Lawyer says Julian Assange cannot be extradited to the U.S.

London, December 20 (RHC)-- During a hearing before the Westminster Magistrates' Court in London, Julian Assange's lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald, requested that the founder of Wikileaks not be extradited to the United States, arguing that the alleged crimes of his defendant have a political character.

Fitzgerald mentioned that the United Kingdom-United States extradition treaty bans extradition of persons linked to political offenses, which is precisely the situation of his defendant.  The judicial action is part of the preparation of Assange's extradition trial to the U.S., which is expected to take place on February 24, 2020.  On this matter, however, Clair Dobbin, representing the U.S. authorities, asked for the case to be delayed until April, which the Westminster Court did not accept.  

The defense lawyer also reiterated his complaints about the "big problems" his team faces in contacting Assange in prison and recalled that the Australian journalist does not have access to a suitable computer to prepare his argument.​​​​​​

In November, 60 doctors from several countries sent an open letter to British Home Secretary Priti Patel warning her him that Assange could die in jail if he did not receive urgent medical attention.  Although he already served the 50-week jail sentence for breaking the conditions of his probation in 2012, he remains jailed because a court considered that he could escape the U.K. if he left the cell.

In June, former Home Secretary Sajid Javid signed an order to allow Assange to be handed over to the United States, where he could be sentenced up to 170 years in prison.​​​​​​​  U.S. authorities accuse him of conspiring to hack government computers and extract secret documents, which ​​​​​​​would have been published at the WikiLeaks portal.

On Friday, the Spanish judge Jose de la Mata will take a statement from Assange about the alleged espionage he was subjected to during his stay at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.  This interrogation is part of an investigation of the Spanish company Undercover Global, which was responsible for the security of the embassy.​​​​​​​

Edited by Ed Newman
  • Published in World

Russia expresses concern for Julian Assange's health

The health situation of Julian Assange, who is being held in London, worsens while he is awaiting extradition to the United States, warned Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zajárova.

Assange is seriously ill because he has no medical assistance or good nutrition, in addition to alleged psychological torture, the Russian official reported.  "The situation created around him testifies to the violation by the Western world of every imaginable law and rule that guarantees the freedom and security of journalists," Zajárova added.

In addition, he noted that this is a true lynching towards a person who is dedicated to real journalism.

Russia's concern adds to that of specialists from England and other European countries, who have stated that Assange needs to be transferred to a medical center with qualified personnel to examine their physical and mental health status.

"Mr. Assange's situation is critical.  We believe that his extradition to the United States is unfounded and illegal.  Assange is being held in the London jail under conditions that contradict essential human rights," said the head of the international legal team of Assange, Baltasar Garzón.

Assange's father, John Shipton, also expressed concern about his son's health and at the time said he fears he may die in jail after the physical and mental conditions he suffers.

In June 2012 Julian Assange, took refuge in the embassy of Ecuador based in London to evade his extradition to the United States.  The WikiLeaks founder is currently under extradition request by U.S. authorities for an espionage charge for showing the world the secret activities of the U.S. army in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Edited by Ed Newman
  • Published in World

‘Mr Assange could die in prison. There is no time to lose’ – over 60 medics in open letter to UK govt.

Julian Assange may be in real danger of dying in a UK prison, medics from across the world warned in an open letter. He may not even be fit to stand extradition trial, given the years of denial of proper healthcare.

Assange, the founder of the whistleblower site WikiLeaks, is currently in British custody at a top-security Belmarsh jail. In February next year he is to stand trial over an extradition request from the US, where he may be sentenced to up to 175 years in prison. In an open letter addressed to British Home Secretary Priti Patel, over 60 medical professionals from across the world voiced their concern over the physical and mental health of the publisher, arguing that he may not only be unfit to stand a trial but even at risk of dying.

“We have real concerns, on the evidence currently available, that Mr Assange could die in prison. The medical situation is thereby urgent. There is no time to lose,” the letter says.

Also on rt.com ‘A 1950s show trial’: John Pilger describes ‘disgraceful’ courtroom treatment of Julian Assange by UK judge...

The doctors cite several eyewitness accounts demonstrating deterioration of Assange’s health during his seven-year-long say at the Ecuadoran embassy in London. The Australian-born anti-secrecy activist breached his bail conditions by hiding at the diplomatic mission in 2012 and remained there until his eviction in April this year.

A UN panel of experts concluded that the self-exile amounts to his arbitrary detention by the British authorities, considering the circumstances.

