The ‘Perfected Grounds of Appeal’ submitted by Julian Assange’s lawyers to the High Court of England and Wales reveals new evidence of deception by both Britain and the United States. (With transcript).
Emmy Butlin from the Julian Assange Defence Committee discusses the revelations with Cathy Vogan, executive producer of CN Live!. Recorded July 3, 2023 on Julian Assange‘s 52nd birthday, his 5th spent on remand in Belmarsh Prison in London.
So that’s 52 seconds long. And of course, the strikes through it, how you mark the prison days and the five candles represent the five birthdays that Julian has spent in Belmarsh. But the quote is from the Assange appeal. And I’ve just finished reading the whole 150 pages of the appeal, and I’m pulling out the most important, a lot of them new points for me.
I know, and you know the case very well. We’ve been following it for, what, 13 years? Something like that. So there were things that leapt out at me, things I knew about already, but more detail, some transcripts, very important points. And well, one of the things was that we thought that there was a political exception in the extradition treaty, but not in the act.
But the defense argues that there is a political exception in the ACT, Section 81 where you can’t extradite somebody for their political opinions, and that is grouped together with other forms, alongside other forms of discrimination like race and nationality. But then they go on to point out that Julian’s opinion against torture is universal. It’s what they call a jus cogens prohibition.
It means that every court in the world is not only against torture, not only regards it as a crime, but it is the responsibility of that court to listen to reports of torture and do whatever they can to prevent it from happening again. So it’s very powerful, Section 81. They should have recognized it. It says there, that exposing crime, including state crime, is a protected political act.
And so I thought that was one of the most powerful points that they made in the appeal. It kind of represents, I don’t know, maybe about the first 30 pages, and they argue it out. But one of the most important parts of that is about the International Criminal Court, and that not only WikiLeaks, but Julian Assange, his very presence is essential in the International Criminal Court to prosecute C.I.A. torture.
And they argue that this ratcheting up of the charges and the cumulative years – some countries serve sentences for different crimes concurrently, but the U.S. just adds them up. So in his case, it comes to well beyond his natural life. It means that he can never get to the International Criminal Court to testify and thus impunity for the C.I.A. is protected.
And they point out that that is part of the nefarious motivation behind this prosecution. It’s just one of the things that is in the 150 page appeal. Kristinn Hrafnsson has his doubts as to whether Justice Swift actually read it, because there’s a lot of other things, terrible mistakes that the district judge (Vanessa Baraitser) made in the face of the evidence that was presented to her.
She misinterpreted it. Maybe some of it went above her head. The forensics went above her head. One of the things I learned that was totally new to me was all that the evidence that the forensic examiner Patrick Eller gave, as a result of that, the U.S. retracted the allegation that the whole purpose of cracking this hash password was to hide Chelsea Manning’s identity.
So the U.S. retracted that because it had been shown that it was nonsense. Just before the ruling came out. But somehow the prosecution managed to persuade her that, oh, it could still be of some relevance to a jury. And there was absolutely no evidence for that. But more widely, I became familiar with the Zakrzewsky abuse. That comes from a 2013 case in Poland, where it was articulated that the evidence, or the facts of a case, when it is given in accompaniment to an extradition request must be fair, proper and accurate. Right?
And in fact, they go on to point out that a lot of the information that was given to the courts and this is this point about “the U.S. misled U.K. courts and the core facts of the case”. I was only aware of the forensics because I’m a technical person, but there were three areas, the most wanted list, the forensics and all the forensics was stuff that they knew since Chelsea Manning’s court martial.
They distorted their own evidence and finally they led the court to believe that only WikiLeaks had published the unredacted cables, and they omitted all of the information about Cryptome, the Pirate Bay and hundreds of other websites that this information was published on first. And this points to — now this is crucial, this is absolutely crucial, because it points to a difference between the Official Secrets Act and the Espionage Act.
So it’s a strict liability in the latter case, but in the Official Secrets Act, if information has been made public already and is available worldwide, as it was on hundreds of websites, it is not an offense to republish it. And this comes from that famous Spycatcher case, right? Which one of our prime ministers, Malcolm Turnbull, he was the barrister who defended that.
It was regarded as being an unwinnable case. And our prime minister pointed out this difference between the Espionage Act and the Official Secrets Act. So that was absolutely crucial evidence, because in fact, withheld, it did not reveal that there was dual criminality. So there you go. That’s been filling my head for the last several days, and I’m writing about that now.
Fantastic. Always learning.
Yeah. And it’s so welcome because there’s been a lot of stuff that we’ve been hungry to learn, but it’s been more restricted to the legal domain. And I’m very grateful to Craig Murray for publishing the appeal and I took the time to read the whole 150 pages. .
Amazing. I’m looking forward to more video podcasts about this, so we can all share and understand, because through all of that comes hope.
