The first week of the Julian Assange extradition trial has concluded, to be resumed on May 18th. If you haven’t been following the proceedings closely, let me sum up what you missed:
The prosecution is working to extradite Assange to the US under a US-UK extradition treaty, a treaty whose contents the prosecution now says we should ignore because they explicitly forbid political extraditions. The prosecution says it doesn’t matter anyway because Assange is not a political actor, yet in 2010 the US government that’s trying to extradite him labeled him a political actor in those exact words. Assange’s trial is taking place in a maximum security prison for dangerous violent offenders because that’s where he’s being jailed for no stated reason and despite having no history of violence, which means he’s kept separate from the courtroom in a sound-resistant safety enclosure where he can’t hear or participate in his own trial. The magistrate judging the case says he can’t be allowed out of the enclosure since he’s considered dangerous, because he’s been arbitrarily placed in a prison for dangerous violent offenders. The magistrate keeps telling Assange to stop speaking up during his trial and to speak through his lawyers, yet he’s being actively prevented from communicating with his lawyers.
Not even a tiny bit?
Oh. Okay. Let me explain.
A British human rights and law reform organisation found that keeping a defendant locked in a sound-resistant glass cage apart from the courtroom, as they’re doing to Assange currently, necessarily breaches their right to a fair trial. https://t.co/FG61rIu1ur
— Caitlin Johnstone ⏳ (@caitoz) February 27, 2020
It’s common in British courtrooms to have something called a “dock”, a place where defendants sit separately from court proceedings. Not all UK courtrooms have docks, and not all docks are the “secure” glass cabinet type which Assange is kept in; they can also be open wooden enclosures. Because Assange is being kept without explanation in a maximum security prison normally reserved the most dangerous violent offenders and terrorism convicts, his trial is taking place in a cage that is very much the “secure” type (so much so that he’s been complaining that he can’t hear the proceedings in his own trial through the bulletproof glass),