USA v Julian Assange Extradition Hearing
Part 1: 24th February -28th February
Part 2: 18th May – 5th June
Woolwich Crown Court/Belmarsh Magistrate’s Court, which is adjacent to HMP Belmarsh (See travel advice)
Solicitor Gareth Peirce (Birnberg, Peirce & Partners); lead Barristers Edward Fitzgerald QC, Doughty Street Chambers, Mark Summers QC, Matrix Chambers
The US is seeking to imprison Julian Assange for obtaining and publishing the 2010/2011 leaks, which exposed the reality of the Bush Administration’s “War on Terror”: Collateral Murder (Rules of Engagement), Afghan War Diaries, Iraq War Logs, Cablegate, and The Guantanamo Files.
The US began its criminal investigation against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks in early 2010. After several years, the Obama administration decided not to prosecute WikiLeaks because of the precedent that this would set against media organisations. In January 2017, the campaign to free Mr. Assange’s alleged source Chelsea Manning was successful and President Obama gave her a presidential commutation and freed her from prison.
In August 2017 an attempt was made under the Trump administration to pressure Mr. Assange into saying things that would be politically helpful to the President.
After Mr. Assange did not comply, he was indicted by the Trump Administration and the extradition request was set in motion. Chelsea Manning was re-imprisoned due to her refusal to cooperate with the grand jury against WikiLeaks.
President Trump has declared that the press is “the enemy of the people.” It is the first time the 1917 Espionage Act has been used to indict a publisher or journalist. Press Freedom organisations have emphasised that the indictment criminalizes normal newsgathering behaviour. The indictment applies the Espionage Act extraterritorially. Assange was publishing from the United Kingdom in partnership with UK media and other European and US press. The indictment opens the door for other journalists involved in the 2010 publications to be prosecuted. The USA will make the extraordinary claim that foreigners are not entitled to constitutional protections, so Julian Assange cannot benefit from the First Amendment.
Will Julian be in court?
Yes, he will be present in the court room every day.