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October 6, 2020

Recap

Analysis

Guide to Testimony in Julian Assange’s Extradition Hearing

Here we recap the major arguments and revelations from expert witnesses who testified in Julian Assange’s extradition — and why they matter legally. Topics range from the dangerous threat Assange’s indictment poses to journalism, to the abusive conditions Assange would face in the United States’ prison system, to the politicized nature of the Trump administration’s prosecution.

October 1, 2020

Recap

Analysis

The Importance of WikiLeaks’ releases

Lawyers, journalists, academics, and activists testified about the enormous importance of WikiLeaks 2010-11 publications. They explained how the Iraq and Afghan War Logs documented previously uncounted civilian casualties, war crimes and the true nature of modern warfare, how the State Department cables exposed backroom corruption and the U.S.’s global influence, and how the Guantanamo Bay files revealed the deceitful justifications used to keep prisoners in detention. These experts testified about using WikiLeaks’ releases in their own work, in crucial legal cases, and in informing the public about what their government was doing in secret.

October 1, 2020

Recap

Analysis

Medical Testimony & U.S. Prison Conditions

Psychiatrists and doctors who have interviewed, visited, and treated Julian Assange testify that he has Asperger’s syndrome, clinical depression, and is at a high risk of suicide in the event of extradition. U.S. lawyers, prison experts and a former warden testified that if sent to the United States, Assange would be held in solitary confinement under communication-gagging Special Administrative Measures, would get an extremely long prison sentence, and would likely be held post-trial in the highest-security prison in the country, ADX Florence in Colorado.

October 1, 2020

Recap

Analysis

The Trump Administration’s Politicized Prosecution of Julian Assange

The prosecution of Julian Assange is political in nature because: Trump prosecuted after the Obama administration explicitly decided not to, the Trump admin is uniquely aggressive against journalism, the prosecution is essentially revenge for WikiLeaks embarrassing and exposing the U.S. government, Espionage is a classic “political offense”, and a conviction on these charges would set a dangerous new precedent.

October 1, 2020

Recap

Analysis

Spying on Assange in the Embassy

Two anonymous former employees of Spanish surveillance company UC Global testified that the company’s director David Morales secured a contract with top Trump financier Sheldon Adelson to spy on Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, from 2017 until his eviction in April 2019, and fed the recordings to United States intelligence. The whistleblowers said Morales was particularly zealous about recording Assange’s conversations with his lawyers, and even discussed kidnapping or poisoning him.

October 1, 2020

Recap

Analysis

On the Conspiracy to Commit Computer Intrusion

Patrick Eller reviewed the indictments against Assange and the transcripts from Chelsea Manning’s court martial in 2013 to analyze the allegation that Assange and Manning engaged in a conspiracy to conceal Manning’s identity and steal more documents. Eller found several important inaccuracies and technological misunderstandings in the government’s indictment and found that what the government alleges isn’t technically possible and if it were, it wouldn’t have been for the purpose the government alleges.

October 1, 2020

Recap

Analysis

WikiLeaks’ Redaction Process and the Unredacted Cables

Journalists who worked with WikiLeaks on the Cablegate release testified about Assange’s redaction process, care to conceal names of those who might be at risk, and digital protection of the documents to prevent accidental release. Digital experts who reviewed online records testified that it was Guardian journalists Luke Harding and David Leigh’s publication of a password that ultimately led to the unredacted publication, that actually a different leak site published the unredacted cables first and haven’t been prosecuted, and that Assange attempted to mitigate any damage that could result from the release.

October 1, 2020

Recap

Analysis

Assange Indictment Poses Unprecedented Threat to Journalism

Fellow journalists, academics, and professors testified that the Espionage Act charges against Julian Assange are unprecedented and would mark the end of First Amendment protections on journalism everywhere. Assange is charged with obtaining, receiving, and publishing government documents, activity that investigative journalists engage in every day.

October 1, 2020

Journal

Hearing Update

Day 18: October 1, 2020 #AssangeCase

The evidentiary phase of Julian Assange’s extradition hearing concluded today, with final witness statements summarized in court. Judge Vanessa Baraitser then announced that she will deliver her ruling on January 4, 2021. Outside the court following the proceedings, Assange’s partner Stella Moris addressed supporters and the press. “This is a fight for Julian’s life. It is a fight for press freedom,” she said.

