On the way back to the Old Bailey this morning to try again to monitor the US extradition hearing in the case of @wikileaks publisher Julian Assange. The court has severely restricted NGO access, so it is very uncertain whether my @RSF_inter colleague @cmihr & I will get in. 1/
The court has refused to recognise or accommodate the role of professional NGO observers, so we are left to compete for spaces in the public gallery, which has been limited to 2 to 5 people, despite the fact that there are 36 seats in that part of the overflow courtroom alone. 2/
On day 1, we finally got in due to the intervention of the German embassy & political observers. On day 2, I was able to monitor the afternoon session thanks to the kindness of an activist who had queued for hours & gave me his seat so we could tell the world what’s happening. 3/
Make no mistake: the public has the right to know what is happening in this case. And what’s at stake is not just the fate of Julian Assange, but journalism & press freedom itself. Ultimately it’s the public’s right to information that will suffer. My comments for @RSF_inter👇 4/
Yesterday Professor Mark Feldstein said to the court: “To criminalise news-gathering, to criminalise publishing, is to criminalise journalism itself”, a statement that we very much share at @RSF_inter. If the US government is successful, this will not stop with Julian Assange. 5/
Here’s hoping that some combination of our extensive efforts will result in court access today. But it shouldn’t be this difficult. This has never been our experience in any other case, anywhere. I’ll update once we know what’s happening - but we lose our devices if we get in. 6/
We’re in a similar position to yesterday. Two activist heroes have queued from the wee hours & are giving us their spots. They want us to be able to speak out for everyone. Journalists have also said this - we are their eyes & ears. We take this v seriously & will do our best. 7/
Thank you so much Jamie (@rubio49158845) and Sandra! We are so grateful for your kindness and efforts to #FreeAssange! 8/ Image
However, as with every other aspect of this process, it’s not so straightforward. We are third and fourth in the queue, and will only get in at 11 am if some mysterious “VIPs” don’t turn up (they didn’t yesterday). No one knows who they are. 9/
Still no sign of the “VIPs”, but court management has now decided we must wait outside until 12 pm to see if they show - meaning all of this effort will result in one hour max in court before the lunch break (followed by more queuing). Death by a thousand cuts...10/
Still here. We’re not going anywhere. #FreeAssange 11/ Image
We finally got in - as noted by @dhbln, 110 minutes into this morning’s proceedings. Thanks so much to Dustin and other political observers who keep fighting for our access from inside the courtroom. 12/
We were able to monitor about 45 minutes of Professor Paul Rogers’ testimony, in which he spoke of his belief that the US case against Assange is politically motivated. We won’t monitor this afternoon, but I’ll be back in the morning to try again. 13/
I spoke to @DEAcampaign about our observations from this morning. That’s all for now - but we reiterate our call to #FreeAssange! /14
Oh...lots of rumours circulating about who these mysterious no-show “VIPs” are... Image

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More from @rebecca_vincent

18 Oct
I’ve had some questions about my profile pic. I keep it up because it’s a case that doesn’t get nearly enough attention - that of Christopher Allen, a dual US/UK national & young freelance journalist who was killed reporting on the civil conflict in South Sudan on 26 August 2017.
Chris was one of 10 journalists killed with impunity during the civil conflict that broke out in December 2013. A unity government was finally formed and the conflict is considered to have ended this past February - but still nothing has been done to address the lasting impunity.
But responsibility does not stop with the South Sudanese. Chris’ own governments - the US and UK - have done shamefully little in more than 3 years. The UN system has also failed. And because Chris was a freelancer, there was no big media outlet to step in and help his family.
Read 14 tweets
21 Sep
Week three, Julian Assange’s US extradition hearing. A new thread.

#FreeAssange 1/
It’s now Day 10 of proceedings at the Old Bailey in London. Campaigns Officer @AustinPatrickC is currently in court monitoring in person for @RSF_inter. I’ll be back in court myself tomorrow. In the meantime, here’s my recap from last week.
Some exciting news: thanks to your support, signatures on @RSF_inter’s #FreeAssange petition have more than doubled since the hearing began. Please keep signing & sharing, and we’ll take the petition back to @10DowningStreet along with @StellaMoris1 when proceedings conclude. 3/
Read 60 tweets
14 Sep
Good morning from week two of Julian Assange’s US extradition hearing at the Old Bailey in London! Will share this week’s observations in this new thread.

#FreeAssange 1/
I’m not at court this morning, but have a colleague holding my place so I can hopefully monitor this afternoon’s sitting. He was told 3 of the 5 public gallery places are still being held for these mysterious no-show “VIPs”, meaning only 2 are currently occupied. Ridiculous. 2/
After last week’s Covid scare, witness testimony has resumed with Eric Lewis testifying this morning. Would love to be able to watch remotely, but @RSF_inter & all other NGOs had their access to the video link revoked last week. Back later - hopefully having gotten into court! 3/
Read 16 tweets
10 Sep
Good morning from Day 4 of Julian Assange’s US extradition hearing at the Old Bailey! Will share today’s updates on this thread.

#FreeAssange 1/
Waiting outside the public gallery entrance with activists @deepa_driver and Moritz Müller, who have been queuing since the early hours to gain access. So grateful for @rubio49158845, who kindly gave me his seat again 🙏 2/ Image
We *should* be getting in this morning, but have been told the public won’t be admitted until 11:30 - we’re not sure why. Only three of us will be allowed into the public gallery, which means they’re still saving spaces for the mysterious “VIPs” who have still yet to show up. 3/
Read 11 tweets
8 Sep
Some observations on Julian Assange’s extradition hearing so far, after a very hectic start (and a very long day!) yesterday.

Thread👇

#FreeAssange 1/
Yesterday morning, @StellaMoris1, @cmihr and I attempted to deliver @RSF_inter’s petition with more than 80,000 signatures calling on the UK authorities not to extradite Julian Assange. @10DowningStreet refused to accept it. 2/
Instead we brought our banner with the 80,000 signatures to the Old Bailey court, where we also addressed the @DEAcampaign protest. We reiterated our call for Julian Assange to be released, for the charges against him to be dropped, and for him not to be extradited to the US. 3/
Read 11 tweets
14 Aug
As I’m on leave, my colleague @katifallon_ tried to attend this morning’s hearing in Julian Assange’s case for @RSF_inter. However, only 4 people were allowed into the public gallery, so she (6th in line) was turned away. I’m now attempting to monitor on the phone. #FreeAssange
It seems only five journalists were allowed into the courtroom. The rest of us (press + NGO observers) are stuck on the conference call system that has proven completely unfit for purpose since lockdown began. https://t.co/YpZL7QgqJN
Good recap of this morning’s issues with the Assange hearing. Would be almost comical if it didn’t have such worrying implications for due process and open justice.
Read 6 tweets

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