Richard Medhurst Profile picture
Sep 18, 2020 55 tweets 19 min read Read on X
Day 9 of the #Assange extradition hearing begins.

Live updates in this thread:
First witness of the day is investigative journalist Nicolas Hager.
Hager underlines the importance of confidential sources. Being an investigative journalist and dealing with topics that are of a classified/sensitive nature there's no way around it without them. Governments will always claim that they "harm" nat sec.
#Assange and @wikileaks cables were essential for his work and breaking down NZ's role in Afghanistan war and War on Terror.
Hager likens the impact of the Collateral Murder video to George Floyd. Says the video had a significant impact on public, putting civilian casualties in the spotlight.
Hager, much like Goetz and Sloboda, reaffirms that there was an exhaustive redaction process under #Assange and @wikileaks and great level of dedication to the work
James Lewis QC of the prosecution rises to examine Hager.
Lewis asks Hager what he thinks #Assange is being charged with. Hager says it's a mishmash of things
Lewis asks why he refers to Collateral Murder video since #Assange isn't being charged for that (prosecution pretending this isn't about covering up war crimes)

Hager says the slew of docs Assange & @wikileaks put out were all significant, can't carve it up into separate parts
Prosecution to Hager: have you ever cracked a password or solicited gov secrets? You've only received information passively, correct?

Hager: that's not how journalism works. You encourage your sources to obtain info for you and often end up dealing with people who break the law.
Prosecution: you wouldn't intentionally publish something that would put someone in harm's way, would you?

Hager: no

Hager tries to elaborate on his answer but prosecution cuts him off and insists that he's already answered question.
Prosecution refers to joint statement by The Guardian, Le Monde, Spiegel from 2011 condemning @wikileaks for publishing unredacted cables.

(Again, ironic considering a Guardian journalist, David Leigh, published the pw to docs in his book months prior)

theguardian.com/media/2011/sep…
Prosecution refers to David Leigh's book where he alleges #Assange said: 'These people were collaborators, informants. They deserve to die.'

Hager replies there that was quite a bit of animosity between the two (putting it mildly) and should be taken w/ pinch of salt
Prosecution asks Hager if he was able to write his books without needing to name sources. Hager replies yes.

(This is reminiscent of prosecution cross-examining Daniel Ellsberg @DanielEllsberg and attempting to paint him in contrast to #Assange as "more responsible")
Lewis asks Hager about the amount of cables we went through and what criteria he employed in his redaction process.

Hager replies: a few hundred cables which took a couple of weeks and felt comfortable that they didn't harm anyone.
Lewis finishes cross-examining Hager.

Fitzgerald of the defense rises to re-examine Hager.
Fitzgerald asks Hager if he's aware of what #Assange is being charged with, which includes "obtaining and receiving" cables pertaining to Iraq War Logs, Afghan War Diary, Gitmo...

Hager says he's indeed aware and hence confused why Lewis of the prosecution insists otherwise.
Defense brings up David Leigh's book and the password to @wikileaks docs that he published.

Hager reaffirms that release of said password is what essentially forced @wikileaks hand to publish unredacted docs– not some sudden change of heart or way of doing things.
Hager goes on to say he doesn't consider David Leigh to be a reliable source and would not use anything he writes on WikiLeaks as fact.
Regarding rules of engagement, Hager says this was appended to Collateral Murder video because the two are related. (Apache video shows no one was at risk when they committed massacre); Hager also doubts US gov's claim that publishing rules of engagement endangered anyone.
Hager's testimony ends.
Next witness is Khaled El-Masri, German citizen kidnapped & handed over to be tortured by the CIA in 2003.

Prosecution refused to accept his written statement the other day (US gov won't acknowledge they tortured someone) so he will now appear live.

Some notes while we wait for the witness.

The "rules of engagement" point of contention is absurd. Not only did US clearly violate their own ROG, but regardless – your ROG do not supersede the Hague and Geneva conventions or international laws on war crimes !
Prosecution says they're not after Assange for cables that exposed war crimes yet the indictment makes no distinction between Iraq/Afghan/Gitmo files etc. It also criminalizes basic journalistic practices even passive gathering (read: receiving) of docs.

justice.gov/opa/press-rele…
Assange's lawyer Jennifer Robinson reads a statement to the court.

She affirms that Julian #Assange was visited by Dana Rohrabacher and Charles Johnson. They told Assange that Trump @realDonaldTrump would pardon him if he could dispel allegations that DNC leak came from Russia.
Kevin Gosztola @kgosztola has been locked out of the court proceedings without explanation. @HMCTS purposely locking out journalists just as it does with human rights orgs so people aren't made aware what a farce this #Assange hearing is.
Khaled Al-Masri has a spot of tech issues joining via video link, prompting the court to discuss the purpose of his testimony.

Defense want the judge to accept that @wikileaks' cables show the US government pressuring Germany not to pursue the 13 CIA agents who tortured him.
Judge doesn't accept, but says that she is willing to read cables if defense would like.

