Good morning from the Old Bailey! Today’s the big day, as we await the extradition decision in the case against @wikileaks publisher Julian Assange. I’ll have updates on this thread.

#FreeAssange 1/
5 hours to go until the 10am hearing. We’re already queuing outside in early morning winter temperatures to have a fighting chance of gaining access to the public gallery. This is how we’re left to try to do our jobs as the judge refuses to recognise the role of NGO observers. 2/
My makeshift office during this long, cold morning.

Actual conversation just now: how long does it take to get hypothermia?

Sunrise is still a long way off at 8:06 am...

We’ve been questioned by police about our reason for being here under Tier 4 restrictions. I had to show our press release about today’s hearing and explain that the judge refused to grant us remote access - and luckily one of the officers had heard of RSF. We’re okay for now. 4/
I love that @greekemmy filmed my discussion with the police, starting with “Do I look like I would be here if I didn’t need to be here? This is pretty miserable” as I sat trying to warm my feet with a (now cold) hot water bottle. 5/
I’d just like to take a moment to thank the judge for the opportunity to drop my children at their dad’s last night, get up at 2:30, leave home at 3:30 to get here before 5 am, and queue in winter weather for 5 hours, instead of simply being properly accredited to do my job. 6/
We’ve been approached a 3rd & 4th time by police, now more hostile. More people have gathered near court & police have stated anyone who is “part of a group” that doesn’t go home will face arrest. So far, after discussion, they’re accepting that RSF is here for work purposes. 7/
There are more police, and some now stationed watching us. I will not disperse, so if we are arrested let it be reflected that this is specifically what Judge Baraitser told us we have to do to do our jobs and monitor this hearing - queue for access to the public gallery. 8/
Another unwelcome plot twist: an officer who works inside the court (I recognise him from September) just told us it will be family only admitted into court. But I have it in writing from the judge that members of the public will be allocated remaining seats after the family. 9/
We believe Julian Assange is in this van, now being taken into court (not the last van - deleted that tweet as his van is higher security). 10/
There are now at least half a dozen police officers attempting to pressure us to leave, telling us that the public gallery will not be open. Last I checked, access to court was a matter for the court to decide, not City of London police. 11/
Okay another high security white van just entered at speed, without stopping at the gate like the others. That may have actually been Assange. 12/
This level of police pressure is insane. I’ve just done a short live broadcast. 13/
I have now had to make my case to at least 10 different police officers. I am not moving. I will force an arrest if needed. It is within my rights to do my job. We are waiting for clarification from the judge about who will be allowed in. 14/
FINALLY - four of us will be allowed in. Losing my phone now. See you on the other side. 15/
Completely crazy day after a very dramatic turn with the extradition decision! I'll be back later with more, but managed an overview outside of court (and dozens of media interviews - keep an eye out). 16/
.@RSF_inter will have a full reaction out shortly, but generally we are relieved that the decision was against extradition, but concerned that the judge's approach to the substance of the case leaves the door open for similar cases against others. 17/
We fully believe that Assange was targeted for his contributions to journalism, and would have liked to see a strong position from the court in favour of journalistic protections and press freedom. That wasn't the case; extradition was prevented only on mental health grounds. 18/
Before I forget to come back to this: the intense police pressure this morning was the worst I've ever experienced. This was the first time in my 15-year career that I've faced the threat of arrest for attempting to get into court to do my job. Completely unacceptable. 19/
Thanks so much for all of the kind messages of support today, which helped spur us on when things were difficult! I will come back to this thread, but still doing interviews, and still frozen to the core even though have now been in the office for 2.5 hours 🥶 20/
Here’s the full extradition decision for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. 132 printed pages...… 21/
I’ve just finished the last of dozens of interviews today for media in the UK, US, Canada, France, Germany, Norway, Italy, Switzerland & I’m sure a few others. Thank you to those covering this case. Please stick with it, and the worrying broader implications of this decision. 22/
Here’s @RSF_inter’s published reaction to today’s decision: UK court blocks US attempt to extradite Julian Assange, but leaves public interest reporting at risk. 23/
With that, I’m about to collapse. Got 2 hours of sleep, have been working for the past 18 hours, and spent about 8 hours outdoors in freezing temperatures. But completely worth it. Thanks so much for following today! I’m available for further comment tomorrow if needed. /24
Actually one more! Here’s a clip of part of my statement outside of court today, thanks to @DEAcampaign. There are also other clips up on their Facebook page.…

