US Issues Assurances on Assange

UPDATED WITH TEXT OF DIPLOMATIC NOTE: The U.S. Tuesday filed  assurances on the death penalty and the 1st Amendment, the latter of which Stella Assange called a “non-assurance.”

Stella Assange leaving High Court on March 26. (Joe Lauria)

Updated throughout.

By Joe Lauria
in London
Special to Consortium News

The United States Embassy on Tuesday filed two assurances with the British Foreign Office saying it would not seek the death penalty against imprisoned WikiLeaks‘ publisher Julian Assange and would allow Assange “the ability to raise and seek to reply upon at trial … the rights and protections given under the First Amendment,” according to the U.S. diplomatic note.  

Assange’s wife Stella Assange said the note “makes no undertaking to withdraw the prosecution’s previous assertion that Julian has no First Amendment rights because he is not a U.S. citizen. Instead,” she said, “the U.S. has limited itself to blatant weasel words claiming that Julian can ‘seek to raise’ the First Amendment if extradited.”   

The note contains a hollow statement, namely, that Assange can try to raise the First Amendment at trial (and at sentencing), but the U.S. Department of Justice can’t guarantee he would get those rights, which is precisely what it must do under British extradition law based on the European Convention on Human Rights. 

The U.S. Department of Justice is legally restricted to assure a free speech guarantee to Assange equivalent to Article 10 of the European Convention, which the British court is bound to follow. But without that assurance, Assange should be freed according to a British Crown Prosecution Service comment on extraditions.

In  USAID v. Alliance for Open Society, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2020 that non-U.S. citizens outside the U.S. don’t possess constitutional rights. Both former C.I.A. Director Mike Pompeo and Gordon Kromberg, Assange’s U.S. prosecutor, have said Assange does not have First Amendment protection.

Because of the separation of powers in the United States, the executive branch’s Justice Department can’t guarantee to the British courts what the U.S. judicial branch decides about the rights of a non-U.S. citizen in court, said Marjorie Cohn, law professor and former president of the U.S. National Lawyers’ Guild. 

“Let’s assume that … the Biden administration, does give assurances that he would be able to raise the First Amendment and that the [High] Court found that those were significant assurances,” Cohn told Consortium News‘ webcast CN Live! last month.

“That really doesn’t mean anything, because one of the things that the British courts don’t understand is the U.S. doctrine of separation of powers,” she said. 

“The prosecutors can give all the assurances they want, but the judiciary, another [one] .. of these three branches of government in the U.S., doesn’t have to abide by the executive branch claim or assurance,” Cohn said. 

In other words, whether Assange can rely on the First Amendment in his defense in a U.S. court is up to that court not Kromberg or the Department of Justice, which issued the assurance on Tuesday. 

“The United States has issued a non-assurance in relation to the First Amendment,” said Stella Assange.

Assange Can Challenge Assurances

View of the Royal Courts of Justice, seat of the High Court. (Joe Lauria)

Assange’s legal team now has the right to challenge the credibility and validity of the U.S. assurances filed on Tuesday. The U.S. would then have a right to reply to Assange’s legal submissions to the court, which will hold a hearing on May 20 to determine whether or not to accept the U.S. assurances.

If the court does, Assange can be put on a plane to the U.S. theoretically that day. If not Assange would be granted a full appeal against the Home Office’s 2022 order to extradite him.  Assange is wanted in the U.S. on 17 charges under the 1917 Espionage Act and one on conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. He faces up to 175 years in a U.S. dungeon.

“The diplomatic note does nothing to relieve our family’s extreme distress about his future — his grim expectation of spending the rest of his life in isolation in US prison for publishing award-winning journalism,” Stella Assange said. 

Here is a facsimile of the Diplomatic Note the U.S. sent the U.K. on Tuesday:

In its 66-page ruling on March 26, the two High Court judges wrote that Kromberg wouldn’t have said Assange would be without First Amendment rights at trial “unless that was a tenable argument that the prosecution was entitled to deploy with a real prospect of success.”

“If such an argument were to succeed it would (at least arguably) cause the applicant [Assange] prejudice on the grounds of his non-US citizenship (and hence, on the grounds of his nationality),” the judges said. They added:

“The applicant wishes to argue, at any trial in the United States, that his actions were protected by the First Amendment. He contends that if he is given First Amendment rights, the prosecution will be stopped. The First Amendment is therefore of central importance to his defence to the extradition charge.”

