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Julian Assange extradition hearing so far

September 11, 2020 IN WIP
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Julian Assange extradition hearing so far

There has been a huge amount happening in and around the Julian Assange extradition hearing that resumed on 7th September at London’s Old Bailey. In this special newsletter we try to give you some of the highlights.

The case began with a protest by hundreds of Julian Assange supporters in front of the court. The crowd was addressed by Tim Dawson from the National Union of Journalists, German MP Heike Hansel, Kristinn Hrafnsson editor-in chief of WikiLeaks, journalist John Pilger, Vivienne Westwood, and John Shipton, Assange’s father. You can find the daily round up here

The trial began with the Judge withdrawing video access for 40 NGOs and political observers including Amnesty International. See Amnesty’s statement.

Stefan Simanowitz media manager for Amnesty International and Rebecca Vincent Director of International Campaigns from Reporters Without Borders have conveyed their concerns about the difficulties of accessing the extradition hearing regarding the Assange case. You can also read the coverage by US Assange Defense here.

The Don’t Extradite Assange campaign and WikiLeaks spokespeople have been giving daily updates on the progress of the case. Kristinn Hrafnsson speaks about the unfair treatment first day of the hearing, he also speaks about the importanceof El-Masri’s testimony. And Joseph Farrell, Jenifer Robinson and Kristinn Hrafnsson gave a first week round up of the extradition hearing.

Internationally renowned voices have been making their support for Julian Assange clear. Noam Chomsky and Alice Walker had a magnificent piece in the Independent. Some 160 former Presidents, Prime Ministers, MPs and lawyers issued a comprehensive letter in support of Assange. And Lula, the former President of Brazil, issued this emotional videocalling for support for the defence campaign.

Stella Moris, Julain’s partner, gave this interview to the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire, and on the eve of the trial this profile appeared in the Sunday Times.

If you want a succinct summary of the issues in the case the DEA’s Juan Passerelli’s film The War on Journalism, prasied by prize winning director Ken Loach, is essential viewing.

The Crowdfunder by the mother of Julian Assange’s children, Stella Moris has issued an appeal to raise funds to cover the legal costs of Julian’s extradition hearing in the Magistrates Court in England.

You can read our daily reports here.


US Gov. argued journalists are liable to prosecution under Espionage Act + John Shipton just In !

Plus An Open Letter by James Ricketson (below)

Phillip Adams

Brisbane, Australia

Sep 16, 2020 — 

Hi All, I hope you are all well. Just in NOW: John Shipton Julian’s dad gives update from the case (Thanks to James Ricketson for providng this link).

+ from yesterday  I ask:  Why remove 1st Amendment protection for NON USA Citizen journalists if all journalist’s (including USA Citizens/Journalists) are liable to prosecution for publishing classified information. Regardless of whether that comes into their possession from a whistle-blower and seemingly regardless, even if those files disclose alleged war crimes involving the mass slaughtering of innocent civilians and the targeting and killing those providing first aid assistance to the wounded trying to crawl away as is evident in the Collateral Murder Video released by Chelsea Manning.

I wish to thank Craig Murray for his Commentary (Excerpt below) and full text click here >  “Your Man in the Public Gallery: Assange Hearing Day 10“.  “The gloves were off on Tuesday as the US Government explicitly argued that all journalists are liable to prosecution under the Espionage Act (1917) for publishing classified information”. Excerpt below and full text

To help you know who is who, in the excerpt that I have pasted in from Craig Murray’s publication: From my understanding James Lewis QC is the Counsel for the US Government trying to extradite Julian Assange and Eric Lewis is a designated Expert Witness for Assange’s defence team.

Excerpt pasted here> “Counsel for the US Government James Lewis QC then stated he would turn to the First Amendment issue.

James Lewis QC You suggest that the First Amendment precludes this prosecution
Eric Lewis Yes, There has never been a prosecution of a publisher under the Espionage Act for publication of classified information.
James Lewis QC Are you familiar with the Rosen Case of 2006. This was precisely the same charge as Assange now faces, 793 (g) of the Espionage Act, conspiracy to transmit classified information to those not entitled to receive it. Have you read the case?
Eric Lewis Not in a long while, because ultimately it was not proceeded with.

[James Lewis read through lengthy extracts of the Rosen judgement, which I do not have in front of me and was unable to get down verbatim. What follows is therefore gist not transcript].

