Skip to content

Vanessa Baraitser – Anatomy of a torturer

What makes a torturer is complicated. It is claimed that sadists, sociopaths and other psychotically disturbed people tend to relish torture. The sadist derives pleasure from the act, while psychopaths have no feelings of remorse at inflicting pain on others and may be stimulated by the process. Some authorities consider otherwise stable people capable of torture in certain circumstances, people who can subsequently go home and blend in with the rest of society as though they do not have another more disturbing side to their character.

The reasons for torture are difficult to isolate. Some torturers do it for ideological reasons. Some do it for money. Others for feelings of power. Torturing another person or persons can also be carried out because of an empathy deficit. Professor Simon Baron-Cohen makes what appear to be valid points regarding lack of empathy when he concludes that “there is a clear hormonal link to empathy. Another biological factor is genetics.” Testosterone is generally found in greater quantities in men than women and the greater the quantity the greater the lack of empathy, he postulates.

There can be no doubt that Vanessa Baraitser is a torturer. She may not see herself as such but in her heartless treatment of Julian Assange more than 200 doctors have put together a letter to The Lancet calling for action against his mistreatment in an attempt to bring an end to this wicked abuse and medical neglect. Judge Baraitser callously denied this sick and psychologically-damaged man access to his legal team. Even when the prosecutor in his extradition proceedings saw no reason for Mr. Assange not to sit in court she still flagrantly refused. That is the type of act driven by lashings of testosterone, if Professor Baron-Cohen’s analysis is correct. The letter from doctors calling for the end to the torture of Assange is the second letter they have written since the first fell on stony ground.

So what about genetics? Could Ms. Baraitser have inherited this adverse character trait from her parents? It has been noted widely that unlike other judges there is very little on the world wide web, or anywhere for that matter, about this judge. It is as though our secret services have wiped the slate clean. She is loathe to have photographs taken of herself and the cover photo of this piece looks like an old one, possibly from her law-school days. Despite lack of absolutely concrete evidence I am going to take a punt on who her father, mother and siblings are. If it can be shown to be false I shall gladly address the error.

Michael Baraitser (father)

Michael Baraitser moved with his wife and family to England in the early seventies. It is highly likely he would agree with Professor Baron-Cohen that genetics have an influence on future generations since his career was built largely on neuro-genetics. He confesses to having been short of the right qualifications when he entered the field, and had to rely on who he knew to get on in the world. Curiously a comment on Craig Murray’s blog suggests that Vanessa Baraitser’s record “has been erased from the General Register Office files, but the wayback machine has found her limited academic career rather inferior. . .”

It is not the purpose here to discuss specifically what genes she inherited but where she got the genes that turned her into the callous court specimen she has become. Could Vanessa’s love of torture have come from her father? Possibly. Vivisection and the torturing of animals disturbs most caring beings. Being aware of this one might say something like it “was really the most dreadful six months I have spent” to excuse time engaged in tying off the peripheral nerves of baboons. At least that is what Michael Baraitser said when assisting neurologist, Roger Gillat, at the start of his career.

Marion Baraitser (mother)

Judging from a photograph taken for a book cover in 2002, Marion Baraitser, playwright and feminist writer, possesses a startling resemblance to how Vanessa Baraitser looks some twenty years later in a courtroom sketch by Elizabeth Cook. It would be surprising if they do not carry the same genes.

Is it nurture or nature? While it is more likely that Vanessa Baraitser got her surplus of testosterone from her father her feminism most likely started at the breast, or bottle, and this commodity seems to be a substantial deposit in the Baraitser gene-bank.

Two of Marion’s plays “The Story of an African Farm” and “The Crystal Den” concern the South African feminist, Olive Schreiner, the latter, according to pitching blurb, being critical of the extra-marital morals of Karl Marx. Did this message, or messages like it,  root itself in the young Vanessa’s brain? When she sees Julian Assange in her court does she seek to inflict on him all the suffering men have wrought on innocent women from the days of Adam and Eve?

Marion Baraitser taught creative writing at Birkbeck College where Professor Lisa Baraitser has been teaching for many years.

Professor Lisa Baraitser (sister)

Here again the feminist gene reigns supreme. Lisa is the first magnitude star of the family. On 8 June 2017 at “Birkbeck’s Department of Psychosocial Studies in collaboration with the MaMSIE research network (Mapping Maternal Subjectivities, Identities and Ethics)” Professor Baraitser opened a convention on the “issue of motherhood in UK prisons.” She “spoke of the importance of addressing the experiences of women who parent and are in prisons as a pressing feminist issue. Setting the tone for the discussion to come, she cited the need to reflect on what incarcerating mothers does to women, to children, and to communities.” She makes no direct mention of what effect the imprisonment might have on men, although they could be loosely included in the”communities”. She makes no mention of the severe psychological effect prison and long-term incarceration might have on a vulnerable male journalist and editor like Julian Assange.

If it were not so serious it would be almost farcical that one sister is campaigning for the human rights of a certain sector of the imprisoned community while another sister is torturing a man, weakened by imprisonment, prolonging his imprisonment and apparently getting satisfaction from the process.

Paula Baraitser (sister)

Dr Paula Baraister is a consultant and director in contraception and healthcare (particularly as an advocate of contraception through online services). It is not clear where she stands on feminist issues

This is very much an establishment family with all the right connections in all the right places. It is not difficult to check this out from funding sources.

One of the things Vanessa Baraitser did in her continued torture of Julian Assange was to release details of Julian’s girlfriend and family. This blog-post does no more than that. It begs questions as to whether Judge Baraitser is torturing Julian for ideological reasons, money, feelings of power, an empathy deficit or sexual gratification.

Should anybody have credible information which questions the accuracy of what is written here please let me know.

 

 

 

My favourite hymn – How Great Thou Art

There are so many renditions of this great hymn I am spoilt for choice. In the end I arbitrarily chose the Reynoldsburg United Methodist church version, made special by vocalists Jennifer Franko and Kenny Phillips, who harmonise beautifully. Unlike more popular versions it is not recorded in a studio but during Sunday worship. And as the translator and English lyricist, Stuart K. Hine, was a Methodist missionary it seemed rather apt.

Origins

Originally the tune was a Scandinavian melody to which were added the words of a poem by a Swedish preacher Karl Gustaf Boberg (1859-1940). Boberg was a sailor who gave up the sea and became a preacher. He was out on a walk when a thunderstorm broke. It was an unexpected storm because the day was serene and peaceful with blue skies. In the subsequent ‘calm after the storm’ he had moments to meditate on the great wonders of creation. When he was home he looked out of his open window at the shining bay of Mönsterås and from the woods across the bay he heard a thrush singing. Church bells began to toll and this was inspiration for what would become a favourite hymn all over the world.

Carl Gustaf Boberg

Karl Gustaf Boberg

Boberg’s original song had nine verses with recognisable content and spirituality found in later translations and versions. It was called “O store Gud, nar jag den varld beskader”. You do not need to be able to understand Swedish to see that the lyrics fit the tune with which we are all familiar in the west and although there there have been adaptations the tune appears to have changed little.

Without the union of Boberg’s words and the haunting melody to which they were set the world would be a much poorer place. The lyricist later became a member of the Swedish parliament but perhaps there is a telling message in his humble beginnings. He was the son of a carpenter.

Translations

Ivan Stepanovich Prokhanov (1869-1935) translated the hymn into Russian. This was the text from which the popular English translation was derived. Born in the Caucasus, in Vladikavkaz where it seems his parents were exiled because of their beliefs, his father became a Baptist in Tiflis (now Tbilisi) and the whole family followed this denomination. After graduating from college Ivan went to the Institute of Technology at St Petersburg University.

Prokhanov as a young man

Prokhanov as a young man

While at university he started a magazine, Beseda (Conversation), which campaigned for the rights of persecuted sects. This drew the attention of the Tsar’s secret police. After qualifying as a Mechanical Engineer he was advised to leave St Petersburg. This he did without a passport and he headed to Stockholm, Sweden where he continued publishing Beseda. From there he went to Hamburg, then Paris, then London before returning to St Petersburg. In 1914 his translation of Boberg’s poem was included in a collection of spiritual songs entitled “Cymbals”. The first verse reads:

Великий Бог! Когда на мир смотрю я,
На все, что Ты создал рукой Творца,
На всех существ, кого, свой свет даруя,
Питаешь Ты любовию Отца, –
Припев:
Тогда поёт мой дух, Господь, Тебе:
Как Ты велик, как Ты велик!
Almighty God! When at the world I look, 
At everything made by your hand, Creator,
At all the beings from whom your light emits,
You nourish them with the love of the Father
Chorus:
Then my soul sings, God, to you:
How you are great, how you are great!