This is the statement Stella Assange put out on X Tuesday at 11:36 am EDT: 

“The United States has issued a non-assurance in relation to the First Amendment, and a standard assurance in relation to the death penalty. It makes no undertaking to withdraw the prosecution’s previous assertion that Julian has no First Amendment rights because he is not a U.S citizen. Instead, the US has limited itself to blatant weasel words claiming that Julian can ‘seek to raise’ the First Amendment if extradited. The diplomatic note does nothing to relieve our family’s extreme distress about his future — his grim expectation of spending the rest of his life in isolation in US prison for publishing award-winning journalism. The Biden Administration must drop this dangerous prosecution before it is too late.”

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and other newspapers, including The Montreal Gazette, the London Daily Mail 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 is the author of two books, A Political Odyssey, with Sen. Mike Gravel, foreword by Daniel Ellsberg; and How I Lost By Hillary Clinton, foreword by Julian Assange. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @unjoe  

32 comments for “US Issues Assurances on Assange

  1. LeoSun
    April 18, 2024 at 14:48

    W/o a doubt, Stella Assange calls it, Non-Assurances, i.e., “the diplomatic note does nothing to relieve our family’s extreme distress about his future — his grim expectation of spending the rest of his life in isolation in US prison for publishing award-winning journalism,” Stella Assange.

    IMO, the “issued assurances” is another “CHANCE.”

    ………. “Chance is 1 of the 2 types of card-drawing spaces in Monopoly. Chance cards are orange and are placed near the Go space. A Chance card is more likely (than a Community Chest card) to move players, often with [LETHAL CONSEQUENCES]…(especially due to the Advance To Boardwalk card). Traditionally, the question marks placed on the Chance spaces around the board are pink, blue, and red, in that order.”

    IMO, the USG’s “issued assurances” are lethal, evil doing, “qualifiers” to, once, again, get their grubby, dirty, infected, bloody claws into Julian Assange’s heart & soul; &, publicly, haul Julian Assange, no doubt, shackled in chains, onto U.S. territory & into a US Federal Courtroom. Fifteen (15) years of persecution, isolation, deprivation, incarceration, signed, sealed & delivered by AUKUS unto Julian Assange is a crime against humanity. AUKUS oughta be held to account for committing a very public execution of a good man, a professional journalist, a professional publisher, one of the beyond f/brillant founders of WikiLeaks.

    ………. Memo To: AUKUS, REPENT!!!

    IMO, the “issued assurances on Assange,’ is Julian Assange’s 2nd “CHANCE!” IMO, Julian Assange’s 1st CHANCE, @ “Living FREE,” was delivered last week, by the dementia addled, truth challenged, physically unfit, mentally incompetent, political corpse, posing as POTUS, masquerading as POTUS, i.e., “We are considering it.” Joey R. Biden

    Questions for the Divided $tates of Corporate America’s Zionist, POTUS:

    …….. “WHO’S “We?” and “WHAT’S “IT?” For instance, “Julian Assange Living FREE or NOT?” IMO, the USG’s POTUS’, his Board of Executioners’, CIA’s, MIC’s, DOJ’s & Congress’ “IT” is a F/U GAME OF MONOPOLY.

    ……… “Monopoly is “a real-estate board game, 2-8 players, the player’s goal is to remain financially solvent while forcing opponents into bankruptcy by buying and developing pieces of property.”

    Hence, the USG’s war on terra, plant, animal & human life, “lives.” No One Is Safe! Obviously, that Cowboy, from Texas, who started his own war in Iraq, drew the “PASS War Crimes & Crimes Against Humanity card, Collect beaucoup buck$, Get back to Texas;” BUT, then $enator Joey R. Biden, Democrat, nka POTUS; &, his Chief of $taff nka SOS, Antony Blinken, hand-delivered all the authorization that Cowboy from Texas, lobbied fo to, “Bomb. Bomb. Bomb, Iraq.” Consequently, Occupation Iraqi Liberation & $eeking WMDs, propaganda, $OLD! Joey R.Biden, Democrat $enator & Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee not only went along with Bush’s/Cheney’s/Powell’s War & Weapons of Mass Destruction propaganda, Joey R. Biden, championed it! The hypocrisy is staggering. Hence, FJB!!!

