(The AEGIS Alliance) – The renowned activist and whistleblower figure Julian Assange will appear at the four-week hearing in Old Bailey on September 7 that will likely determine what his fate will be.
Two courtrooms for proceedings have been set aside. There is a lot about the Assange case that is oversized, including the costs involved, estimated at tens of millions of pounds, and the 175-year sentence he is facing, if a district court judge grants his United States extradition. Outside the court, it is expected that supporters will gather to deliver impassioned speeches, raise up their fists in solidarity while crying out “Free Assange.”
Stella Morris is the most outspoken supporter of the WikiLeaks founder, who is facing 18 charges in the U.S. The charges include violating espionage law and conspiring to hack government computers after the former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning published a series of leaks in 2010. Washington claims these leaks endangered U.S. agents’ lives.
37-year-old Morris is the mother of two children that Assange fathered while he was held up in London’s Ecuadorian embassy. She says Assange will be facing a show trial if he’s extradited to the U.S.
“It is heartbreaking to think that if Julian is extradited and put in a US supermax prison, the boys will never get to know their father and he will never see them grow up,” Stella Morris said.
“It’s not Julian in the prison. It’s the kids that are being deprived of their father. It’s me that’s being deprived.”
Even people without significant knowledge of the Assange case have an opinion on the matter. Many think of 49-year-old Julian Assange as a hero who exposed wrongdoing bt the state, but others view him as a creepy megalomaniac who leaked state secrets and betrayed the U.S., placed lives at risk, outstayed his welcome in the embassy, and is deserving of being punished for it.
Julian Assange with his baby son Gabriel.
Spanish counsel Aitor Martinez, Ecuadorian counsel Carlos Poveda, Julian Assange, Stella Morris-Smith Robertson, barrister Jennifer Robinson.
Jail can be a worse fate than death, and where everyone is found guilty by the state.
If Julian Assange is convicted of the crimes in the U.S., it is expected that he will be locked up behind bars in a prison referred to as “The Alcatraz of the Rockies.”
The inmates at the Supermax prison in Colorado that includes hate preacher Abu Hamza, are living in 7ft by 12ft jail cells for 23 hours of the day.
Amnesty International said the conditions are inhumane. Others described it as a “high-tech version of Hell, designed to shut down all sensory perception”, and a “place worse than the death penalty.” The prison houses 400 inmates and is guarded by gun towers, dogs, and armed patrols.
Mexican drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman is jailed there, and so is Zacarias Moussaoui who was convicted of conspiracy to kill during the 9/11 attacks.
Assange would face a trial in Virginia. Former CIA officer John Kiriakou exposed its use of waterboarding and was convicted of disclosing the name of another officer in Virginia where the CIA is based. He said, “It’s impossible for Julian to receive a fair trial.”
These courts may show hardly any sympathy for Morris and the children, but she has asked them to consider the bigger picture, saying “Julian’s case has huge repercussions for freedom of expression and freedom of the press. This is an attack on journalism. If he is extradited to the US for publishing inconvenient truths about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, then it will set a precedent and any British journalist or publisher could also be extradited in the future.”
Assange’s lawyers say that because he is charged under the century-old Espionage Act, the Trump administration is setting dangerous precedents.
The law bans government secrets from being published and no protections are offered to the press under the First Amendment that guarantees free speech.
His defense team is basically saying that criminal laws in the U.S. apply abroad but its constitutional protections don’t, which means journalists anywhere on Earth are at risk of being prosecuted by the U.S. if they publish content the U.S. government deems to violate its laws.
The Obama administration had debates over the Espionage Act against Julian Assange but came to the conclusion to decide against it.
But President Trump has been at war with the press that often refers to as “enemy of the people” and doesn’t have a problem with going after the press. The Justice Department under Trump has said the hacked material was published with no regard to the safety of those named in the leaks therefore Assange isn’t defined as being a journalist.
“There have been so many abuses of the legal process throughout the case, including spurious new charges being introduced at the last minute, even though the hearing began in February, and it should be thrown out for that reason alone,” Morris said.
“But there are also fundamental legal reasons why the extradition should be blocked. This is a political act by the Trump government and Julian is accused of a political offense, which is outside the terms of the UK-US extradition treaty.”
“Anyone who cares about freedom of expression and freedom of the press should support Julian’s fight against extradition.”
Others have an opinion that the case reveals the problems of a relationship with the U.S. The Home Secretary “must” process the request but prosecutors in the U.S. are not required to prove their case besides stating there is “reasonable suspicion,” according to the extradition treaty.
John Shipton, Julian Assange’s father, said last night that, “The United Kingdom judiciary’s authority has been usurped by the U.S. Justice Department.”
Kyle James Lee – The AEGIS Alliance – This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.