Stuart K. Hine was the English translator of the version most popularly sung in churches today. He was born in Fulham in 1899 and after being baptised into the Salvation Army according to some accounts became a Methodist (one of his names was Wesley). It is likely his Christianity was non-secular since Plymouth Brethren, Methodists and Baptists seem to claim him as one of their own. Like so many he served in the First World War and was one of the lucky ones. In 1933 he came across a Russian translation (ProKhanov’s?) of Boberg’s “O store Gud” during his missionary work in Ukraine with his wife (see cover photo). This was the time of the Holodomor in Ukraine and soon the couple left Ukraine to continue their work in Poland and Czechoslovakia. They left Eastern Europe at the start of the Second World War and subsequently became evangelists in England.

Hine was not however the first translator of this great hymn. That honour goes to Reverend E. Gustav Johnson (1893—1974) of North Park University, Chicago, Illinois. His version never caught on in quite the way Hine’s did.

It is perhaps the beauty of the melody as much as the poignancy of the words that has made this hymn such an international favourite. This Russian website has been the source for most of my blog-post today. If you scroll to the end of the Russian text you will find a number of videos of the hymn in Russian (2 versions), English (10 versions), Chinese (1 version) and Korean (1 version). Here Sister Mary Ann gives a French version finishing in English. Are there any countries in the world where this hymn is not a favourite?

Never Again

Never in my fairly long life have I been exposed to such a global scam as the way in which the virus SARS-COV-2 has been used to create public panic and distrust in the world. Humans are naturally gregarious animals yet in practically every country on the planet they have been instructed to disobey their friendly and communal instincts in favour of “social-distancing”. Stay two metres apart has been the general message.

Nobody knows exactly how viruses are spread or exactly how people become infected. Nevertheless, there has been a universal message – almost a demand – to keep well removed from our neighbours and other people outside of our immediate families. Two metres was the original instruction, a measure which caused lengthy queues at food markets and elsewhere, brought industry to its knees and sent shivers through the stock markets. More recently this distance has been reduced to one metre in some countries and that may well become, “the new norm” in the UK from 4 July. That suddenly the distance can be halved demonstrates that the gurus who put out these messages have absolutely no idea what distance is a safe distance, if any.

For three months the message from mainstream media was repetitive and preclusive of any other argument. Only recently has there been any questioning and then precious little – outside of social media articles which have been quick to query what has happened. Since it became quite clear that SARS-COV-2 was simply another virus – not dissimilar from AIDS, Ebola, influenza, the common cold or shingles – and like those viruses would ultimately run its course without wiping out the entire population, there has been a mellowing of the perpetual indoctrination which was tedious.

Thanks to thinking people, who have suffered much abuse by questioning the narrative, even its perpetrators can now see that the plan has not worked. The way the corporate media have presented a panic which they themselves created has been anything but balanced. What’s more that presentation took the form of a series of imperatives penetrating our eardrums and brains with instructions accompanied by “you must”. Visually this has been further endorsed by newsreaders sitting well apart from one another, most of the time looking awkward and ungainly.

This raises many questions. Who has the power to control the global media and governments? Who can get practically every country to sing the same song with the same orchestral backing, while its real entertainers and theatrical productions are sidelined? Who can bring all sporting events played by and within nations to a standstill? Why would they want to do this?

The power wielders

Most people, at least for a month or two, have been happy to comply with “the new norm” created for them by entities outside of their personal networks. Out of these dedicated followers of mainstream opinion there are those who tell anyone who prefers to question the narrative that it would not be possible to get all the countries and their governments to go along with a hoax. Is that true?

On the face of things it does seem doubtful that all countries would comply. Who could possibly get the people portrayed as ideological enemies of the west, like Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, to adopt this global plan? Originally Russia presented very few coronavirus infection figures with no deaths making it look like closing its borders had worked. Suddenly those figures changed quite dramatically and Russia became one of the worst hit countries, unlike its neighbour, Belarus (more of which later).

History can teach lessons. In the nineteenth century the banker Nathan Mayer Rothschild said: “The man who controls Britain’s money supply controls the British Empire, and I control the British money supply.” In this honest self appraisal lies all the wisdom necessary to see what has happened recently with the coronavirus panic-demic. He who pays the piper calls the tune. And that answers one of the big questions raised. The panic caused by a virus, less deadly by far than HIV-Aids, was yet another attempt by the elite to gain total control of the planet. The only real difference is that this most recent imperialistic excursion into all countries simultaneously was attempted without resorting to war, which on the face of it seems less cruel.

In the early 21st century a Rockefeller descendant, Nathan Rockefeller, told Aaron Russo what the elite families’ blueprint was for controlling and enslaving ordinary people and changing the world forever. Film producer, Russo, who died of bladder cancer in 2007, was not happy with what he heard and decided to go public. In an interview with Alex Jones he talked about how 9/11 had been planned to create a new enemy out of Islamic nations, how feminism had been introduced to create a rift between man and woman together with other control mechanisms the elite were using, and had planned, for global supremacy through dividing and conquering. Nathan Rockefeller told Russo how the world’s public, that’s you and me, would be micro-chipped to monitor our spending preferences and financial transactions and to make sure we did not step out of line – in other words modern slavery. This two minute extract should be enough to scare the pants off any thinking person.

Panic pandemonium

The death figures presented deliberately to create panic are not as scary as the way they are presented. As well as the argument whether a person has died “from” coronavirus or “with” coronavirus, global death-rates are pretty much on a par with other years and any excess of deaths may well be accounted for by lack of medical care for those on waiting-lists due to the extra resources ploughed into treating COVID-19 cases. The eventual figures will bring the truth to light.

Country to country comparisons have been used to question why a neighbouring country might not have been affected as badly as one’s own. All kinds of speculation go into the causes for this anomaly. Of the Scandinavian countries Sweden has been exemplified and pilloried as the way not to go. There was no lockdown in Sweden and the pundits who support the “panic pandemonium” have seized on this to highlight Sweden’s death rates in comparison with Norway and Denmark, countries which have had fewer deaths per capita. So is Sweden experiencing a worse than average death-rate? No.

A study from 1990 to 2020 compiled by HaraldofW from SCB (Statistics Sweden, a government agency) shows that death rates from all causes for the months January to April are up on 2019 but down on 2018 and in fact only higher than three other years in that 30 year period.

Deaths per 100 000 Sweden Jan - Apr 1990 - 2020

Belarus is a country which also abjured lockdown measures. It has played all its football matches in three divisions, with normal crowd attendance, and has already started its cup run.  Life goes on as usual there. Social interaction has not been curbed and infections from the virus have been high. Deaths however have been very low. There is a lot to be said about the importance of getting out into the fresh air to fight any virus and being cooped up in a claustrophobic environment with the demand to “stay home” and breathe in your own carbon dioxide is an unhealthy message.

While mainstream media have put the wind up everybody there is absolutely nothing more to worry about than there is from the annual influenza toll, less in fact. For some unaccountable reason this virus took on a guise of being some kind of super-killer that could fly around like a caped crusader. That was a big lie. This graph shows the biggest daily killers and Covid-19 is way down the list.

deaths worldwide all causes

Since you are nearly five times more likely to die of measles why have we not had lockdowns to protect us from measles and those with it? Since you are nearly 40 times more likely to die of HIV-AIDS why have we not got social distancing measures over that? Whatever the cause of death it is distressing for families and loved ones at a time when we ought to be giving one another a friendly hug.

For the control reasons outlined above it is imperative that the world wakes up to what is happening and the nonsense that SARS-COV-2 has become for us all. Being brainwashed by a media and governments that are under the control of big bankers has virtually ruined economies of the world and recovering from it will take some time.

This virus has been turned into a monster it should never have become. Accompanying terminology that has grown exponentially with it includes phrases like “the new norm”, “normality will never be the same” together with a whole load of military clichés including “lockdown”. Well thankfully the war is nearly over. While not being a “war to end all wars” it has been a war where all the ammunition and war propaganda has come from one side. The most important lesson we can all learn from this “enemy within” is to realise we have been had and next time to say “never again”.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: People have questioned the second chart in this blog-post and I agree with them. The graph is from early March and deaths in which COVID-19 has been cited as a cause have increased considerably since then, even though they are now on the wane in terms of daily deaths. What mislead me was the sources of the chart: the WHO, Lancet and Centres for Disease Control which seemed authoritative enough. While there may not be more likelihood of dying of measles, according to a new report more than 2.4 million people worldwide are killed annually from HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. Johns Hopkins university shows 486,101 have died from (more likely with) COVID-19 up to today (26/06/2020).

My take on “Take on me” with Peter Churchill and Gina Baker

This morning I got an email from my old friend Tessa Lowe containing a link to a song. Tessa and I worked together more than twenty years ago when Madcap Theatre Company came into existence, producing everything from home-spun comedy to the Pyramus and Thisbe play-within-a-play from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Madcap Theatre Company supported the mental health community. I enjoyed the song Tessa embedded so much I promised to try and promote it within my small entourage of dedicated followers and larger audience of occasional readers.

“Take on me” by Peter Churchill and Gina Baker is a rare and brilliantly produced work of entertainment in a time when everyone is in need of creative sustenance to battle through the claustrophobic stifling imposed on all of us (excluding, that is, government advisors). Its message is clear. People want, nay need, the company of others. This is not an overtly political song, more observational I suggest, and you can make of it what you will but what cannot be denied is the talent of these two individuals from the harmonies to the lyrics. Gina’s range is incredible. You will enjoy it. And if you do, spread it. Please!