    “We, the people” have drawn the Community Chest card. Collectively, “we, the people,” agree, 100%, Julian Assange has drawn the “Advance to Freedom card!” The Universe implores AUKUS, to “Stop the Killing. Give Julian Assange, his life, out from under the gun!!! FREE, Julian Assange.”

    …… “[Seventeen (17)] years ago in Iraq, US soldiers in an attack helicopter killed 11 people in what the US described at the time as a firefight — nine were insurgents and two were employees of the Reuters news agency — a photojournalist and a fixer. A cockpit video captured the killings and was later leaked to Wikileaks.

    The release of that footage, called “Collateral Damage”, showed the US military targeting the journalists and made WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange a household name. He’s now detained in a British prison, facing extradition to the US on espionage charges.”

    TY, Joe Lauria, Stella Assange, CN, et al. “Keep It Lit!” Ciao

  2. April 17, 2024 at 17:56

    This is normal behavior and expected as the grand are trained and disciplined so well that the masters fear Not!
    House votes to reauthorize FISA, without the warrant requirement amendment
    Remember Edward Snowden?
    Where is the outcry??
    This is (wise-man’s) history’s repetition made possible by We the people because we individually and collectively and truly, simply, care only for our own, individual, comfort as we kill every living thing for pleasure and self satisfaction …And of course because the good book/s, the gods and kings the ‘educated’ tell us so.
    Sit, stand, beg, guard, attack, fetch, beg…Kill.
    On it goes….

  3. Em
    April 17, 2024 at 09:56

    From the facsimile of Diplomatic Note:
    Is there not a more hopeful way of reading (which includes any sentencing hearing), meaning there will be NO sentence, showing how humane the American regime is, after all, and just in time for useful propaganda purposes in the presidential election?
    Pay no heed! Just wishful thinking.
    DO NOT EXTRADITE Julian Assange to the USA!

  4. April 17, 2024 at 08:43

    Thank You Joe

  5. Mark J Oetting
    April 17, 2024 at 06:30

    Secretly I think this is a political plot by Biden. There has been talk about the administration dropping the espionage charges and making them a misdemeanor punishable by time served. Although this would anger the CIA and Democratic donors who blame Assange for Trump’s election. This way he can say the British courts are to blame for his release

    • WillD
      April 17, 2024 at 22:02

      My thoughts exactly. A deliberately ‘weak’ assurance guaranteed to get the High Court to reject it and grant Assange leave to appeal. Let’s hope the court doesn’t accept these non-assurances.

  6. Vera Gottlieb
    April 17, 2024 at 04:02

    Only UTTER FOOLS would believe anything the US says or promises. Only UTTER FOOLS would trust the US.

    • April 17, 2024 at 14:18

      Exactly. Organized crime is headquartered in Washington, DC under various departments, offices, branches, agencies with men and women acting as “public pretenders” to give the people the illusion that they have a government, they don’t. All that exists in fact is a federal corporation with mere corporate employees that hide behind assertions of “immunity” to perform their crimes. So called officials order their crimes to be carried out by an entire cabal of willing employees and contractors. The word, assurance, note of the public pretender US corporate employee is of no value, utterly worthless and impossible to rely on for anything, if the U.S. federal corporation cabal gets custody of Julian Assange, his life is over, when the U.S. corporate employees get done with reducing the function of Julian Assange’s vital organs, his next of kin would be lucky to get the human remains from the U.S. federal corporation cabal. All U.S. politicians provide cover for the reduction of life programs with their corrupt press, executive, judicial, legislative corporate employees whether Federal or State makes absolutely no difference, all the same cabal. The primary business model of the U.S. federal corporation is war, the war industry spends its time and resources developing new ways to end human life, new ways to murder men, women, children and the elderly are all targets, it’s a war corporation presided over by a so called President, that makes no distinction between civilian, domestic, foreign status, peaceful makes no difference to the war industry cabal.