James Lewis QC In the Rosen case, it is made plain that the receiver, not just the discloser, is liable to prosecution under the Espionage Act. The judge noted that although the Espionage Act of 1917 had been criticised for vagueness, Congress had never felt the need to clarify it. It also noted that much of the alleged vagueness had been resolved in various judicial interpretations. It noted the fourth circuit had rejected a first amendment defence in the case of Morison.
Eric Lewis Morison is different. He was a leaker not a publisher.
James Lewis QC The Rosen judgement also goes on to state that vagueness does not come into play where there is clear evidence of intent.
Eric Lewis When you consider the 100 year old Espionage Act and that there has never been a prosecution of a publisher, then intent…
James Lewis QC [interrupting] I want to move on from intent to the First Amendment. There are supreme court judgements that make it clear that at times the government’s interest in national security must override the First Amendment
Eric Lewis In times of imminent danger and relating to immediate and direct damage to the interests of the United States. It is a very high bar.
James Lewis QC The Rosen judgement also notes that the New York Times Pentagon Papers case was about injunction not prosecution. “The right to free speech is not absolute”.
Eric Lewis Of course. The arguments are well rehearsed. Movement of troop ships in time of war, for example; cases of grave and immediate danger. In the Pentagon Papers Ellsberg was, like Assange, accused of putting named US agents at risk. The bar for overriding the First Amendment is set very high.
James Lewis QC [Reading out from a judgement which I think is still the Rosen judgement but it was referred to only by bundle page] He also notes that serial, continuing disclosure of secrets which harm the national interest cannot be justified. It therefore follows that journalists can be prosecuted. Is that what he says, Mr Lewis?
Eric Lewis Yes, but he is wrong.
James Lewis QC Do you accept that the Pentagon Papers judgement is the most relevant one?
Eric Lewis Yes, but there are others.
James Lewis QC A close reading of the Pentagon Papers judgement shows that the New York Times might have been successfully prosecuted. Three of the Supreme Court judges specifically stated that an Espionage Act prosecution could be pursued for publication.
Eric Lewis They recognised the possibility of a prosecution. They did not say that it would succeed.
James Lewis QC So your analysis that there cannot be a prosecution of a publisher on First Amendment grounds is incorrect….…”

Your Man in the Public Gallery: Assange Hearing Day 10 - Craig Murray
The gloves were off on Tuesday as the US Government explicitly argued that all journalists are liable to prosecution under the Espionage Act…


An Open Letter by James RicketsonDear Members of the Australian ParliamentI write as an Australian citizen, sentenced to six years in prison in Cambodia for espionage. The Australian government intervened in my case when it became clear, on the basis of evidence presented in court, that I was not a spy, but a filmmaker and journalist.

A fellow Australian citizen, Julian Assange, appears daily in court in London this September, accused of espionage. His lawyers argue that he is a journalist and publisher.

I read a detailed account of the court proceedings each day and, where possible, transcripts. I want my judgement of Assange’s guilt or innocence to be based on facts, not on disinformation or opinion.  Given the implications of Assange’s extradition for him personally and for freedom of the press generally, I trust that your own support for Assange, or your lack of support, is based on facts as presented to the court.

You will have heard of, if you have not actually seen, the Collateral Murder video released by Wikileaks in 2010. Of the facts surrounding this incident there can be little doubt now.  The Collateral Murder video is one of the key reasons Assange is facing a 170 year term of imprisonment in the US if he is extradited from the UK after these proceedings.

Below, in bullet form, are the key Collateral Murder facts presented to the court in a statement  made by Dean Yates. You might like to familiarize yourselves with this incident, look at the video and judge for yourselves whether an investigation into a possible war crime is warranted? Ask yourselves also if an Australian citizen, deserves to die in a US prison for bringing to light this possible war crime, when it is an integral part of a journalist’s job, his or her professional responsibility, to do just that.

The video can be seen here, with commentary from both Julian Assange and a representative of the US Military:

– 12th July 2007. Dean Yates is at his desk in the Reuters office in Baghdad’s red zone when he learns that two Reuters employees, Namir and Saeed, have been killed.

– The US military issues a statement: “Firefight in New Badhdad. US, Iraqi forces kill 9 insurgents, detain 13.” A US lieutenant colonel is quoted as saying, “Nine insurgents were killed in the ensuing firefight. There is no question that Coalition Forces were clearly engaged in combat operations against a hostile force.”

– None of 14 witnesses in al-Amin, where the deaths occurred, is aware of a firefight that might have resulted in the helicopter strike.

– Yates is briefed by US military.

– Pilots in Crazy Horse 1-8, an Apache helicopter, claim they saw a group of ‘military-aged males’ who appeared to have weapons and were acting suspiciously and requested permission to fire.

– Some debate occurs as to why Crazy Horse had opened fire,  if there was no firefight? One of the generals present says the dead were of military age and, because apparently armed, were therefore “expressing hostile intent”.

– Yates is shown just 3 minutes of the footage, up to the point where the Apache opns fire. It does not include the shooting of Namir and Saeed. As the Apache circles around Namir, he can be seen holding his long lens camera, taking photos of Humvees. An agitated member of the helicopter crew says “He’s got an RPG”

– The US military refuses to show any more of the video or to provide a full copy of it.