The prosecution replies that they will not accept the ruling from the Strasbourg court (European Court of Human Rights) on Masri.

hudoc.echr.coe.int/fre#{%22itemid%22:[%22001-115621%22]}
Julian #Assange interrupts, yelling from the back of the court that he will not accept for the statement of a torture victim to be censored. God bless and protect him.
Warning (graphic detail).

This is just one paragraph on how the CIA tortured Khaled El-Masri. The European Court of Human Right found the CIA had tortured El-Masri, violating the European Convention and held Macedonia responsible.

hudoc.echr.coe.int/fre?i=001-1156…
Unfortunately, due to tech issues we will not be hearing directly from El-Masri. His interpreter has also been dismissed. Defense is reading to the court from El-Masri's written statement, illustrating with graphic detail the torture he was subjected to by the CIA.
The @wikileaks cables allowed El-Masri to prove he was tortured and obtain a ruling from ECHR.

El-Masri also tried to file a complaint US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia which the prosecutor declined to pursue (shocker).

ca4.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Publi…
El-Masri’s written statement to court #AssangeCase

defend.wikileaks.org/wp-content/upl…
Court resumes for #Assange hearing.

Human rights and constitutional attorney Carey Shenkman @CareyShenkman continues his testimony from yesterday.
Junior prosecutor Clair Dobbin continues her questioning. She wants Shenkman @CareyShenkman to admit that there's no ruling that prevents a journalist/publisher from being prosecuted under Esp Act.

Shenkman: Esp Act is very broad. Also First Amendment must be considered.
Prosecution cites Pentagon Papers, alleging that the door was left open for future prosecution

Shenkman replies that this wasn't the issue before PP
Shenkman asserts that: if there was a previous example of successful prosecution of journos under Esp Act, then the prosecution would cite it, but there isn't.
Prosecution refers to rulings on US vs Rosen/Weissman (AIPAC spies) as well as US vs Morison.

Prosecution cites the above rulings to argue that there's no "over breadth" or "vagueness" with Espionage Act.

fas.org/sgp/jud/rosen0…

opengovva.org/foi-opinions/u…
Shenkman argues that those cases are different and do not pertain to journalists. No successful prosecution to this date.
Shenkman continues to say however that just because there hasn't been one it doesn't mean attempts to use it haven't had repercussions and a "chilling effect" on journalists. Government has wielded Esp Act many times to harass/intimidate media and suppress reporting.
Dobbin argues that publication charges in the indictment are only about #Assange publishing names of sources.

Carey @CareyShenkman beautifully disarms her: great, I was wondering about that since no explicit language about informants in Esp Act.

Judge cuts him off.
Asked about the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), Carey @CareyShenkman asserts that what is covered under "unauthorized access" as being vague; finds the language in the act too broad.

Cross-examination by prosecution ends.
Mark Summers QC of the defense rises to question Shenkman @CareyShenkman.
Shenkman @CareyShenkman, replying to Summers, says soliciting classified information is not criminal activity. This would effectively criminalize a common practice in journalism, essential to news gathering - hence the grave ramifications of this #Assange trial (!)
Asked if there's ever been an indictment under Section 793 of the Espionage Act, which pertains to the gathering of defense info, Shenkman replies: no. This section has never been successfully used against journalists, never mind a foreign one. #Assange
Shenkman @CareyShenkman: unfathomable back in 2010 that this would be used against foreign press.

Shenkman's testimony comes to an end.
Recap:

Dobbin argued that despite no past successful prosecution of journalists, there was no law prohibiting it either. 1st amendment not a shield.

Dobbin continued that Espionage Act is not limited to spies. (Then why the fuck did you name it that?).
Shenkman:

-If you had a successful prosecution, you'd cite it

-Even if some cases against journos dropped, the intimidation is bad enough

-Any alleged "refinements" of Esp Act are meaningless, language still too broad, can be used against anyone

-CFAA is also too vague
Fitzgerald is now reading a written statement from Dean Yated @deanptsd.

Yates was @Reuters bureau chief in Baghdad when the events shown in the "Collateral Murder" video published by @wikileaks took place. 2 Reuters journalists were among those massacred by US helicopter.
The US military tried to cover up the war crime, alleging a "clash with militants", after killing 2 journalists, 20 Iraqi civilians and wounding two children.

Several attempts by Yates to obtain footage, incl FOIA failed, hence importance of @wikileaks' publishing the video
Judge interupts Fitzgerald, saying Colletarl Murder video isn't relevant because it isn't included in the indictment. (Way to cover up for war crimes).

Defense insists it's relevant because #Assange is being charged for publishing rules of engagement, which pertain to video.
Dean Yates @DeanPTSD: "What #Assange did was 100% an act of truth-telling, exposing to the world what the war in Iraq in fact was and how the US military behaved and lied."
Court is adjourned. Resumes Monday. (Do we get law degrees after this?).
Will be going live shortly to give a full summary on today's #Assange hearing: youtube.com/richardmedhurst

Thank you for supporting independent journalism:
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