      I have read the indictment papers of the Assange account/case and the indictment is structurally defective, there is no representative of the government signed on the true bill, I see mere corporate employees signed on the indictment and corporate employees have no authority and no oath of office. Without a proper representative of the government the indictment is void and of no legal effect. There is no oath of office disclosed, so ASSANGE’s indictment is signed by a corporate employee of the federal war corporation that is described as United States (15) “United States” means— (A) a Federal corporation; (B) an agency, department, commission, board, or other entity of the United States; or (C) an instrumentality of the United States”. Source 28 USC § 3002(15). The indictment is legally defective for all purposes, the UK, London has no legal obligation to execute an extradition, if the UK, London does extradite they would have no legal cover to hide behind, they would be doing so personally in their personal capacity, for the legal grounds that the indictment is defective upon its face, it has no proper representative of the government signed on the indictment and that also means that Assange is commercially dealing with US corporate employees who have no valid oath of office and or no valid oath of office.

      Would you deal with corporate employees who have no valid enforceable oath of office? You can find the requirements for the oath of office in 5 USC § 3331, if I remember correctly is where it starts to discuss the oath of office requirements. A diplomat mat could write anything, it has no legal effect, it binds nobody. The name style such as Assistant United States Attorney, US Attorney is a federal war corporation employee and not a representative of the government. Again the indictment is in fact defective upon its face, it is legal smoke and mirrors from the corporate war corporation employees and their motivation is they want to torture Julian Assange and end his life, forget about the statutory death penalty, being in the custody of the corporate U.S. Department of Justice is a form of death by health reduction and then organ failure while in custody resulting in death. Julian Assange’s counsel should be demanding the indictment be dismissed by affidavit, filed with clerk of court where the indictment/account is filed and then served on all the corporate employees that created the indictment, the legal grounds for dismissal are obvious on the face of the indictment. The clerk of court has the ability to dismiss the indictment with the affidavit filed, motion to dismiss attached and evidence of service completed it can be done by the clerk of court, there is no legal requirement to get permission to dismiss from what is called a federal corporate JUDGE, federal corporate MAGISTRATE. The clerk of court can handle the dismissal of the indictment.

  7. Peter
    April 16, 2024 at 23:06

    The immoral dishonest evil greedy self serving war mongering sociopaths who “run the world” belong in prison and Julian Assange should be free. This situation is totally insane.

  8. CaseyG
    April 16, 2024 at 22:08

    I’d rather see America arresting both Joe Biden and Netanyahu for the hypocrisy with Israel . Not to forget the murdering of so many men , women and children. The BIG lie that neither does wrong.” And the horror that power and money gives to so many of the brainless who seek to rule the world.

    • Vera Gottlieb
      April 17, 2024 at 04:00

      I could not agree with you more!!! Only utter fools would believe any ‘assurances’ the US gives…on any matter.

  9. hetro
    April 16, 2024 at 17:57

    The “ability to raise and seek to rely upon” the first amendment is not an assurance of it. It is the equivalent of saying “the ability and seek to rely upon” his innocence.

    This is not clear, definitive language. It’s the equivalent to “of course, he has this right” with fingers crossed behind the back.

    • WillD
      April 16, 2024 at 21:35

      It is saying ‘you can ask but we reserve the right to refuse. We make no promises or commitments’. Meaningless. I don’t see how the court can accept this.

      But I also noticed in point 1 of the ‘assurances’ that it mentions ‘at sentencing’ in the first sentence, although in the second sentence it attempts to qualify it by using the word ‘any’ to precede it – almost as an after thought.

      But the presumption of guilt in that first sentence is there – it is quite blatant.

  10. bardamu
    April 16, 2024 at 17:19

    The wording here should clearly prevent extradition. They make no assertion even that defense can raise the issue, only that it can “seek to” raise the issue.

    And of course that’s aside from the fact that the US government lies repeatedly, ignores its own First Amendment as part of policy, engages in torture regularly, and has over and over voiced the intention to kill Assange without due process.

    British judges should be able to read American law about as easily as the rest of us. They cannot allow this and wash their hands.

  11. Litchfield
    April 16, 2024 at 17:05

    Don’t believe them!

    Just like the Zionists, they will say ANYTHING to get what they want.

    They really don’t mind lying. In fact, they practice it every day, just to stay in training.

  12. Richard Burrill
    April 16, 2024 at 16:58

    The U.S. assurances are nothing but a pack of lies!!! If the UK send Julian to the US, that is a death knell for Julian Assange and for press freedom everywhere. So much for Biden as a leader.

