Assange Extradition Hearing 2020: Day 14

September 25, 2020

Pre-Hearing

Okay, so remember Juan’s tweet yesterday about how Assange’s attorney had to put his ear up to the glass box that the court is holding Assange in like a terrorist in order to hear his own client, and I was all “this is peak insanity but…how does the court hear Assange yelling to the judge?”

Right. So apparently there are slits in the glass because things can’t get anymore absurd and ass backwards 1800s in this case:

So besides that ridiculous fun fact just my daily reminder: Belmarsh prison puts Assange through a five-hour ordeal every day just to take him to court which includes being handcuffed, strip-searched, and a three-hour round-trip transport. I’m wondering how many journalists and publishers out there that refuse to speak out on his behalf against this extradition request would feel if the U.S. arrested them tomorrow and put them through this punishment for simply practicing journalism. Especially those who used WikiLeaks documents in the past to bolster their work, image, or publications.

Release of Medical Report

There was a discussion in court about whether or not to withhold Assange’s medical report which includes his family history. Both the defense and prosecution agreed that it shouldn’t be released to the press, “‘Open justice would not be advanced’ by the disclosure of this information, the defense told the court. After speaking to a member of the press who suggested that they redact the documents, the judge said she would make her ruling on Monday. Also see Naomi Colvin’s tweet, “For those who are interested, the Supreme Court ruling that’s now being discussed re: disclosure of the #Assange medical evidence is this one, Cape v Dring” (link included).

Closing Arguments

Previously the defense had asked the judge for more time to put together closing arguments which she naturally belly-ached about and the discussion came up again today. The prosecution said that they were fine with just written arguments (no oral arguments) and that they would only need one to two weeks to complete. The judge granted the defense four weeks to prepare closing arguments and the prosecution another two weeks to respond which means there will be no decision in this dog and pony show until after the U.S. election (and the new year). Interestingly enough, Judge Vanessa Baraitser asked the defense if the upcoming election would impact their case. According to AssangeDefense.org, Assange’s attorney stated:

“’Much of what we say about Mr. Trump personally goes to why this was initiated, that will all remain good,’ and, ‘Much of what we say about the fate which awaits Mr. Assange remains good because it’s about systemic faults in the prisons and his underlying conditions.’ But ‘the situation would be all the worse’ if Trump were to win re-election, he said.”

More from AssangeDefense.org:

“In asking the defense how the outcome of the U.S. presidential election would affect its case and indicating that she had hoped to issue a ruling before election day, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser has acknowledged what has been clear since even before the first indictment against Julian Assange was unsealed, that this is a politically motivated prosecution.”

Although it’s a bit frustrating to have zero transcripts or a live/taped broadcast of the hearing in order to confirm this is exactly how it went down in court, if it is indeed how it went down this is a huge huge deal which probably won’t make a difference in this case but will perhaps in appeals court. Thinking out loud about the U.S. government’s tactics, why in the world would Judge Baraitser even ask such a question?

Psychiatric Reports

The prosecution objected to the submission of two reports written by a U.S. prison psychologist arguing that the issues raised in the them were already addressed by other witnesses. They also complained that it was “late evidence” and that “enough is enough” astoundingly after routinely sending defense witnesses hundreds of documents mere hours before they’re scheduled to testimony but, more importantly, filing a second superseding indictment like six weeks before this train wreck started. Naturally Baraitser agreed with the prosecution and stated that “a line must be drawn” on filing. Oh, the drama! She then rejected the defense’s submission.

Defense Witness #24: Jakob Augstein

Jakob Augstein’s witness statement was read in court, no cross-examination. Augstein is a publisher and the editor in chief of German media outlet Der Freitag and he said in his statement that he was “asked to provide [his] recollection of a number of events in 2011 concerning Julian Assange.” Key points:

  • On August 25, 2011, Der Freitag published an article about leaks at WikiLeaks, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, and Open Leaks (a platform/dropbox for leakers and whistleblowers created by Domscheit-Berg and others after they left WikiLeaks)
  • They received information about “the security of platforms upon which data previously considered to be disclosable only via a closely guarded password, had become vulnerable”
  • They investigated the information and came across an “obscure file on the internet” containing unredacted U.S. cables
  • Der Freitag reported that the year prior Domscheit-Berg and others had left WikiLeaks taking the unredacted cables with them
  • Prior to the article’s publication, Assange called Der Freitag and voiced his concerns about informants’ safety
  • Augstein assured him that they would not publish anything that would harm American informants (note “American” because the prosecution is also going after Assange for foreign informants)

Defense Witness #25: Patrick Eller

Patrick Eller, a digital forensic expert, testified during the hearing about whether or not Assange helped Chelsea Manning crack a password on a U.S. government system. I’m not a tech person so I’m totally pawning this off on others:

Kevin Gosztola (Shadowproof) who wrote, “”At the time, it would not have been possible to crack an encrypted password hash, such as the one Manning obtained,’ testified Patrick Eller, a digital forensic expert.” Read “Prosecutors’ Password-Cracking Conspiracy Theory Against Assange Unravels At Extradition Trial.”

Mohamed Elmaazi (Sputnik) who wrote, “[Eller] also confirmed that wouldn’t have been necessary for Ms Manning to crack the password hash because Ms Manning already had access to the classified documents that she leaked via the militaries intranet system.” Read “Cracking Password Was Neither Possible Nor Necessary to Access Classified Docs, Assange Expert says.”

