nazi justice

Assange needs more time to speak to lawyer, court told
Elizabeth Howcroft, Reuters, Jan 13 2020

Photo: Henry Nicholls

LONDON – Julian Assange is not getting the time he needs with his legal team, causing delays to the case, his lawyer told Westminster Magistrates Court on Monday. Assange appeared for Monday’s hearing wearing glasses and a dark blazer over a light top. He spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth to the judge and saluted his supporters in the public gallery at the beginning and end of the hearing. Assange’s lawyer Gareth Peirce said difficulty in getting time with Assange had delayed the case, telling the court:

This slippage in the timetable is extremely worrying.

Judge Vanessa Baraitser said Assange could have time on Monday to speak to his lawyer and appear in court again later in the day. In that second sitting, Peirce said that she had only had an hour to speak to Assange. Assange’s next hearing is scheduled for Jan 23. He is due to appear via video link from London’s Belmarsh prison. Full extradition proceedings are expected to commence in February.

The international witch-hunt of Julian Assange
Eric London and Thomas Scripps, WSWS, Jan 14 2020

The prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at London’s Westminster Magistrates Court is a travesty of justice that will forever stain the governments of Pindostan, UK, Australia, Sweden and Ecuador, as well as all the individuals involved. Appearing alongside Assange in court Monday morning, Assange’s attorneys revealed that they had been given only two hours to meet with their client at Belmarsh prison to review what lawyer Gareth Peirce called “volumes” worth of evidence. Expressing the practiced cynicism of British class justice, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser said this was “not an unreasonable position,” citing a lack of space in the prison interview room. With the bang of her gavel, Baraitser sent Assange back to his dungeon at Belmarsh, where he awaits his February extradition hearing under conditions UN Rapporteur Nils Meltzer has called “torture.” At this stage in the nearly decade-long international witch-hunt of Assange, nobody should be surprised by such shameless lawlessness on the part of the world’s most powerful governments. Ever since Swedish, British and Pindo prosecutors conspired in 2010 to issue a warrant for Assange’s arrest in connection with an investigation into bogus sexual misconduct allegations, these “advanced democracies” have trampled on their own laws and traditions, subjecting the journalist to a pseudo-legal process that would have been deemed unfair even by the standards of the Middle Ages.

Monday’s mockery of justice is an escalation of the attack on Assange’s right to counsel. It takes place after El País published a detailed account of how the UC Global security firm secretly spied on Assange’s privileged discussions with his lawyers and fed the illegally-obtained surveillance to the CIA. UC Global also shared footage from cameras it installed throughout the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. El País’ reporting showed that UC Global recorded every word Assange spoke, and live-streamed these conversations to the CIA. Despite the support of a criminally compliant media, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the Pindo and British governments to downplay the profoundly anti-democratic precedents they intend to set through the Assange prosecution. In an opinion article published Monday in the Hill titled “Will alleged CIA misbehavior set Julian Assange free?” Pindo attorney James Goodale wrote a scathing attack on the CIA’s spying on Assange’s privileged attorney-client communications. Goodale is among the most prominent and well-respected attorneys in Pindostan, best known for representing the NYT in 1971, when the newspaper was sued by the Nixon 37 administration for publishing the Pentagon Papers, leaked by Daniel Ellsberg, who has also called for the release of Assange and whistleblower Chelsea Manning. The Pentagon Papers revealed how the Pindo government for years lied to the public in expanding the Vietnam War, which led to the deaths of 3m Vietnamese (and 22k Pindo grunts etc). Their publication triggered an explosion of public anger and fueled anti-war protests. Goodale wrote:

Can anything be more offensive to a ‘sense of justice’ than an unlimited surveillance, particularly of lawyer-client conversations, livestreamed to the opposing party in a criminal case? The alleged streaming unmasked the strategy of Assange’s lawyers, giving the government an advantage that is impossible to remove. Short of dismissing Assange’s indictment with prejudice, the government will always have an advantage that can never be matched by the defense. The Daniel Ellsberg case may be instructive. Ellsberg, like Assange, was prosecuted under the Espionage Act for leaking documents to the NYT and the WaPo. During the trial, Nixon’s “plumbers” broke into the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist and wiretapped his phone. In that case, Judge William Matthew Byrne ruled that the surveillance had “incurably infected the prosecution” and dismissed the charges, setting Ellsberg free. For similar reasons, the case against Assange should be dismissed. The usual remedy for warrantless surveillance is to exclude any illegally-obtained information from the trial, but that remedy is inapplicable here. The government’s advantage in surveilling Assange is not the acquisition of tangible evidence but rather intangible insights into Assange’s legal strategy. There is no way, therefore, to give Assange a fair trial, since his opponents will know every move he will make.

Fifty years after the collapse of the prosecution of Ellsberg, there is no faction of the Pindo or British ruling class capable of defending basic democratic principles. Three decades of permanent war and financial speculation have transformed the capitalist world into the fiefdom of a global oligarchy, protected by garrison states, in which the imperatives of imperialist plunder demand increased repression and censorship worldwide. Assange and Manning, who exposed Pindo war crimes and helped inspire social opposition internationally, are test cases for dictatorial forms of rule that are to be imposed on millions.
It is a grave danger to the rights of all that the British “justice” system is now moving to place Assange in the hands of the very same officials who plotted for months to carry out the murder of Gen Qassem Suleimani. The ICCPR, the ECHR and the British Extradition Act of 2003 bar the British government from extraditing any individual to a country where the government assassinates its opponents and is incapable of guaranteeing that the individual will not be killed or tortured. Suleimani’s death underscores that Pindostan is legally incapable of making such a guarantee. The pseudo-legal process shows that what the British and Pindo governments are attempting to carry out is not an extradition, but an extraordinary rendition. This travesty of justice has been ignored by the entire spectrum of was passes for the left wing of the imperialist political establishment including Jeremy Corbyn, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders, Ilhan Omar and all those associated with the Labour Party in the UK and the DSA faction of the Demagog Party in Pindostan. Their silence is not an oversight. It is a class position. The affluent upper middle class layers on whose behalf these politicians speak have tossed their decades-old anti-war placards in the garbage and enlisted as cheerleaders for Pindo & British imperialism. Behind their sophistic arguments that “humanitarian” considerations justify Pindo-led wars in Libya and Syria, the real motivations reside in their bulging stock portfolios, amplified by imperialist plunder. There is only one social force capable of leading the fight to free Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning, defend democratic rights and stop the global drive toward dictatorship and war. The end of 2019 saw the working class, billions strong and more internationally interconnected than ever before, moving into struggle on a scale not seen in decades. It is the urgent task of socialists to endow this movement with a revolutionary socialist perspective to transform the world on an egalitarian basis, free of war and dictatorship.

Will alleged CIA misbehavior set Julian Assange free?
James C Goodale, The Hill, Jan 13 2020

A few days before Xmas, Julian Assange testified to a Spanish court that a Spanish security company, UC Global SL, acting in coordination with the CIA, illegally recorded all his actions and conversations, including with his lawyers, and streamed them back in real time to the CIA. He will, at the end of February, make a similar complaint to a British extradition court about the CIA’s alleged misbehavior. Will such misbehavior, if proven, set Assange free? The Daniel Ellsberg case may be instructive. You may recall that after the Supreme Court’s decision in the “Pentagon Papers” case, Ellsberg was indicted under the Espionage Act for leaking Pentagon documents to the NYT and the WaPo. After the trial commenced in San Francisco, it was brought to the judge’s attention that the “White House plumbers” broke into the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist. Based on that information and other complaints of government misbehavior, including the FBI’s interception of Ellsberg’s telephone conversations with a govt boxtop, Judge William Matthew Byrne decided that the case should be dismissed with prejudice because the government acted outrageously. For similar reasons, the case against Assange should be dismissed, if it reaches the Pindo courts.

