#JulianAssange hearings Part 2 - Day 9 (Thread)

Court to sit at 10:00 am.

Next 2 defence witnesses due to be called:

1) TBC (morning)
2) Carey Shenkmam (lawyer spec. in human rights & constitutional law, afternoon)

via @SputnikInt
John Pilger, John Shipton and Fidel Narvaez arrive at the Old Bailey.
Nicolas Hager, journalist, has just been sworn in via video link.
“I see my role essentially as essentially a user – from a faraway country – of the data that was released” says investigative journo Nicolas Hager. His work includes the book “Secret Power: New Zealand's Role in the International Spy Network” & “Other People’s Wars”.
“There are some subjects which are so secret in their content that he cannot work on them to an adequate standard for the public unless we have confidential sources”, Nicolas Hager.
“There is simply no realistic and effective alternative”, Mr Hager says, in order to hold people to account and aid democratic decision making.
Mr Hager says he “regularly receives leaked materials” and in the case of the war logs and diplomatic cables … “it was exactly the sort of information” that citizens need, “to know what their governments are doing”.
As Mr Hager was describing the relvance of the Collateral Murder video to his work but my video link kept freezing so I had to disconnect and reconnect.
WikiLeaks' process including vetting the docs to protect people from harm included a “deliberately slowed down processes” that including major media partners and people who has experience such as him that was a “thoroughly” careful and diligent process, says Mr Hager
“They were very serious about what they were doing” and his “main memory of the time” was people “working hour after hour in silence”, he added.
Mr Hager says he has "become tired of the news coverage" of Mr Assange. "The person I got to know is completely different... from what others were getting from the news media", he says, adding that "a very principled" man "who has devoted himself to try
and make the world a better place", in the particular context of declining freedom after the September 11 attacks, Mr Hager says.

James Lewis QC: Asking the witness why he has mentioned the "Collateral Murder" video since Mr Assange isn't being charged for publishing that document.

Q. Have you ever paid a government official to steal government secrets?
A. No.

Q. Have you ever conspired with a government official to hack a government system?
A. It depends what you mean by that actually…
Q. Have you ever helped a government official crack a password so you can hide their tracks?

A. No, but we are getting closer to things where I would start saying yes.
A. You might imagine that investigative journalists protects themselves from criticisms of breaking the law by only receiving information passively… that is not the way that it works. It is a regularly business of me and my colleagues around the world as...
...we fulling our role in society… we go out & find our sources we encourage our sources to [give us more info] they are not anonymous people who drop us information into clean into our hands. We have to tell them how to look after themselves most of the are breaking the law.
James Lewis QC is now asking Mr Hager about the publication of documents which jeopordise the lives of informants. He has read the joint statement of the letter put out by The Guardian and others.
Mr Hager says that he's understanding that WikiLeaks did not release said info until it was published by another outlet [eg Cryptome]. Mr Lewis says they disagree with that statement and argue that WikiLeaks published over 100,000 docs before the Cryptome release...
... Mr Hager says he doesn't want to give an answer to a hypothetical question where the facts are disputed. Mr Lewis says "fair enough".
Mr Lewis is once again reading the passage from David Leigh and Luke Harding's book in which it is alleged that Mr Assange reflected a flippant/unconcerned attitude towards informants during a conversation.
“They’re informants he said. So, if they get killed, they’ve got it coming to them”. Mr Fitzgerald QC interjects noting that those conversations are in dispute. Mr Hager says
"there was great animosity between David Leigh & Julian Assange at the time"...
... "so I don’t want to dignify such loaded hearsay" he says.

Q. Are you trying to help the court or are you just trying to help Assange Mr Hager?
A. "If I think a source is really potentially reliable it doesn’t make sense to make judgement about it...", he responds
Mr Lewis reads from Mr Assange's statements made at the Frontline Club regarding the 'regrettable' possibility of sources being harmed under certain circumstances and asks whether Mr Hager says he agrees with the sentiment. He said he does not.
Mr Lewis asks whether Mr Hager's book required the identification of government informants. Mr Hager responded in the negative. Mr Lewis confirms that Mr Hager wrote his book "withought needing to name sources" and Mr Hager replies "Yes".
In his Witness Statement Mr Hager says:

"While I was there, Wikileaks asked the same of me: to read the cables from New Zealand & Australia, & to identify any that should not be released for reasons such as personal safety of named people....
... I found the Wikileaks staff to be engaged in a careful and responsible process."
Mr Lewis is now reading from the summary of the report which came out because of the allegations of his book "Hit and Run" hitandrunnz.com/home/ and says that the allegations in his book "were rejected" by a public inquiry.
... The part quoted by Mr Lewis "was a minor footnote" in the book and "most of the main findings" were confirmed by the book says Mr Hager.
Mr Hager says that We alleged that there were civilian casualties including the death of a child, false reports given to ministers, torture and lack of action, and all this was confirmed by the public inquiry he says.
After a few more questions the Cross-examination is over. Defence is now re-examining.
Ed Fitzgerald QC asks Mr Hager if he understands that Mr Assange is also being charged w/ obtaining & receving Guantanamo Bay materials, the ROG & the Afghanistan/Iraq War Diaries. Hager says yes, which is why he was "confused" by apparent claims by Mr Lewis to the contrary.
“I believed the WikiLeaks people when they invited me into a process of great care and protection and trying to redact and avoid any damage to any people" Mr Hager
"My personal opinion is that I don’t believe that Julian Assange and the others somehow changed their minds and don’t care anymore”, Mr Hager.
“The efforts that Julian Assange led starting in November 2010 allowed the process which the State Dept & the US military and others engaged with” allowing them to contact vulnerable sources & take precautions to protect themselves for 9 months before the docs were released.
Mr Fitzgerald QC asks about alleged stmnts made by Mr Assange at Frontline Club and whether Mr Hager agrees that people should be able to protect themselves from "unjust retribution" Mr Hager agrees. Fitz asks about outing "agent provocateurs" & he says that's highly contested.
The relevance of the Rules of Engagment [and one of the charges relate to receipt of ROG] is it permits the public to see whether
a) they are being followed and
b) whether they are "adequeate" and in line with the laws of war, Mr Hager says.
Re-examination is close to being completed. The court has taken a 5 minute break, possibly for counsel to consult the Defendant.
"It appears that Khalid El-Masri will be giving evidence to court. It will be limited to what is relevant to the court. The court rests for 30 minutes while the interpreter gets there.

via @jlpassarelli
Outside the Old Bailey Kristinn Hrafnsson and Craig Murray speak before CIA kidnapping and torture victim Khaled El-Masri is due to speak via video link.
"I was severely humiliated and mortified. But I don't want to talk about details; it is too difficult for me", Khaled El-Masri speaking about his rendition and torture at the hands of the CIA, in the 2010 documentary Outlawed.
As an interpreter is awaited by Mr El-Masri the statement from someone else is going to be read.
It looks like as statement from Jen Robinson, one of Mr Assange's lawyers is due to be read.
See my prior reporting on this statement in February 2020:

Assange Hearing: Trump Was “Aware” and “Approved” of Pardon Offer, Defence Team Says

Technical issues with trying to secure Khaled El-Masri's statement via video link is problematic. The US government says they don't object to statement being read via phone but Defence do. There is conflict over acceptance of the truthfulness of Mr El-Masri's statement.
BREAKING: Trump 'Approved' of Pardon Offer to Assange in Exchange for Source of DNC Leaks, Jen Robinson Says

My summary of Jen Robinson's statement made 30 minutes ago

Mr Assange can be heard to say he "will not accept that" after a decision has been made to edit Mr Khaled El-Masri's statement which the US prosecutors say "they have no instructions to accept" the truthfulness of the statement (see tweets above for the video clip with El-Masri).
It seems now that the interpreter for Mr El-Masri has been dismissed and now Mark Summers QC is giving a brief background to Mr El-Masri's statement.
He was held "incommunicado, illtreated and kept against his will", Mark Summers QC says. Court has just adjourned for 10 minutes so Mr Summers can "take instructions".
Mr El-Masris statment notes that he was kidnapped, "beaten" hooded" &"sodomised", transported to multiple locations including Afghanistan where he was force fed through a tube when he went on hunger strike, the whole experience last approx 5 months...
... before he was released at night via a van in a mountain road where he was told to march forward and he thought he was going to be shot in the back. He came across Albanian police who inquired why he was in the country w/o papers.
Mr El-Masri was ultimately repatriated, reunited with his wife and children who thought he was dead and has sought justice ever since. He has been threatened, smeared and discredited with attempts to silence him.
There was difficulty in gaining support and silence from those who could have corroborated his story. Ultimately, the assistance of investigative journo Mr Goetz was able to discover the IDs of CIA rendition team, Mark Summers QC explains
Following further summarisation of the WS of Mr Khaled El-Masri by Summers (see defend.wikileaks.org/wp-content/upl…) the court breaks for lunch and Mr Shenkman from yesterday is due to finish being cross-examined by the prosecution at 2pm. Will rush to court to see if I can get a statement
Re-examination of Mr Shenkman (who testified yesterday afternoon) has begun. Clair Dobbin is asking Mr Shenkman whether there is any case law or statute to preclude prosecuting a publisher under the Espionage Act.
John Rees, of WikiLeaks' @DEAcampaign, explains how US government "went to extraordinary lengths" to ensure Mr El-Masri's testimony wouldn't be heard in court resulting in Mr Assange shouting from the dock opposing the silencing of a torture victim.

via @SputnikInt
There is currently more painful back and forth between US government lawyer and Mr Shenkman as to whether the courts have "left the door open" to prosecution of publishers under the Espionage Act 1917 despite 1st Amendment concerns because relevant comments were in obiter dictum
.@deepa_driver, university lecturer & observer for Haldane Society, says it was “very interesting” to hear Mr Hagal’s statements about “normal practice” for investigative journalism & how aid & reconstruction efforts were being used for psyops on behalf of the US.