Peter and Gina work with prisoners, the homeless and other needy community groups. As most people know, and all who have read my review of Tinseltown, sorry La La Land, in my embittered old age I find little to rave about. For this talent I make an exception.

 

COVID-19 – true or hoax?

I don’t know about you but I have been sceptical of the COVID-19 panic since day 1. Nothing that has happened since has changed my mind. Most of the MSM news is full of panic stories, stories aimed at locking people down and preventing social interaction. Ask yourself this simple question. How many people do you know who have COVID-19?

For me the answer is none. It is even less than none (joke) because I  do not know anyone who knows anyone who has been infected with COVID-19. Yet the news is full of them. They include high profile people like Prince Charles, Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock and others who have allegedly spent their time in isolation. Matt Hancock as soon as his confinement was over issued a statement to the effect that he was thinking of introducing certificates to those, like him presumably, who have had the virus. Others presumably will remain in a state of lockdown. Anyone believing that has the gullibility of a fish that repeatedly gets caught.

We get nothing but coverage of something which most likely isn’t an issue. Although we are not in the military we are ordered to confine ourselves to barracks. There are several who think the whole affair is a total hoax. Ron Paul is one of them. He claims that the whole issue is aimed at controlling us. Unfortunately it seems to be working. Everybody is complying and social gatherings have become a thing of the past. This is what the powermongers and fat controllers want.

One of the controllers, a Bilderberger and the richest man in the world, Bill Gates, claimed in February 2017 that a new flu-type virus could kill 30 million people like it did in 1919.  Forbes reported:

“Whether it occurs by a quirk of nature or at the hand of a terrorist, epidemiologists say a fast-moving airborne pathogen could kill more than 30 million people in less than a year. And they say there is a reasonable probability the world will experience such an outbreak in the next 10 to 15 years.”

When the coronavirus, one of several coronaviruses, COVID-19, hit China Bill Gates was fast to update his prediction to 33 million in six months. Fortunately, even by the hyperinflated figures, this looks unlikely to happen now. However the world economy is in a desperate state based on trying to defend against this fairly innocuous virus by adopting extreme measures. Through unnecessary isolation it has killed off social interaction (its purpose) had politicians lying to businesses that they will be bailed out when they won’t, stopped all sports events or meetings where a group of people could actually discuss this issue rationally, given 24/7 coverage to frighten people of a non-existent danger, had local news taken from the screens to make sure everybody gets a single message and left the world in a state which will see millions die from starvation, cold and the diseases brought about by penury. That is the aim – depopulation.

If you believe Bill Gates knew something we didn’t, you’re almost certainly right. He and the other members of that tiny elite of super-rich have been planning this for years. So many videos exist about this it would be unfair on the others to post a single link. The wise know about this. Personally I think their aim will fail. People will start gathering in groups. They already do. There are the police, the armed forces, hospital staff who are still allowed to meet in groups and will eventually see that they are being manipulated. What the super-rich elite hope is that they will always be able to control these establishment assets. But these establishment assets have families who will be suffering privation.

Once a year the people who plan global control meet in a group called the Bilderberg Group. My advice would be for everyone to ignore the fake news put out by mainstream media. This needs to be done in a unified manner. The power of trades’ unions has been very badly weakened but over this issue society really needs to get together. The ability to do that has been taken away through the fake news that the majority believes. Wake up world. Or as Shelley put it:

“Rise like lions after slumber in unvanquishable number – Shake your chains to earth like dew which in sleep had fallen on you – Ye are many – they are few.”

Wake up world! It is not too late yet!

 

Court Reporter – Craig Murray, Day 4

For the fourth time this week I hand over my blog to Craig Murray who has doggedly, tirelessly queued for a seat in the public gallery to bring us stark accounts of proceedings in Woolwich Magistrates Court – an appendage to the notorious Belmarsh Prison.

Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day Four

28 February 2020 by Craig Murray


Please try this experiment for me.
Try asking this question out loud, in a tone of intellectual interest and engagement: “Are you suggesting that the two have the same effect?”.

Now try asking this question out loud, in a tone of hostility and incredulity bordering on sarcasm: “Are you suggesting that the two have the same effect?”.

Firstly, congratulations on your acting skills; you take direction very well. Secondly, is it not fascinating how precisely the same words can convey the opposite meaning dependent on modulation of stress, pitch, and volume?

Yesterday the prosecution continued its argument that the provision in the 2007 UK/US Extradition Treaty that bars extradition for political offences is a dead letter, and that Julian Assange’s objectives are not political in any event. James Lewis QC for the prosecution spoke for about an hour, and Edward Fitzgerald QC replied for the defence for about the same time. During Lewis’s presentation, he was interrupted by Judge Baraitser precisely once. During Fitzgerald’s reply, Baraitser interjected seventeen times.

In the transcript, those interruptions will not look unreasonable:
“Could you clarify that for me Mr Fitzgerald…”
“So how do you cope with Mr Lewis’s point that…”
“But surely that’s a circular argument…”
“But it’s not incorporated, is it?…”

All these and the other dozen interruptions were designed to appear to show the judge attempting to clarify the defence’s argument in a spirit of intellectual testing. But if you heard the tone of Baraitser’s voice, saw her body language and facial expressions, it was anything but.

The false picture a transcript might give is exacerbated by the courtly Fitzgerald’s continually replying to each obvious harassment with “Thank you Madam, that is very helpful”, which again if you were there, plainly meant the opposite. But what a transcript will helpfully nevertheless show was the bully pulpit of Baraitser’s tactic in interrupting Fitzgerald again and again and again, belittling his points and very deliberately indeed preventing him from getting into the flow of his argument. The contrast in every way with her treatment of Lewis could not be more pronounced.

So now to report the legal arguments themselves.

James Lewis for the prosecution, continuing his arguments from the day before, said that Parliament had not included a bar on extradition for political offences in the 2003 Act. It could therefore not be reintroduced into law by a treaty. “To introduce a Political Offences bar by the back door would be to subvert the intention of Parliament.”

Lewis also argued that these were not political offences. The definition of a political offence was in the UK limited to behaviour intended “to overturn or change a government or induce it to change its policy.” Furthermore the aim must be to change government or policy in the short term, not the indeterminate future.

Lewis stated that further the term “political offence” could only be applied to offences committed within the territory where it was attempted to make the change. So to be classified as political offences, Assange would have had to commit them within the territory of the USA, but he did not.

If Baraitser did decide the bar on political offences applied, the court would have to determine the meaning of “political offence” in the UK/US Extradition Treaty and construe the meaning of paragraphs 4.1 and 4.2 of the Treaty. To construe the terms of an international treaty was beyond the powers of the court.

Lewis perorated that the conduct of Julian Assange cannot possibly be classified as a political offence. “It is impossible to place Julian Assange in the position of a political refugee”. The activity in which Wikileaks was engaged was not in its proper meaning political opposition to the US Administration or an attempt to overthrow that administration. Therefore the offence was not political.

For the defence Edward Fitzgerald replied that the 2003 Extradition Act was an enabling act under which treaties could operate. Parliament had been concerned to remove any threat of abuse of the political offence bar to cover terrorist acts of violence against innocent civilians. But there remained a clear protection, accepted worldwide, for peaceful political dissent. This was reflected in the Extradition Treaty on the basis of which the court was acting.

Baraitser interrupted that the UK/US Extradition Treaty was not incorporated into English Law.

Fitzgerald replied that the entire extradition request is on the basis of the treaty. It is an abuse of process for the authorities to rely on the treaty for the application but then to claim that its provisions do not apply.

“On the face of it, it is a very bizarre argument that a treaty which gives rise to the extradition, on which the extradition is founded, can be disregarded in its provisions. It is on the face of it absurd.” Edward Fitzgerald QC for the Defence

Fitzgerald added that English Courts construe treaties all the time. He gave examples.

Fitzgerald went on that the defence did not accept that treason, espionage and sedition were not regarded as political offences in England. But even if one did accept Lewis’s too narrow definition of political offence, Assange’s behaviour still met the test. What on earth could be the motive of publishing evidence of government war crimes and corruption, other than to change the policy of the government? Indeed, the evidence would prove that Wikileaks had effectively changed the policy of the US government, particularly on Iraq.

Baraitser interjected that to expose government wrongdoing was not the same thing as to try to change government policy. Fitzgerald asked her, finally in some exasperation after umpteen interruptions, what other point could there be in exposing government wrongdoing other than to induce a change in government policy?

That concluded opening arguments for the prosecution and defence.

MY PERSONAL COMMENTARY

Let me put this as neutrally as possible. If you could fairly state that Lewis’s argument was much more logical, rational and intuitive than Fitzgerald’s, you could understand why Lewis did not need an interruption while Fitzgerald had to be continually interrupted for “clarification”. But in fact it was Lewis who was making out the case that the provisions of the very treaty under which the extradition is being made, do not in fact apply, a logical step which I suggest the man on the Clapham omnibus might reason to need rather more testing than Fitzgerald’s assertion to the contrary. Baraitser’s comparative harassment of Fitzgerald when he had the prosecution on the ropes was straight out of the Stalin show trial playbook.