September 30, 2020

Journal

Hearing Update

Anonymous witnesses detail U.S.-directed spying of Julian Assange in the Embassy

Excerpts from two statements given by anonymous former employees of UC Global, the Spanish security company led by David Morales which spied on Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The witness statements testify to the particular zeal Morales had in recording conversations between Assange and his lawyers as well as his contract with an American company to report the recordings back to American intelligence officials.

September 30, 2020

Journal

Hearing Update

Day 17: September 30, 2020 #AssangeCase

Anonymous witnesses: UC Global spied on Assange & lawyers. Patrick Cockburn: WikiLeaks showed the realities of war. Ian Cobain: Only leaked docs confirm what governments cover up. Guy Goodwin Gill: Spied on in the Embassy. Stefania Maurizi: WikiLeaks’ unprecedented document security. Robert Boyle: Manning punished by grand jury. Andy Worthington on the value of Guantanamo Bay documents. Jameel Jaffer: Trump’s indictment of Assange threatens press freedoms.

September 29, 2020

Journal

Hearing Update

Day 16: September 29, 2020 #AssangeCase

Former prison warden: Julian Assange would get “desolate and degrading” Special Administrative Measures. “I am uncertain how the BOP has been able to continue with these types of isolation units, given all the studies, reports and findings of the horrific physical and psychological effects they have on inmates.”

September 28, 2020

Journal

Hearing Update

Day 15: September 28, 2020 #AssangeCase

Assange would face solitary confinement and extreme restrictions if sent to the United States | Former judge advocate Yancey Ellis believes it is “most likely” that Assange would be held in the X block at the ADC, the housing unit for administrative segregation (ad-seg) which he said constitutes solitary confinement. | Joel Sickler: Assange would get little to no health care. Time and again, Sickler would testify that what the BOP claims on paper is far different than what happens in practice.

September 25, 2020

Journal

Hearing Update

Day 14: September 25, 2020 #AssangeCase

Before testimony began today, Judge Baraitser acknowledged the political dimensions in the case against Julian Assange for the first time. Amid discussion of when closing arguments will be submitted, and how much time is needed to prepare them after testimony concludes next week, the judge asked the defense whether the U.S. presidential election would impact the defense’s case. Jakob Augstein: Assange “feared for the safety of informants.” Patrick Eller debunks Manning/Assange “conspiracy”

September 24, 2020

Journal

Hearing Update

Day 13: September 24, 2020 #AssangeCase

Cryptome published the unredacted cables first: The statement is a critical piece of evidence against the U.S. government’s indictment of Assange for publishing the unredacted diplomatic cables in 2011. The rest of today’s proceedings mostly consisted of live testimony from Dr. Nigel Blackwood, the prosecution’s psychiatrist who interviewed Assange in prison, and Dr Sondra Crosby, who visited Assange multiple times in the Ecuadorian Embassy and again in Belmarsh.

September 23, 2020

Journal

Hearing Update

Day 12: September 23, 2020 #AssangeCase

Today Dr. Quinton Deeley, National Health Service psychiatrist who specializes in autism, ADHD, & other mental health issues, took the stand to discuss Julian Assange’s diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Dr. Deeley interviewed Assange several times over a period of several months, and he spoke to Assange’s partner, mother, and friends to corroborate his findings and prepare a report. Dr. Deeley also agreed with what Dr. Kopelman testified to yesterday, that Assange would be a “high risk” of suicide if he were ordered to be extradited. The prosecution then spent nearly its entire cross-examination questioning this diagnosis, attacking Dr. Deeley’s findings and impartiality.

September 22, 2020

Journal

Hearing Update

Day 11: September 22, 2020 #AssangeCase

Warning: this post includes discussion of suicidal ideation. Dr. Michael Kopelman, Emeritus Professor of Neuropsychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, took the stand today to testify about his visits with Julian Assange in prison and his medical evaluations. Dr. Kopelman said that Assange, who has been diagnosed with clinical depression and Asperger’s syndrome, would be at a high risk of suicide if he were extradited to the United States.

September 21, 2020

Journal

Hearing Update

Day 10: September 21, 2020 #AssangeCase

The first witness this week was German computer science professor Christian Grothoff, who testified about his research into the timeline of events surrounding the 2011 publication of the unredacted State Department cables. Three of the 18 counts against Assange charge him specifically for publishing the unredacted cables, and Grothoff’s testimony establishes that WikiLeaks was not the first outlet to publish that archive, that others published it first and have not been prosecuted for doing so, and that WikiLeaks took care to encrypt the file but actions outside of Assange’s control led to its release.

