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The Crucifixion Of Julian Assange | William Thomas Online | William Thomas

The Crucifixion Of Julian Assange



Assange at window


Updated March 25:

Magistrate Vanessa Baraitser sentances Assange to death by torture and COVID-19 


THE CRUCIFIXION OF JULIAN ASSANGE

 

By William Thomas

 

Though appearing as haggard as any captive revolutionary after seven-years’ close confinement in London’s Ecuadorian embassy, followed by nearly a year of UN-certified torture in Britain’s most notorious maximum security Gulag, the polite, often diffident prisoner locked in a glass cage at the back of the Belmarsh Magistrates Court for his life-or-death U.S. extradition hearing was not a prophet. Nor did he wish to be king.

     The charges against him were far worse.

     For Julian Assange is a messenger, as all true journalists must be, whose most vital, even sacred duty lay in exposing the world’s most murderous, illegal and secretive acts to a brainwashed public, who may yet come to realize that his fate is their own.

 


Day 1 Feb. 24, 2020

Assange’s extradition hearing begins in a London magistrate’s court – the sentencing wing of Belmarsh prison, writes Craig Murray, who has stood long hours in the dawn cold to secure one of only 16 public seats for an extraordinary extradition hearing of worldwide concern, whose outcome will determine if journalists dare remain true to their calling, instead selling out to advance their compromised careers.

 

 2:22


LEWIS FOR THE PROSECUTION

Queen’s Counsel James Lewis opens the proceedings for the prosecution, not with a legal argument but an hour-long address directed at an already complicit media, who since this travesty began in 2010 have repeatedly risked personal whiplash looking the other way. Lewis repeats the permitted press parameters:

 

1. Julian Assange Bad, Dangerous, Weird, Not "Real Journalist"  

2. U.S. War Crimes, Ground Truths In Afghanistan & Iraq Not For Public Discussion

 

     Lewis is completely out of order for addressing the media instead of the court, Murray scribbles, as the prosecution hands out reams of copies of their political address. Plus handy digital copies for hasty cut-and-pasting this approved narrative into national “news” stories.

     Only now does the prosecution proceed to the matter at hand…

     Assange, Lewis darkly intones, is charged with “aiding and abetting” U.S. Army private Bradley-now-Chelsea Manning to access classified military documents. In fact, Assange unsuccessfully offered to help Manning disguise her password. Protecting sources an the investigative journalist's first priority.

     Never mind the facts. Lewis goes for a slam-dunk in his own net, citing the UK’s draconian 1989 Official Secrets Act, which states that obtaining and publishing any government secret is an offence.

     Magistrate Vanessa Baraitser – beholden to Chief Magistrate Lady Arbuthnot, who is in turn directly answerable to the British Government’s war, weapons and intelligence establishment – wonders aloud if the newspapers that published Manning’s leaks might be guilty of the same offence.

     “Yes,” Lewis instantly agrees. No matter how you get it, publishing and even possessing such material makes you guilty.

     This means that news managers for the New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian, Der Spiegel and every other print and TV outlets who happily made money publishing extensive classified material provided by Wikileaks are as liable as Julian Assange for the same penalties he’s facing!

     (Yawn. The clueless corporate scribes in attendance dutifully report that the prosecution of Julian Assange is not a threat to press freedom. At least, not their press freedom. Because they will never challenge the government line, which is their own.)

     For bad measure, Lewis further declares that the Human Rights Act and freedom of speech guarantees in the U.S. and U.K. are “completely irrelevant” to extradition proceedings. And presumably to any U.S. “trial” that might follow.

 

FITZ FOR THE DEFENSE

Edward Fitzgerald is QC for a defence team almost entirely barred from consulting with their client over the past 11 months. Unable to communicate with his client now, Fitz stands to deliver his opening arguments:


#1: Since the American prosecution’s motives are wholly political – and political offenses are excluded under article 4.1 of the U.K. extradition treaty with the U.S. – what the heck are we doing here?

     Or words to that effect.


#2: During his client’s seven-years as a political refugee in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy, Spanish criminal courts have determined that meetings between Julian Assange and his counsel were live-streamed by a private global surveillance company directly to the CIA.

