At today’s case management hearing against WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, who faces US extradition and 175 years’ imprisonment for publishing classified information revealing war crimes, district magistrate Vanessa Baraitser allowed the defence two extra months to submit new evidence that is emerging in Spanish investigative proceedings.
The magistrate refused to allow a preliminary hearing to hear arguments that the extradition request for Julian Assange was barred by the 2003 US-U.K. Extradition Treaty, which prohibits political crimes such as Espionage. Assange is charged under the 1917 Espionage Act. (Attached is an information note on today’s submissions from Mr. Assange’s solicitors, Birnberg Peirce and Partners LLP.)
The second application from the defence was to ask the court postpone the full extradition hearing due for 24th February 2020. The application to postpone was based on two grounds:
Firstly, Mr. Assange’s conditions in Belmarsh prison, where he is kept in isolation without access to legal papers, a computer or meaningful participation in his case. These conditions obstruct his legal defence in a significant way.
Secondly, subsequent to the timetable being agreed in June, a Spanish Court has initiated a case with direct impact on Assange’s extradition case in the United Kingdom. The case concerns clandestine operations against Assange, his lawyers and doctors and Assange’s family, including at the Ecuadorean Embassy. The sheer magnitude of the evidence in the Spanish case necessitates that the defence be given more time, argued the defence. The application was refused but will be revisited at the 19 December case management hearing.
Mr. Assange was asked by the magistrate if he had understood events in court and responded:
“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 whistleblowers 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.”
Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks Editor-In-Chief said
“The Case should be thrown out immediately. Not only is it illegal on the face of the treaty, the US has conducted illegal operations against Assange and his lawyers which are the subject of a major investigation in Spain.”
The case management dates were set as follows
18 November 2018 Call-over hearing (administrative hearing necessary to bring a defendant before a judge every 28 days)
18 December 2019 Deadline for evidence
19 December 2019 Case management case (to review the progress of the case, including evidence submitted)
7 February 2020 Deadlines for bundle submission by both sides
11 February 2020 Deadline for defence skeleton argument
18 February 2020 Deadline for prosecution skeleton argument
25 February 2020 Extradition hearing begins.
Original Wikileaks article: https://wikileaks.org/Julian-Assange-Case-Hearing.html
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