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Sep 9, 2020 70 tweets 21 min read Read on X
We're back in court for Day 3 of the #JulianAssange extradition hearings. Our tweets will be available on this thread. Tune in to #CNLive! at 5pm BST for Joe Lauria @unjoe's daily report at the close of session.

Judge Baraitser has entered the court and the first witness, Professor Paul Rogers, is being sworn in. He is a prof of Peace Studies at Bradford University and a widely published writer.
Prof Rogers specialises int. politics and int. security. He will talk abt #Assange's political views, which he says place him as a political opponent of his accusers.
Rogers: Speaking about false information being disseminated about the war in Afghanistan. @wikileaks revelations cut through this misinformation. Similar story with Iraq War, revealing that things were not going well at all. WL also revealed many 1000s of civilian casualties.
The @wikileaks "archive". as delivered by @xychelsea, has been used a lot in international relations and by war scholars.
Rogers: When #Assange called for action at UN speech, he pointed at a systemic problem within the context of war, not at the US as an enemy.
Rogers: At the centre of #Assange's politics is his belief there should be more concern for human rights, more transparency & more accountability & justice. He is coming from a libertarian, anti-war stance. These views clash deeply w/ the @realDonaldTrump administration.
Rogers: There was an 8 year gap before these indictments came forth. The evidence supports a politically motivated attack from the @realDonaldTrump admin, which is atypical of many US & EU administrations.
Rogers: The perception of #Assange as a threat is very much related to the personality of @realDonaldTrump.
Rogers: #Assange strongly relates transparency to the better functioning of a democracy. A political opinion is sufficient to ask for political asylum [so the exception of no extradition for political reasons is just?].
Rogers: So much of this case relates to politics. The Trump political landscape is quite different from Obama's. Obama's decided not to prosecute #Assange due to First Amendment concerns. Trump sees the press as an enemy.
Rogers now being cross-examined by prosecutor James Lewis, who asked him: "What is a political opinion?". Lewis gets cross when he doesn't get a short answer.
Lewis reads dictionary definition of political opinion. Rogers agrees but explains how the concept has changed over the last 50 years. Lewis asks: "Is a journalist someone who expresses political opinions?" Rogers: "Not necessarily".
But most media outlets tend to hold opinions.
Rogers: Political opinions can be expressed by omission of information. Mr #Assange presses transparency & accountability more than the norm, but he doesn't believe no info should be withheld.
Lewis desperately trying to lead the witness with complex questions, but Rogers keeps saying: "Not necessarily, there is no simple yes or no answer".
Lewis: Assange said that the lead up to WW2 & invasion of Poland was a series of carefully constructed lies. What political opinion does that express?

Rogers: That express an opinion about certain journalistic practices
Lewis is quoting Rogers speaking about #Assange's arbitrary detention. Asks: Didn't the UNWGAD come to their decision because of their opinion that they wanted him released?

Rogers: That has nothing to do w/ political opinion. I can't see why you're equating them.
Rogers: Assange believes that leaks are symptomatic of autocratic states. Autocracy brings about its own downfall. Lewis says he doesn't understand. Rogers offers him more help in understand #Assange's position.
Lewis: You understand as an expert witness for this court you are required to be unbiased?

Rogers: Yes

Lewis asks about declarations of US District Attorney Gordon Kromberg. Why are they absent from your testimony?

Rogers: I am required to speak within my area of expertise.
Rogers: I take it as read there are other opinions, but my role is to speak of the wider political context. I am fully aware of DA Kromberg's declarations & willing to discuss them now.

Lewis speaks of probable cause behind Grand Jury's decision that there was a criminal case
Lewis: Why didn't you consider that this case was NOT political but criminal? Have you seen the evidence?

Rogers: Not the evidence the US is reserving for its case, but then who has?