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More from @rebecca_vincent

5 Jan
Hello new followers! Can I introduce you to some of @RSF_inter’s other priority cases? They all deserve much more attention and support! Thread.
#DaphneCaruanaGalizia was a courageous Maltese journalist assassinated by a car bomb near her home in October 2017. More than three years on, there’s still been no justice for Daphne or the extensive corruption she had uncovered. Some background here:…
We are working to support her family’s campaign for #JusticeforDaphne. Follow @daphnefdtn, her sons @mcaruanagalizia, @acaruanagalizia & @pcaruanagalizia, her sisters @Corinne_Vella & @MandyMallia, and her niece @meg_mallia. @TheShiftNews is also an excellent resource.
Read 12 tweets
3 Jan
I’ve often said that nothing is normal about Julian Assange’s case. Here’s my list of the top 10 least normal aspects, strictly on the logistical side of monitoring the extradition proceedings (this is not to mention the many substantive issues that are also far from normal).
1. The judge’s stubbornly persistent refusal to acknowledge that NGO observers are professionals and have an important role to play (separate to that of the general public) in ensuring open justice, and refusal to grant us access to be able to do our jobs properly.
2. The constantly shifting goal posts in gaining access to the public gallery, and arbitrary restrictions on numbers in all 3 courts where proceedings have been held. On any given day, it’s impossible to predict how many will be let in and when, necessitating very early queuing.
Read 12 tweets
11 Dec 20
Okay, I’m not done yet (still furious). The barriers we’ve faced monitoring proceedings in Assange’s case are extensive and evolving, and cannot be purely coincidence or incompetence, as it’s been at 3 separate courts and happened pre-Covid too. The common factor is the judge.
It is the judge who refuses to recognise NGO observers as different to the public & who revoked NGOs’ remote access. When we face barriers on entry, court officials say the judge set the (arbitrary) limitations on numbers. She even set the freezing temperature at the Old Bailey.
I won’t speculate yet on the outcome of the extradition proceedings, as I sincerely hope that justice will prevail and that the system isn’t as broken as I fear. But one has to question what is the motive in making even a 90-second hearing so unbelievably difficult to observe.
Read 8 tweets
11 Dec 20
Back at Westminster Magistrates’ Court this morning attempting to monitor a call over hearing in the case of @wikileaks publisher Julian Assange. This is the last such hearing scheduled before the extradition decision will be given on 4 January.

Thread. 1/
The goal posts for access constantly shift at this court, in a completely arbitrary manner. We are currently being told by a court official that no journalists will be allowed in (told they can access the Cloud Video Platform) and only two people can access the public gallery. 2/
At times, even under Covid measures, four journalists have been allowed into the well of this same courtroom, and five people into the public gallery. Two in total today is completely arbitrary. We’re told the access restrictions are the judge’s decision. 3/
Read 12 tweets
8 Dec 20
“When it comes to justice for Daphne, so far there is none”: @PieterOmtzigt’s strong words as he concludes his mandate as PACE Special Rapporteur on ensuring justice for #DaphneCaruanaGalizia’s assassination and strengthening the rule of law in Malta. Watch the whole thing.
@PieterOmtzigt: “From the Assembly’s point of view, implementation is unsatisfactory. The rule of law situation in Malta remains deficient, especially when it comes to fighting corruption”.
“The alleged mastermind...may be released from pre-trial detention before he can even be indicted”. An extremely important point being overlooked by international media who reported widely on Yorgen Fenech’s arrest last year. There’s a very real risk he could avoid prosecution.
Read 8 tweets
18 Oct 20
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

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