The “plumbers” were a covert group formed by the Nixon White House to stop leaks of information from the government such as the Pentagon Papers. They are notorious for their burglary at the Watergate complex, which led to Nixon’s downfall. Approximately nine months before the Watergate break-in, the plumbers, led by former CIA agent E Howard Hunt, burglarized a psychiatrist’s office to find information that could discredit Ellsberg. The CIA also was involved with the break-in. It prepared a psychiatric profile of Ellsberg as well as an ID kit for the plumbers, including drivers’ licenses, Social Security cards, and disguises consisting of red wigs, glasses and speech alteration devices. Additionally, the CIA allowed Hunt and his sidekick G Gordon Liddy to use two CIA safe houses in the DC area for meetings and storage purposes. Clearly, the CIA knew the plumbers were up to no good. It is unclear whether the CIA knew Ellsberg was the target, but it would not have taken much to figure it out.

The Spanish newspaper El Pais broke the story that UC Global invaded Assange’s privacy at the Ecuadorian embassy and shared its surveillance with the CIA. It demonstrated step-by-step, document-by-document, UC Global’s actions and its contacts with the CIA. UC Global reportedly installed cameras throughout Assange’s space in the embassy, including his bathroom, and captured Assange’s every word and apparently livestreamed it, giving the CIA a free TV show of Assange’s daily life. After reading El Pais’s series, you would have to be a dunce not to believe the CIA didn’t monitor Assange’s every move at the Ecuadorian embassy, including trips to the bathroom. Ecuador granted Assange asylum in their embassy for seven years, after he jumped bail in London to avoid extradition to Sweden for allegedly raping two Swedish women. Those charges are now dismissed. If you can believe it, Ecuador had hired UC Global to protect the Ecuadorian embassy and Assange. Not surprisingly, the CIA later made UC Global its spy to surveil Assange.

When there was a change of administration in Ecuador, Assange’s asylum was withdrawn, and he was immediately arrested by British police at the request of Pindo boxtops. Pindostan subsequently indicted him for violating the Espionage Act, for publishing the very same information published roughly contemporaneously by the NYT, the Guardian, El Pais, Le Monde and Der Spiegel. Assange already was subject to a sealed indictment in Pindostan for computer hacking. The behavior of UC Global and the CIA seems indistinguishable from the government’s behavior in the Ellsberg case, which a federal judge found to have “offended a sense of justice” and “incurably infected the prosecution” of the case. Accordingly, he concluded that the only remedy to ensure due process and the fair administration of justice was to dismiss Ellsberg’s case “with prejudice,” meaning that Ellsberg could not be retried. Can anything be more offensive to a “sense of justice” than an unlimited surveillance, particularly of lawyer-client conversations, livestreamed to the opposing party in a criminal case? The alleged streaming unmasked the strategy of Assange’s lawyers, giving the government an advantage that is impossible to remove. Short of dismissing Assange’s indictment with prejudice, the government will always have an advantage that can never be matched by the defense.

The usual remedy for warrantless surveillance is to exclude any illegally obtained information from the trial, but that remedy is inapplicable here. The government’s advantage in surveilling Assange is not the acquisition of tangible evidence but rather intangible insights into Assange’s legal strategy. There is no way, therefore, to give Assange a fair trial, since his opponents will know every move he will make. When Assange begins his extradition hearing, this will be part of his argument: that the CIA’s misbehavior violates his human rights by depriving him of his right to a fair trial. The CIA will no doubt attempt to trump this argument by defending the surveillance on natsec grounds. This may be easier said than done, however: It is one thing to say the CIA can engage in surveillance abroad for its own intelligence-gathering purposes, and another to say it can listen to the private lawyer-client communications of a person against whom the Pindo government has an open criminal investigation. More to the point, it does not seem immediately clear why eavesdropping on conversations of legal strategy protects Pindo natsec. I led The NYT lawyers in the “Pentagon Papers” case, and in my experience in natsec cases every time the government is backed into a corner in such cases, it will simply serve up a natsec defense because it is difficult to defend against such an assertion and the government consequently has the ability to trump every competing argument.

