Jonathan Swift’s Lilliputian Reasoning

The High Court justice gave short shrift to serious grounds of appeal to stop the extradition of imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, reports Tareq Haddad.

Julian Assange supporters block road opposite Royal Courts of Justice where the U.S. appeal was being heard, Oct. 28, 2021. (Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign)

By Tareq Haddad
Tareq Haddad

Four years into Julian Assange’s imprisonment at H.M.P. Belmarsh and four years since plain-clothed officers from London’s Metropolitan Police Service dragged the WikiLeaks journalist and publisher out of Ecuador’s London embassy, taking him from Kensington to a maximum-security prison, a British judge last week rejected two separate applications made by Assange’s lawyers to appeal his extradition to the United States — striking down all submitted grounds.

In making his judgements, Justice Jonathan Swift, formerly a lawyer for the British government [whose favourite clients he says were the intelligence services], also struck down the call from Assange’s lawyers to discuss new facts that have arisen in the case — concluding pithily: “The application to rely on fresh evidence is refused.”

Sir Jonathan Swift (Twitter)

In making this ruling, Justice Swift in essence states that irrespective of what we know now since September 2020, when then-District Judge Vanessa Baraitser heard all of the evidence at London’s Central Criminal Court some 32 months ago, nothing new could change his mind with respect to her findings, other than those he permitted British lawyers representing the U.S. government to appeal.

In August 2021, Justice Swift allowed the Crown Prosecution Service lawyers representing the U.S. government, the team led by James Lewis KC, to appeal Baraitser’s original findings that ordered Assange’s discharge on all five grounds they submitted.

In October of that year, two days of appeal hearings were held at the Royal Courts of Justice. By December, the finding by Baraitser — who has since been promoted to a Circuit Court judge — was overturned [solely on the basis of written U.S. assurances submitted after Baraitsr’s ruling that Assange would not be mistreated in prison].

Baraitser was instructed to decide the question of Assange’s mental health differently, the issue which initially prevented Assange’s extradition, and she was directed to send the case to then-Secretary of State Priti Patel for approval, who did so the following June.

By contrast, in Justice Swift’s latest involvement with the case, he rejected a total of 12 grounds submitted by Assange’s lawyers across two applications — one against Baraitser’s January 2021 ruling, submitted on June 30, 2022. Another, against Patel’s decision, filed a week earlier on June 23.

In responding to the appeal application on Baraitser’s ruling, Swift did not hold back in his remarks.

“An appeal under the Extradition Act 2003 is not an opportunity for general rehearsal of all matters canvassed at an extradition hearing. […]

That is not a general invitation to the Administrative Court simply, or on all matters, to stand in the shoes of the judge who conducted the extradition hearing.”

Swift took issue with the level of detail submitted by Assange’s lawyers on eight grounds. Initially, in fact, there had been 12.

“There are 8 proposed grounds of appeal,” Swift said in his 3-page ruling. “They are set out at great length (some 100 pages), but the extraordinary length of the pleading serves only to make clear that the proposed appeal comes to no more than an attempt to re-run the extensive arguments made to and rejected by the District Judge.”

He then offers some reconciliation before again striking Assange’s lawyers down:

“To the extent that the proposed grounds invite this court to revisit her evaluative judgments (and this is the essence of most of the proposed grounds of appeal), the starting point now must be that those matters have already been very carefully considered by her during her thorough written judgment.

In that context, having considered each of the proposed grounds of appeal, I do not consider any raises any properly arguable case.”

Ground By Ground

Inside Royal Courts of Justice. (Nick Garrod/Flickr)

[Read Assange lawyers’ grounds of cross appeal of Baraitser’s judgement here. And appeal of home secretary’s extradition order here.]

In the three-page ruling, Swift then proceeded to snappily conclude why each of the grounds was rejected.

On ground one of the cross appeal of Baraitser’s judgement, Assange’s lawyers’ point that Section 81(a) of the 2003 U.S.-U.K. Extradition Act prevents extradition if it “is in fact made for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing him on account of his race, religion, nationality, gender, sexual orientation or political opinions,” (with Assange’s political opinions being the pertinent factor in this case). Swift said: “There is no arguable basis to go behind the Judge’s assessment of this matter.”

