Yesterday’s hearing in London made clear, if any further proof was needed, that the prosecution of Julian Assange is a shameful and degrading show trial, intended to railroad an innocent man to prison or death for revealing the crimes of US imperialism.
In a botched proceeding, Assange was initially not brought to the video room to join the proceedings, the US prosecutors failed to show up after getting the hearing time wrong, and, with only five observers allowed in the courtroom, every journalist and legal observer who tried to listen to the hearing remotely was not admitted.
Assange, the world’s most famous political prisoner, has been denied access to his attorneys since March, and he has not seen his family or young children since then.
In the most egregious move of all, just two days before the hearing, the US Justice Department, under the right-wing authoritarian ideologue William Barr, issued a completely new indictment against Assange, which the accused had not been able even to read before the hearing.
“The US government seems to want to change the indictment every time the court meets, but without the defense or Julian himself seeing the relevant documents,” said WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson.
Less than 24 hours before the start of the final procedural hearing and less than four weeks before the resumption of the extradition trial, Barr signed a new 33-page request to have Assange sent to the US from the UK.
The superseding indictment, upon which the new extradition request is based, was released on June 24, yet US prosecutors refused to confirm over the course of two hearings, on June 30 and July 28, precisely when it would be introduced into the UK legal proceedings.
The new extradition request was brought after Assange’s legal team had submitted all of their evidence. The defense argued that to proceed on the basis of a new indictment would amount to an abuse of due process. Judge Baraitser refused the defense request, instead allowing them to apply for a postponement of the hearing.
Assange’s legal team is now confronted with the choice of whether to accept the further sabotage of their client’s case or prolong the endangerment of his life with more months in prison.