Assange Extradition Hearing 2020: Day 16

September 29, 2020

Pre-Hearing

Nothing unusual to report except that human rights groups and NGOs are still being denied entry to the hearing. The latest from @jlpassarelli, “Day 16 of the #AssangeCase proceedings. By this stage it is very likely that the 40 political observers that the judge arbitrarily banned from the observing proceedings virtually will not be allowed to do so. 4 left & I feel the decision was made before we started.” Richard Medhurst is also reporting now from London and he went to the courthouse today after which he reported that only five people (outside of Assange’s family members) can actually attend the hearing in person. Insane.

And my daily reminder that 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.

Defense Witness #28: Maureen Baird

According to journalist Mohamed Elmaazi, Maureen Baird spent 28 years working for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons after which she was appointed to warden at the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut. She later became warden at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in NYC where she was eventually promoted to Senior Executive Staff by the U.S. attorney general. Finally, she landed at the U.S. Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois where she oversaw 350 staff members and anywhere from 1200 to 1500 inmates. She is also familiar with Special Administrative Measures known as SAMs. Bottom line, she obviously has the experience when it comes to U.S. federal prisons.

Baird’s Overview of SAMS

  • Prisoners spend 23-24 hours a day in their cell and are not allowed to communicate with other inmates
  • Prisoners under SAMs are only allowed to call an approved family member once a month as long as its scheduled two weeks in advance—all calls are monitored by the FBI
  • It takes months for a letter to get to a prisoner under SAMs (they’re screened)
  • No one has ever had SAMs overturned
  • Special Administrative Measures cause severe depression, anxiety, paranoia, weight loss, mental health issues

Can SAMs Be Modified?

Everyone under SAMs gets the same treatment and it can’t be changed by the warden. Again, these documents are from the Tsarnaev/Boston bombing case and it shows exactly how Assange would be treated:

Also:

  • The decision to put someone under admistrative measures involves the DOJ and the CIA
  • The final decision lies with the U.S. Attorney General (William Barr)
  • The entire point of SAMs is so you don’t/can’t talk to anyone and yet the prosecution tried to argue that the measures can be reduced
  • Baird: “If they can speak to other inmates why would they need to be on SAMs?”

Espionage and National Security Threats

  • Assange will likely spend the rest of his life in prison due to national security concerns
  • The prosecution argued that there are “good reasons” for SAMs (again, national security)
  • Note: Assange is being charged with espionage despite publishing overseas, living overseas, and being a foreign citizen

Defense Witness #29: Lindsay A. Lewis

According to @DefenseAssange, Lindsay Lewis is on the board of directors for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and worked on the case of Mostafa Kamel Mostafa (a.k.a. Abu Hamza) who was extradited to the U.S. and imprisoned at Colorado’s ADX Florence maximum-security prison.

Abu Hamza

Fun fact about Mr. Hamza’s case: The United States told European courts that he wouldn’t be sent to ADX Florence and guess where they sent him after he was extradited? Yup, ADX Florence. He’s been there for five years now (and under SAMs for eight years). “UK and European high courts relied on US representations that Hamza wouldn’t get placed in ADX Florence in deciding to extradite him.” Under cross-examination, the prosecution argued that they told the UK courts they wouldn’t send Hamza to ADX if a medical evaluation basically said he couldn’t manage there. I mean, no one can manage there. Come on.

Cunningham v. Federal Bureau Prisons

Today we heard about Cunningham v. Federal Bureau Prisons again which you might remember came up previously on Day 6 of the hearing.

[The prosecution] also tried to argue that the quality of life in the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has improved due to previous litigation which I think most of us would disagree with including the judge in the Lauri Love case. The lawsuit that James Lewis was referring to is the 2012 case Cunningham v. Federal Bureau Prisons which was filed by inmates at ADX Florence for violating “BOP policy and the Eighth Amendment by failing to properly diagnose and treat prisoners at ADX with serious mental illness” (Univ. of Michigan Law School).

But here’s the dealio: Despite the case resulting in mentally ill patients being moved out of ADX there’s still inmates there that are severely depressed and/or have psychiatric problems. Additionally, if you’re put under SAMs “you get no benefit from the Cunningham settlement.” So the prosecution likes to do a lot of cheerleading for things that either don’t exist in U.S. prisons (in reality) or wouldn’t pertain to Assange.

SAMs

  • Lawyers are restricted when talking to their client (prosecution denied this)
  • Limited communication with family/the outside world
  • No interaction with other inmates
  • You can be in solitary confinement/under SAMs for years
  • Again, no one has overturned SAMs
  • Going back to Hamza’s case, he violated SAMs because he wished his one-year old grandchild “Happy Birthday” on the phone but the child wasn’t on an approved party list—true story

Suicide and Mental Health Care

  • There’s an “extreme shortage” of medical care at ADX Florence
  • Again, services that the prosecution read off to Lewis would not apply to Assange under SAMs

All of the defense witnesses who testified about U.S. prisons including where Assange would likely stay both pre- and post-trial have all said how they lack proper mental health care, SAMs would be extremely detrimental on Assange’s health and limit not only his communications but the care he would receive, and the isolation would raises the risk of suicide.

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

“No way out of US Supermax jail unless ‘almost dying’, Assange extradition case told.” Press Association via Press Gazette

“True Crime Chronicles: Inside Colorado’s Supermax Prison.” Daily Blast LIVE (video)

“Julian Assange faces ‘torturous’ months in parking space-sized cell if extradited to US, court hears.” Press Association via Press Gazette 

“Julian Assange ‘faces fate worse than death’ in US: WikiLeaks founder could serve life in isolation at dreaded ‘Supermax’ prison that’s home to America’s most violent terrorists and drug lords if extradited, court hears.” Emer Skully via DailyMail

(also see articles below “The Darkest Corner…” and “Conditions of Prison in Alexandria, VA…”)

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)

“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
  • 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 Austein
    • Patrick Eller
  • Day 15:
    • Yancy Ellis
    • Joel Stickler
  • Day 16:
    • Maureen Baird
    • Lindsay A. Lewis

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

Defense Witness #6 Statement: Thomas Durkin

Defense Witness #7 Statement: John Goetz HERE

Defense Witness #8 Statement: Daniel Ellsberg HERE

Defense Witness #9 Statement: John Sloboda HERE

Defense Witness #10 Statement: Carey Shenkman HERE

Defense Witness #11 Statement: Nicky Hager HERE

Defense Witness Statement #12: Jennifer Robinson HERE

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 HERE

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: 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 HERE

Defense Witness #23 Statement: John Young HERE

Defense Witness #24 Statement: Jakob Austein HERE

Defense Witness #25 Statement: Patrick Eller HERE

Defense Witness #26 Statement: Yancy Ellis

Defense Witness #27 Statement: Joel Stickler HERE

Defense Witness #28 Statement: Maureen Baird

Defense Witness #29 Statement: Lindsay A. Lewis

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