  13. GBC
    April 16, 2024 at 16:44

    The US has zero credibility on any foreign policy topic, and the Assange case is foremost among them. Echoing the Army-McCarthy hearings: “Have you no shame, sir?”

  14. robert e williamson jr
    April 16, 2024 at 16:08

    I have some serious advice for Joey Biden. If he ever expects to become president he needs to set Mr. Assange free. Now.

    Unless of course he intends to stay in the White House as a “War time president”. His Zionist, neocon buddies simply to STF up and go count bullets or something. Hell they are all likely partying. Nothing like the smell of death in the air to give them all a warm fuzzy feeling!

    Thanks CN

    • Tim N
      April 17, 2024 at 08:00

      Unfortunately, along with the Genocide, very few Americans will NOT vote for Cracker Joe over this. They simply neither know nor care. If you ask one thousand Americans who Assange is, 998 will say “who?”, and one will say, “oh, you mean that Russian guy who helped Trump win?” Such is the state of ignorance here. NO ONE I know, outside of a supervisor at work, has EVER mentioned Assange.

  15. Donna Bubb
    April 16, 2024 at 16:00

    It is time now for all truth-telling journalists, human rights supporters, anti-war, peace seekers worldwide to publicly petition Joe Biden to act now as a true human rights supporter by completely freeing Julian Assange.

  16. John
    April 16, 2024 at 15:54

    My God! Quit playing sadistic games with Julian’s life, and let the man go free. This insanity must end in his freedom.

  17. Esteleen Westby
    April 16, 2024 at 15:38

    This is a lie. A 175 years
    IS a death sentence. The US government is corrupt and everybody knows.

    • Litchfield
      April 16, 2024 at 17:06

      Plus, they can Epstein him any time they want.

      • Tim N
        April 17, 2024 at 08:01

        They won’t need to. Julian is already pretty much murdered.

  18. Diane Rejman
    April 16, 2024 at 15:14

    So – he’s a “citizen” enough to be charged under the US Espionage Act (wtf?), but not a “citizen” enough to have his 1st Amendment rights. yowza!

  19. Lois Gagnon
    April 16, 2024 at 12:58

    The US is now under the control of interests who have no respect for the rule of law, either international or domestic. Any supposed guarantee of adhering to any ethical standard of human rights should not be taken seriously. It’s long past time for the British courts to stop cooperating with the US on this or any US policy. To continue on the path they’re on is to declare to the world it intends to continue its loss of legitimacy.

    • JonnyJames
      April 16, 2024 at 13:19

      I agree, but if we look at the larger historical context, US foreign policy is largely a continuation of British foreign policy. Assange and Wikileaks publications embarrassed not only the US, but ALSO the UK. I would argue that powerful forces in the UK want to see him persecuted and extradited to the US, so they can “wash their hands” Pontius Pilate style, and the Yanks will be blamed for Assange’s ill treatment, torture, and abuse.

    • Arch Stanton
      April 16, 2024 at 18:04

      The Zionists who control the US want Julian gone, it’s as simple as that. They probably fear he’d reveal too many dark secrets for their liking and so, barring miracles, he’s done for.

      Social media is already shining a light on their apartheid-genocidal riddled regime, one can only imagine what would have been revealed to the world already if Julian had been allowed to continue with his journalism.

  20. susan
    April 16, 2024 at 12:38

    Absolutely ludicrous! What a giant waste of time and money! AND potentially, 175 years in the US prison system, isn’t that more than EXCESSIVE?! Come on Great Britain do the right thing here – Julian has served enough time locked away as an innocent person!!!

  21. JonT
    April 16, 2024 at 12:26

    So much for Biden and his ‘considerations …’
    Well there is still time Mr. Biden. FREE JULIAN ASSANGE.

    • Valerie
      April 16, 2024 at 13:03

      And of course they had to wait till the eleventh hour to give their reply. That is pure sadism.

  22. April 16, 2024 at 12:16

    US overreach here is simply extraordinary. Never mind that the US isn’t willing to guarantee Julian’s right under the US First Ammendment: the US is claiming that its domestic law, in this case the Espionage Act, applies everywhere in the world, to non-Americans in foreign countries.

    This is simply ludicrous. The British government should be deeply ashamed of its participation in this judicial fraud.

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