A threat of arrest made it impossible for Assange to get treatment at a proper hospital over that period of time, even as living in confined conditions and increasing isolation took their toll on his health. The medics that did get a chance to examine him at the embassy did so against the background of a “climate of fear and intimidation”, the letter said, which was most likely created deliberately.

If it was deliberate, we as medical doctors condemn such behavior as reckless, dangerous and cruel. That all this has been played out in the heart of London for many years is a source of great sadness and shame to many of us.

The concerns were further fueled by the opinion of Nils Melzer, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, who visited Assange in prison in early May, accompanied by two medical experts specializing in assessing victims of torture. He said the team concluded that Assange had symptoms of a person who sustained psychological torture over an extended period of time.

Also on rt.com UN torture envoy demands ‘full accountability & compensation’ after Sweden drops rape probe against Assange...

Assange’s latest public appearance during a court hearing last month further demonstrated his ailing health. The man seemed exhausted and confused, struggled to recall his own name and date of birth and complained that he couldn’t think properly.

The signatories called for an urgent expert medical assessment of Assange’s state of health that should be done “in a properly equipped and expertly staffed university teaching hospital,” as opposed to the prison’s hospital ward.

US accusations of Assange filed under the Espionage Act stem from WikiLeaks publishing of classified materials embarrassing to the US government. Supporters see his mistreatment as a major attack on freedom of speech with disastrous consequences for whistleblowers and journalists, who consider exposing wrongdoing by Western governments.

The open letter was signed by medics from the United States, Australia, Britain, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Sri Lanka and Poland.

  • Published in World

Rape Probe Against WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Dropped: Swedish Prosecutor

Stockholm: Swedish prosecutors said Tuesday they have dropped their investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over a 2010 rape allegation, even though they found the plaintiff's claim "credible".

"My assessment is that all investigative measures that can be taken have been taken. But... the evidence is not strong enough to file an indictment," deputy director of public prosecutions Eva-Marie Persson told reporters.

The investigation was launched after a Swedish woman who met Assange at a WikiLeaks conference in Stockholm in August 2010 accused the Australian of having unprotected sex with her while she was sleeping. She said she had previously repeatedly refused to have unprotected sex with him.

The statute of limitations in the case was to expire in August 2020.

Assange has always denied the allegation.

"I want to stress that the plaintiff has given a credible and reliable account (of events). Her statement is clear, long and detailed," Persson said in a statement.

"But altogether, my assessment is that the evidence has weakened in such a way that there is no longer reason to continue the investigation."

Assange, 48, has been held at a top-security British prison since April after police dragged him out of the Ecuadoran embassy in London, where he had been holed up since 2012 to avoid an extradition order to Sweden.

He was subsequently sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for breaching bail conditions when he took refuge in the embassy.

Swedish authorities closed the rape investigation in 2017, saying it was not possible to proceed as Assange could not be reached. But the case was reopened following his arrest.

In September, prosecutors said they had interviewed seven witnesses over the summer in a bid to move the inquiry forward.

Assange is also fighting a US bid to extradite him from Britain on charges filed under the Espionage Act that could see him given a sentence of up to 175 years in a US prison.

Most of those charges relate to obtaining and disseminating classified information over his website WikiLeaks publishing military documents and diplomatic cables.

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Denied tools for his defense, Assange remains resilient ahead of ‘epic’ extradition battle – Pilger

Julian Assange is in high spirits despite being deprived the materials he needs for his defense, veteran journalist John Pilger has reported, adding that Assange’s upcoming extradition hearing will be a battle for democracy.

Pilger tweeted out a status update after visiting the WikiLeaks co-founder in Belmarsh Prison.

“Denied the tools to prepare his defence against extradition to America, [Assange’s] resilience endures,” he wrote, stating that Assange’s upcoming court hearing will being an “epic fight… the fight of democracy.”

Pilger has been a tireless advocate for Assange, visiting him in prison multiple times and making appearances at rallies demanding the journalist’s release.

Assange will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday as he battles to stop his extradition to the United States.

In the US, Assange is charged with possession and dissemination of classified information. If found guilty, he could receive up to 175 years in prison. The journalist has been in Washington’s crosshairs for more than a decade, after WikiLeaks published a video showing the US military attacking journalists and civilians in Iraq in July 2007.

Assange’s treatment at the hands of UK authorities and other parties involved in his imprisonment was condemned by UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer in October. According to Melzer, the WikiLeaks co-founder has been subjected to “psychological torture” and his right to due process has been “systematically violated.”