Swift said criticism from Assange’s lawyers over particular matters that were “not dealt with” in Baraitser’s ruling is not a valid point. He wrote:

“A judgment is not required to address every point put, but rather to set out the reasons for the conclusion reached. In this case the conclusion reached by the Judge is not, even arguably, capable of being undermined by any of the arguments raised.”

The other dismissals came down just as quickly.

On ground two: “The submission on whether the District Judge applied the correct test is not arguable.”

On ground three: “I do not consider the District Judge’s evaluation of the facts of this case to be arguably wrong.”

On ground four: “Neither of the matters raised by this ground of appeal is arguable.”

The judgement continued as so.

On ground five, Baraitser’s judgement “does not show any error.” He added: “The appeal is no more than an attempt to re-run an argument of fact rejected by the District Judge.”

On ground six, “This is a point of no substance.”

Ground seven was rejected because it raised the same maters “materially” as ground one. “There is no error in the District Judge’s reasoning on this matter.”

On ground eight, Swift concludes:

“This ground repeats submissions made to the District Judge. She concluded, and I agree, that each part of the submission was no more than the Appellant advancing an ‘alternative narrative’ setting out contentions that were matters to be decided at trial. None of the points relied on raises any arguable ground of appeal.”

Rejected Appeal Against Patel

Then U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel at Essex Police Headquarters for new recruits’ graduation parade, October 2020. (Pippa Fowles, No 10 Downing Street, Flickr)

Meanwhile, Swift issued another judgement last week, this time rejecting the four grounds submitted in an application to appeal the decision made by Patel to authorize the extradition.

On ground one, following the call by Assange’s lawyers that Patel’s decision should’ve also taken the U.S. and U.K. Extradition Treaty into account, not just the 2003 Extradition Act, Swift ruled that Patel was right to only apply the 2003 Act, [which omitted from the Treaty the barring of extradition for “political offences.”]

On grounds two, three and four, Swift concluded that Patel’s “conclusions were consistent with authority.”

Assange’s lawyers now have until Tuesday to make a renewed application to the High Court, as confirmed by his wife Stella Assange in a statement:

“The matter will then proceed to a public hearing before two new judges at the High Court and we remain optimistic that we will prevail and that Julian will not be extradited to the United States where he faces charges that could result in him spending the rest of his life in a maximum security prison for publishing true information that revealed war crimes committed by the U.S. government.”

In making their arguments, Assange’s lawyers will no doubt look to challenge Swift’s assertion that new matters arising since September 2020 cannot be considered by a potential High Court appeal.

For instance, just last week, there was the bombshell revelation that Spanish police omitted over 200 gigabytes of data obtained by a court-ordered search on the home and business premises of UC Global founder David Morales from a judge investigating the former Spanish marine.

Among those files which never made it to the judge, and by extension Assange’s lawyers, is a folder titled “Operations & Projets” in which further directories are broken down by region.

Going to “North America” and then “USA”, a folder is found with the title “CIA”. In it, there are images and video footage from the secret surveillance undertaken in the Ecuadorean embassy — this finding is significant as it’s the first time the three-letter agency is explicitly mentioned in Morales’ files.

It proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Morales — whose firm UC Global was contracted to provide security for the Ecuadorean embassy in London, sold Assange and the Ecuadoreans out to the U.S. government who, while pursuing Assange’s prosecution, spied on his meetings with lawyers and medical professionals.

Meanwhile last Wednesday, four U.S. citizens, in their ongoing civil suit against the C.I.A. and its former director Mike Pompeo, introduced this Spanish evidence in their latest motion which called on the judge to reject the defendant’s motion to dismiss.

There is also the matter of Pompeo’s January 2023 memoir titled Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love in which he describes Assange as his “enemy.” If this evidence is not introduced in Assange’s appeal, we are expected to accept that Assange’s prosecution is not political, in spite of these type of comments from political appointees.

There is also another memoir of a political appointee — this time In the Thick of It by Sir Alan Duncan, the U.K.’s former minister of state for the Americas, published in April of 2021. It details Duncan and the British Foreign Office’s close involvement in negotiation’s on behalf of the U.S. to secure Assange’s imprisonment.

Writing of April 11, 2019, the day Assange was grabbed out of Ecuador’s embassy, Duncan said: “Suddenly it’s game on: I’m told Assange will be sprung from the embassy today. So I drop everything and head to the Operations Room at the top of the Foreign Office. Operation Pelican is go — suitably assisted by one official wearing a pelican-motif tie.”