The defence did not mention it, and I do not know if it features in their written arguments, but I thought Lewis’s point that these could not be political offences, because Julian Assange was not in the USA when he committed them, was breathtakingly dishonest. The USA claims universal jurisdiction. Assange is being charged with crimes of publishing committed while he was outside the USA. The USA claims the right to charge anyone of any nationality, anywhere in the world, who harms US interests. They also in addition here claim that as the materials could be seen on the internet in the USA, there was an offence in the USA. At the same time to claim this could not be a political offence as the crime was committed outside the USA is, as Edward Fitzgerald might say, on the face of it absurd. Which curiously Baraitser did not pick up on.

Lewis’s argument that the Treaty does not have any standing in English law is not something he just made up. Nigel Farage did not materialise from nowhere. There is in truth a long tradition in English law that even a treaty signed and ratified with some bloody Johnny Foreigner country, can in no way bind an English court. Lewis could and did spout reams and reams of judgements from old beetroot faced judges holding forth to say exactly that in the House of Lords, before going off to shoot grouse and spank the footman’s son. Lewis was especially fond of the Tin Council case.

There is of course a contrary and more enlightened tradition, and a number of judgements that say the exact opposite, mostly more recent. This is why there was so much repetitive argument as each side piled up more and more volumes of “authorities” on their side of the case.

The difficulty for Lewis – and for Baraitser – is that this case is not analogous to me buying a Mars bar and then going to court because an International Treaty on Mars Bars says mine is too small.

Rather the 2003 Extradition Act is an Enabling Act on which extradition treaties then depend. You can’t thus extradite under the 2003 Act without the Treaty. So the Extradition Treaty of 2007 in a very real sense becomes an executive instrument legally required to authorise the extradition. For the executing authorities to breach the terms of the necessary executive instrument under which they are acting, simply has to be an abuse of process. So the Extradition Treaty owing to its type and its necessity for legal action, is in fact incorporated in English Law by the Extradition Act of 2003 on which it depends.

The Extradition Treaty is a necessary precondition of the extradition, whereas a Mars Bar Treaty is not a necessary precondition to buying the Mars Bar.

That is as plain as I can put it. I do hope that is comprehensible.

It is of course difficult for Lewis that on the same day the Court of Appeal was ruling against the construction of the Heathrow Third Runway, partly because of its incompatibility with the Paris Agreement of 2016, despite the latter not being fully incorporated into English law by the Climate Change Act of 2008.

VITAL PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

It is intensely embarrassing for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) when an English court repudiates the application of a treaty the UK has ratified with one or more foreign states. For that reason, in the modern world, very serious procedures and precautions have been put into place to make certain that this cannot happen. Therefore the prosecution’s argument that all the provisions of the UK/US Extradition Treaty of 2007 are not able to be implemented under the Extradition Act of 2003, ought to be impossible.

I need to explain I have myself negotiated and overseen the entry into force of treaties within the FCO. The last one in which I personally tied the ribbon and applied the sealing wax (literally) was the Anglo-Belgian Continental Shelf Treaty of 1991, but I was involved in negotiating others and the system I am going to describe was still in place when I left the FCO as an Ambassador in 2005, and I believe is unchanged today (and remember the Extradition Act was 2003 and the US/UK Extradition Treaty ratified 2007, so my knowledge is not outdated). Departmental nomenclatures change from time to time and so does structural organisation. But the offices and functions I will describe remain, even if names may be different.

All international treaties have a two stage process. First they are signed to show the government agrees to the treaty. Then, after a delay, they are ratified. This second stage takes place when the government has enabled the legislation and other required agency to implement the treaty. This is the answer to Lewis’s observation about the roles of the executive and legislature. The ratification stage only takes place after any required legislative action. That is the whole point.

This is how it happens in the FCO. Officials negotiate the extradition treaty. It is signed for the UK. The signed treaty then gets returned to FCO Legal Advisers, Nationality and Treaty Department, Consular Department, North American Department and others and is sent on to Treasury/Cabinet Office Solicitors and to Home Office, Parliament and to any other Government Department whose area is impacted by the individual treaty.

The Treaty is extensively vetted to check that it can be fully implemented in all the jurisdictions of the UK. If it cannot, then amendments to the law have to be made so that it can. These amendments can be made by Act of Parliament or more generally by secondary legislation using powers conferred on the Secretary of State by an act. If there is already an Act of Parliament under which the Treaty can be implemented, then no enabling legislation needs to be passed. International Agreements are not all individually incorporated into English or Scottish laws by specific new legislation.

This is a very careful step by step process, carried out by lawyers and officials in the FCO, Treasury, Cabinet Office, Home Office, Parliament and elsewhere. Each will in parallel look at every clause of the Treaty and check that it can be applied. All changes needed to give effect to the treaty then have to be made – amending legislation, and necessary administrative steps. Only when all hurdles have been cleared, including legislation, and Parliamentary officials, Treasury, Cabinet Office, Home Office and FCO all certify that the Treaty is capable of having effect in the UK, will the FCO Legal Advisers give the go ahead for the Treaty to be ratified. You absolutely cannot ratify the treaty before FCO Legal Advisers have given this clearance.

This is a serious process. That is why the US/UK Extradition Treaty was signed in 2003 and ratified in 2007. That is not an abnormal delay.

So I know for certain that ALL the relevant British Government legal departments MUST have agreed that Article 4.1 of the UK/US Extradition Treaty was capable of being given effect under the 2003 Extradition Act. That certification has to have happened or the Treaty could never have been ratified.

It follows of necessity that the UK Government, in seeking to argue now that Article 4.1 is incompatible with the 2003 Act, is knowingly lying. There could not be a more gross abuse of process.

I have been keen for the hearing on this particular point to conclude so that I could give you the benefit of my experience. I shall rest there for now, but later today hope to post further on yesterday’s row in court over releasing Julian from the anti-terrorist armoured dock.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible. I wish to stress again that I absolutely do not want anybody to give anything if it causes them the slightest possibility of financial strain.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

Court reporter – Craig Murray, Day 3

Your Man in the Public Gallery – The Assange Hearing Day 3

27 Feb, 2020 by Craig Murray

Yesterday’s proceedings in court, the prosecution adopted arguments so stark and apparently unreasonable I have been fretting on how to write them up in a way that does not seem like caricature or unfair exaggeration on my part. What has been happening in this court has long moved beyond caricature. All I can do is give you my personal assurance that what I recount actually is what happened.

As usual, I shall deal with procedural matters and Julian’s treatment first, before getting in to a clear account of the legal arguments made.

Vanessa Baraitser is under a clear instruction to mimic concern by asking, near the end of every session just before we break anyway, if Julian is feeling well and whether he would like a break. She then routinely ignores his response. Yesterday he replied at some length he could not hear properly in his glass box and could not communicate with his lawyers (at some point yesterday they had started preventing him passing notes to his counsel, which I learn was the background to the aggressive prevention of his shaking Garzon’s hand goodbye).

Baraitser insisted he might only be heard through his counsel, which given he was prevented from instructing them was a bit rich. This being pointed out, we had a ten minute adjournment while Julian and his counsel were allowed to talk down in the cells – presumably where they could be more conveniently bugged yet again.

On return, Edward Fitzgerald made a formal application for Julian to be allowed to sit beside his lawyers in the court. Julian was “a gentle, intellectual man” and not a terrorist. Baraitser replied that releasing Assange from the dock into the body of the court would mean he was released from custody. To achieve that would require an application for bail.

Again, the prosecution counsel James Lewis intervened on the side of the defence to try to make Julian’s treatment less extreme. He was not, he suggested diffidently, quite sure that it was correct that it required bail for Julian to be in the body of the court, or that being in the body of the court accompanied by security officers meant that a prisoner was no longer in custody. Prisoners, even the most dangerous of terrorists, gave evidence from the witness box in the body of the court nest to the lawyers and magistrate. In the High Court prisoners frequently sat with their lawyers in extradition hearings, in extreme cases of violent criminals handcuffed to a security officer.

Baraitser replied that Assange might pose a danger to the public. It was a question of health and safety. How did Fitzgerald and Lewis think that she had the ability to carry out the necessary risk assessment? It would have to be up to Group 4 to decide if this was possible.

Yes, she really did say that. Group 4 would have to decide.

Baraitser started to throw out jargon like a Dalek when it spins out of control. “Risk assessment” and “health and safety” featured a lot. She started to resemble something worse than a Dalek, a particularly stupid local government officer of a very low grade. “No jurisdiction” – “Up to Group 4”. Recovering slightly, she stated firmly that delivery to custody can only mean delivery to the dock of the court, nowhere else in the room. If the defence wanted him in the courtroom where he could hear proceedings better, they could only apply for bail and his release from custody in general. She then peered at both barristers in the hope this would have sat them down, but both were still on their feet.

