British Judge Rules US Can Extradite Julian Assange!

By Neenah Payne

The video below explains that a British judge just ruled that Julian Assange can be extradited to the United States on espionage charges and to be tried for “war crimes” — i.e. exposing the war crimes of the US! The video points out that this is not Assange’s last hope, but it is ticking down to his last options. Assange can still appeal and the decision with rest with the British Home Secretary Priti Patel.

Assange’s legal team says they may appeal based on “fresh developments” in the case.

The UNTHINKABLE just happened to Julian Assange

Julian Assange is one step closer to being extradited to the United States. Do you see the irony here? While he published true data accusing the United States for war crimes, the United States is calling to try Putin for war crimes. This could have chilling consequences for journalism and dissemination of facts.

British Judge Approves Assange’s Extradition To US

Dark Day For Press Freedom: British Court Orders Assange Extradition

Westminster Magistrates Court in the United Kingdom, where Julian Assange’s extradition hearing was held. (Photo by Ludhi85)

“A British magistrate’s court ordered the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States and sent the request for his extradition to Home Office Secretary Priti Patel for approval. The order came a little more than a month after the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom refused to hear Assange’s appeal. In December, the UK High Court of Justice granted the US government’s appeal and overturned a district court decision that spared Assange. Chief Magistrate Senior District Judge Paul Goldspring contended he was “duty-bound” to send the extradition request to Patel. Goldspring also told Assange he had a right to appeal if the Home Office approved the extradition before issuing the order.

Mark Summers QC, an attorney for Assange, asserted there were ‘fresh developments’ in the case and bemoaned the fact that the defense was not permitted at this stage to raise this evidence, according to Computer Weekly’s Bill Goodwin. Assange’s legal team has until May 18 to submit evidence to the Home Office and argue why the department should block the extradition request.

In two months, Patel is expected to make a decision. If approved by Patel, attorneys for Assange may request permission to appeal to the British High Court of Justice. His attorneys may appeal the decision of the district judge to send the case to the Home Office for approval and may also appeal the Home Office secretary’s order.

While the defense for Assange objected to District Judge Vanessa Baraitser’s ruling on January 4, 2021, particularly as it related to issues of press freedom, they never had an appropriate opportunity to raise their objections. She denied the extradition request after determining it would be ‘oppressive’ for mental health reasons. His attorneys would likely challenge many of Baraitser’s conclusions about Assange if Patel allowed the request. (Note: Baraitser is no longer a district judge at the Westminster Magistrates Court.)

Assange is detained at Her Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh. He faces 18 charges brought against him by the US Justice Department, 17 of which are under the Espionage Act. All the charges relate to documents WikiLeaks released in 2010 and 2011, which were provided by US Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

The prosecution makes Assange the first publisher to be charged under the 1917 law, and globally the case has been condemned by virtually all reputable civil liberties, human rights, and press freedom organizations.

Patel and the Home Office support an expansion of the Official Secrets Laws in the UK, which Elmaazi reported ‘would expand possible imprisonment for leakers, recipients of leaks and secondary publishers–including journalists–from the current maximum of two years to as high as 14 years in prison.’ The Home Office contends there is no longer much of a difference between ‘espionage and the most serious unauthorized disclosures.’ That includes what Patel would call ‘onward disclosure.’The department treats journalism as an act capable of ‘far more serious damage’ than traditional espionage.

In the UK, the Office for Security and Counterterrorism is a part of the Home Office. The division is responsible for MI5 (Britain’s FBI) and anti-terrorism police operations.

Operation Pelican, the name for the pressure campaign to force Assange out of the Ecuador embassy in London, was supported by the Home Office. But as Declassified UK chief investigator Matt Kennard noted, the Home Office claims it does not ‘hold’ any records containing details related to the operation, even though eight officials from the department were involved. Kennard also reported that Patel was on the advisory council for a right-wing group linked to the CIA called the Henry Jackson Society, which has attacked Assange in the press for over a decade.

‘[Prime Minister] Boris Johnson and Priti Patel, don’t extradite Julian to the country that conspired to murder him,’ Stella Assange declared. ‘They can stop this nightmare today and return to Julian to his family. They can do the right thing and enforce Article 4 of the US/UK extradition treaty, which prohibits extradition for political offenses.’ ‘This is a political case, and with the signature of the magistrate, this now passes squarely into the political domain,’ Stella added.

‘The next four weeks will prove crucial in the fight to block extradition and secure the release of Julian Assange,’ stated Rebecca Vincent, the director of operations and campaigns for Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Reporters Without Borders Launches “Free Assange” Petition

UK: RSF launches new #FreeAssange petition as Home Secretary considers extradition order

“Following a district court order referring the extradition of Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange back to the Home Office, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has launched a new petition calling on Home Secretary Priti Patel to reject Assange’s extradition to the United States.  RSF urges supporters to join the call on the Home Secretary to #FreeAssange by signing and sharing the petition before 18 May!

