Powerful forces in the US and UK want Assange crucified for the unforgivable “crime” of truth-telling investigative journalism the way it should be on vital for everyone to know geopolitical issues.
That’s what his slow-motion extradition to the US trial in Britain is all about.
John Pilger called proceedings a “Stalinist trial,” guilt automatic in advance.
In Stalinist Soviet Russia, the aim was to eliminate everyone not bending to his will, proceedings conducted secretly or not at all.
Mistreatment of Assange since forcefully dragged from Ecuador’s London embassy in April 2019 has been all about inflicting constitutionally banned cruel and unusual punishment, along with killing him slowly from neglect and abuse, a high crime against humanity under international law.
On Monday, show trial proceedings resumed, presided over by hostile to judicial fairness district judge Vanessa Baraitser.
UK authorities assigned her the task of assuring Assange’s extradition to the US for kangaroo court proceedings or conspiring with a plot to eliminate him by slow-motion maximum security mistreatment.
A US/UK conspiracy aims to assure that he’s never freed from prison confinement by denying him due process and equal protection under law — so guilty as charged is certain no matter his innocence of all charges.
Baraitser limited his access to counsel, leaving him in legal limbo.
She denied his emergency bail request at a time of large-scale coronavirus outbreaks in Britain, and rejected more time requested by his legal team to address a Trump regime superseding indictment.
In late June, a US Justice Department statement said the following:
“A federal grand jury returned a second superseding indictment today charging Julian P. Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, with offenses that relate to (his) alleged role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States (sic),” adding:
“The new indictment does not add additional counts to the prior 18-count superseding indictment returned against Assange in May 2019.”
“It does, however, broaden the scope of the conspiracy (sic) surrounding alleged computer intrusions with which Assange was previously charged.”
Addressing the court on Monday, legal team member for Assange Mark Summers said fairness demands that if the prosecution is permitted to revise its indictment, the defense should be granted more preparatory time to respond.
According to WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson, the Trump regime had 10 years to make their case against Assange.
His lawyers worked for the past year in preparing a defense against the first superseding indictment.
“Throwing this (second one) at the last minute is an absolute insult to the UK courts and to Julian and to justice,” Hrafnsson stressed, adding:
This gross injustice must be “addressed upon appeal and on every level.”
In testimony by video link, Journalism Professor Mark Feldstein explained that leaking and publishing documents related to national security has been longstanding practice in the US, a First Amendment right.
Never before was a journalist or publisher prosecuted for what’s constitutionally permitted, he stressed.
The current phase of Assange’s extradition hearing is expected to last up to a month.
Charges against him in original or revised form are spurious.
Earlier he explained that WikiLeaks has the right “to publish newsworthy content (that’s) (c)onsistent with the US Constitution. We publish material that we can confirm to be true.”
That’s what speech, press, and academic freedoms are all about — the most fundamental of democratic rights without which all others are jeopardized.
Unjustifiably charging him under the long ago outdated 1917 Espionage Act, a WW I relic pertaining to the war alone, nothing in its aftermath, along with one phony accusation of computer crime, compounds the travesty of justice against him.
Baraitser permitted only nine members of the public to be in court for proceedings — dubiously claiming COVID-19-related restrictions.
Five seats were reserved for Assange’s family and friends, four alone for the general public.
NGOs, press freedom advocates, and EU MPs had remote access permission granted them to monitor proceedings withdrawn — on the unacceptable pretext of protecting “the integrity of the court” by making what’s going on inside London’s Old Bailey as secretive as possible.
In response, whistleblower Edward Snowden tweeted the following:
“The extradition of Julian Assange is a malicious prosecution by any standard. Even critics of the man ought to condemn this as a show trial.”
“The ‘crime’ in question is the greatest public service @Wikileaks ever performed: exposing (US) abuses” in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“Drop the charges. #FreeAssange”
Wanting him prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned longterm is less about him personally, much more a message to others who may follow in his footsteps.
It makes clear that a fate similar to his awaits anyone exposing US high crimes it wants concealed.
The same goes for whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning.
Imprisoned twice, now free, she could experience a repeat of what she endured at the discretion of the US ruling class.
That’s how police state injustice operates in fantasy democracy America.
A Final Comment
In New York Times v. United States (June 30, 1971), the US Supreme Court’s landmark 6 – 3 majority ruled that the Times and Washington Post were legally permitted to publish what’s known as the Pentagon Papers — material leaked by Daniel Ellsberg.
A per curiam court statement said the following:
“Any system of prior restraints of expression comes to this court bearing a heavy presumption against its constitutional validity.”
The government “thus carries a heavy burden of showing justification for the imposition of such a restraint.”
Majority Supreme Court justices agreed with their district and appeals court counterparts that Congress shall make no law (that) abridg(es) the freedom of speech, or of the press.”
Under rights affirmed by the First Amendment, publications, groups or individuals may legally publish truthful information in the public interest no matter how it was obtained.
If extradited to the US, convicted and imprisoned, Assange will be denied what’s mandated under the First Amendment, affirmed by majority Supreme Court ruling.
Proceedings against him turned the rule of law on its head — supported by establishment media for failing to denounce what’s going on.
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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Featured image is from Massoud Nayeri