Lewis: If (hypothetically) it is overwhelmingly strong, how can you say it's purely political?
Rogers to Lewis: You are asking hypotheticals it is impossible to answer. No one from the public has access to this information. What I can speak w/ certainty about, as a political scientist, is the changing political landscape in the US.
Lewis getting frustrated. Rogers steady as a rock.
Rogers: 8 year have gone by. Why are these charges being brought forth now?

Re Grand Jury, he assumes members will act with integrity

Lewis points out GJ must ignore the politics of a person they are investigating

Rogers: Accepted, but decision to prosecute is at higher level
Rogers: #Assange's is not a cold case where new evidence has emerged.
Lewis: Tell us why #Assange is being prosecuted.
Rogers: Those doing it believe he broke US law.
Lewis: Was he being prosecuted for publishing 'Collateral Murder'?
Rogers: I doubt it was that specific.
Lewis: It was very specific. It was about breaching US systems & publishing..
Lewis (cont) classified information. The charges against Mr Assange are restricted to publishing info that contained informant's names.

Rogers: I understand that is what the prosecution is claiming

Lewis: That IS the case against him (Lewis getting worn down).

Taking a break.
Court resumes.

Lewis asks if Rogers thinks prosecutors acting in bad faith

Rogers: Yes, probably not at that level

Lewis: You think the problem is at a higher level.

Rogers: Yes, and I could explain why if you give the time

Let's look at Kromberg's statements...
Lewis (reading from @washingtonpost)
Official decisions have not been made but investigation remains ongoing...

Rogers: That is the view of Wapo, but we need to talk about what happened before...

Lewis: OK, but 1st I want to rebut yr argument
Lewis: @khrafnsson stated that WL skeptical that DoJ will not prosecute. Does that support the idea that Obama admin decide not to prosecute?

Rogers: This doesn't mean that member of WL knew what was going to happen.
Lewis: How could #Assange be prosecuted if not available for trial? [Since under protection of Ecuador as political asylee]. WL lawyers were not notified there would be no prosecution.

Rogers: That's what WL lawyers would say. Obama did not decide to prosecute. That changed.
Lewis: WL said: "If Obama grants Manning clemency Assange will agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ case". Does it sound like a decision not to prosecute?

Rogers: There was much uncertainty but Obama did not prosecute. No new evidence 4 Trump admin
Lewis: Tell us why it would be a politically motivated prosecution when #Assange said to have helped @realDonaldTrump?
Rogers: Hidden illegitimacy in relation to his presidency? Maybe appealing that he was seen to go after a perceived public enemy
Lewis: Nonsense, bias
Rogers: No
Cross-exam of Rogers concluded.

Edward Fitzgerald: Whose lies led to the invasion of Poland?
Rogers: Hitler's lie
EF: is the notion that wars are facilitated by lies a political opinion
Rogers: Yes

Baraitser objects & asks EF to ask open questions
Rogers: Obama initially wanted to end both wars - in Afghanistan & Iraq.By 2013 Obama knew both wars couldn't be won. The WL releases influenced the decision not to prosecute.
EF (reading further from @washingtonpost) states that there were mixed reports but it seem Obama admin were on the point of saying there would be no prosecution.

Paul Rogers: Agreed
EF: @washingtonpost says prosecutor James Trump did not want to prosecute because of 1st Amendment concerns.

PR: It seems there were significant differences of opinion at the DoJ. Not necessarily political. The political decision came later from @Trump admin.
EF: You've read Mr Lewis's statement says:
Assange not prosecuted in 2010. He was charged after @xychelsea sentence was commuted.

PF: That could have influenced subsequent admin to act in reaction to that. They could not reverse @xychelsea decision, but could go after #Assange
PF There was a view that this was a necessary step for the Trump admin.

EF: 4 months after William Barr appointed, charges ramped up against #Assange, against advise of many in legal community.
Does this suggest political pressure?