Binoy Kampmark (Counterpunch) who wrote, “The grounds for the defence, fashioned by Eller’s written testimony, are two-fold: “that the alleged passcode hash conspiracy was impossible, but even if it were possible, it has no utility to what is attributed to it.” Read “Assange on Trial: Elections, Cracking Passwords and Failures of Proof.”

Twitter Sources

The Twitter users I followed today that I want to give a special thanks to for covering the hearing and that were used as my source material include (these guys and gals do the heavy lifting so we don’t have to):

A head’s up that @SMaurizi will no longer be covering the hearing (for now). Yesterday, the UK prosecution for the United States took issue with her doing so ⟶ “I am afraid today and in the coming days I won’t be able to follow and cover the Julian #Assange extradition hearing because the lawyers acting for the US government asked I won’t do it as I am a witness of fact in the Julian #Assange extradition hearing.” – Stefania Maurizi

Daily Updates

Bridges for Media Freedom Daily Court Summary: A.M. SUMMARY and P.M. SUMMARY

Richard Medhurst’s Daily Updates (video) HERE

@AssangeDefense’s Daily Report HERE

Articles

See above under “Defense Witness #24: Patrick Eller”

Of Interest

“How Did We Get Here? The Threat of Fascism in U.S.” Davey Heller via ClassConscious.org

“No more appeals to the fascist Trump! The Assange campaign must turn to the working class!” Davey Heller via ClassConscious.org

“The Darkest Corner: Special Administrative Measures and Extreme Isolation in the Federal Bureau of Prisons.” Center For Constitutional Rights

Conditions of Prison in Alexandria, VA via The Justice Campaign (Twitter thread)

“Lockdown Life is Better in Virtual Reality” Madeleine Spence, The Times

“Wikileaks – USA against Julian Assange (english subtitles)” via ardmediathek.de

Witnesses

  • Day 1 and 2: Mark Feldstein
  • Day 2: Clive Stafford-Smith
  • Day 3: Paul Rogers, Trevor Timm
  • Day 4: Eric Lewis (cancelled)
  • Day 5: Eric Lewis
  • Day 6: Eric Lewis (continued), Thomas Durkin
  • Day 7: John Goetz, Daniel Ellsberg
  • Day 8: John Sloboda, Carey Shenkman
  • Day 9:
    • Nicky Hager
    • Jennifer Robinson (statement read in court, no cross-examination)
    • Khaled El-Masri (statement read in court, no cross-examination)
    • Carey Shenkman (continuation from day before)
    • Dean Yates (statement read in court, no cross-examination)
  • Day 10:
    • Christian Grotthoff
    • Andy Worthington (statement read by judge/unclear)
    • Cassandra Fairbanks (statement read in court, no cross-examination)
  • Day 11: Dr. Kopelman
  • Day 12:
    • Dr. Quinton Deeley
    • Seena Fazel
    • Dr. Catherine Humphries (statement read in court, no cross-examination)
  • Day 13:
    • Dr. Nigel Blackwood
    • Dr. Sandra Crosby
    • Christopher Butler (statement read in court, no cross-examination)
    • John Young (statement read in court, no cross-examination)
  • Day 14:
    • Jakob Augstein (statement read into court, no cross-examination)
    • Patrick Eller

Attorneys

  • Edward Fitzgerald QC (Assange defense)
  • Mark Summers QC (Assange defense)
  • Jennifer Robinson (Assange defense)
  • Gareth Peirce (Assange defense)
  • Florence Iveson (Assange defense)
  • James Lewis QC (prosecutor for the U.S.)
  • Joel Smith (prosecutor for the U.S.)
  • Claire Dobbin (prosecutor for the U.S.)

Documents

Defense Opening Arguments HERE

Defense Skeleton Arguments HERE and HERE

Prosecution Skeleton Arguments (photos via @MacWBishop) HERE

Prosecution Witness Bundle Including Kromberg Statement (bundle may be subject to change with each witness) HERE

Defense Witness #1 Statement: Professor Mark Feldstein HERE and HERE

Defense Witness #2 Statement: Clive Stafford-Smith HERE

Defense Witness #3 Statement: Paul Rogers HERE

Defense Witness #4 Statement: Trevor Timm HERE

Defense Witness #5 Statement: Eric Lewis (not released)

Defense Witness #6 Statement: Thomas Durkin (not released)

Defense Witness #7 Statement: John Goetz HERE

Defense Witness #8 Statement: Daniel Ellsberg (not released)

Defense Witness #9 Statement: John Sloboda (not released)

Defense Witness #10 Statement: Carey Shenkman HERE

Defense Witness #11 Statement: Nicky Hager (not released)

Defense Witness Statement #12: Jennifer Robinson (not released)

Defense Witness #13 Statement : Khaled El-Masri HERE

Defense Witness #14 Statement: Dean Yates HERE

Defense Witness #15 Statement: Christian Grotthoff HERE

Defense Witness #16 Statement: Andy Worthington (not released)

Defense Witness #17 Statement: Cassandra Fairbanks HERE

Defense Witness #18 Statement: Dr. Kopelman (not released)

Defense Witness #19 Statement: Dr. Quinton Deeley (not released)

Prosecution Witness #1 Statement: Seena Fazel (not released)

Defense Witness #20 Statement: Dr. Catherine Humphries (not released)

Prosecution Witness #2 Statement: Dr. Nigel Blackwood (not released)

Defense Witness #21 Statement: Dr. Sandra Crosby (not released)

Defense Witness #22 Statement: Christopher Butler (not released)

Defense Witness #23 Statement: John Young HERE

Defense Witness #24 Statement: Jakob Austein HERE

Defense Witness #25 Statement: Patrick Eller HERE

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