The Ecuadorian diplomat who gave Julian Assange political asylum reports from the extradition hearing against the WikiLeaks journalist, and explains why it is “the most important case against the freedom of expression in an entire generation.”
by Fidel Narváez, (translated by Ben Norton)
Part 1 - Introduction
At the end of the hearings that seek to extradite journalist Julian Assange to the United States, on October 1, his defense team should have felt triumphant. Because with more than 30 witnesses and testimonies, throughout the whole month of September, they gave a beating to the prosecution representing the U.S.
If the case in London were decided solely on justice, as it should in a state based on law, this battle would have been won by Assange.
However, this “trial of the century” is, above all, a political trial, and there remains the feeling that the ruling was made beforehand, regardless of the law.
The court kicked off on September 7 with hundreds of protesters outside, in contrast with the restrictions that the court imposed inside — in what is the most important case against the freedom of expression in an entire generation.
It only permitted the entry of five people on the list of “family members,” and five people from the public, who were put in an adjacent room, where they were barely able to follow the video transmission.
The judge Vanessa Baraitser, who is overseeing the case, without a convincing reason cut the access to the video stream that had previously been authorized to nearly 40 human rights organizations and international observers, including Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, and PEN International.
Each day, starting at 5 am, selfless activists stood in line so that observers like Reporters Without Borders, for example, could enter and take one of the five available seats. Thanks to them, and to family members of Assange, I was able to be in court to attend the majority of the hearings.
Julian himself was also woken up, every day, at 5 am and, naked and handcuffed, subjected to humiliating inspections and x-ray scans, before being put into a police car and crossing through London traffic for more than an hour and a half.
At 10 am, when court was finally in session, Julian had already endured five hours of insult, before being put in a glass cage for the rest of the day.
To communicate with his lawyers, Julian had to get on his knees to talk to them through a slit in the cage, just a few meters away from the ears of the prosecution’s attorneys — something that clearly violates due process.
The defense began by requesting deferment of the hearings, in light of the fact that the U.S. had filed a new extradition request at the last minute, with new accusations that not Assange himself was able to look over.
In the previous six months, Julian had practically no access to his lawyers. The judge, however, rejected any deferment.
The defense had based its strategy on proving that the legal process was being abused in many interrelated ways. In this extensive summary, allow me to explain 10 reasons that I identified as important factors against the extradition.
For this exercise I have relied, furthermore, on the reporting of American journalist Kevin Gosztola and that of the former British diplomat Craig Murray, next to whom I shared a seat in the court.
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