Assange’s ‘Reprieve’ Is Another Lie

The U.S. has had years to clarify its intention to give Assange a fair trial but refuses to do so, writes Jonathan Cook. The real goal is to keep him endlessly locked up.

Assange supporters outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Tuesday. (Steve Eason, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

By Jonathan Cook

The interminable and abhorrent saga of Julian Assange’s incarceration for the crime of journalism continues. 

And once again, the headline news is a lie, one designed both to buy our passivity and to buy more time for the British and U.S. establishments to keep the WikiLeaks founder permanently disappeared from view.

The Guardian — which has a mammoth, undeclared conflict of interest in its coverage of the extradition proceedings against Assange (you can read about that here and here) — headlined the ruling by the U.K. High Court Tuesday as a “temporary reprieve” for Assange. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Five years on, Assange is still caged in Belmarsh high-security prison, convicted of absolutely nothing.

Five years on, he still faces a trial in the U.S. on ludicrous charges under a century-old, draconian piece of legislation called the Espionage Act. Assange is not a U.S. citizen and none of the charges relate to anything he did in the U.S.

Five years on, the English judiciary is still rubber-stamping his show trial — a warning to others not to expose state crimes, as Assange did in publishing details of British and U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Five years on, judges in London are still turning a blind eye to Assange’s sustained psychological torture, as the former United Nations legal expert Nils Melzer has documented.

The word “reprieve” is there — just as the judges’ headline ruling that some of the grounds of his appeal have been “granted” — to conceal the fact that he is prisoner to an endless legal charade every bit as much as he is a prisoner in a Belmarsh cell.

In fact, the ruling is yet further evidence that Assange is being denied due process and his most basic legal rights — as he has been for a decade or more.

Assange at the Stop the War Coalition rally at Trafalgar Square, London, Oct. 8, 2011. (Haydn, Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

In the ruling, the court strips him of any substantive grounds of appeal, precisely so there will be no hearing in which the public gets to learn more about the various British and U.S. crimes he exposed, for which he is being jailed. 

He is thereby denied a public-interest defence against extradition. Or in the court’s terminology, his “application to adduce fresh evidence is refused”.

Even more significantly, Assange is specifically stripped of the right to appeal on the very legal grounds that should guarantee him an appeal, and should have ensured he was never subjected to a show trial in the first place. His extradition would clearly violate the prohibition in the Extradition Treaty between the U.K. and the U.S. against extradition on political grounds.

Nonetheless, in their wisdom, the judges rule that Washington’s vendetta against Assange for exposing its crimes is not driven by political considerations. Nor apparently was there a political factor to the C.I.A.’s efforts to kidnap and assassinate him after he was granted political asylum by Ecuador, precisely to protect him from the U.S. administration’s wrath.

What the court “grants” instead are three technical grounds of appeal — although in the small print, that “granted” is actually subverted to “adjourned”. The “reprieve” celebrated by the media — supposedly a victory for British justice — actually pulls the legal rug from under Assange.

Each of those grounds of appeal can be reversed — that is, rejected — if Washington submits “assurances” to the court, however worthless they may end up being in practice. In which case, Assange is on a flight to the U.S. and effectively disappeared into one of its domestic black sites.

Those three pending grounds of appeal on which the court seeks reassurance are that extradition will not:

  • deny Assange his basic free speech rights;

  • discriminate against him on the basis of his nationality, as a non-U.S. citizen;

  • or place him under threat of the death penalty in the U.S. penal system.

The judiciary’s latest bending over backwards to accommodate Washington’s intention to keep Assange permanently locked out of view follows years of perverse legal proceedings in which the U.S. has repeatedly been allowed to change the charges it is levelling against Assange at short notice to wrong-foot his legal team.

It also follows years in which the U.S. has had a chance to make clear its intention to provide Assange with a fair trial but has refused to do so.

Washington’s true intentions are already more than clear: the U.S. spied on Assange’s every move while he was under the protection of the Ecuadorian embassy, violating his lawyer-client privilege; and the C.I.A. plotted to kidnap and assassinate him.

Pro-Assange protester outside the High Court in London on Jan. 22, 2022. (Alisdare Hickson, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Both are grounds that alone should have seen the case thrown out.

But there is nothing normal — or legal — about the proceedings against Assange. The case has always been about buying time. To disappear Assange from public view. To vilify him. To smash the revolutionary publishing platform he founded to help whistleblowers expose state crimes.

To send a message to other journalists that the U.S. can reach them wherever they live should they try to hold Washington to account for its criminality.

And worst of all, to provide a final solution for the nuisance Assange had become for the global superpower by trapping him in an endless process of incarceration and trial that, if it is allowed to drag on long enough, will most likely kill him.

