to be told.

    The court clearly knows this and will do whatever it takes to keep the truth out of the public domain.

    More than sad!

    • SomeSalt
      March 15, 2022 at 04:58

      “More than sad!”

      No only doing their job.

      You may have illusions about what their job entails but in the “higher reaches” they have no such illusions.

  23. Carolyn L Zaremba
    March 14, 2022 at 13:53

    If the United States government doesn’t care how many civilians in Ukraine die because of their instigation of war, to expect them to be fair towards Julian Assange, who exposed the many war crimes of the United States government is to believe in fairies. Of course we must continue to fight for Julian’s freedom, that is not in doubt. But to expect the U.S. to behave honorably is to be naive in the extreme.

  24. alley cat
    March 14, 2022 at 13:53

    So there you have it. The moral rot of “lesser-evilism” on full display, in all its equivocating, temporizing, ignominy. Who was a better ruler, Nero or Caligula?

    Today, a virtual sentence of death for Julian Assange and the last vestiges of democracy in America.

    Tomorrow, what? A hot war with Russia and China for trying to de-dollarize their economies instead of kissing the boot that is stamping on their faces?

    If you dare to object, you will share Julian’s fate. Since few share Julian’s courage and integrity, they will instead grieve in silence for their failure to take a stand when it would have made a difference.

  25. Mike
    March 14, 2022 at 13:31

    Thank you

Comments are closed.