Richard Medhurst Profile picture
Sep 15, 2020 57 tweets 17 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Day 6 of the #Assange extradition hearing begins.

I will be posting live updates in the thread below:
Eric Lewis of @reprieve returns to continue his testimony after court was adjourned due to technical difficulties.
Regarding Babar Ahmad, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg rejected his appeal in 2012, allowing him to be extradited from UK to US.

Prosecution is using this to say that solitary confinement would not pose a grave threat to Julian and shouldn't impede extradition.
Lewis: #Assange will most likely be sent away to ADX Florence, a federal super-max described as "much worse than death" by former warden Robert Hood.

Prosecution says they don't know where Assange will go; Lewis does not share their sentiment

Prosecution claims ADX Florence has improved in terms of mental health facilities and treatment, citing the Cunningham v. Federal Bureau of Prisons settlement from 2016.

Lewis: improved in some ways, gotten worse in others…
Lewis: prison system hasn't done enough to protect detainees from risks of COVID

Prosecution: have you visited any prisons since pandemic began?

Lewis: no but I have latest stats: 12% of all prisoners in US have COVID

Pros gets pissy, alleges Lewis is giving incomplete picture
Lewis: #Assange may face 175 years in prison

Prosecution: that's just a soundbite from the defense team

Lewis: no, I can explain why

Prosecution: no need

Defense asks judge for Lewis to be allowed to answer question.
Prosecution alleges it's not likely that #Assange will receive the max sentence, citing AUSA Kromberg and Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

(Are people supposed to be delighted about these prospects? Even 1/4 of that is still 44 years in jail, akin to a life sentence)
Lewis indicates Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Prosecution, in response brings up case of Jeffrey Sterling who faced 130 years in prison for leaking classified docs but was ultimately handed a sentence of just 42 months.
(Since they were talking about Babar Ahmad earlier, wouldn't it be smart if the defense or Lewis brought up the fact Ahmad only served 12 months in the US after Judge "credited" him for time already held in jail? #Assange has been in confined for years in embassy + Belmarsh)
Prosecution brings up another example of Terry Albury only receiving 49 months in prison.
All the above would be great .... except for the fact that Julian Assange

1) Is not American
2) Does not work for the US government
3) Did not commit a fucking crime
Prosecution alleges that sentencing handed out to US gov officials who leaked classified info was "lenient".

Something tells me that a transatlantic kidnapping mission and threatening a journo who is not American and does not work for US with 175 years is not exactly lenient.
They're on recess. I swear this kangaroo court is such an abomination.
On the issue of the First Amendment, prosecution asks Lewis if constitution supersedes all else, Lewis answers yes: no publisher has ever been prosecuted for publishing classified docs.
Prosecution to Lewis: in USA vs Steven Rosen, judge concluded Espionage Act was not "unconstitutionally vague" even though charges dropped.

(I think that might have more to do with the fact they were spying for AIPAC and israel gets away with murder– literally).
Prosecution and Lewis going back on forth on whether First Amendment comes before national security interests. Prosecution asserts the two must be balanced i.e. in some cases nat sec > free speech.
Seems the prosecution can't make their mind up half the time whether Julian #Assange is a journalist, whether he has first amendment rights or whether he is both a journalist and has first amendment rights, but it doesn't matter because allegedly national security comes first.
Lewis responds to the prosecution that the Pentagon Papers was the landmark 'balancing act' between first amendment and national security interests.
Prosecution argues that third parties who help a source access and leak classified info aren't protected and that the Supreme Court has never precluded itself from prosecuting journalists.
Prosecution asking Lewis what makes him an authority on political science and if he's ever published any peer reviewed articles. (What does this have to do with #Assange? lol).
Referring to Mark Feldstein's testimony from Day 1, prosecution asks Lewis: do you agree with Feldstein that the Obama never made a decision to prosecute (as opposed to "made a calculated decision not to prosecute".

Lewis: no

Lewis asserts this comes down to a misunderstanding of how the DOJ and prosecution works.

Prosecution implicitly tries to discredit Lewis by asking him if he has direct knowledge of what went on in the Obama administration or conversations with federal prosecutors.
Lewis asserts that it is a top-down bureaucracy and decision to prosecute is directed to them.

Prosecution to Lewis: are DOJ and AUSAs acting in bad faith and not following guidelines?

Lewis: Jeff Sessions essentially pressured EDVA to bring the case against Assange
Translation of the above: it's a political witch hunt, prosecutors were specifically directed to go after Assange.
Prosecution to Lewis: "conjecture"

Lewis points to Trump's ever-changing views on WikiLeaks, underscoring political nature of the prosecution (nothing based on new evidence).
Prosecution finishes cross-examining Lewis.

Fitzgerald of the defense rises to question Lewis.

Fitzgerald asks Lewis about Obama's decision not to prosecute #Assange.