Tuesday’s ruling is most certainly not a “reprieve”. It is simply another stage in a protracted, faux-legal process designed to provide constant justifications for keeping Assange behind bars, and never-ending postponements of judgment day, when either Assange is set free or the British and U.S. justice systems are exposed as hand servants of brutish, naked power.

Jonathan Cook is an award-winning British journalist. He was based in Nazareth, Israel, for 20 years. He returned to the U.K. in 2021. He is the author of three books on the Israel-Palestine conflict: Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish State (2006), Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (2008) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (2008). If you appreciate his articles, please consider offering your financial support

This article is from the author’s blog, Jonathan

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

14 comments for “Assange’s ‘Reprieve’ Is Another Lie

  1. March 28, 2024 at 14:36

    The “assurances” or any word of any corporate UNITED STATES public pretender is worthless, everything in writing from the UNITED STATES is absolutely worthless not because I said it, rather the word or assurances of any current office holder of the entity known as UNITED STATES comes from the worlds largest collection of dishonorable, “government criminals” known to exist. Julian Assange if extradited to the custody of the District of Columbia, Washington would be killed by the prison medical system as is the customary method of killing prisoners that largely goes unnoticed, those medical murders are fully supported by all UNITED STATES politicians, it is their history. The entity known as corporate federal UNITED STATES and the living men and women who are current holders of corporate office do not care that you know they will use medical murder or any other method of murder, all the U.S. officeholders and their cohorts are concerned with is assuring that there is nothing that the American people or any other people can do about their criminal cabal masquerading as UNITED STATES public officials and their daily criminal activity.

    The corporate UNITED STATES current officeholders views the American people as an enemy, Julian Assange could fare no better than the American people in their status of enemy of UNITED STATES. The British relying on assurances from the corporate UNITED STATES is foolish on their part to accept the word or assurance that prisoner Julian Assange will be treated fair. The corporate UNITED STATES public officials are world wide known to be dishonorable, engaged in felony crime and somehow that would change with prisoner Julian Assange, it will not change with Julian Assange.

    Second is the fact that the corporate UNITED STATES has no law as a bankrupt, bankrupts have no standing in law, so what would prisoner Julian Assange be charged with? A US code is not a law, it’s a code that applies to the parties who agree to be bound by that U.S. code section. When did Julian Assange knowingly, willfully and voluntarily enter a written contract to be subject to U.S. Code. As far as I know there are no dejure officials in the United States government, with that also being a fact, there is a structural defect in any indictment written by corporate UNITED STATES public officials which are in fact nothing more than corporate employees, corporate agents pretending to be government.

    The indictment of Julian Assange is structurally defective as when I read it, there is no appearance of a government representative listed on the indictment. Without a representative of the dejure United States government, the indictment has no legal power to even hold prisoner Julian Assange in custody in Britain/UK. That is how fraudulent the indictment papers are, ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS in the Military District of Columbia, Washington and out in corporate UNITED STATES COURTHOUSE are corporate employees, corporate agents of a company and not a government. Anyway the indictment I read doesn’t have a proper representative of the United States government which makes the charges dischargeable by this fact alone. I would be writing an affidavit and notice of these facts and serving the affidavit and notice on all parties to the corporate charges by the federal corporation styled as UNITED STATES.

    Again bankrupts have no standing in law to do anything, the corporate federal UNITED STATES is in fact bankrupt with no hope of ever recovering from their bankruptcy and bankrupt democracy. We have no Congress, we have no Judiciary, we have no Executive, we have no Press, all that exists is a federal military corporation styled as UNITED STATES that occupies the North American continent landmass as a Military Corporation with no civil authority at all. Prisoner Julian Assange is not a legal fiction 14th Amendment “person” or “citizen” of the UNITED STATES federal corporation, as previously referred to at 28 U.S. Code Sec 3002(15). Prisoner Julian Assange should be giving Notice that no corporate bylaw called “statute”, “rule”, or “code” that applies to the legal fiction “persons” or UNITED STATES citizens, persons or residents, or other statutory creations can apply to me without my consent. So Prisoner Julian Assange can say the same thing. Like this, Julian Assange, a living flesh and blood man has not given consent to contract with the corporate UNITED STATES.

  2. Ray Peterson
    March 27, 2024 at 19:59

    Stella Assange puts the onus on journalism to be true to its
    vocation of serving the public with factual information
    and evidence based interpretations.
    Sounds like the Guardian, along with all the other
    mainstream media, have betrayed their own purpose

  3. Roslyn Ross
    March 27, 2024 at 17:54

    One is struck by the pathetic childish and petty vengeance of the Americans. Did they never really grow up after they broke away from Britain and invented themselves?

  4. mary-lou
    March 27, 2024 at 16:13

    absolutely sickening. twice a day we burn 2 candles: one for the children of Gaza, one for the Assanges. is the essence of Easter (Resurrection) still being acknowledged….?