     “Egregious abuse of attorney-client privilege! Case dismissed!” Magistrate Baraitser unaccountably does not shout.

     The defence also promises to prove that the CIA actively considered kidnapping history’s most dangerous reporter Assange. Or poisoning him outright. (Hold that disquieting revelation till the end of this article.)


#3: The prosecution’s framing of the case, QC Fitzgerald asserts and Craig Murry transcribes, contained deliberate misrepresentation of the facts that also amounted to abuse of process.

     With Assange expressly forbidden First Amendment protections in the USA – where he faces a 175-year jail term/death sentence – Fitzgerald urges the magistrate District Judge to bar extradition. (Even England does not allow extraditing someone to death.)

     Instead, the hearing is adjourned.

     Not a single one of the most important facts and arguments today has been reported anywhere in the mainstream media, Craig Murray will later report.

 

 3:09


Day 2 Feb. 25

Fitzgerald tells the court that on the hearing’s first day, Assange was handcuffed 11 times and twice stripped-searched, before being pushed into five different holding cells in the nightmarish Belmarsh lockup. The defense lawyer dares ask the judge to request that the prison treat Assange humanely.

     Baraitser replies there’s little she can do. And she’s probably right. Though not for any legal reasons.

     Fitzgerald earns a scowl by remaining standing to point out that it’s common practice for a judge to pass on requests to the prison service. And that suggestions from the bench are invariably followed.

     Baraitser – not to be confused with Beria* – denies any knowledge of such a custom.

     James Lewis intervenes. Claiming that the prosecution also wants Assange to have a fair hearing (to avoid a mistrial or an Assange win on appeal), the Queen’s Counsel confirms that, indeed, judicially reining-in jailhouse misconduct is normal practice.


 7:50

     Baraitser refuses to order Assange’s grotesque mistreatment – which the UN’s top investigator has medically determined and publicly outed, “torture” – halted.  



 1:24


HACKED OFF

Returning to the charge that his client helped the similarly prison-abused Chelsea Manning access a database containing detailed Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, defense attorney Mark Summers helpfully explains that with Manning’s top secret clearance, she was easily able to access military files  and did so without Assange’s help. All the Wikileaks publisher did was attempt to help his source disguise her identity. And in this, he failed.

     So much for Washington’s “hacking” charge against Julian Assange.

 

NO LIVES RISKED EXCEPT JULIAN ASSANGE

Furthermore, though not listed on the warrant against Assange, Summers characterizes one of the prosecution’s key contentions that the Wikileaks publisher had recklessly put lives at risk as, “lies, lies and more lies.”

     The defense then spends hours showing how Assange had, in fact, partnered with the Guardian, Der Spiegel, other major media – as well as the U.S. State Dept. – to redact 250,00 cables prior to publication.

     In 2011, when Guardian reporters David Leigh and Luke Harding decided to publish the online password protecting the unredacted files anyway, Assange phoned the State Department’s emergency line to warn Hillary Clinton’s office that their unauthorized release was imminent.

     He was told to call back “in a few hours.”


 3:22


        On Laura Poitras’ documentary Risk, a frustrated Assange shouts into the phone: “I don’t understand why you’re not seeing the urgency of this… people’s lives are at risk!”

     In rebuttal, the prosecution remarkably asserts that it is not the function of a British court to determine “factual issues.” 

     To prevent a mistrial for openly abusing the defendant in her own court, Beria Baraitser inquires whether Assange is feeling well enough to continue.

     The defendant replies that he is struggling and having trouble concentrating.

     Baraitser ignores him.

 

NO TOUCHING!

On departing for Madrid, Assange’s Spanish lawyer stops to touch fingertips with his client through a narrow slit in the thick glass cage at the back of the courtroom. As Assange starts to stand, both uniformed lion-tamers inside the cage push him back down, preventing even this minimal connection of reassurance and solidarity – and providing still more fodder for an appeal. 

     I simply do not believe that anything said or proved in the courtroom can have an impact on the final verdict of this court, Craig Murray concludes.