In his diffident manner (which I confess is growing on me) Lewis said “the prosecution is neutral on this request, of course but, err, I really don’t think that’s right”. He looked at her like a kindly uncle whose favourite niece has just started drinking tequila from the bottle at a family party.

Baraitser concluded the matter by stating that the Defence should submit written arguments by 10am tomorrow on this point, and she would then hold a separate hearing into the question of Julian’s position in the court.

The day had begun with a very angry Magistrate Baraitser addressing the public gallery. Yesterday, she said, a photo had been taken inside the courtroom. It was a criminal offence to take or attempt to take photographs inside the courtroom. Vanessa Baraitser looked at this point very keen to lock someone up. She also seemed in her anger to be making the unfounded assumption that whoever took the photo from the public gallery on Tuesday was still there on Wednesday; I suspect not. Being angry at the public at random must be very stressful for her. I suspect she shouts a lot on trains.

Ms Baraitser is not fond of photography – she appears to be the only public figure in Western Europe with no photo on the internet. Indeed the average proprietor of a rural car wash has left more evidence of their existence and life history on the internet than Vanessa Baraitser. Which is no crime on her part, but I suspect the expunging is not achieved without considerable effort. Somebody suggested to me she might be a hologram, but I think not. Holograms have more empathy.

I was amused by the criminal offence of attempting to take photos in the courtroom. How incompetent would you need to be to attempt to take a photo and fail to do so? And if no photo was taken, how do they prove you were attempting to take one, as opposed to texting your mum? I suppose “attempting to take a photo” is a crime that could catch somebody arriving with a large SLR, tripod and several mounted lighting boxes, but none of those appeared to have made it into the public gallery.

Baraitser did not state whether it was a criminal offence to publish a photograph taken in a courtroom (or indeed to attempt to publish a photograph taken in a courtroom). I suspect it is. Anyway Le Grand Soir has published a translation of my report yesterday, and there you can see a photo of Julian in his bulletproof glass anti-terrorist cage. Not, I hasten to add, taken by me.

We now come to the consideration of yesterday’s legal arguments on the extradition request itself. Fortunately, these are basically fairly simple to summarise, because although we had five hours of legal disquisition, it largely consisted of both sides competing in citing scores of “authorities”, e.g. dead judges, to endorse their point of view, and thus repeating the same points continually with little value from exegesis of the innumerable quotes.

As prefigured yesterday by magistrate Baraitser, the prosecution is arguing that Article 4.1 of the UK/US extradition treaty has no force in law.

The UK and US Governments say that the court enforces domestic law, not international law, and therefore the treaty has no standing. This argument has been made to the court in written form to which I do not have access. But from discussion in court it was plain that the prosecution argue that the Extradition Act of 2003, under which the court is operating, makes no exception for political offences. All previous Extradition Acts had excluded extradition for political offences, so it must be the intention of the sovereign parliament that political offenders can now be extradited.

Opening his argument, Edward Fitzgerald QC argued that the Extradition Act of 2003 alone is not enough to make an actual extradition. The extradition requires two things in place; the general Extradition Act and the Extradition Treaty with the country or countries concerned. “No Treaty, No Extradition” was an unbreakable rule. The Treaty was the very basis of the request. So to say that the extradition was not governed by the terms of the very treaty under which it was made, was to create a legal absurdity and thus an abuse of process. He cited examples of judgements made by the House of Lords and Privy Council where treaty rights were deemed enforceable despite the lack of incorporation into domestic legislation, particularly in order to stop people being extradited to potential execution from British colonies.

Fitzgerald pointed out that while the Extradition Act of 2003 did not contain a bar on extraditions for political offences, it did not state there could not be such a bar in extradition treaties. And the extradition treaty of 2007 was ratified after the 2003 extradition act.

At this stage Baraitser interrupted that it was plain the intention of parliament was that there could be extradition for political offences. Otherwise they would not have removed the bar in previous legislation. Fitzgerald declined to agree, saying the Act did not say extradition for political offences could not be banned by the treaty enabling extradition.

Fitzgerald then continued to say that international jurisprudence had accepted for a century or more that you did not extradite political offenders. No political extradition was in the European Convention on Extradition, the Model United Nations Extradition Treaty and the Interpol Convention on Extradition. It was in every single one of the United States’ extradition treaties with other countries, and had been for over a century, at the insistence of the United States. For both the UK and US Governments to say it did not apply was astonishing and would set a terrible precedent that would endanger dissidents and potential political prisoners from China, Russia and regimes all over the world who had escaped to third countries.

Fitzgerald stated that all major authorities agreed there were two types of political offence. The pure political offence and the relative political offence. A “pure” political offence was defined as treason, espionage or sedition. A “relative” political offence was an act which was normally criminal, like assault or vandalism, conducted with a political motive. Every one of the charges against Assange was a “pure” political offence. All but one were espionage charges, and the computer misuse charge had been compared by the prosecution to breach of the official secrets act to meet the dual criminality test. The overriding accusation that Assange was seeking to harm the political and military interests of the United States was in the very definition of a political offence in all the authorities.

In reply Lewis stated that a treaty could not be binding in English law unless specifically incorporated in English law by Parliament. This was a necessary democratic defence. Treaties were made by the executive which could not make law. This went to the sovereignty of Parliament. Lewis quoted many judgements stating that international treaties signed and ratified by the UK could not be enforced in British courts. “It may come as a surprise to other countries that their treaties with the British government can have no legal force” he joked.

Lewis said there was no abuse of process here and thus no rights were invoked under the European Convention. It was just the normal operation of the law that the treaty provision on no extradition for political offences had no legal standing.

Lewis said that the US government disputes that Assange’s offences are political. In the UK/Australia/US there was a different definition of political offence to the rest of the world. We viewed the “pure” political offences of treason, espionage and sedition as not political offences. Only “relative” political offences – ordinary crimes committed with a political motive – were viewed as political offences in our tradition. In this tradition, the definition of “political” was also limited to supporting a contending political party in a state. Lewis will continue with this argument tomorrow.

That concludes my account of proceedings. I have some important commentary to make on this and will try to do another posting later today. Now rushing to court.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

This court sketch by Elizabeth Cook is from an earlier hearing involving Baraitser and Assange.

Craig Murray’s original article is at the link below the sketch.

Julian Assange and Vanessa Baraitser by Elizabeth Cook

Your Man in the Public Gallery – The Assange Hearing Day 3

Craig Murray – Court reporter day 2

Again today I hand my blog over to Craig Murray, probably the only journalist who can see what is happening, or at least the only journalist who is reporting what is happening in the Assange extradition case.

Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day 2

26 Feb, 2020 by Craig Murray

This afternoon Julian’s Spanish lawyer, Baltasar Garzon, left court to return to Madrid. On the way out he naturally stopped to shake hands with his client, proffering his fingers through the narrow slit in the bulletproof glass cage. Assange half stood to take his lawyer’s hand. The two security guards in the cage with Assange immediately sprang up, putting hands on Julian and forcing him to sit down, preventing the handshake.

That was not by any means the worst thing today, but it is a striking image of the senseless brute force continually used against a man accused of publishing documents. That a man cannot even shake his lawyer’s hand goodbye is against the entire spirit in which the members of the legal system like to pretend the law is practised. I offer that startling moment as encapsulating yesterday’s events in court.Day 2 proceedings had started with a statement from Edward Fitzgerald, Assange’s QC, that shook us rudely into life. He stated that yesterday, on the first day of trial, Julian had twice been stripped naked and searched, eleven times been handcuffed, and five times been locked up in different holding cells. On top of this, all of his court documents had been taken from him by the prison authorities, including privileged communications between his lawyers and himself, and he had been left with no ability to prepare to participate in today’s proceedings.

Magistrate Baraitser looked at Fitzgerald and stated, in a voice laced with disdain, that he had raised such matters before and she had always replied that she had no jurisdiction over the prison estate. He should take it up with the prison authorities. Fitzgerald remained on his feet, which drew a very definite scowl from Baraitser, and replied that of course they would do that again, but this repeated behaviour by the prison authorities threatened the ability of the defence to prepare. He added that regardless of jurisdiction, in his experience it was common practice for magistrates and judges to pass on comments and requests to the prison service where the conduct of the trial was affected, and that jails normally listened to magistrates sympathetically.

Baraitser flat-out denied any knowledge of such a practice, and stated that Fitzgerald should present her with written arguments setting out the case law on jurisdiction over prison conditions. This was too much even for prosecution counsel James Lewis, who stood up to say the prosecution would also want Assange to have a fair hearing, and that he could confirm that what the defence were suggesting was normal practice. Even then, Baraitser still refused to intervene with the prison. She stated that if the prison conditions were so bad as to reach the very high bar of making a fair hearing impossible, the defence should bring a motion to dismiss the charges on those grounds. Otherwise they should drop it.