– Freedom of information requests to access the full video are denied.

– On 5th April, 2010, Wikileaks releases the Collateral Murder video at the National Press Club in Washington.

– More details of Namir and Saeed’s deaths are revealed in the unedited tape. In it the Apache gunner is seen tracking Namir as he stumbles and tries, unsuccessfully, to hide behind garbage. Another round of fire and Namir’s body explodes. Saeed is seen trying to get up for roughly three minutes when Matasher Tomal, aged 43, driving his son and daughter to school in his minivan, pulls up to help him.

– The Apache pilots want to open fire again. “Come on buddy,” says one, “All you  gotta do is pick up a weapon”, apparently a reference to the US Rules of Engagement  permitting the execution of a wounded man if he appears to be picking up a weapon. As the video makes clear, Saeed is not doing so.

– As the unarmed men pick up Saeed and put him in the van, permission to attack is given. The Apache fires 120 rounds into the van. Saeed and Tomal are killed. Tomal’s son, Sayad, aged 10 and daughter Doaha, aged 5, are wounded. “Oh, yeah, look at that, right through the windshield,” says one pilot. Tomal had been taking his kids to school.  They survive their wounds.

– Banter between the pilots heard throughout  is of a kind that kids might use when playing a video game. “Oh, yeah, look at those dead bastards”, a pilot is heard saying. “Nice”, a comrade replies. “Good shoot’n”. “Thank you.”

– The cause of Namir and Saeed’s deaths would have remained a secret had it not been for Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange.

In the not too distant future, Assange may well be languishing in a US jail if the Trump administration request for extradition is successful. He will die in jail.

If, on the basis of the evidence, of the facts, you believe that Assange is not a spy, will you speak out, as some of your fellow parliamentarians have?

Please remember what is at stake in the Assange case – a commitment to ensuring freedom of speech remains a core value of our democracy.  Irrespective of your views about Assange the man, I urge you to lobby Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne to ensure they intervene and protect an Australian citizen from an effective death penalty for revealing the war crimes of Collateral Murder.

yours sincerely

James Ricketson


Julian Assange

A conversation between John Pilger and  Dr Alison Broinowski AM

1900 AEST (7.00pm) Saturday 19 September 2020, via Zoom

On Tuesday 8 September two Australian Journalists were rescued by their Government when China attempted to question them on the work of detained journalist Cheng Lei.

In stark contrast and at the same time in the UK, an Australian Journalist is in detention and subject to extradition proceedings where he fights for his life not to be sent to face a 175 year prison sentence in an American prison.

Dr Alison Broinowski AM and John Pilger will speak about this and the progress of the current extradition hearing in London against Julian Assange, the likely outcome and what it means for media freedom and democracy.

John Pilger is an Australian-British journalist and filmmaker based in London. His decades long work in print and film have made him one of the most successful and awarded Australian journalists.  He was twice winner of Britain’s Journalist of the Year Award, and has won many other awards for his work, including the UN Media Peace Prize, Best Documentary, One World Awards for ‘The War on Democracy’.  He won the Sydney Peace Prize in 2009.

John met Julian Assange over 10 years ago and has been one of his biggest supporters since. He asked Assange why he started WikiLeaks and Julian replied, “Transparency and Accountability are moral issues that must be the essence of public life and journalism.”

Dr Alison Broinowski AM is Vice-President of Australians for War Powers Reform. She joined the Australian Foreign Service in 1963 where she remained until 1993, working alternately as an author and Australian diplomat.

Since leaving the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, she has received a PhD in Asian Studies from ANU, and has continued to lecture, write, and broadcast in Australia and abroad on Asian affairs and cultural and political issues and has published 14 books on those subjects. In 2013 she stood as a Wikileaks Party candidate for the Senate in NSW.

Ticket price for this event is AU$7.



Assange Extradition Hearing – Joe Lauria’s Daily Report: Day 3

This link is a thorough report of the third day of the hearing in London.The defence produced a star witness in Trevor Timm, Director of the Freedom of Press Foundation (US), who specialises in media law and press freedom. He demolished a good part of the US Gov case, establishing that Assange was acting as a journalist, that the US Gov has no authority to say who is and isn’t a journalist, that what he did was what journalists do every day, and that he did not steal any documents. Jo Lauria, Editor-in-chief of Consortium News, gives a very precise account of the proceedings. There are also posts from each day.


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People say that (writers) are pretty powerless: we don’t have an army, we don’t have a bureaucracy. But if that were true, then why would writers be arrested?... Because the spoken word is powerful.

— John Ralston Saul on the work of PEN International