PF: (Long answer) Probably yes.
Court is back. Witness Trevor Timm, executive director of Freedom of the Press Foundation is signed in. He will speak of NatSec reporting. Enters citing the Pentagon Papers.
Witness TT is reading the words of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Max Frankel.
Speaking of USG aborted attempt to prosecute Neil Sheehan under the Espionage Act in relation to publishing Pentagon Papers.
Asked to comment on relationship between whistleblower (@xychelsea) and journalist (#JulianAssange) as defined by Espionage Act, whereby if the 1st a criminal, the 2nd is by association.

TT says this would exclude all NatSec reporting.
Witness TT: All media outlets in the US have condemned this case against #Assange. It is seen as a clear and present danger to press freedom.
Defence reading from TT's witness statement. Criminalisation of journalistic practices is untenable. TT adds, Woodward & Bernstein could have been charged from obtaining information from Deep Throat.
Mark Summers (defence). let's talk about the notion of criminal complicity in facilitating whistleblowers.

TT Soliciting information is a common practice. We & many major media outlets use Secure Dropbox to ensure anonymity. The message to whistleblowers is "Leak to us" [safely]
TT included exhibits from other journalists, soliciting information and pointing to Secure Dropbox. Many news orgs, such as Gizmodo advertise to whistleblowers, inviting them to leak.
TT advises whistleblowers that their content is protected speech under the 1st Amendment. Moving on to @wikileaks 'Most Wanted List'. TT enlightens court that this was a collaborative document that anyone could author, not just Wikileaks.
TT Leaking info is a firmly entrenched right of anyone in the US. Talking about the Torture Report, TT says it violated int. & domestic law but no one prosecuted. The criminals were hiding behind a most likely Top Secret classification.
Defence citing various documents TT published, inviting people of conscience to leak [classified] evidence of crime.

TT This indictment of #Assange is unconstitutional. If it went forward, it would criminalise other media organisations.
Lewis (prosecution). Asks Timm if he is aware of English law & his obligations to the court.

TT Yes

JL Are you unbiased?
TT Yes

JL The FPA contributed to #Assange's case?
TT Yes. It threatens our free press in the US
JL How much?
TT $US100K
JL Will it be reimbursed
JL Do you personally feel threatened if this case goes ahead.
TT Everybody should be fearful of this case
JL If it goes ahead, would you be asking leakers for the CIA Report
TT I am not personally asking for the report, but others are.
JL You seem to have a personal interest in the case
TT No. My job is to protect all journalists
JL But this case is based on #Assange not being a journalist
TT Doesn't matter whether one thinks he is or not. He was engaging in journalistic activities & that is everyone's right
JL asks if TT has read Gordon Kromberg's declarations.
TT No, and less than 24 hours is rather short notice
JL Only the last was sent so recently
TT says he is happy to answer questions about the rest.
JL Why did you omit Kromberg's position in your statement? [starts reading GK]
JL insists the government is not targeting journalists. It is just prosecuting #Assange for exposing informants & exposing them to danger. Asks why TT said it a threat to journalist.

TT I base my statement not on the contents of a DoJ press statement but what's in indictment.
TT The indictment clearly criminalises many journalistic practices. This is not only my reading but of many scholars.

JL You forget that there is a hacking charge. The 1st Amendment does not protect when information is not lawfully obtained. Agree?

TT Yes
Mark Summers interjects. Reminds JL that journalists may interact with sources who have unlawfully obtained information.

JL Journalists have been prosecuted when they commit a crime, such as this, to obtain information. Wouldn't involvement w/ hacking fall within this spectrum?
TT Even the government are not alleging that #Assange & Manning conspired to crack a password in order to obtain classified info. It was to maintain her anonymity.

The allegations re violations of the CFAA were only snippets of chat between IDs that were said to be JA & CM
JL Would any responsible journalist reveal names & put lives in danger when they could redact?

TT To reveal names of informants is NOT illegal. Congress debated this around the Shield Act. It didn't pass. Whether names published or not, the activity is still protected under 1A.
Jl reads condemnation of @wikileaks publishing unredacted files. Asks if TT wants to revise his opinion.