Comes hope, particularly when we see that the law has actually been broken in this case because often the law is so complicated, it’s very difficult for us to understand what is going on, and how, and I’m talking about the public. But if people like you are willing to go in there, do the hard graft, learn, understand and break it out, and bring the knowledge and understanding in plain language to all supporters, then we possess the facts through you, and we can use those facts.
It’s extremely important that morale stays high. This has been such a long campaign, so many years. It’s very difficult to sustain, often, your strength and therefore at each blow you need to find ways to overcome, and continue with the work. But I’d like to remind you, Vanessa Baraitser was a junior magistrate. Now she’s been elevated to the Crown Court, but her boss was Emma Arbuthnot, who was the chief magistrate at Westminster Magistrates Court and was advising and guiding Baraitser.
So I’m not sure if you’re aware, but I will let you know, that Emma Arbuthnot is someone who, to my mind, has wilfully lied in court about the Julian Assange case. And I say that because she presided over the proceedings taken by Julian Assange’s legal case in January and February 2018, in order to rescind the arrest warrant against Julian Assange, which had been issued in 2012 when he entered the Ecuadorian embassy seeking political asylum and receiving it.
So the very essence of the violation of the bail conditions became the pretext for all this surveillance all these years. Even after the Swedish case was closed, the preliminary investigation was closed in 2017, they continued to uphold the validity of the arrest warrant. And in January 2018, his legal team took it to Westminster Magistrates Court, challenging and wishing to rescind it.
It was Emma Arbuthnot who made it very, very plain that they will continue to hold as valid the arrest warrant against Julian Assange. And part of the summation was, part of the points that of course the legal team was making there, was that Julian Assange sought political asylum in order to protect his life and work from the persecution of Julian Assange by United States and the potential of extradition.
At the time, if you remember — and you were there so you will remember — Julian Assange’s concerns about the extradition were being dismissed as paranoia. You remember?
He was in articles after articles – despite the fact they spent all this time still in 2018 – he was treated as if he was someone who was using the U.S. extradition as an excuse to avoid facing the facts in Sweden and all of that.
It was a very difficult situation for him. So the legal action to rescind the arrest warrant was extremely important at that stage. It was Emma Arbuthnot who reassured the court and I was there present when she said that there was no risk of extradition, there was no request for extradition. And then she said even if there was a request, it would have followed its proper procedure.
She concealed from the court at that precise moment that she herself had signed an arrest warrant in the autumn of 2017 to arrest Julian Assange , on the basis that a diplomatic note had been sent by the United States Embassy to the Home Office, which is the very first step for requesting extradition. This is something that has been missed, but is very much the case. She lied. She lied. It’s been on Twitter since Barraister’s ruling in January 2021 because she makes mention of this diplomatic note that had been issued. Vanessa Baraitser reveals Arbuthnot lying in court. I don’t know how they can get away with it.
I really don’t. I really don’t. So when you see things like that happen, how is it then surprising that Emma Arbuthnot has guided the decision of Vanessa Baraister? So We’re finding ourselves, just like Julian Assange said, that in highly politicized cases, the rule of the law collapses. You know, when I saw the beautiful art you had created with the solidarity candles burning and the red lines crossing them, what they have attempted to do is to cancel Julian, to make him a non-person where he’s not entitled to human rights.
His human rights do not exist. He is becoming the rag doll of the state that can be kicked and treated without any protection. But this cannot be sustainable, I do not believe, The campaign has made huge strides. And if people wish to retain their legitimacy, and the claim that Britain and the U.S. are democracies we’ll have to uphold the law and we’ll have to stop this madness.
You are right what you said earlier, that they want to prevent him from fulfilling a potential role at the International Criminal Court and elsewhere. You are right to think so. WikiLeaks, amongst the many, many innovations that they did, is the fact that they are producing original documents from inside the administration, which are fully, fully 100 percent authenticated. This is a unique position for these documents to be used in the court of law, just like we saw them being used by the Chagossians.
And you very familiar with the struggle of the Chagossians to return to their homeland. And you’re familiar with the use of a WikiLeaks cable at the British Supreme Court, which ruled in their favor on the basis of this document. So you can see that justice through transparency has a very, very — it was very effective to the highest level at all those highly political decisions that a government would wish the electorate and the judicial world not to have a say.
And that’s why they remain secret. So the work of WikiLeaks has been so innovative in that regard, and that is, I think, is perceived as one of the most dangerous things that Julian Assange’s work has produced – the ability to be held accountable. I’m glad that you do the work that you do. You dig in and find the fine details and bring them up and see how all the dots link up and how we can see what’s going on.
When you have a clear vision of what’s happening, then you can think about what you can do to influence things and how to educate other people. Yes, it is 150 pages. Not everybody can do that. But with the information that you bring to the forefront for us, we can then do the work of disseminating it and bringing more and more people on board in defense of Julian Assange and his work.
