At his latest extradition hearing Julian Assange was once again denied justice by a British court.
If extradited to the U.S. he faces 175 years imprisonment for revealing American war crimes committed during its regime change wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Magistrate refuses to dismiss the extradition case against Assange
On October 21 magistrate Vanessa Baraitser refused Assange’s defence a hearing to dismiss the extradition case on the basis of the 2003 U.S.-UK extradition treaty which prohibits extradition for political offences such as espionage. The wording of the American indictment against Assange makes it clear that 18 of the 19 charges against him regard offences that allegedly damaged the national security of the United States. These espionage charges are clearly political offences which should prevent his extradition under the 2003 extradition treaty.
Magistrate refuses to postpone Assange’s extradition hearing in February 2020
The magistrate also rejected an application from Assange’s defence to postpone the full extradition hearing on 24 February 2020. This application to postpone was based on two grounds.
Firstly, that Assange is being kept in conditions at Belmarsh maximum security prison that obstruct his ability to prepare his legal defence. He is denied access to his legal papers, and a computer while his mental health has significantly declined due to his continued imprisonment.
The second ground for a postponement of the extradition hearing were that his defence team need more time to access the mass of evidence coming out of the Spanish investigation into the surveillance of Assange, his lawyers, friends and family during the time he sheltered in the Ecuadorian embassy. Spanish newspaper El Pais has revealed that security firm UC Global spied on Assange while he was in the Ecuadorian embassy and passed the information onto the CIA.
British government blocks Spanish judge from questioning Assange over spying allegations tied to American intelligence services
The newspaper El Pais has noted how the Spanish investigation has major ramifications for Assange’s case which has led the British government to block attempts by the investigating judge to question Julian Assange by videoconference. El Pais has commented upon the unprecedented nature of the UK government’s actions:
“The British position, unprecedented in these types of requests for judicial collaboration, is being viewed by Spanish judicial bodies as a show of resistance against the consequences that the case could have on the process to extradite the Australian cyberactivist to the United States. ‘’
Judge Jose De La Mata has expressed his surprise at the UK government turning down his request to interview Assange as it has agreed to such requests in ‘’previous cases’’. Refusal of such requests rarely happens and in this case is an example of the British government interfering in the judicial process in an attempt to ensure that Assange is extradited to the United States.
Judge De La Mata has replied to the British government stating that under international cooperation treaties the only obstacle to in such cases would be if the person interviewed was the accused. However, “In this case, Julian Assange is a witness, not an accused party,”.
The Spanish judge also made it clear in his reply to the British government that he had jurisdiction to question Assange:
“The Spanish judicial system has jurisdiction and is able to hear cases of crimes committed by Spanish citizens outside of the country as long as the event is a crime in the place where it was committed, the victim or the public prosecutor present a criminal complaint, and the suspect has not been sentenced or acquitted in another country.”
British legal system denies justice to Julian Assange
At the end of court hearing on 21 October Julian Assange was asked by the magistrate if he had understood the court proceedings Julian Assange replied:
“I don’t understand how this is equitable. This superpower had 10 years to prepare for this case and I can’t access my writings. It’s very difficult where I am to do anything but these people have unlimited resources…They are saying journalists and whistle-blowers are enemies of the people. They have unfair advantages dealing with documents. They [know] the interior of my life with my psychologist. They steal my children’s DNA. This is not equitable what is happening here.”
Journalist John Pilger ,who attended the latest court hearing, has noted how the actions of the British legal system make a mockery of the term justice :
“… it was an atrocious event, …. To say it is surreal is not enough, it is truly appalling. … I’ve sat in a number of courts all over the world, I’ve never seen anything like this, it belonged in a show trial in the 1950s Moscow, Prague, you name it. This is London do they know what’s happened to justice here?’’
British complicity in American regime change wars mean that it will try to ensure Assange’s extradition to the U.S.
The current British government will do all in its power to ensure that Julian Assange is extradited to the United States where he will face a show trial that will end in a very long jail term.
We should expect nothing less from a Conservative government that since 2010 has enthusiastically participated in American regime change wars. It helped the U.S. overthrow Gadaffi and turned Libya into a failed state where women and children are sold at slave markets. The UK government has participated in the American attempt to illegally overthrow the Assad government in Syria, a war that has left over 500,00 dead and helped unleash genocidal Sunni Jihadi groups upon the Syrian people. The British government since 2010 has overseen the sale of billions in weapons to the Gulf dictatorships led by Saudi Arabia which are committing war crimes on a daily basis in their illegal war in Yemen.
British historian Mark Curtis who has written extensively about British complicity in these regime change wars has commented:
“When it comes to Middle East policy, the UK is nothing but a rogue state’’.
We now face a general election in Britain. If the Labour Party is elected in December it should halt the extradition proceedings against Julian Assange whose only crime has been to speak truth to power and expose the numerous war crimes of the American empire.
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