Contributed by Joe Montero
The hearing of the Julian Assange extradition appeal the United States took place at the High Court in the United Kingdom yesterday (11 August 2021), where presiding Lord Justice Holroyde made clear his sympathy for the application. This hearing was to establish if there is a case to hear the extradition application appeal.
Clair Dobbin, a lawyer who represented U.S. authorities argued that a witness in the January case, psychiatric expert Prof. Michael Kopelman misled the court by neglecting to mention Assange’s relationship with Stella Moris and their two children. Thy argue that this led to wrong judgement by Judge Vanessa Baraitser. She had ruled that the extradition posed a major health risk to Julian Assange.
Photo by Tayfun Sacli: Julian Assange’s father John Shipton and partner Stella Moris outside the court
All this is public knowledge. Baraitser and the rest of the court would have been unaware of it. Ignoring this, Lord Holroyde said he agreed that Kopeland has willingly misled the court. The issue is not whether the court knew about Moris and the Children. The accusation hedged on whether Kopeland knew and failed to tell. The allegation is the expert witness was not impartial. This, Clair Dobbin argued, deliberately mislead the judge into believing that Julian Assange was a suicide brisk.
Holroyde said: , “By choosing to omit stating what he knew of [Assange’s] recent and current relationship with Ms. Moris and their children when expressing opinions on matters such as the effect of solitary confinement in the embassy and the risk of suicide, it is at least arguable that Professor Kopelman did not act in accordance with the declaration and the District Judge [Baraitser] erred in not taking that into account in her assessment of his reliability.”
“…, “By choosing to omit stating what he knew of [Assange’s] recent and current relationship with Ms. Moris and their children when expressing opinions on matters such as the effect of solitary confinement in the embassy and the risk of suicide, it is at least arguable that Professor Kopelman did not act in accordance with the declaration and the District Judge [Baraitser] erred in not taking that into account in her assessment of his reliability,” he added.
Supporters gathering outside the court on 11 August
The implication that this small point turned the outcome of the original case stretches reality by a long way.
Years in isolation, character assassination, and the prospect of what awaits Assange in the United States are that was decisive.
The Assange case has always been a political and not a criminal case.
Politics has interfered with notions of a fair trial. A major factor behind Baraitser’s decision on 6 January was a need to get out of a politically awkward situation. It looked like a show trial, and this was damaging the British notion of fairness. Was Joe Biden going to continue with the case?
Donald Trump’s losing the election was important. The prospect of a new administration in Washington caused uncertainty over what would happen next.
Baraistser’s decision bought time.
Whether or not Kopelman mentioned Stella and the kids was not going to change any of this.
Within weeks of the original case, the new administration in Washington lodged the appeal, signalling it was carrying on Donald Trump campaign against Assange.
Yesterday’s hearing used a small technicality to set the stage to get the political show back on the road.
The whole affair has been a colossal miscarriage of justice, which even contradicts British and international law.
Julian Assange faces a mockery of a trial, and the prospect of 175 years imprisonment. If extradited, he will face a selected tribunal and not a proper court. All this via prosecution as a traitor to a country he is not a citizen of.
Britain’s authorities have not shied from playing the game. They are breaking their own claims at fairness, by keeping him in a maximum security prison and isolation. This is cruel and unusual punishment, which is illegal under the law.
And he hasn’t even been charged with a crime.
On top of everything else, participation in the extradition process is a violation of a treaty between the two countries, which forbids extradition of his nature.
The persecution of Julian Assange remains as important as it ever was. The right of journalists and publishers to tell the truth about what the powerful are doing is on trial.
The extradition process and intending mock trial in the United States is about setting a precedent. Why? Precedents enable repeat in other cases, where what someone might say is inconvenient.
This has already begun with other cases out of the spotlight. It is happening in United Kingdom and United States. Threats and persecution are increasingly being used to silence critics of political leaders. It is happening in Australia. Two cases come to mind. The persecution of GetUp and the trial of Witness K in relation to spying on the government of Timor Leste.
It falls on supporters of justice to be the block on this.
Pressure to stop the persecution of Julian Assange must continue to build and stop this farce.