The dramatic opening day of Assange’s extradition hearing saw U.S. shift from espionage to its superseding indictment as Vanessa Baraitser rejected a defense bid to excise the evidence and adjourn the case to January.
Dramatic Opening Day: First Witness Testifies After Judge Denies Adjournment to January
11:30 am EDT: The dramatic first day of the resumption of Julian Assange’s extradition hearing has ended, with technical problems cutting short the testimony of the first defense witness, Broadcast Journalism Professor Mark Feldstein.
Feldstein’s written testimony has been released to the public. On the virtual “stand”–online because of the pandemic–Feldstein was questioned by the defense. He testified that it was a daily occurrence for the press to publish classified information; that he did not expect publishers to be prosecuted for this because the First Amendment protects publishers, allowing them to expose the inner workings of government that citizens have a right to know. He said no publisher had ever been prosecuted for publishing secret material and that no president had ever gone so far as having a grand jury return an indictment against one.
Feldstein’s testimony was anti-climatic as it followed a last-minute defense attempt, rejected by Judge Vanessa Baraitser, to adjourn the hearing until January. The defense had argued it needed more time to prepare its defense as the prosecution’s argument has shifted to new evidence produced in a superseding indictment on the charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, and away from the charges of espionage, which Feldstein’s prepared testimony dealt with. It seemed almost irrelevant after the day’s events.
Judge Denies Adjournment Until January
10:30 am EDT: Judge Vanessa Baraitser has rejected the defense’s application for an adjournment of the hearing until January to give it time to gather new evidence to defend against the prosecution’s superseding indictment. She said Assange lawyers had ample time to apply for postponement and that it was wrong for them to argue to have new evidence excised from case and then after losing, to try to delay proceedings until January. The judge has bought the prosecution argument. Proceedings will continue with the first defense witness,