There, in the Operations Room, Duncan watched a live feed — presumably provided by the C.I.A. [via UC Gobal.]

“We were expecting Assange to be brought out very soon after their arrival, but texts to the Ops Room revealed he had caused a bit of a commotion and had been screaming and bawling while edging towards the Ambassador’s office — at which point he was forcibly restrained.”

Former Prime Minister Theresa May sitting between Father of the House Ken Clarke (l) and former Minister of State Sir Alan Duncan (r). (©UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/ Stephen Pike/Flickr)

He continued: “Then, with military precision, six police officers marched up to line up each side of the entrance steps, to form a protective corridor through which Assange was bundled out at about 10.20am.”

Duncan concluded: “So, job done at last – and we take a commemorative photo of Team Pelican. It had taken many months of patient diplomatic negotiation, and in the end it went off without a hitch. I do millions of interviews, trying to keep the smirk off my face.”

Finally, there is the evidence of Conservative MP David Davis which British justices would be amiss to dismiss. Following Baraitser’s ruling, the former shadow Home Secretary, in office when the U.K.-U.S. Extradition Treaty and the U.K. Extradition Act were introduced in 2003, said Baraitser misinterpreted the intention of Parliament.

He told the House of Commons in January 2021:

“Although we cannot, of course, discuss the substance of the Assange judgment here today, the House must note the worrying development more generally in our extradition arrangements — extradition for political offences. This stems from an erroneous interpretation of Parliament’s intention in 2003. This must now be clarified.

Article 4 of the U.K.-U.S. extradition treaty provides that extradition will not be granted for political offences. In the U.K., the treaty was implemented in the Extradition Act 2003. It has been claimed that, because the Act does not specifically refer to political offences, Parliament explicitly took the decision to remove the bar when passing the Act in 2003. That is not the case – Parliament had no such intention.

Had it intended such a massive deviation from our centuries-long tradition of providing asylum, it would have been explicit.”

Whether British judges accept new evidence on these grounds is yet to be determined. In Justice Swift’s final direction to Assange’s lawyers, he insisted that any renewed application for an appeal must be short: it must be self-contained and cannot exceed 20 pages, [after complaining that Assange’s perfected grounds of appeal ran to 100 pages.]

The case continues.

Tareq Haddad is an investigative journalist and co-ordinator for #JournalistsSpeakUpForAssange. He is on the editorial team of  @improvethenews.

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38 comments for “Jonathan Swift’s Lilliputian Reasoning

  1. Otto
    June 13, 2023 at 08:15

    It seems the unequal extradition treaty has not come up viz. the UK ratified the treaty but the US did not – seems to make no difference and is never mentioned in the proceedings – I wonder why not.

    Also the ‘guarantee that the US will not ‘maltreat’ Assange – has no Assange lawyer asked the US what they consider maltreatment?
    I suspect not. If Assange is thrown into a disgusting dungeon and left to rot the US can say that they do not consider that as maltreatment which the UK will love to accept.

  2. Lois Gagnon
    June 12, 2023 at 21:18

    Absolute power over the truth being published in the public interest is an immensely ugly thing to witness. We see the lengths those in control of the system are willing to go to protect their ability to wage war on the world for profit with impunity. They have become monsters. They themselves are the ones who should be in the dock facing life in prison for their crimes. Of course they know that all too well which motivates them to go to more and more absurd lengths to keep that from happening. Their charges against Assange reek of retribution for publishing nothing but the truth so the public could judge their rulers on real evidence of behavior rather than a stage-managed fraud. The Western governments led by the US are one conglomerated Kakistocracy. We need a revolution. Free Assange!

  3. eric
    June 12, 2023 at 21:12

    A three-page ruling consisting of rebuttals of one or two sentences!
    How could anyone dispute such nuanced reasoning?

  4. CaseyG
    June 12, 2023 at 19:29

    Apparently, in America, a person can get away with murder and all other kinds of horrors. For examples what happened to those US soldiers who murdered the citizens of My Lai ? The war monger Bush let that military murderer, that Lt. Callie go!

    And what of the murdered many citizens of Iraq? For the citizens of Iraq because—–horrors as American soldiers murdered people which is seen as a positive, but those story tellers of the horror of America’s war get away with MURDER, over and over again.