Deepa Driver also notes that Mr Nicolas Hager explained today that investigative journalists don't simply "passively receive information" they actively "work to find sources, to develop those sources to protect those sources".

via @SputnikInt
Ms Dobbin is questioning defence expert Mr Shenkman whether the Espionage Act permits the prosecution of people beyond traditional espionage. Mr Shenkman has said it has clearly been used against whistelbowers too.
He notes that the intent of the legislators is a "very, very sticky" issue and that it was never intended to be used against publications and there was an original draft of the Espionage Act (that was rejected) which would have permitted prosecution of publishers.
After further back and forth between the prosecution and the defence expert on the first amendment and criminal liability over assisting in obtaining/publication of classified documents the cross-examination of Mr Shenkman now appears to be over.
Summary of Dean Yates' statement is being read out by Ed Fitzgerald QC. Yates is an ex-bureau chief and senior editor with Reuters. He describes the experience of discovering that two of his colleagues were killed.
There is no questions that coalition forces were engaged in combat with a hostile force the US stated at the time, US military forces said at the time.
The Judge is saying that “it is of no relevance in this case”, Ed Fitzgerald QC explains it matters in relation to the WikiLeaks publications (of the video and of the Rules of Engagement).

"It's about what it reveals about the truth of what happened", Fitzgerald QC
"I immediately realised that the US Military had lied to us. When I think back to that meeting with thetwo generals in Baghdad, I feel cheated, they were not being honest...
.... I have wondered for many years how much of that meeting was choreographed so we would go away with a certain impression of what happened. The day-after Collateral Murder was released, a spokesman for US Central Command said an investigation of the incident...
... shortly after it occurred found that US forces were not aware of the presence of the news staffers and thought they were engaging armed insurgents." Fitzgerald QC reads from the statement of Dean Yates
"I found it impossible to grapple with the moral injury - I had in my mind unfairly blamed Namir for the ·Crazy Horse 1-8 attack. 1·was devastated at having failed to protect my staff by uncovering the Rules of Engagement in the US military before they were shot -...
...and for not disclosing earlier my understanding of the extent to which the US had lied. I was profoundly affected" Dean Yates.

Prosecution says there is no objection to this statement. That should not be taken that we accept this evidence"
**Court adjourned after a brief discussion about availability of court transcripts for the public. **
Outside of the Old Bailey artist @DanielFooksArt says he considers the prosecution of #JulianAssange to be "the case" within the context of what he sees as a "descent into fascism" and is disappointed at the "lack of support" from the "wider Left".
.@MartySilkHack You really are missed. I find myself mentioning you at least once a day during these hearings. I hope things are well with you down under.

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1 Oct
#JulianAssange extradition hearings Part 2 - Day 18 (Thread)

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via @SputnikInt

(Like the last two days I shall be attending today's hearings from inside the Old Bailey via the press annex. This case may end up finishing one day earlier than scheduled)
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via @SputnikInt

(Now that I am on the court list I shall be attending via the press annex, though I'll still be watching via video link :)
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#JulianAssange extradition hearings Part 2 - Day 16 (Thread)

Court is commencing now at 10:00 BST

via @SputnikInt

(Today I have entered court to see if the experience in the press annex is any different from viewing via video link.)
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#JulianAssange extradition hearings Part 2 - Day 15 (Thread)

Court is commencing now at 10:00 BST

(Witness Yancey Ellis' video connection is being sorted out)

via @SputnikInt
The judge has arrived. The first thing to be dealt with will be an application from the Press Association for disclosure of each of the medical reports submitted to the court by the parties.
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The judge is now rendering her decision.
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#JulianAssange extradition hearings Part 2 - Day 14 (Thread)

Court is due to sit at 10:00 BST

(Another chilly Friday morning)

via @SputnikInt
John Shipton and Stella Morris' Mum arrive at the Old Bailey.
Craig Murray arrives not too soon thereafter.
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24 Sep
#JulianAssange extradition hearings Part 2 - Day 13 (Thread)

Court is due to sit at 12:00 BST

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via @SputnikInt
Joseph Farrell, WikiLeaks ambassador, arrives at the Old Bailey.
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