Julian Assange en route to court following his arrest by British police -Henry Nicholls:Reuters

Julian Assange en route to court following his arrest by British police. -Henry Nicholls/Reuters

 

Day 3 Feb. 26

Julian Assange rebukes the court for preventing him from consulting with his legal team. He observes that his prosecutors have “100 times more contact hours each day. The problem is I cannot participate, I cannot privately communicate with my lawyers,” he repeats.

     Judge Beria Baraitser declares that she will not allow the defendant to address the court.

     “I am as much a participant in these proceedings as I am at Wimbledon,” Assange protests.

     His defense team speaks up, asking that their client be uncaged so he can sit with his legal counsel. Assange is “no threat to anyone,” Edward Fitzgerald states for the court record: “He is a gentle man of an intellectual nature. There’s no reason for him not to sit with us.”

     There is, of course, every reason not to permit a fair trial for someone as threatening to official narratives as this 48-year-old Australian journalist and publisher.


rally in Quito, Ecuador, in support of the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up in the country’s embassy in London since 2012.CreditCreditJose Jacome:EPA, via Shutterstock

 Rally in Quito, Ecuador in support of Julian Assange, -Jose Jacome/EPA


PLAYING POLITICS WITH POLITICS

Defense counsel Edward Fitzgerald next argues that, aside from the bogus “hacking” charge, the remaining 17 counts against Julian Assange under the US Espionage Act are “political” by definition.

     (Craig Murray makes another note: The overriding accusation that Assange was seeking to harm the political and military interests of the United States was in the very definition of a political offence in all the authorities.)

     Furthermore, argues Fitzgerald, under the very Extradition Treaty under which Assange is being charged – as well as every “universal norm” going back 100 years – no one can be extradited for political acts.

     “It is an essential fundamental protection, which the US puts in every single one of its extradition treaties,” the defense updates the court.

     (And espionage, WikiLeaks editor Kristinn Hrafnsson reminds reporters outside the courtroom, is clearly a political offence. The U.S. State Dept. agrees. “He’s not a journalist. He’s not a whistleblower. He is a political actor. He has a political agenda.” -State Dept. spokesman PJ Crowley.)

     Hastily promoted to District Judge, the imperious and mysterious Vanessa Baraitser responds that although the US/UK Extradition Treaty forbids political extraditions, this specific prohibition does not appear in the UK Extradition Act. The defense must show that Assange’s detention is unlawful under English law, not the international law cited in the prosecution’s extradition request.

     No problem. Edward Fitzgerald cites numerous precedents establishing that Assange’s detention is illegal under international, European and English law.

     Furthermore, if only English law applies, the first charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion is not illegal under English law – rendering all subsequent U.S. arguments instantly inadmissible.

     Ruling that the treaty cited as the fundamental basis for Assange’s extradition is suddenly “non-binding” in a British courtroom would be an unprecedented abuse of process, Fitzgerald observes as the court recorder goes tap-tappety-tap. Not to mention that ripping up the U.S.-UK extradition treaty to facilitate Assange’s extradition would render the U.S. extradition request invalid!

     In any case, Fitzgerald rolls on, most of the prosecution’s arguments calling for extradition are based on international law and precedent, not English. And those laws preclude extradition for “political offenses”.


 9:06

 

Day 4

Instead of considering the defense application for Assange to finally sit with his lawyers, as expected, the court offers the apparently already-convicted publisher headphones that do nothing to facilitate consultation with his legal team.

     No matter. The prosecution relentlessly-asserts that English law, which apparently allows extradition for political offenses, trumps (so to speak) international law. Unless, Lewis quickly adds, Julian Assange explicitly intended to change U.S. government policy.   

     Fitzgerald smacks that slowball into the bleachers, arguing that his learned colleague is going “too far” to suggest that this bilateral treaty between the US and UK has no legal significance – since the treaty itself is the basis for the U.S. extradition request!

     Magistrate Baraitser interrupts again, asking the defense counsel if he’s arguing “in circles.” (The prosecution's presentation, in fact, is interrupted by the judge precisely once. During Fitzgerald’s reply, Baraitser interjects 17 times.)