    Dear America, does your version of democracy actually require lies and torture? Apparently, some one has REwritten the Preamble and no one noticed : “We the very best of the People, in order to form a more profitable nation for ourselves–as that is truly what a perfect union would be—–and NO, justice—- is not a real word, but JUST US makes perfect sense and dollars too…..

    FREE JULIAN ASSANGE—because anything else dooms the future of Truth and the future of America!

  5. June 12, 2023 at 17:31

    Sad day when law courts become a bludgeon for injustice

  6. Guy St Hilaire
    June 12, 2023 at 15:48

    RFK Jr.Should come right out and say it ,If he becomes president of the United States ,he will pardon Julian Assange as one of his first orders.

    • Valerie
      June 12, 2023 at 20:56

      Apparently someone already did that:

      “Donald Trump ‘offered Julian Assange a pardon if he denied Russia link to hack”

      WikiLeaks published emails damaging to Hillary Clinton in 2016Ex-congressman denies being middleman for US president

      Julian Borger in Washington and Owen Bowcott

      Wed 19 Feb 2020 Guardian

    • Jack
      June 13, 2023 at 23:22

      RFK Jr has virtually no chance of becoming President.

      • Valerie
        June 14, 2023 at 02:59

        Stranger things have happened: donald dump comes to mind.

      • Valerie
        June 14, 2023 at 06:52

        Just read this article:

        “Ignoring Robert F Kennedy Jr is not an option”

        “Given the strengths that Kennedy possesses as a candidate, we should expect him to continue to build momentum. Ignoring him is not an option”

        Naomi Klein at WN dot com
        14 June

  7. Linda Edwards
    June 12, 2023 at 15:00

    Justice delayed…For surely there will be a Day of Reckoning for all who participated in this perversion of Justice

    and persecution of Julian Assange.

  8. Dr. Hujjatullah M.H.B. Sahib
    June 12, 2023 at 14:32

    The standards of British justice have protractedly been on the decline and this case represents the new low to which it has stooped. It is disgusting that the once healthy trans-Atlantic alliance has been allowed to degenerate to a mere cabal of rats (i.e. : the British aristocRATS and the US democRATS) authoritatively masterbating on all moral laws. At least the imported Indians (Priti Patel, Rishi Sunak, Kamala Harris etc.) co-opted into this Anglo-American politico-legal mockery should have the common sense to excuse themselves from it given their better grasp of the deeper laws of Karma. But no, they too seem to rejoice in shame so long as it is PRIVILLEGED ! Crazy sociopaths, free Julian Assange !

    • Valerie
      June 12, 2023 at 18:12

      You omitted the braverman who rejoices in sending asylum seekers to Rwanda. They should all (patel, sunak, braverman) remember their heritage. If the UK had adopted the same principles/policies they advocate now, when their parents were expelled from Uganda/Kenya they would not be in the UK. And they would not hold the positions they are priviledged to hold. They have lost their humility and humanity. And they have all but forgotten the laws of Karma.

      • Dr. Hujjathullah M.H.B. Sahib
        June 13, 2023 at 13:00

        You read me right. So true ma’am !

  9. Hans
    June 12, 2023 at 11:37

    The Swift person covers his baldness, like Roberts. Bad sign for judges.

    • Valerie
      June 12, 2023 at 12:14

      A vain, empty vessel, with no sense of justice. He should be ashamed to sit and judge, when he himself should be judged on his understanding of truth from lies and good from evil.

  10. Bushrod Lake
    June 12, 2023 at 11:26

    If Assange’s offense is not “political”, what the hell is it? But then, rationality doesn’t seem tom apply.

  11. Gordon Hastie
    June 12, 2023 at 11:20

    More like the Queen in Alice in Wonderland. If he wasn;t so clearly a diabolical tool of the British and US governments this Swift would be a comical figure indeed. The great Jonathan Swift, as opposed to this Lilliputian, tore little monsters like the latter to shreds. He’s lucky to be in a different era, and Assange is very unlucky that his persecution has been made so much easier by justices more beholden to power than to actual justice. And I’d love to wipe the smirk of the toad Duncan’s face. I hope karma catches up with all those involved in this crime, including the vile Guardian, and not forgetting Joe Biden

    • Valerie
      June 12, 2023 at 12:21

      And donald dump. He deserves a mention too. (Hopefully soon to be held at his majesty’s pleasure – a brit euphemism for prison)

      • Louisette
        June 12, 2023 at 21:01

        He tried. The CIA, etc would not let him.