Yes, I’m making that list at the moment of the key points, the ones that I think are the most important ones. There is also the Article 7 defense. We’ve all been aware of Article 10 freedom of expression, which is parallel to the First Amendment in the United States. But Article 7 in the European Convention of Human Rights is akin to the Fifth Amendment in the American Constitution.
And people say, Oh, I’m going to take the Fifth. No, it’s not that part of it. It’s about a crime having to be foreseeable. People have to be warned that something is a crime. And both Article 7 and the Fifth Amendment make that clear. That of course, back in 2010, Julian Assange couldn’t have predicted. In fact, there is nothing, as Bruce Afran constitutional lawyer has pointed out not so long ago, there is nothing in the Espionage Act, nothing in its wording that makes it clear to a foreign journalist that if you publish some American classified information, you will be liable to prosecution.
There’s nothing in the wording at all. It was amended. This is not the 1917 version of the Espionage Act, but it was amended in 1961. And that’s when they claimed this universal jurisdiction. But they didn’t actually make it clear in the wording to people abroad. And of course, this is totally unprecedented – this prosecution of a journalist either in the United States, or the United States prosecuting a foreign journalist.
Right. There is no precedent for it. And it’s even unprecedented in the U.K., as well, as the defense points out. They’ve had a go* at it a few times, but it’s never actually happened.
[* British journalists were charged for publishing state secrets in 1971. Reporters and editors at The Sunday Telegraph were prosecuted under the 1911 Official Secrets Act for publishing Foreign Office documents about British policy in the civil war in Nigeria. The government lost at trial as the material was shown to have been merely embarrassing to the government.
In 1978 two British journalists were charged under the 1911 Official Secrets Act in the so-called ABC Trial for publishing an article in the magazine Time Out about wiretapping by the signals intelligence agency GCHQ. Section 1 charges were dropped by the judge at trial for being “oppressive in the circumstances”. The two journalists, John Berry and Duncan Campbell, were convicted of a Section 2 misdemeanour and received minimal sentences.]
So a crime must be foreseeable. You have to know that it’s a crime. So the Article 7 defense is very powerful as well. But the Zakrzewsky abuse, where it was established that when there is an extradition request, the request must be accompanied by information that is proper and that is fair and that is accurate.
And here the defense have pointed out that the U.S. has withheld a lot of information that they have had since the Chelsea Manning court martial. So that’s 11 years. They have distorted their own evidence in order to get this extradition. And there’s no way in the world that the European Court of Human Rights can ignore this.
The European Court of Human Rights has made a decision in relation to WikiLeaks publications, or should I say articles written by Turkish journalists based on WikiLeaks material. And in their articles they quote and link to the WikiLeaks materials and they were, as a result, imprisoned in Turkey, and they took the case to the European Court of Human Rights and they were vindicated.
Of course in all political cases that doesn’t necessarily mean these people have been freed, but there is already the precedence that publishing WikiLeaks material should not lead to imprisonment and persecution.
Oh God no. It should be applauded.
So we have that. It is an extraordinary journey that WikiLeaks has taken and the fact that Ecuador had the courage to protect his life and work for so long through the administration of Rafael Correa has empowered WikiLeaks to keep producing, despite the personal troubles of Julian and his deterioration of health inside the Ecuadorian embassy, the terrible conditions that he had to endure while he was in there.
So we have a lot to be thankful for, for Julian’s endurance. And today is his birthday. So a personal tribute to him, his personal endurance to continue with his work, which has given us as people such a gift, the knowledge that he shared at WikiLeaks.
The gift of justice.
A courageous man who did all of that on a very, very clear moral perspective. That information should be free. That knowledge is how we progress as people. And although none of what he said in that regard appears to be revolutionary in 21st century Britain, the application of this, principles in publishing and publishing secret information, is what brought such a huge backlash against him. And he opened new roads and new expectations from within society about the right to know.
It is a gift that keeps on giving, his work with WikiLeaks and he has changed and will continue to inspire in that regard. What saddens me is that our society seems to wish to destroy the best of us, and this is a sign of a society which is cowardly, a society which is in decline. But at the same time, I’m reminded that the world has not changed by following the easy path.
Change has always come through the conflict of the old versus the new. And I believe that WikiLeaks and the type of journalism that WikiLeaks provides and the type of publishing they do is very much needed for society to go forward. And that’s why it had such massive appeal all around the world. This is the type of information that we need in order to get a better education about how the world works and how we are able to change it through acquiring that knowledge and the quiet confidence that we can get, that our deductions about reality are correct and that we are able jointly and communally to make decisions about our own public affairs, including foreign policy, which is often an area that is not particularly on the table at the time of elections.