Violation of Assange’s fair-trial rights is only one of many arguments he can make to defeat extradition. For example, he can argue that his health is so poor that he cannot survive extradition. His father has said Assange will die in prison, and the UN Special Rapporteur overseeing his case, Nils Melzer, believes Assange’s mental acuity has been damaged irreparably through “psychological torture.” Most importantly, Assange can assert that the action of the Pindo government is for its own political benefit. It is standard law that extradition be refused when a country seeks it in order to prosecute a political offense. In this case, Sec State Pompeo has said the Pindo government would seek to shut down Assange for using “free speech values against us” and characterized WikiLeaks as “a non-state hostile intelligence service.” That statement does not sound like the government wishes to convict Assange for violating Pindo natsec laws, as much as to get rid of Assange himself for disclosing embarrassing information that is detrimental to Pindo diplomatic and political interests. Whether the actions the Pindo government takes against Assange constitute a “political” offense will be hotly contested. Former State Dept and NSC legal adviser John Bellinger recently predicted on NPR:

This will lead to a battle royal, because Assange and his lawyers will argue very forcefully that the Trump administration is coming after him for political reasons.

No doubt there also will be a “battle royal” regarding whether the CIA can surveil Assange’s actions and conversations, including those with his lawyers, with impunity and then live-stream those to its offices without being heavily penalized for its behavior. It would seem the only appropriate remedy for such outrageous conduct would be to set Assange free.

Julian Assange attends procedural hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court
Thomas Scripps, WSWS, Jan 14 2020

Julian Assange appeared in person in central London at Westminster Magistrates Court yesterday, at a hearing scheduled to process the submission of defence evidence. The hearing was the latest procedural step in the extradition request from Pindostan for Assange, which will be subject of a scheduled four-week trial beginning next month. It was revealed that since his last hearing on Dec 19, Assange had been granted just two hours total to review that evidence with his legal team. What is being conducted in the British courts is not a trial but a legal farce designed to cover up the lawless rendition of a political prisoner to a country that brazenly assassinates political opponents. Assange appeared defiant during his appearance in the court. He held a short conversation with his lawyer Gareth Peirce, and nodded to and saluted his supporters gathered in the public gallery before the hearing began. He also raised his clenched fist to the gallery as he left the dock. Peirce began the hearing with reference to the continuing and deliberate isolation of Assange from his lawyers, and the impossibility of conducting a defence on this basis, saying:

Evidence that is yet to be submitted includes a volume on prison conditions that I have only just begun to discuss with my client. There are three further substantial volumes of exhibited material that he has not yet had a chance to see at all. We had hoped to have time to go through this material while he was held in the cells at Westminster Magistrates Court, after a difficult journey in a police van from the maximum security Belmarsh prison where he is being incarcerated, but court security insisted that an interview could not be guaranteed and that any session would be limited to just one hour. This has set us back on our timetable enormously.

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser was unmoved. She stated that there were 47 people held in the court’s cells and eight available interview rooms, and that therefore the decision to limit Assange’s time was “not an unreasonable position for them to take.” Baraitser has repeatedly refused to direct Belmarsh prison to make more visiting time available to Assange’s lawyers, despite the availability of interview rooms. In a previous hearing, she brazenly questioned how important it actually was for Peirce to go over this information in detail with her client. When Baraitser asked how much time had so far been available to Assange’s legal team to discuss the evidence in question with him, Peirce responded that Peirce said:

Since our last contact with the court, we have had just two hours. This was compounded, as what little time was available this week was reduced by the last-minute change of the hearing date from Tuesday to Monday. We did not book a visit for tomorrow because we thought it was a court day so we have lost the opportunity for that. If it were made available, we would take it.

