Last week, Julian Assange was subjected to an extradition hearing brought by the Trump administration to bring the WikiLeaks founder to the United States to face Espionage Act charges carrying a 175-year prison sentence.
Throughout the four-day proceedings in London, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and his closest allies, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, along with every single Labour MP, have kept their mouths firmly shut. Their silence was tantamount to collusion in a monstrous political show trial, aimed at silencing a publisher and journalist who has exposed US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Assange’s defence team detailed Washington’s conspiracy to silence him by any means necessary. The proceedings also revealed how the British courts and Boris Johnson’s Conservative government are prepared to trample on basic democratic and legal rights to ensure that Assange is sent to the US and silenced forever.
The extradition hearing had a Kafkaesque character. On February 24, Assange took his seat at Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court in a bulletproof glass box. He could barely hear his legal team outlining his defence against extradition. The bulk of the world’s press, stuck in a porta-cabin grandly described as a “media annexe,” could also barely hear or follow events.
For the defence, Edward Fitzgerald QC made a powerful presentation insisting that the US extradition request was illegal because it was demonstrably politically motivated. He detailed the extraordinary level of criminality involved in the US vendetta against Assange, including the methods employed by Spanish security firm US Global on behalf of the CIA to monitor every movement of the award-winning journalist during his political asylum inside the Ecuadorian Embassy.
Private and privileged conversations between Assange and his lawyers and doctors were filmed, even in the toilet, so that he was forced to sleep in a tent in his bedroom to protect his privacy.
More devastating still were the revelations of an unnamed Spanish whistle-blower, “witness 2,” that the US had plotted to kidnap and possibly kill Assange.
“There were conversations” between the CIA and UC Global head David Morales “about whether there should be more extreme measures contemplated, such as kidnapping or poisoning Julian Assange in the embassy,” Fitzgerald told the court.