But with the WikiLeaks work, it became very much part of the elections agenda when it revealed on one occasion through the Financial Times that the U.K. was exchanging with Saudi Arabia their vote in the Human Rights Council, for favors and for money and the British prime minister had to stand in front, sit actually in front of a journalist from the Financial Times being grilled over this issue.
The Financial Times, very interesting, did not make attribution to WikiLeaks, but this is where the information had come from. And so this is a type of journalism we need. This is the type of publication we need, and this is the type of people that make things happen. People like Julian Assange, who is extremely determined, has a moral backbone which is unbreakable, and who is willing to sacrifice a great deal to achieve his goal in making WikiLeaks publications considered to be legal, right?
It is legal. We believe so, but he wants to make it a case that it is acceptable, so that others can follow, which they have to a lesser degree. But they have. They have. So here we are, we are in the comforts of our own homes. And Julian is in a cell two by three without access to videos, to his trade, trying to survive.
Well, that’s right. And we’ve missed out on a lot of potential WikiLeaks revelations over the years, precisely because he’s in this situation and a lot of the energy has had to go to defending him and getting him out of there. But, you know, WikiLeaks documents have served in court cases around the world. That change is already happening, but there’s far too much classification.
And, you know, even John Kiriakou said even what they have at the canteen for lunch is classified at the C.I.A. and there’s an abuse- there’s an abuse of that. And, you know, my understanding from day one was that Julian wanted accuracy in the historical record. He thought that was best for us. And also he had a distinctly anti war bias and both are cool by me.
I think that’s a pathway to wisdom and it’s a very safe path to take. It may be difficult for some, but they’re not the kind of people we want running our country. So yeah. Happy birthday, Julian.
Happy birthday to Julian and thank you. Thank you for WikiLeaks and thank you for your courage and thank you for your sacrifice.
We will continue supporting you forever and ever. And whatever happens, whatever happens, I’d like to remain positive. But if the worst comes to the worse and Julian is extradited, we will continue our fight for justice. For him, it’s extremely important that we cover all alternatives. This is not going to go away. This is the battle of our century.
We live in an information age and this is the battle for the freedom of information at all levels. So thank you so much for inviting me today on his birthday to talk about the amazing Mr. WikiLeaks and the amazing knowledge that we have found.
Yes. And let’s hope that we can win this one and then we’re going to know what’s true, and then we’re going to know what’s real.
Because as Chelsea Manning said, that being able to discern what is truthful is likely to be the major problem of the next two decades. So we have to have some bloody rules introduced so that there is not this ability to, like the British say, make things go away.
That and the possibility and ability of people within the power to manufacture the reality that we see, which is very dangerous because controlling information, with the technological advancements available to the power of the state, it gives them then the opportunity to truly seal off and present a reality as they wish it to be seen without any possibility of the truth coming through.
I know you’re referring, probably — well, I’m saying I know, but now I’m saying probably – from Marble framework, which was a discovery as part of the Vault 7 release, that you could lay down false digital fingerprints to blame someone else for some kind of crime, digital crime, to virtual reality where it’s possible to make it look like Trump is being arrested, you know, in the street and this struggle and all that,
we just have to be so careful.
We have to lay down these rules now. We have to get pretty serious about determining what is truthful and what is not. And I think WikiLeaks was well ahead of its time in challenging the classification system and what lies behind it. There is an executive order by President Obama in 2009 that is called Executive Order 13526, Section 1.7 that made it illegal to classify evidence of a crime or anything that just caused embarrassment, but it just seems to me that it was never enforced.
And so it’s kind of interesting because if you pulled out all of the things that WikiLeaks published, that was evidence of crimes, you could say that according to that executive order, those things should never have been classified in the first place. So what’s left?
But I think we’ve got to get more serious. It’s much broader, the problem. The ability to lie, has never been so powerful. And we’re going to go nuts, you know, as a people. We can’t come to a consensus unless we can all agree on what is real and what is truthful. I think that’s what we all saw right from the beginning. People who looked at what WikiLeaks was doing, looked at the raw material, being able to decide for yourself.
Not everybody can, but you’ve got a much wider field of experts. And even in court cases, when all of the information is available, better decisions can be made about our future. We can predict better where we’re going and we can have a safer world.
WikiLeaks had about 120 media partners internationally for Cablegate. It was extraordinary. 120 media partners globally.
And so the gift is not just to the Western societies.
Look, thank you so much, Emmy, for talking to us on Julian’s birthday and for sharing what are the most important reasons to save this one, and save this organization and enable it to flourish again going forward.
I remain hopeful and positive. We will win this. As Julian himself has predicted.
It’s a wonderful battle to be engaged in, a battle for something so noble as knowledge. And it’s a battle that not a single drop of blood has fallen. And we have to keep it that way because Julian has to be protected. So thank you very much Consortium News. And thank you very much. It’s wonderful to be with you today.
Thank you. Thank you and bye.