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Roger Waters performs in London at rally in support of Julian Assange

London, September 3 (RHC)-- Rock ’n’ Roll legend and former front-man of Pink Floyd Roger Waters performed Monday one of his hit songs ‘Wish You Were Here’ outside the United Kingdom’s Interior Ministry in London during a rally in solidarity with WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange.

The British activist is a long-standing supporter of Assange and WikiLeaks and staunch opponent of the United States imperialistic practices, publicly criticizing the unilateral sanctions against Venezuela, the lawfare strategy and jailing of Brazilian former president Lula da Silva, and challenging far-right leaders around the world. 

After playing the iconic song, during Monday’s support demonstration, Gabriel Shipton, Assange’s brother detailed that after visiting Assange, he could see that “Julian is emaciated and not in tip-top order or health... he is suffering anxiety.  He is still in fighting spirits, but his well-being is declining rapidly.”

Despite Julian Assange formally denying his consent to an extradition request before the Westminster Court of Magistrates in London, he now faces a full U.S. extradition hearing in February 2020. 

"I do not wish to surrender for extradition.  I'm a journalist winning many, many awards and protecting many people," said Assange who testified by video conference from the Belmarsh maximum-security prison, where he is imprisoned after having been condemned by another British court to 50 weeks of jail for violating his conditional freedom in 2012.

The U.S. Justice Department has mounted 18 charges in total against him, with accusations of conspiring with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to gain access to a government computer as part of a 2010 leak by WikiLeaks of hundreds of thousands of U.S. military reports about the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and American diplomatic communications.

As Assange continues imprisoned in Belmarsh his physiological and health condition, many denounce, has worsened.  Investigative journalist John Pilger said Julian Assange’s “psychological torture is unabated,” shortly after speaking to the Wikileaks founder last week. 

“I spoke to Julian Assange at the weekend.  His psychological torture is unabated.  He remains isolated in his small cell, mostly 23 hours a day, denied proper exercise.  He has lost more weight. Although 'approved', phone calls to his parents are still not possible,” Pilger tweeted.

Campaigners for Julian Assange’s freedom are not the only ones with serious concerns about the way Assange has been treated.  In May, U.N. rapporteur Nils Melzer visited Assange in prison and said that “physically there were ailments but that side of things are being addressed by the prison health service and there was nothing urgent or dangerous in that way.  What was worrying was the psychological side and his constant anxiety.”  
 

Edited by Ed Newman
  • Published in Culture

‘Rubbish!’: Correa blasts CNN for claim that Assange made embassy into ‘command post for meddling’

Former Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa has lashed out at CNN over a report claiming whistleblower Julian Assange turned the country’s embassy in London into a “command post for election meddling,” branding the story “rubbish.”

In a Monday report, CNN alleged that the WikiLeaks founder had used the Ecuadorian embassy, where he lived under asylum for seven years, as a base from which to help Russia “undermine” the 2016 US presidential election. CNN claimed Assange received “in-person deliveries” of potentially “hacked materials” and held “suspicious meetings” with “Russians and world-class hackers.”

Ex-Ecuadorian president: CNN is preparing world for Assange’s extradition...

A day later, CNN published comments from an interview with Correa in which he said that since Assange was posting information about Hillary Clinton and not Donald Trump, his whistleblowing amounted to "manipulation." This is why Ecuador eventually cut off Assange's internet access in the embassy, Correa said — but he denied there was any cooperation between Assange, Russia and Ecuador to interfere in the US election.

CNN, however, framed the story to fit with its conspiracy narrative of Assange and Quito aiding in Moscow’s alleged interference, with its headline dramatically reading that Correa “confirms” the election meddling. In a tweet promoting the story, the network implied that Correa was aware of the alleged meddling and simply didn't care.

Correa told RT on Wednesday that CNN’s original story about the embassy operating as a “command center” was “rubbish” and that the network was trying to build an untrue narrative of cooperation between Assange and Russia to ensure the public supports his eventual fate.

What CNN and other media are saying is rubbish, but we're used to it. They are prepping for the show. The reason is, when they extradite Assange to the US and sentence him to life, they want the honest backing of the public. They are setting the stage.

Correa compared CNN's assertions about Assange to its claims about "weapons of mass destruction" in the lead up to the Iraq war in 2003 — media manipulation which was used to make Americans "applaud a war,” he said.