Lewis believes that the Obama decision took a specific decision not to prosecute Assange, as opposed to passively not prosecuting him. This is underscored in a WaPo article, 2013.

Lewis cites a statement from DOJ Spokesman Matthew Miller (from the same article): "The problem the department has always had in investigating Julian #Assange is there is no way to prosecute him for publishing information without the same theory being applied to journalists,”
Lewis asserts that it is only under Trump's direction that the DOJ decided to go after #Assange (once again, making the matter political).

Lewis: Trump has openly stated he can do whatever he wants with the Justice Department
Lewis: this opinion was also expressed by Attorney General Barr who views the DOJ (and subsequently AUSAs) as instruments of the president, not independent.

Lewis cites political influence by president on Roger Stone case, firing of George Berman, etc
Lewis: nothing at all has changed since 2011 in regards to #Assange and @wikileaks. No new witnesses, evidence or testimony – only explanation is the change of leadership in DC.
Jeffrey Sterling @S_UnwantedSpy CIA whistle blower's response to the prosecution citing his "light" sentencing as some kind of farcical example of "leniency".

Fitzgerald: if someone is placed under Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) this is akin to being placed in solitary confinement?

Lewis: Yes

This is outlined underneath by the Mandela Rules (Source: UNODC) #Assange #AssangeCase
Lewis asserts that if extradited to the US #Assange could face up to three years alone just in pre-trial detention, similar to Lewis' former client Abu Khattala.
Lewis also goes on to say that the vast majority of prisoners diagnosed with mental health issues receive no treatment whatsoever under SAMs and the prosecution is lying about accommodations being made.
Court resumes from lunch break.

The defense continue their cross-examination of expert witness Eric Lewis.

Lewis: real risk of #Assange receiving 175 years in prison without being convicted on all counts because courts can play with the sentencing guidelines.
Lewis' testimony is over.
The next expert witness to testify in the #Assange hearing is Thomas Durkin. He is a criminal defense attorney, has practiced law for nearly half a century and teaches National Security Law at the Loyala University Chicago
Durkin illustrates the difficulties when dealing with cases involving national security. Attorneys can be prevented in some cases from even discussing material with their own clients due to classified nature of materials and evidence.
Durkin confirms that it is "very likely" #Assange would be convicted of several counts and served a sentence of maybe 30-40 years– effectively a life sentence at his age (49).
Durkin refers to Chelsea Manning's @xychelsea trial. She was handed a 35 year sentence and Assange is likely to get even more than that, as US gov considers him to be a substantially greater threat. (Even though he's a publisher, not source).
Durkin raises a crucial point: a US court will very likely take conduct into account when sentencing, ("aggravation") leading to harsher sentence.

Conduct refers to the new allegations (not charges!) DOJ added to indictment, accusing #Assange of working with hackers, etc.
On Day 1 of the #Assange hearing resuming last week, Judge Baraitser refused to throw out the conduct without further consideration.

Keep in mind, US submitted indictment past deadline and Julian was only given new warrant to look at the day of hearing.

Durkin raises another important point, #Assange could be coerced and bullied by the US government into pleading guilty in exchange for leniency (due to astronomical emotional, financial toll of going to trial).
Responding to Fitzgerald of the defense, Durkin asserts that the defendant could indeed by coerced by US government into revealing sources and other critical information in order to receive leniency, in context of a plea deal.
Durkin in so many words agrees the prosecution against #Assange is essentially a political witch hunt by Trump regime.
Fitzgerald: can a grand jury act as a safeguard against ill-intent of a politically motivated prosecutor?

Durkin: not really, unheard of grand jury not to return an indictment and there is no appeal system.
Prosecution will now cross-examine Durkin
James Lewis QC asks Durkin if he thinks #Assange will flat out be denied a fair trial if extradited to the US, or that it would be difficult to obtain one?

Durkin: he will not get what I believe to be a fair trial
Lewis tries to paint the inability to view classified info a simple "inconvenience".

Durkin: it's not just an inconvenience. Attorney is not allowed to even discuss it with the defendant. I don't think AUSA Kromberg would declassify anything or provide access to #Assange
UK Foreign Minister tweets about standing with those who tell the truth while Assange is literally twenty mins away from White Hall being tried in a kangaroo court for journalism. You can't make this up.

Durkin adds that pre-trial preparations would be made considerably difficult given the fact there is a lot of classified information involved in the case, #Assange would be detained, and would be very costly.
Durkin's opinion is that Obama and Holder specifically declined to prosecute Assange. Trump only reopened the issue and pursued an indictment for political reasons. #Assange wasn't indicted by grand jury but rather by DOJ.
Defense goes back to cross-examining Durkin. Fitzgerald brings up 2013 WaPo article and DOJ statement not to go after Assange because it would've meant going after other journos too.

Durkin says leaks at the time are reliable. If they wanted to get #Assange they would've
Durkin finishes testimony and court is adjourned for today. Will resume tomorrow at 10am local time.

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