     This harassment of Fitzgerald when he had the prosecution on the ropes was straight out of the Stalin show trial playbook, Craig Murray notes. The bully pulpit of Baraitser’s tactic in interrupting Fitzgerald again and again and again, belittling his points and very deliberately indeed preventing him from getting into the flow of his argument. The contrast in every way with her treatment of Lewis could not be more pronounced.

 

GO ASK ALICE

Edward Fitzgerald replies that this court would be in a “pretty strange Alice in Wonderland world” if the treaty that gave rise to the extradition request supposedly had nothing to do with the legality of it. 

     “On the face of it, it is a very bizarre argument that a treaty which gives rise to the extradition, on which the extradition is founded, can be disregarded in its provisions. It is on the face of it absurd.”

     ZIIIIINGO!!!

     The defense further argues that the U.S. is engaging in “abuse of process,” since another British court has just ruled against extraditing a U.S. citizen for tax evasion on those grounds. Aussie Assange, in fact, has never set foot in the country that seeks to boss a reluctant world.


 2:51


     Asked by Baraitser why he believes Assange was seeking a change in U.S. government policy, rather than “just exposing government wrongdoing, Fitzgerald asks “what other goal” could there have been? WikiLeaks’ actions were explicitly designed to change White House policy in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

     And they did.

     Defense attorney Mark Summers advises the court that Assange’s useless headset is not allowing him to hear and communicate with his legal team.

     Though she hasn’t allowed it yet, Baraitser claims she’s willing to offer frequent breaks for such vital conferencing. But Summers thinks it “not practical” to halt proceedings “every three minutes”.  Once again, he reminds the magistrate that it’s normal practice everywhere else for prisoners to sit with their lawyers.

     Baraitser slaps Summers down for “exaggerating”, declaring if the hearing takes twice as long, “so be it.”

     (Though Assange is still forbidden to sit with his legal defenders, at one point the hearing will be briefly adjourned to allow them to consult in an interview room rigged for recording. And I do mean, “rigged”...

     Julian Assange again rises to complain that he is not getting a fair hearing. Baraitser warns him to sit back down and speak only through his lawyers.

     “I can’t,” Assange says.

     Fully embracing the absurdity of her kangaroo courtroom, Baraitser instructs the accused to raise his hand to attract their attention.

     Summers complains that since Assange is behind him, he can’t see when he has his hand up.

     The increasingly worried prosecution says it does not object to Assange sitting with his lawyers.

     As if responding to distant thought-commands, Baraitser steadfastly refuses to allow Assange out of his cage.

     This concludes the incredible first week of Julian Assange’s show trial.



 28:49


POST-GAME WRAP-UP:

Before she hears the first defense witness, this contemptuous magistrate has clearly determined how she will rule in a farce that could prove fatal to a reporter doing his job.

     But who exactly is Vanessa Baraitser?

     She appears to be the only public figure in Western Europe with no photo on the internet. Indeed the average proprietor of a rural car wash has left more evidence of their existence and life history on the internet than Vanessa Baraitser, Craig Murray observes after an intensive online search of her name and title returns zip.

     Though scheduled to resume on May 18th, the rapid spread of COVID-19 through the British Isles threatens to indefinitely postpone the next heavy-breathing Belmarsh get-together, leaving Assange to rot in a dungeon designed to break his spirit and his health.

     Recalling Jeffrey Epstein’s fate in a similarly maximally-secure cell, who’s to say a few microscopic microbes might be introduced to an immune-compromised political prisoner whose only guilt – skipping bail to avoid being summarily handed over to U.S. authorities – has long been paid for time served.

     But of course it’s not just Julian Assange who must be stopped.

     It’s everyone who values truth, justice and transparency before this planetary plaything of a self-appointed andf delusional elite... explodes.


 SEE ALSO: How I Was Forced To Testify Against My Sources


Beria with Stalin in the background and Stalin's daughter Svetlana

 

 

* Beria: director of the Soviet secret police, played leading role in the purges of Joe Stalin’s opponents. He was later executed.







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 发件人     William Thomas 2019