The former British diplomat sought to visit the courtroom where Julian Assange would be tried if he is extradited to Virginia. He was told he could not enter.
By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News
Craig Murray, a former British ambassador and close associate of imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, said he was prevented by a U.S. marshal from entering the courthouse in Alexandria, VA where Assange would be put on trial if he loses his extradition case in Britain.
In Washington on a U.S. tour, Murray told a gathering on Wednesday that with some time to kill he decided earlier that day to visit the federal courthouse in Alexandria “just to see what that was like.”
“So I found the federal court and I went to enter, as any member of the public is entitled to do,” Murray said, according to a video recording of his remarks. “They asked me for my ID, as they ask everybody, I believe, and I handed in my passport.
“And they made a phone call and somebody came down and he had a badge on that said, ‘U.S. Marshals,'” Murray went on. “And he said, ‘Sorry sir, but you cannot enter the courtroom.'”
“And I said, ‘Is it not a public courtroom? Is there not a public right of access?'”
“And he said, ‘Yes sir, but you are not the public.’
“And I said, ‘But there are trials. And trials, by law, are open to the public, generally.’
“He said, ‘Yes sir, I’m sorry but you can’t come in, Ambassador Murray.'”
“And that was really interesting,” Murray said, “because nowhere in my passport does it give my title and nor had I mentioned it. So how did they know who I am?”
“The level of surveillance,” Murray went on. “I don’t know if that is facial recognition technology. I don’t know what it is that brought that up. I don’t know whether they had a memo sitting on their desk in the courtroom saying, ‘If Craig Murray ever comes, don’t let him in.'”
Murray then asked a troubling question: “What does that mean for the open access should Julian have a trial here?”
Murray became known for his literary and highly critical accounts from inside the courtroom at Assange’s London extradition hearings in 2020. It would be a blow to the public interested in a potential trial in Alexandria if Murray were not allowed to cover it.
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