Both prosecution and defence seemed surprised by Baraitser’s claim that she had not heard of what they both referred to as common practice. Lewis may have been genuinely concerned at the shocking description of Assange’s prison treatment yesterday; or he may have just had warning klaxons going off in his head screaming “mistrial”. But the net result is Baraitser will attempt to do nothing to prevent Julian’s physical and mental abuse in jail nor to try to give him the ability to participate in his defence. The only realistic explanation that occurs to me is that Baraitser has been warned off, because this continual mistreatment and confiscation of documents is on senior government authority.

A last small incident for me to recount: having queued again from the early hours, I was at the final queue before the entrance to the public gallery, when the name was called out of Kristin Hrnafsson, editor of Wikileaks, with whom I was talking at the time. Kristin identified himself, and was told by the court official he was barred from the public gallery.

Now I was with Kristin throughout the entire proceedings the previous day, and he had done absolutely nothing amiss – he is rather a quiet gentleman. When he was called for, it was by name and by job description – they were specifically banning the editor of Wikileaks from the trial. Kristin asked why and was told it was a decision of the Court.

At this stage John Shipton, Julian’s father, announced that in this case the family members would all leave too, and they did so, walking out of the building. They and others then started tweeting the news of the family walkout. This appeared to cause some consternation among court officials, and fifteen minutes later Kristin was re-admitted. We still have no idea what lay behind this. Later in the day journalists were being briefed by officials it was simply over queue-jumping, but that seems improbable as he was removed by staff who called him by name and title, rather than had spotted him as a queue-jumper.

None of the above goes to the official matter of the case. All of the above tells you more about the draconian nature of the political show-trial which is taking place than does the charade being enacted in the body of the court. There were moments today when I got drawn in to the court process and achieved the suspension of disbelief you might do in theatre, and began thinking “Wow, this case is going well for Assange”. Then an event such as those recounted above kicks in, a coldness grips your heart, and you recall there is no jury here to be convinced. I simply do not believe that anything said or proved in the courtroom can have an impact on the final verdict of this court.

So to the actual proceedings in the case.

For the defence, Mark Summers QC stated that the USA charges were entirely dependent on three factual accusations of Assange behviour:

1) Assange helped Manning to decode a hash key to access classified material.
Summers stated this was a provably false allegation from the evidence of the Manning court-martial.

2) Assange solicited the material from Manning
Summers stated this was provably wrong from information available to the public

3) Assange knowingly put lives at risk
Summers stated this was provably wrong both from publicly available information and from specific involvement of the US government.

In summary, Summers stated the US government knew that the allegations being made were false as to fact, and they were demonstrably made in bad faith. This was therefore an abuse of process which should lead to dismissal of the extradition request. He described the above three counts as “rubbish, rubbish and rubbish”.

Summers then walked through the facts of the case. He said the charges from the USA divide the materials leaked by Manning to Wikileaks into three categories:

a) Diplomatic Cables
b) Guantanamo detainee assessment briefs
c) Iraq War rules of engagement
d) Afghan and Iraqi war logs

Summers then methodically went through a), b), c) and d) relating each in turn to alleged behaviours 1), 2) and 3), making twelve counts of explanation and exposition in all. This comprehensive account took some four hours and I shall not attempt to capture it here. I will rather give highlights, but will relate occasionally to the alleged behaviour number and/or the alleged materials letter. I hope you follow that – it took me some time to do so!

On 1) Summers at great length demonstrated conclusively that Manning had access to each material a) b) c) d) provided to Wikileaks without needing any code from Assange, and had that access before ever contacting Assange. Nor had Manning needed a code to conceal her identity as the prosecution alleged – the database for intelligence analysts Manning could access – as could thousands of others – did not require a username or password to access it from a work military computer. Summers quoted testimony of several officers from Manning’s court-martial to confirm this. Nor would breaking the systems admin code on the system give Manning access to any additional classified databases. Summers quoted evidence from the Manning court-martial, where this had been accepted, that the reason Manning wanted to get in to systems admin was to allow soldiers to put their video-games and movies on their government laptops, which in fact happened frequently.

Magistrate Baraitser twice made major interruptions. She observed that if Chelsea Manning did not know she could not be traced as the user who downloaded the databases, she might have sought Assange’s assistance to crack a code to conceal her identity from ignorance she did not need to do that, and to assist would still be an offence by Assange.

Summers pointed out that Manning knew that she did not need a username and password, because she actually accessed all the materials without one. Baraitser replied that this did not constitute proof she knew she could not be traced. Summers said in logic it made no sense to argue that she was seeking a code to conceal her user ID and password, where there was no user ID and password. Baraitser replied again he could not prove that. At this point Summers became somewhat testy and short with Baraitser, and took her through the court martial evidence again. Of which more…

Baraitser also made the point that even if Assange were helping Manning to crack an admin code, even if it did not enable Manning to access any more databases, that still was unauthorised use and would constitute the crime of aiding and abetting computer misuse, even if for an innocent purpose.

After a brief break, Baraitser came back with a real zinger. She told Summers that he had presented the findings of the US court martial of Chelsea Manning as fact. But she did not agree that her court had to treat evidence at a US court martial, even agreed or uncontested evidence or prosecution evidence, as fact. Summers replied that agreed evidence or prosecution evidence at the US court martial clearly was agreed by the US government as fact, and what was at issue at the moment was whether the US government was charging contrary to the facts it knew. Baraitser said she would return to her point once witnesses were heard.

Baraitser was no making no attempt to conceal a hostility to the defence argument, and seemed irritated they had the temerity to make it. This burst out when discussing c), the Iraq war rules of engagement. Summers argued that these had not been solicited from Manning, but had rather been provided by Manning in an accompanying file along with the Collateral Murder video that showed the murder of Reuters journalists and children. Manning’s purpose, as she stated at her court martial, was to show that the Collateral Murder actions breached the rules of engagement, even though the Department of Defense claimed otherwise. Summers stated that by not including this context, the US extradition request was deliberately misleading as it did not even mention the Collateral Murder video at all.

At this point Baraitser could not conceal her contempt. Try to imagine Lady Bracknell saying “A Handbag” or “the Brighton line”, or if your education didn’t run that way try to imagine Pritti Patel spotting a disabled immigrant. This is a literal quote:

“Are you suggesting, Mr Summers, that the authorities, the Government, should have to provide context for its charges?”

An unfazed Summers replied in the affirmative and then went on to show where the Supreme Court had said so in other extradition cases. Baraitser was showing utter confusion that anybody could claim a significant distinction between the Government and God.

The bulk of Summers’ argument went to refuting behaviour 3), putting lives at risk. This was only claimed in relation to materials a) and d). Summers described at great length the efforts of Wikileaks with media partners over more than a year to set up a massive redaction campaign on the cables. He explained that the unredacted cables only became available after Luke Harding and David Leigh of the Guardian published the password to the cache as the heading to Chapter XI of their book Wikileaks, published in February 2011.

Nobody had put 2 and 2 together on this password until the German publication Die Freitag had done so and announced it had the unredacted cables in August 2011. Summers then gave the most powerful arguments of the day.

The US government had been actively participating in the redaction exercise on the cables. They therefore knew the allegations of reckless publication to be untrue.

Once Die Freitag announced they had the unredacted materials, Julian Assange and Sara Harrison instantly telephoned the White House, State Department and US Embassy to warn them named sources may be put at risk. Summers read from the transcripts of telephone conversations as Assange and Harrison attempted to convince US officials of the urgency of enabling source protection procedures – and expressed their bafflement as officials stonewalled them. This evidence utterly undermined the US government’s case and proved bad faith in omitting extremely relevant fact. It was a very striking moment.

With relation to the same behaviour 3) on materials d), Summers showed that the Manning court martial had accepted these materials contained no endangered source names, but showed that Wikileaks had activated a redaction exercise anyway as a “belt and braces” approach.

There was much more from the defence. For the prosecution, James Lewis indicated he would reply in depth later in proceedings, but wished to state that the prosecution does not accept the court martial evidence as fact, and particularly does not accept any of the “self-serving” testimony of Chelsea Manning, whom he portrayed as a convicted criminal falsely claiming noble motives. The prosecution generally rejected any notion that this court should consider the truth or otherwise of any of the facts; those could only be decided at trial in the USA.

Then, to wrap up proceedings, Baraitser dropped a massive bombshell. She stated that although Article 4.1 of the US/UK Extradition Treaty forbade political extraditions, this was only in the Treaty. That exemption does not appear in the UK Extradition Act. On the face of it therefore political extradition is not illegal in the UK, as the Treaty has no legal force on the Court. She invited the defence to address this argument in the morning.

It is now 06.35am and I am late to start queuing…

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day 2

Craig Murray – court reporter

Today I am republishing, with permission, Day 1 of the court proceedings against Julian Assange by one of the few reputable reporters left in this country. Craig Murray queued in the wind and rain for hours to get one of the few restricted seats in a magistrates court not worthy of the name. Let Craig tell the story. It is not what you will read in your morning papers. Thinking people no longer expect to learn the truth from MSM.

Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day 1

25 Feb, 2020 by Craig Murray

Woolwich Crown Court is designed to impose the power of the state. Normal courts in this country are public buildings, deliberately placed by our ancestors right in the centre of towns, almost always just up a few steps from a main street. The major purpose of their positioning and of their architecture was to facilitate public access in the belief that it is vital that justice can be seen by the public.Woolwich Crown Court, which hosts Belmarsh Magistrates Court, is built on totally the opposite principle. It is designed with no other purpose than to exclude the public. Attached to a prison on a windswept marsh far from any normal social centre, an island accessible only through navigating a maze of dual carriageways, the entire location and architecture of the building is predicated on preventing public access. It is surrounded by a continuation of the same extremely heavy duty steel paling barrier that surrounds the prison. It is the most extraordinary thing, a courthouse which is a part of the prison system itself, a place where you are already considered guilty and in jail on arrival. Woolwich Crown Court is nothing but the physical negation of the presumption of innocence, the very incarnation of injustice in unyielding steel, concrete and armoured glass. It has precisely the same relationship to the administration of justice as Guantanamo Bay or the Lubyanka. It is in truth just the sentencing wing of Belmarsh prison.

When enquiring about facilities for the public to attend the hearing, an Assange activist was told by a member of court staff that we should realise that Woolwich is a “counter-terrorism court”. That is true de facto, but in truth a “counter-terrorism court” is an institution unknown to the UK constitution. Indeed, if a single day at Woolwich Crown Court does not convince you the existence of liberal democracy is now a lie, then your mind must be very closed indeed.

Extradition hearings are not held at Belmarsh Magistrates Court inside Woolwich Crown Court. They are always held at Westminster Magistrates Court as the application is deemed to be delivered to the government at Westminster. Now get your head around this. This hearing is at Westminster Magistrates Court. It is being held by the Westminster magistrates and Westminster court staff, but located at Belmarsh Magistrates Court inside Woolwich Crown Court. All of which weird convolution is precisely so they can use the “counter-terrorist court” to limit public access and to impose the fear of the power of the state.

One consequence is that, in the courtroom itself, Julian Assange is confined at the back of the court behind a bulletproof glass screen. He made the point several times during proceedings that this makes it very difficult for him to see and hear the proceedings. The magistrate, Vanessa Baraitser, chose to interpret this with studied dishonesty as a problem caused by the very faint noise of demonstrators outside, as opposed to a problem caused by Assange being locked away from the court in a massive bulletproof glass box.

Now there is no reason at all for Assange to be in that box, designed to restrain extremely physically violent terrorists. He could sit, as a defendant at a hearing normally would, in the body of the court with his lawyers. But the cowardly and vicious Baraitser has refused repeated and persistent requests from the defence for Assange to be allowed to sit with his lawyers. Baraitser of course is but a puppet, being supervised by Chief Magistrate Lady Arbuthnot, a woman so enmeshed in the defence and security service establishment I can conceive of no way in which her involvement in this case could be more corrupt.

It does not matter to Baraitser or Arbuthnot if there is any genuine need for Assange to be incarcerated in a bulletproof box, or whether it stops him from following proceedings in court. Baraitser’s intention is to humiliate Assange, and to instill in the rest of us horror at the vast crushing power of the state. The inexorable strength of the sentencing wing of the nightmarish Belmarsh Prison must be maintained. If you are here, you are guilty.

It’s the Lubyanka. You may only be a remand prisoner. This may only be a hearing not a trial. You may have no history of violence and not be accused of any violence. You may have three of the country’s most eminent psychiatrists submitting reports of your history of severe clinical depression and warning of suicide. But I, Vanessa Baraitser, am still going to lock you up in a box designed for the most violent of terrorists. To show what we can do to dissidents. And if you can’t then follow court proceedings, all the better.

You will perhaps better accept what I say about the Court when I tell you that, for a hearing being followed all round the world, they have brought it to a courtroom which had a total number of sixteen seats available to members of the public. 16. To make sure I got one of those 16 and could be your man in the gallery, I was outside that great locked iron fence queuing in the cold, wet and wind from 6am. At 8am the gate was unlocked, and I was able to walk inside the fence to another queue before the doors of the courtroom, where despite the fact notices clearly state the court opens to the public at 8am, I had to queue outside the building again for another hour and forty minutes. Then I was processed through armoured airlock doors, through airport type security, and had to queue behind two further locked doors, before finally getting to my seat just as the court started at 10am. By which stage the intention was we should have been thoroughly cowed and intimidated, not to mention drenched and potentially hypothermic.

There was a separate media entrance and a media room with live transmission from the courtroom, and there were so many scores of media I thought I could relax and not worry as the basic facts would be widely reported. In fact, I could not have been more wrong. I followed the arguments very clearly every minute of the day, and not a single one of the most important facts and arguments today has been reported anywhere in the mainstream media. That is a bold claim, but I fear it is perfectly true. So I have much work to do to let the world know what actually happened. The mere act of being an honest witness is suddenly extremely important, when the entire media has abandoned that role.

James Lewis QC made the opening statement for the prosecution. It consisted of two parts, both equally extraordinary. The first and longest part was truly remarkable for containing no legal argument, and for being addressed not to the magistrate but to the media. It is not just that it was obvious that is where his remarks were aimed, he actually stated on two occasions during his opening statement that he was addressing the media, once repeating a sentence and saying specifically that he was repeating it again because it was important that the media got it.

I am frankly astonished that Baraitser allowed this. It is completely out of order for a counsel to address remarks not to the court but to the media, and there simply could not be any clearer evidence that this is a political show trial and that Baraitser is complicit in that. I have not the slightest doubt that the defence would have been pulled up extremely quickly had they started addressing remarks to the media. Baraitser makes zero pretence of being anything other than in thrall to the Crown, and by extension to the US Government.

The points which Lewis wished the media to know were these: it is not true that mainstream outlets like the Guardian and New York Times are also threatened by the charges against Assange, because Assange was not charged with publishing the cables but only with publishing the names of informants, and with cultivating Manning and assisting him to attempt computer hacking. Only Assange had done these things, not mainstream outlets.

Lewis then proceeded to read out a series of articles from the mainstream media attacking Assange, as evidence that the media and Assange were not in the same boat. The entire opening hour consisted of the prosecution addressing the media, attempting to drive a clear wedge between the media and Wikileaks and thus aimed at reducing media support for Assange. It was a political address, not remotely a legal submission. At the same time, the prosecution had prepared reams of copies of this section of Lewis’ address, which were handed out to the media and given them electronically so they could cut and paste.

Following an adjournment, magistrate Baraitser questioned the prosecution on the veracity of some of these claims. In particular, the claim that newspapers were not in the same position because Assange was charged not with publication, but with “aiding and abetting” Chelsea Manning in getting the material, did not seem consistent with Lewis’ reading of the 1989 Official Secrets Act, which said that merely obtaining and publishing any government secret was an offence. Surely, Baraitser suggested, that meant that newspapers just publishing the Manning leaks would be guilty of an offence?

This appeared to catch Lewis entirely off guard. The last thing he had expected was any perspicacity from Baraitser, whose job was just to do what he said. Lewis hummed and hawed, put his glasses on and off several times, adjusted his microphone repeatedly and picked up a succession of pieces of paper from his brief, each of which appeared to surprise him by its contents, as he waved them haplessly in the air and said he really should have cited the Shayler case but couldn’t find it. It was liking watching Columbo with none of the charm and without the killer question at the end of the process.

Suddenly Lewis appeared to come to a decision. Yes, he said much more firmly. The 1989 Official Secrets Act had been introduced by the Thatcher Government after the Ponting Case, specifically to remove the public interest defence and to make unauthorised possession of an official secret a crime of strict liability – meaning no matter how you got it, publishing and even possessing made you guilty. Therefore, under the principle of dual criminality, Assange was liable for extradition whether or not he had aided and abetted Manning. Lewis then went on to add that any journalist and any publication that printed the official secret would therefore also be committing an offence, no matter how they had obtained it, and no matter if it did or did not name informants.

Lewis had thus just flat out contradicted his entire opening statement to the media stating that they need not worry as the Assange charges could never be applied to them. And he did so straight after the adjournment, immediately after his team had handed out copies of the argument he had now just completely contradicted. I cannot think it has often happened in court that a senior lawyer has proven himself so absolutely and so immediately to be an unmitigated and ill-motivated liar. This was undoubtedly the most breathtaking moment in today’s court hearing.

Yet remarkably I cannot find any mention anywhere in the mainstream media that this happened at all. What I can find, everywhere, is the mainstream media reporting, via cut and paste, Lewis’s first part of his statement on why the prosecution of Assange is not a threat to press freedom; but nobody seems to have reported that he totally abandoned his own argument five minutes later. Were the journalists too stupid to understand the exchanges?

The explanation is very simple. The clarification coming from a question Baraitser asked Lewis, there is no printed or electronic record of Lewis’ reply. His original statement was provided in cut and paste format to the media. His contradiction of it would require a journalist to listen to what was said in court, understand it and write it down. There is no significant percentage of mainstream media journalists who command that elementary ability nowadays. “Journalism” consists of cut and paste of approved sources only. Lewis could have stabbed Assange to death in the courtroom, and it would not be reported unless contained in a government press release.