  5. Anna
    March 27, 2024 at 16:09

    Thank you Mr Cook for this brave & truthful expose of Julian. Nothing has changed since the Roman Empire’s crucifying of dissidents. It is s just as brutal today! Those who speak the truth are beaten down, but history will never forget them!

  6. David Otness
    March 27, 2024 at 15:44

    This is representative of what I shall call “The Larger Farce,” that we still live in a republic. We don’t. It’s been pilfered away over the decades, leaving us with but their perpetrated hollow myths for an anemic sustenance, just at the point of bare subsistence.

    Just as the Israelis for decades now have ‘scientifically’ rationed the calories allowed to trickle into Gaza to induce a state of physical and emotional weakness on the Palestinians, our own overlord Owners and Operators keep the many hanging on through a variety of propaganda parlor tricks while they continue to consolidate their fistic power all around and over us, especially by limiting the acceptable parameters of the Narrative’s scope.
    This via the Empire’s many-fingered and mostly passive-aggressive thrall via any and all forms of media, i.e., the entire spectrum of communications. It’s a dreadful thing they have accomplished, with evermore ‘refinements’ to come. Julian breathes as a prisoner for having seen through their many snares.

    Just coming to terms with the horror of knowing while Germany may have lost the second world war, then only to follow that truth to the premise the Nazis did not—and have arisen to a largely covert contemporary totalitarian status—has defined my awareness over the past several decades after I ascertained the patterns of Empire’s constant lack of morality and consequent incessant common-lawbreaking. What Golden Rule? How utterly quaint and how completely despised by these shadow casters directing this dance macabre behind the screens.

    We must recognize the Enemy for what it is, and who ‘they’ are, and that’s not by accepting it in its delivered-on-a-platter storybook comforting fantasy they have calmly, ruthlessly, and ubiquitously injected into our freedom and liberty-loving human natures.
    The larger war is for our souls, to lay waste upon us, individually and collectively. And that dark force projected is aimed especially at the young, the up-and-coming. Our Future.

  7. Charles E. Carroll
    March 27, 2024 at 13:15

    Free Assange! Free Palestine!

  8. Donna Bubb
    March 27, 2024 at 10:44

    Assange supporters worldwide: Time to hit Biden full force for Julian Assange’s full freedom.

  9. Lois Gagnon
    March 27, 2024 at 09:43

    What an ugly creature Western jurisprudence has become. It’s practitioners, nothing more than court jesters performing their act for the royal court. Assange may not survive this drawn out charade, but neither will the Western imperial project.

  10. hetro
    March 27, 2024 at 09:20

    Appeal to the European Court of Human Rights should begin immediately. True, this may be as politicized a process as currently, but it would create further delay to bring increased attention to this injustice and violation of the first amendment. Obviously the case is political. Contradictions within it must be clarified. How can new “assurances” replace the old ones? What was wrong with them? If it’s political it is not based on fundamentals of law and justice but the prejudiced motives of special interest parties. This point absolutely must be pursued.

  11. Dfnslblty
    March 27, 2024 at 09:19

    Perpetual prison — and therefore perpetual silence — is a usa afterthought; they are not intelligent enough to think ahead. usa is a wounded animal, fearfully attacking the healer who wants to help.

    usa forefeited standing in Assange’s tribulations when it lied and continued to lie about its immoral and illegal killing.

    usa is dying and dangerous.

  12. JarndyceAndJarndyce
    March 27, 2024 at 06:34

    “Assange’s ‘Reprieve’ Is Another Lie”

    That is what “laws” are for.

  13. Graeme
    March 27, 2024 at 04:51

    Jon’s assessment of the Guardian’s is spot on.
    It’s participation in the character assassination of Julian is unforgivable and treasonous.

    Having said that, there’s but one reason to go to Guardian Australia.

    Greg Barns SC is an adviser to the Australian Assange Campaign – and has been so for a long time – commented in an article written by him that

    “To reward the US in the Assange case is to say that any person, anywhere in the world, who publishes materials which the US government doesn’t want the world to know about could find themselves on the end of an extradition request from the Department of Justice.”

    This action of extraterritorial reach by successive US administrations highlights the arrogance and superiority-complex of those who inhabit the White House.

    Apologies for linking to the Guardian, but Greg’s article warrants reading, especially due to his close involvement with Julian’s case.

  14. Dave Grounds
    March 27, 2024 at 04:08

    Given that the court has given no credence to an assurance by Julian Assange that he would not run away and hide if he were to be set free until his US trial, I wonder why they’re so credulous about any of the American assurances of a fair trial and no death penalty? And if the US turned around and executed him after an unfair trial, what would the British courts be able to do about it?

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