September 18, 2020

Journal

Hearing Update

Day 9: September 18, 2020 #AssangeCase

Nicky Hager: Assange’s redactions protected informants. Jennifer Robinson: Trump offered pardon for Assange in exchange for sources. Khaled el-Masri, kidnapped and tortured by the CIA. Carey Shenkman: Espionage Act instills a “chilling effect.” Reuters journalist Dean Yates: Assange told us what the US wouldn’t. .

September 17, 2020

Journal

Hearing Update

Day 8: September 17, 2020 #AssangeCase

Iraq Body Count founder John Sloboda: WikiLeaks’ Iraq War Logs exposed 15,000 civilian casualties, the most important single contribution to public knowledge about the war. Historian and lawyer Carey Shenkman: the Espionage Act is an “extraordinarily broad” political offense. “There has never, in the century-long history of the Espionage Act, been an indictment of a U.S. publisher under the law for the publication of secrets. Accordingly, there has never been an extraterritorial indictment of a non-U.S. publisher under the Act.”

September 16, 2020

Journal

Hearing Update

Day 7: September 16, 2020 #AssangeCase

John Goetz: WikiLeaks’ “very rigorous redaction process” and harm-minimization led the organization to withhold 15,000 documents and to redact the Iraq War Logs more heavily than the U.S. government. Daniel Ellsberg: “I understand the anxiety that these people named might be harmed. And that anxiety is caused by the refusal to help WikiLeaks redact. But aside from that, people having to leave the country, must be put in the context of Mr Assange trying to end a war that has caused 37 million refugees and over a million deaths.”

September 15, 2020

Journal

Hearing Update

Day 6: September 15, 2020 #AssangeCase

Eric Lewis: Under Trump, the Department of Justice is the prosecutorial hand of the president. Assange would face 175 years in prison, extreme restrictions, and abusive detention conditions. Thomas Durkin: Assange would not get a fair trial in the United States

September 14, 2020

Journal

Hearing Update

Day 5: September 14, 2020 #AssangeCase

Reprieve attorney Eric Lewis, who testified about his experience defending clients who endured Special Administrative Measures in the U.S.: Julian Assange shouldn’t be extradited, would face solitary confinement in the United States

September 10, 2020

Journal

Hearing Update

Day 4: September 10, 2020 #AssangeCase

Julian Assange’s extradition hearing was abruptly paused today when the court was notified that a member of the prosecution had come down with COVID19-like symptoms. As Kevin Gosztola notes, the scare came amid a new spike in the United Kingdom. Because members of the defense and Assange himself are at heightened risk, the defense asked the judge to pause the hearings as we await the prosecutor’s test results.

September 9, 2020

Journal

Hearing Update

Day 3: September 9, 2020 #AssangeCase

Professor Paul Rogers testified about Julian Assange’s anti-war views bringing him into direct conflict with the U.S. government, particularly the Trump administration. “The political objective of seeking to achieve greater transparency in the workings of governments is clearly both the motivation and the modus operandi for the work of Mr Assange and the organisation WikiLeaks.” Trevor Timm: The charges against Assange would radically rewrite the First Amendment, putting all journalists at risk. “It’s very telling that Trump’s is the first one to try to bring a case like this since the Nixon administration.”

September 8, 2020

Journal

Hearing Update

Day 2: September 8, 2020 #AssangeCase

Lawyer Clive Stafford Smith discussed the utility of WikiLeaks disclosures in litigation in Pakistan relating to drone strikes and the “seachange” in attitudes towards US drone strikes in Pakistan. Professor Mark Feldstein: If working with a source to get more information “becomes criminalized, if that becomes conspiring, then most of what investigative journalists do would be criminal.”

September 7, 2020

Journal

Hearing Update

Day 1: September 7, 2020 #AssangeCase

Julian Assange’s extradition hearing resumes in London. NGOs are denied access, defense requests adjournment due to the government’s extremely late superseding indictment, and a professor of journalism begins testimony. Defense lawyer Mark Summers: “What is happening here is abnormal, unfair, and liable to create real injustice if it is allowed to continue.”

September 5, 2020

Journal

Hearing Update

USA v Julian Assange: Live extradition hearing updates

Check back here during Julian Assange’s extradition hearing, resuming September 7th at the Old Bailey in London, for daily reports and video commentary. See the Courage Foundation’s daily coverage from the first week of Assange’s extradition hearing at Belmarsh Crown Court in London in February 2020.