I was left uncertain of Baraitser’s purpose in this. Plainly she discomfited Lewis very badly on this point, and appeared rather to enjoy doing so. On the other hand the point she made is not necessarily helpful to the defence. What she was saying was essentially that Julian could be extradited under dual criminality, from the UK point of view, just for publishing, whether or not he conspired with Chelsea Manning, and that all the journalists who published could be charged too. But surely this is a point so extreme that it would be bound to be invalid under the Human Rights Act? Was she pushing Lewis to articulate a position so extreme as to be untenable – giving him enough rope to hang himself – or was she slavering at the prospect of not just extraditing Assange, but of mass prosecutions of journalists?

The reaction of one group was very interesting. The four US government lawyers seated immediately behind Lewis had the grace to look very uncomfortable indeed as Lewis baldly declared that any journalist and any newspaper or broadcast media publishing or even possessing any government secret was committing a serious offence. Their entire strategy had been to pretend not to be saying that.

Lewis then moved on to conclude the prosecution’s arguments. The court had no decision to make, he stated. Assange must be extradited. The offence met the test of dual criminality as it was an offence both in the USA and UK. UK extradition law specifically barred the court from testing whether there was any evidence to back up the charges. If there had been, as the defence argued, abuse of process, the court must still extradite and then the court must pursue the abuse of process as a separate matter against the abusers. (This is a particularly specious argument as it is not possible for the court to take action against the US government due to sovereign immunity, as Lewis well knows). Finally, Lewis stated that the Human Rights Act and freedom of speech were completely irrelevant in extradition proceedings.

Edward Fitzgerald then arose to make the opening statement for the defence. He started by stating that the motive for the prosecution was entirely political, and that political offences were specifically excluded under article 4.1 of the UK/US extradition treaty. He pointed out that at the time of the Chelsea Manning Trial and again in 2013 the Obama administration had taken specific decisions not to prosecute Assange for the Manning leaks. This had been reversed by the Trump administration for reasons that were entirely political.

On abuse of process, Fitzgerald referred to evidence presented to the Spanish criminal courts that the CIA had commissioned a Spanish security company to spy on Julian Assange in the Embassy, and that this spying specifically included surveillance of Assange’s privileged meetings with his lawyers to discuss extradition. For the state trying to extradite to spy on the defendant’s client-lawyer consultations is in itself grounds to dismiss the case. (This point is undoubtedly true. Any decent judge would throw the case out summarily for the outrageous spying on the defence lawyers).

Fitzgerald went on to say the defence would produce evidence the CIA not only spied on Assange and his lawyers, but actively considered kidnapping or poisoning him, and that this showed there was no commitment to proper rule of law in this case.

Fitzgerald said that the prosecution’s framing of the case contained deliberate misrepresentation of the facts that also amounted to abuse of process. It was not true that there was any evidence of harm to informants, and the US government had confirmed this in other fora, eg in Chelsea Manning’s trial. There had been no conspiracy to hack computers, and Chelsea Manning had been acquitted on that charge at court martial. Lastly it was untrue that Wikileaks had initiated publication of unredacted names of informants, as other media organisations had been responsible for this first.

Again, so far as I can see, while the US allegation of harm to informants is widely reported, the defence’s total refutation on the facts and claim that the fabrication of facts amounts to abuse of process is not much reported at all. Fitzgerald finally referred to US prison conditions, the impossibility of a fair trial in the US, and the fact the Trump Administration has stated foreign nationals will not receive First Amendment protections, as reasons that extradition must be barred. You can read the whole defence statement, but in my view the strongest passage was on why this is a political prosecution, and thus precluded from extradition.

For the purposes of section 81(a), I next have to deal with the question of how
this politically motivated prosecution satisfies the test of being directed against
Julian Assange because of his political opinions. The essence of his political
opinions which have provoked this prosecution are summarised in the reports
of Professor Feldstein [tab 18], Professor Rogers [tab 40], Professor Noam
Chomsky [tab 39] and Professor Kopelman:-
i. He is a leading proponent of an open society and of freedom of expression.
ii. He is anti-war and anti-imperialism.
iii. He is a world-renowned champion of political transparency and of the
public’s right to access information on issues of importance – issues such
as political corruption, war crimes, torture and the mistreatment of
Guantanamo detainees.
5.4.Those beliefs and those actions inevitably bring him into conflict with powerful
states including the current US administration, for political reasons. Which
explains why he has been denounced as a terrorist and why President Trump
has in the past called for the death penalty.
5.5.But I should add his revelations are far from confined to the wrongdoings of
the US. He has exposed surveillance by Russia; and published exposes of Mr
Assad in Syria; and it is said that WikiLeaks revelations about corruption in
Tunisia and torture in Egypt were the catalyst for the Arab Spring itself.
5.6.The US say he is no journalist. But you will see a full record of his work in
Bundle M. He has been a member of the Australian journalists union since
2009, he is a member of the NUJ and the European Federation of Journalists.
He has won numerous media awards including being honoured with the
highest award for Australian journalists. His work has been recognised by the
Economist, Amnesty International and the Council of Europe. He is the winner
of the Martha Gelhorn prize and has been repeatedly nominated for the Nobel
Peace Prize, including both last year and this year. You can see from the
materials that he has written books, articles and documentaries. He has had
articles published in the Guardian, the New York Times, the Washington Post
and the New Statesman, just to name a few. Some of the very publications for
which his extradition is being sought have been refereed to and relied upon in
Courts throughout the world, including the UK Supreme Court and the
European Court of Human Rights. In short, he has championed the cause of
transparency and freedom of information throughout the world.
5.7.Professor Noam Chomsky puts it like this: – ‘in courageously upholding
political beliefs that most of profess to share he has performed an
enormous service to all those in the world who treasure the values of
freedom and democracy and who therefore demand the right to know
what their elected representatives are doing’ [see tab 39, paragraph 14].
So Julian Assange’s positive impact on the world is undeniable. The hostility
it has provoked from the Trump administration is equally undeniable.
The legal test for ‘political opinions’
5.8.I am sure you are aware of the legal authorities on this issue: namely whether
a request is made because of the defendant’s political opinions. A broad
approach has to be adopted when applying the test. In support of this we rely
on the case of Re Asliturk [2002] EWHC 2326 (abuse authorities, tab 11, at
paras 25 – 26) which clearly establishes that such a wide approach should be
adopted to the concept of political opinions. And that will clearly cover Julian
Assange’s ideological positions. Moreover, we also rely on cases such as
Emilia Gomez v SSHD [2000] INLR 549 at tab 43 of the political offence
authorities bundle. These show that the concept of “political opinions” extends
to the political opinions imputed to the individual citizen by the state which
prosecutes him. For that reason the characterisation of Julian Assange and
WikiLeaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence agency” by Mr Pompeo makes
clear that he has been targeted for his imputed political opinions. All the
experts whose reports you have show that Julian Assange has been targeted
because of the political position imputed to him by the Trump administration –
as an enemy of America who must be brought down.

Tomorrow the defence continue. I am genuinely uncertain what will happen as I feel at the moment far too exhausted to be there at 6am to queue to get in. But I hope somehow I will contrive another report tomorrow evening.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.”

Here is a link to the original article from where you can make a donation, which I shall be doing.

Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day 1

Subtle strategy to suppress the truth

Back in 2012 when I was writing for News Junkie Post I co-authored an article with the late Rafik Saley and Okoth Osewe (who lived in Sweden and researched the Swedish angle for me). It had a big impact because it showed that the then Swedish ambassador to Australia, Olaf Petersson, had been involved in extraordinary rendition on behalf of the CIA, in which two rendered Swedish residents were tortured.

http://newsjunkiepost.com/2012/12/19/how-sweden-collaborated-with-cia-on-renditions-and-framing-of-assange/

This article went global. And so it should have done. Sadly it was not Mr. Petersson or the CIA whose freedoms had been taken away from them but that of Julian Assange. Tonight in looking for another article from my 8 pages on the NJP website I was unable to locate the one on Sweden’s collaboration with the CIA. This did not particularly surprise me. Little does in this day and age.

Due to my political articles and contentious blogs I have already experienced shadow-banning in the past but what I found tonight was concerning, because it is a new and more subtle way of keeping the truth concealed.

Here is a larger screendump of the featured image that heads this article. It is page 8 of my personal archive showing the first article I wrote for NJP.

2020-02-10 (2)

The article I was looking for should have been found at the bottom of page 7 but it was not there, as you can see.
2020-02-10 (3)

The missing article is of wide importance and little wonder certain people don’t want you to see it, I am keeping this blog post short so you can click on the link and learn some unsavoury truths rather than concentrate too much on how freedom-of-speech continues to be eroded and who has the power to do this. After all, a good man’s liberty is at stake.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: There is no conspiracy here. I have contacted the editor of NJP, Gilbert Mercier, and he has pointed out that the reason it is not indexed in my personal archive is because it is a collaborative piece. Anyway the article is still worth reading so I will leave it up and accept my error like a man.