TT Absolutely not. It's a question of whether it is illegal.
It is possible a judge will declare these charges unconstitutional. This case is unprecedented.
TT 1A is not a balancing act between benefit and harm. 1A allows odious speech. I make no judgement about whether speech is right or wrong.

JL Are you qualified to cite US law.
TT I am a law graduate & was admitted to the US State bar. I decided to write about the law for others
TT talking about how many times @realDonaldTrump has sued journalists. Said one time he did it just to punish the journalist. Didn't even know what he'd written. Trump had had the most hostile attitude to the press since Nixon. This case is perfect opportunity to indict a journo
Jl You spoke about a War on Journalism by Trump. Cites Kromberg again: The Grand Jury did not charge #Assange for lawful journalistic activities... Asks why as an unbiased expert didn't cite GK affidavit.

TT It's inaccurate. 793 (c) equally criminalises passive receipt of info.
TT informs the court that the GJ almost always returns an indictment. Also, POTUS is hostile to journalists of all stripes.
Mark Summers informs the court that Lewis's hour is up. Lewis objects to only having an hour. Wasn't aware of this, but finished.

Re-examination starts.
Mark Summers asks for TT to cite his legal qualifications.
Ask what he thinks about Kromberg's claim #Assange not a journalist
MS: Lists Kromberg's reasons for saying #Assange not a journalist.

On the claim of soliciting info, TT says it is a normal news gathering practice. Even if the journo know the info was obtained illegally, publishing is not illegal. #Assange not accused of anything illegal.
On the subject of stealing document, USG is not saying #Assange stole documents, or that he helped @xychelsea steal classified information - only to remain anonymous.

Lewis interjects. Kromberg says the purpose of cracking the password was to obtain & transmit classified docs.
MS Journalists often protect sources' anonymity. Is protecting a sources' anonymity permitted under 1A?
TT The rules vary across jurisdictions but some journalist go to jail to protect sources.

It would be a radical re-write to 1A if this case were to go forward.
MS Prosecutor Lewis claims that the indictment only relates to some of the documents, the ones that contain names. Do you agree?

TT It relates to all the documents in my reading of the indictment. One charge is just about receiving info. It criminalises even passive receipt.
Trevor Timm's powerful testimony is finished. Defence, prosecution and judge are bickering over allocated time for questioning witnesses.
Session end for the day. Tomorrow's witness is Eric Lewis.

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More from @Consortiumnews

Feb 21
Our live updates from the #Assange courtroom at the Royal Courts of Justice, Day 2 afternoon session, will be on this thread. Image
Court in session. Now we can hear the prosecution but not the judges.
Prosecution is refuting Ground 4 and Ground 6 of the defence's appeal. Focusing on the Fair Trial issue.

There is an argument of Speciality or nothing. The claim is the applicant is at risk of being punished for conduct he has not been charged with. That is Specialty and it is being forced into Art. 6
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Feb 21
Our live updates from the #Assange courtroom on Day 2, morning session, will be on this thread. Image
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Feb 20
Our live updates from the #Assange Renewal Appeal courtroom - Day 1 afternoon session - will be on this thread. Image
@unjoe @CathyVoganSPK Court in session again.
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Continuing with prior cases in the US relating to this case. Prior publishers of many source names only had passport confiscated. Daniel Ellsberg, a state employee, was not prosecuted.
Read 38 tweets
Feb 20
Consortium News hopes to be live tweeting from the #Assange court room on this thread, but we have NOT received our video links as yet - neither @unjoe nor @CathyVoganSPK (who had intended to connect via remote access).

If the links do not arrive they will both be in the court room and will endeavour to report from there.Image
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@unjoe @CathyVoganSPK We have received the remote access link and are now connected to the #Assange courtroom.
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Nov 13, 2023
DAY 2 David McBride trial @MurdochCadell
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We are inside courtroom 7 at the Supreme Court in Canberra where the case against whistleblower David McBride is about to begin. #DavidMcBride

Tweets will be on this thread. Image
David McBride will be defended by Stephen Odges, Emmanuel Kerkysharian and Paul d'Assumpcao.
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