Baraitser made no move to address this issue. In the coming days, Assange will have just one hour-long Thursday afternoon session at Belmarsh to review the remaining evidence before the deadline for submission at the end of the week. On Belmarsh prison’s continued refusal to allow Assange sufficient time to review his case with his lawyers, Peirce said:

We have pushed Belmarsh in every way. We are seriously considering launching a judicial review. It is a breach of a defendant’s rights.

Joseph Farrell, WikiLeaks ambassador and a Centre for Investigative Journalism board member, told us outside the court:

Julian has had extremely poor access to his lawyers. The reason he was brought here in person was that after the hearing he would be able to stay and work through the evidence, at least pieces of it, with his lawyers. Due to the various limitations here at Westminster court the judge said that he would be entitled to an hour. His lawyer pointed out that since the last time he spoke to the court he had only received two hours with his lawyers and that the way Belmarsh has been acting is brinking on judicial review. The idea that somebody doesn’t have access to their lawyers when they’re facing a life sentence, when they have 175 years ahead of them, when the prosecution has had 10 years to mount the hardest case that they have with unlimited resources, and for somebody to have three hours with their lawyers in order to sign off on their future, it’s unacceptable.

Also in attendance at the hearing was journalist Tareq Haddad, who resigned from Newsweek in December after its editors refused to publish his story on the documented doctoring of the OPCW report on the alleged CW attack in Douma in Apr 2018. we spoke with him about his resignation and about his views on the Assange case. He told us:

I frequently write about foreign affairs and international politics. When Turkey’s invasion of Syria started, I was asked to report on that, and a week into the Turkish invasion there was alleged white phosphorous use by Turkey so I investigated that. In the course of that investigation I was interviewing a lot of CW investigators, or people from bodies related to CW, such as the ICRC. As I was doing that story, I started to hear rumblings of leaks within the OPCW. At the very beginning it wasn’t something I could report on, but as I followed it more closely it reached the point at which I thought: “OK, something needs to be printed,” and that point was the documents released by WikiLeaks, then the letter which was published in the Mail on Sunday, then when that letter was verified by Reuters. Even when I had this, I was told I couldn’t report on it, and that was the moment I had to resign. Also, in the process of trying to write this story, I was personally attacked and smeared as a journalist, despite not having any prior issues with my stories. It was only when I tried to write anything controversial that my character started to be attacked. They said that the sources I was using for my stories were bad sources, or that I was editorialising, not just this story, but all of them! I’ve got over a thousand by-lines for IB Times, I’ve got over 200 by-lines for Newsweek, and this never came up. It was only when I was trying to discuss the doctoring of CW reports.

So what’s happened in Syria is part of a much wider process. Essentially, what’s been happening for the last 50 or 60 years is that Pindostan & the UK have been repeatedly breaking international law, invading countries, not respecting international sovereignty. Now there’s a fairly recent alliance of Russia, China, Iran & Iraq that all kind of agree that we’re stronger together than apart and our alliance should be centred on two things: international sovereignty and the following of international law. They have their own bad records in these areas but they understand that it’s in their interests to stand up for this because they’ve been the victims of Pindo foreign policy all this time. My understanding of what’s going on in relation to Assange is that freedom of speech is very quickly dying or already dead in the Western world. This case is symbolic of something much bigger. People need to be aware of it, and understand the complexity of the case. It’s inspiring to see so many people here. I think it’s one of the most important court cases in the history of the West, for sure, and it will have a symbolic outcome. If freedom of speech is not respected here in the case of Assange, it’s not going to be respected in wider society, and the world that we live in is not going to look the same in a few years. We’re already going down that path of authoritarianism.

Assange’s next procedural hearing is scheduled for Thursday Jan 23.

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