On 20 April, the Westminster Magistrates’ Court issued an order referring Julian Assange’s extradition back to the Home Office. Following a four-week period that will now be given to the defence for representations, Home Secretary Priti Patel must approve or reject the US government’s extradition request.  As Assange’s fate has again become a political decision, RSF has launched a new #FreeAssange petition, urging supporters to sign before 18 May to call on the Home Secretary to protect journalism and press freedom by rejecting Assange’s extradition to the US and ensuring his release without further delay.

‘The next four weeks will prove crucial in the fight to block extradition and secure the release of Julian Assange. Through this petition, we are seeking to unite those who care about journalism and press freedom to hold the UK government to account. The Home Secretary must act now to protect journalism and adhere to the UK’s commitment to media freedom by rejecting the extradition order and releasing Assange,’ said RSF’s Director of Operations and Campaigns Rebecca Vincent, who monitored proceedings on RSF’s behalf.

Patel’s predecessor, former Home Secretary Sajid Javid initially green-lighted the extradition request in June 2019, initiating more than two years of proceedings in UK courts. This resulted in a district court decision barring extradition on mental health grounds in January 2021; a High Court decision overturning that ruling in December 2021; and finally, refusal by the Supreme Court to consider the case in March 2022.

RSF’s prior petition calling on the UK government not to comply with the US extradition request gathered more than 90,000 signatures (108,000 including additional signatures on a German version of the petition), and was delivered to Downing Street, the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice, and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office ahead of the historic 4 January 2021 first-instance decision in the case. The UK is ranked 33rd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2021 World Press Freedom Index.”

Sign “Free Assange” Petition Now!

The petition below now has 31,292 signatories with a goal of 50,000.

US Hypocrisy Exposed in Assange Case

An April 25 article by Caitlin Johnstone called “The US Cries About War Crimes While Imprisoning A Journalist For Exposing Its War Crimes” points out:

“In what his lawyers have described as a “brief but significant moment in the case,” a British magistrates’ court has signed off on Julian Assange’s extradition to the United States, bringing the WikiLeaks founder one step closer to a US trial under the Espionage Act which threatens press freedoms worldwide. The extradition case now goes to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel for approval, which will likely be forthcoming as Patel is a reliably loyal empire manager. After that point, Assange’s legal team will be able to launch an appeal.

This is happening at the same time the United States and the United Kingdom are loudly demanding accountability for alleged war crimes by the Russian military in Ukraine, which is interesting because attempting to bring accountability for war crimes is precisely why Julian Assange is in prison. “He is a war criminal,” President Biden said of Vladimir Putin following allegations of war crimes in Bucha, Ukraine earlier this month. “I think it is a war crime. … He should be held accountable.”

And that’s all I’d like to say here today, really. That this discrepancy is very interesting.

I mean, can we take a moment to deeply appreciate the irony of this? Because it’s so obscene and outrageous it’s actually hard to take in unless you really let it absorb. The most powerful government in the world, which serves as the hub of the most powerful empire that has ever existed, is working to extradite a journalist for exposing its war crimes while simultaneously rending its garments over war crime allegations against another government.

I mean, damn. You would think a power structure that had recently been caught red-handed committing war crimes and is currently in the process of imprisoning a journalist for exposing those war crimes would at least have the sense not to yell too loudly about war crimes for a little while. But this is how confident the empire is in its ability to control the narrative.

Really take it in. Really digest it. The more you think about it, the freakier it gets. Not only is the empire persecuting a journalist for exposing its war crimes while at the same time demanding that others be held accountable for war crimes, it is also attacking the free press for reporting the truth about the powerful while at the very same time engaging in a massive propaganda operation which holds that it is involved in Ukraine to protect its freedom and democracy.

I mean, the gall. The absolute temerity. The balls on this empire, man. I have said it before and I will say it again: Assange exposed many ugly realities about the powerful in his work with WikiLeaks, but everything that he has managed to expose thereafter simply by forcing them to prosecute him far surpasses the revelations in those publications. If the highest form of journalism is exposing the darkest secrets of the most powerful people in the world, then Julian Assange is the highest form of journalist.”

Assange’s Wife and Sons

Julian Assange’s Wedding Day and Status shows that on March 23, Assange was finally able to marry Stella Morris, the mother of his two young sons. The wedding took place in the Belmarsh prison where Assange has been held for three years. There was a very limited guest list and no photos were allowed.

Stella, a South African lawyer and legal researcher, joined WikiLeaks in 2011 after its release of documents about Iraq. She said she felt fortunate to meet the person who had changed the world with WikiLeaks. Because her family spent time in Sweden, Stella became a Swedish national and is fluent in Swedish. So, she was able to help litigate Assange’s case in Sweden which was rescinded in 2019. Stella is also fluent in Spanish and facilitated Assange’s seeking asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012.

By 2015, Assange and Stella were in love and by 2017, they were engaged. They planned to get married, but he was arrested before that happened. Assange (49) and Stella (38) have two sons: Gabriel (4.5 years) and Max (3 years).  Stella is a very powerful spokesperson for Assange. She and their two sons have helped give him a reason to live despite the torturous conditions in prison.

Daddy Leaks: WikiLeaks boss Julian Assange fathers two kids inside Ecuadorian embassy with lawyer who fell in love with him 4/12/20.

Top image: MintPress News

Neenah Payne writes for Activist Post and Natural Blaze

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