by Jonathan Cook
Part 3 - Rejected on a technicality
But aside from what is a potential personal victory for Assange, assuming he doesn’t lose on appeal, we should be deeply worried by the legal arguments Baraitser advanced in denying extradition.
The US demand for extradition was rejected on what was effectively a technicality. The US mass incarceration system is so obviously barbaric and depraved that, it was shown conclusively by experts at the hearings back in September, Assange would be at grave risk of committing suicide should he become another victim of its super-max jails.
One should not also discard another of the British establishment’s likely considerations: that in a few days Donald Trump will be gone from the White House and a new US administration will take his place.
There is no reason to be sentimental about president-elect Joe Biden. He is a big fan of mass incarceration too, and he will be no more of a friend to dissident media, whistleblowers and journalism that challenges the national security state than was his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama. Which is no friend at all.
But Biden probably doesn’t need the Assange case hanging over his head, becoming a rallying cry against him, an uncomfortable residue of the Trump administration’s authoritarian instincts that his own officials would be forced to defend.
It would be nice to imagine that the British legal, judicial and political establishments grew a backbone in ruling against extradition. The far more likely truth is that they sounded out the incoming Biden team and received permission to forgo an immediate ruling in favour of extradition – on a technicality.
Keep an eye on whether the new Biden administration decides to drop the appeal case. More likely his officials will let it rumble on, largely below the media’s radar, for many months more.