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 11 - Ecuador illegally gave the U.S. confidential materials about Assange, including documents about his legal defense
The renowned human rights lawyers Gareth Peirce, a member of Julian Assange’s legal team, submitted her own written testimony to the court, affirming that since April 8, 2019 — three days before the arrest of Assange in the embassy — the U.S. Department of Justice had ordered Ecuador to confiscate property and give “evidence” to a “representative of the UK FBI,” as journalist Kevin Gosztola documented.
A document from April 9, 2019, marked “highly confidential from the Deputy Director’s Office of International Affairs,” contained instructions to give Assange’s property to the U.S. government.
“One record of [Assange’s] entire archive” was basically robbed, and without that it has been more difficult for the defense to make the case against his extradition. According to Peirce, the day Assange was arrested, she “made immediate contact with the embassy in regard to legally privileged material, an issue of huge concern,” but “Repeated requests by telephone, email and recorded delivery mail were entirely ignored by the embassy.”
When Assange’s legal team was able to gather his belongings soon after, “All legally privileged material was missing save for two volumes of Supreme Court documents and a number of pages of loose correspondence.”
The UK Metropolitan Police denied any involvement in seizing legally privileged materials. This suggests that it was Ecuador, then, that illegally gave the documents to the United States.
Gareth Peirce testified that, in the days following the arrest of Assange, security guards “went in and out of relevant rooms” of the embassy, along with a diplomatic official named Pablo Roldan, who is related to the Ecuadorian ambassador and close to President Lenín Moreno.
“Although rooms were purported to be sealed, Embassy staff who were not permitted to return for approximately one week saw the original seals had been replaced, the re-seals marked ‘for judicial purpose,’” Peirce testified.
As Gosztola also reported, Carlos Poveda, an Ecuadorian attorney representing Assange, requested that the prosecutor in Ecuador make a copy of the documents on Assange’s belongings for December 2019 extradition proceedings. But Peirce noted, “The Ecuadorian prosecutor refused that request.”
Among the documents reviewed by Assange’s lawyer were photographs that showed that the seals on doors in the embassy were broken.
In her testimony, Peirce confirmed that she was spied on when she attended legal meetings in the embassy.
In January 2021, Judge Vanessa Baraitser will issue a ruling on the most important extradition of the century, deciding, for the first time in history, if a journalist will be prosecuted under the U.S. Espionage Act.
The importance of that decision is that it not only threatens the life of Julian Assange, which is already being destroyed in a London prison, but rather the very future of investigative journalism.
I would add, moreover, that that verdict will determine the validity of the rule of law, and even the sovereignty of the United Kingdom.
The judge has an entire legal arsenal on the table to prevent this extradition, protect the future of journalism, and put herself on the right side of history. The question is, will she do it?