Now, to "justify the assassination of Assange or to extradite him" they are constructing a new narrative about a fake "command center" for election meddling, he said.

Also on rt.com Dunce's cap for Russiagate coverage should go to CNN (by George Galloway)...

Correa also denied claims made by other media that he had a direct telephone line with Assange in the embassy. In reality, he said, he only spoke to Assange once — when the WikiLeaks founder interviewed him for his show on RT.

Correa said that CNN's claims about illicit activities in the London embassy were not confirmed by actual evidence, but based on the report by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller into so-called Russian interference and disproven "collusion" with the Trump campaign.

The former Ecuadorian leader also dismissed claims made by CNN that it was pressure from US authorities that forced Quito to cut off Assange’s internet and phone access.

If such a threat [from the US] had come to me, I assure you that I would not have taken any action — because we do not accept this kind of pressure.

In Correa’s opinion, Assange was "justified" in publishing damaging material about Clinton because it was "true" — but he also said that publishing about one candidate and not the other was a kind of “manipulation.”

When Assange was arrested by British police and dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy in April, Correa slammed his successor Lenin Moreno as the “greatest traitor in Ecuadorian and Latin American history” for having “allowed” it to happen, adding that Assange's arrest was "a crime that humanity will never forget.”

Also on rt.com How Assange & RT meddled in 2016, according to CNN’s ‘possibilities,’ innuendo & lies...

CNN even attempted to implicate RT in the whole conspiracy by including in the story a long-debunked theory that this network was in cahoots and “coordinating behind the scenes” with WikiLeaks simply because it reported on a new document dump which was posted on the website  before the whistleblowing site tweeted out a link to the information.

  • Published in World

Assange lawyer reveals Pentagon behind pursuit of WikiLeaks publisher

A lawyer for WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange has confirmed that the Pentagon – not the White House or any other government agency whose secrets he leaked – was driving the nearly decade-long campaign to destroy the publisher.

After asking officials at the Obama administration if they “really wanted” the publisher for whistleblowers and warning that “there are dangerous precedents here,” Assange lawyer Geoffrey Robertson said they responded:

We don’t want him, but the Pentagon does, and the Pentagon may eventually get its way.

Robertson’s “high connections” got him an audience with Obama administration insiders after he learned of the secret grand jury they had convened against Assange in 2010, he told Phillip Adams on ABC’s Radio National on Thursday. When Robertson warned them of the First Amendment implications of charging a publisher under national security laws, however, they already knew what kind of precedent it would set.

While the Obama administration charged more leakers under the Espionage Act than all previous presidents combined, it never attempted to wield the law against a publisher.

And the Pentagon has finally gotten its way. British Home Secretary Sajid Javid signed a request for a US extradition order earlier this month, and Assange will face a full extradition hearing in February.

Also on rt.com Ecuador confident that US won’t execute Assange, but what about spending 175yrs in prison, instead?...

He is charged with 17 violations of the Espionage Act, including obtaining and disclosing national defense information, plus an earlier count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, concerning a massive trove of classified documents given to WikiLeaks by military intelligence analyst Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning. The Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs, as they were titled for publication, exposed US atrocities including the torture of detainees and murder of civilians and constituted the largest leak of military secrets in US history.

If he is found guilty – and it is highly unlikely that the Eastern District of Virginia court where he will be tried and where no “national security” defendant has ever won a case, will acquit him – he faces 170 years in prison.

The grand jury investigation of Assange at its peak involved the Justice Department, the Defense Department, the FBI, the State Department, and the Diplomatic Security Service, according to WikiLeaks. But it was the Pentagon, as early as 2008, which began the quest to bring down the publisher, launching its war on WikiLeaks through its Cyber Counter-Intelligence Assessments Branch.

According to award-winning anti-war journalist John Pilger, their plot involved a media war using reputational smears and “threats of exposure [and] criminal prosecution” aimed at shredding the “feeling of trust” at the core of WikiLeaks’ operations. 

Also on rt.com ‘Assange extradition should be warning to liberals who believe in American democracy’ – Zizek...

The Pentagon’s mission is all but accomplished. Assange has been so thoroughly smeared most of his supporters doubt he will ever get a fair trial. Not only has he been demonized as a rapist, traitor, fascist, and every other name in the book, but even those journalists who have profited off his work – at the Guardian, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and other mainstream media that published WikiLeaks disclosures years ago – have gleefully turned on him.

  • Published in World
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