    • Otto
      June 13, 2023 at 08:01

      It’s a shame but karma isn’t so strong these days. look at Kissinger.

  12. doris
    June 12, 2023 at 11:17

    I am so disgusted and saddened by the consistent persecution of one of the world’s heroes I can barely breathe. I had such high hopes for the world, being born in the era of civil rights, women’s rights, We the People’s end of the Vietnam invasion, social programs that helped pull people out of poverty, and decent wages through strong unions. Now all I have is contempt for a nation that has been hijacked by the sociopaths who control every aspect of our lives. It makes me want to vomit on the red, white, and blue flags of both nations.

    Long live Julian Assange. And Daniel Hale. And Edward Snowden. And John Kirikou. And Steven Donziger. And all the other heroes of truth who’ve been persecuted for reporting crimes against humanity.

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      June 12, 2023 at 12:04

      Hear, hear. The whole affair is planned retribution against Julian Assange for revealing the crimes of the very system that owns the judges.

      • June 12, 2023 at 13:41

        Here, from the utterly quisling US vassal state of Norway, I would be a FOOL not to realize the fact that you are 100% correct dear Carolyn!

        • Valerie
          June 12, 2023 at 18:23

          Well you have those “quisling” neighbours, Sweden and Finland to keep you company. So it’s not all bad.

    • Valerie
      June 12, 2023 at 12:28

      And the “defenders of wildlife” murdered, trying to protect the Amazon and environs in South America and other places.

    • Calvin e Lash Jr
      June 12, 2023 at 12:40


    • Guy St Hilaire
      June 12, 2023 at 15:51

      A thousand thumbs up !

  13. Jeff Harrison
    June 12, 2023 at 10:22

    The US and UK, two peas in a pod. Both societies of men and not laws.

  14. Rob
    June 12, 2023 at 10:17

    Swift is not serving as a judge in the truest sense. He is nothing more than a loyal agent of the British Foreign Office and intelligence services. I have no doubt that he will be be rewarded for his services.

  15. Elyse Gilbert
    June 12, 2023 at 06:59

    The blatant twisting of legalese to perpetuate the continued criminalization of the award winning journalist Julian Assange, only serves to prove that these soulless pond scum actors benefit no one other than the predator class they serve.
    Of course this little man was a government lawyer before becoming a judge and… of course he supports the intelligence community along with any unjust acts such as spying and plotting assassinations that they perform because they are above the law, as he is in his own egotistical little mind.
    I wish for his day of reckoning to come very soon as he might be historically remembered as holding one of the hammers and driving the nail in the coffin of a courageous hero to the people along with what is left of a free and unfettered press. I am disgusted.
    This decision is beyond nauseating to say the least.

  16. Andrew Thomas
    June 12, 2023 at 03:43

    The UK government is beneath contempt.

  17. JonT
    June 12, 2023 at 03:35

    Those dreaded three final words; “The case continues”. Our politicians, our elected representatives (not by me in the future), should all hang their heads in shame. No wait… they do not have any. I think it was Alan Duncan who described Assange as a “miserable little worm”. Well, we all know now who the worms really are.

    • Nylene Schoellhorn
      June 12, 2023 at 10:27

      Earth worms are good creatures.
      The corrupt humans who are trying to destroy Julian Assange are far below worms. They are sociopaths. If Julian Assange is sent to an American Prison, he will take his place with other political prisoners such as Leonard Peltier.
      Perhaps We the People can create some kind of all encompassing Political Prisoner Movement to free and end such outrageously corrupt government actions.

      • Valerie
        June 12, 2023 at 12:42

        Doesn’t the International Court of Human Rights come under that jurisdiction? And i believe Julian Assange’s team have launched such an appeal with that court. Either way, he must be freed.


          June 12, 2023 at 12:48

          The European Court of Human Rights.

          • Valerie
            June 12, 2023 at 13:27

            Good. Thankyou. Now i wonder what their track record is in such cases. Are they above a brit court ruling i wonder.

  18. Steve Abbott
    June 12, 2023 at 00:11

    Taking it as given, that in this case, “the court” refers to the person “Swift”, I would like to confess to the deepest contempt of court. That might perhaps be better phrased as “utter contempt for this particular court”.

Comments are closed.