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Feb 21 109 tweets 19 min read Read on X
LIVE THREAD: Day 2 of Assange High Court Hearing (2024)

I am attending Julian Assange’s hearing today from inside the Royal Courts of Justice. Live updates below and subsequent coverage on
I'm seated in the court and hearing has just begun.

Please read my reporting on Day 1 of the hearing here if you haven't already:

Julian Assange not attending because not feeling well. He was not present yesterday either. This is due to years of persecution by this very US indictment and other state retaliation for his disclosures of US war crimes.
The Judge (Sharp) begins with this: please let the court know if there are additional difficulties like yesterday, where court is inaudible for those attending remotely.

(Technical difficulties have been a rather common, and unfortunate, characteristic of these hearings).
Me and Chris Hedges @ChrisLynnHedges sat down at the press section but were told to leave to the gallery or annex, despite the fact we have press tickets and ID. So instead of writing on a table, I have to prop the laptop up on my knees. Not sure what the point is but okay.
ElMaazi given similar treatment, apparently so mainstream media-- who've been absent the last 4 years and only write bad things about Assange-- can report what US lawyers are saying.

Like when they streamed Israel's side at the ICJ, but not South Africa's.

The Court has paused for a moment to fix the rampant technical issues, as no one who is next door or watching remotely can hear anything.
Court is back in session.
Claire Dobbin, one of the lawyers representing the United States in this extradition case against Julian Assange is now speaking.
Claire Dobbin is saying that the District Judge (the judge in the lower court, Vanessa Baraitser) did not end up viewing Assange as journalist.
She says that Assange's lawyers are portraying the indictment as a construct to punish Assange for political views but a new US administration was elected since the unsealing of the indictment.
So her point is basically: both the Trump and Biden administrations are proceeding with the extradition of Julian, so surely this means it's about the law, and not a political persecution.

(You already know what I think, so I'll leave it for later)
Dobbin saying that Assange poses a very real and significant risk to informants.

That the disclosure of the documents damaged work of security agencies and damaged work of US forces.
D: The way that Manning downloading the files [the files provided to Assange] was indiscriminate.

D: She downloaded a vast amount of documents and material
(Let me add context

-Manning downloaded tons of files, because there are tons of US war crimes

-WikiLeaks worked tirelessly to redact the documents and protect names.

-The United States couldn't prove that WikiLeaks or Assange harmed a single human informant/source. Not one)
Dobbin, the lawyer representing the US, just accidentally dropped her microphone on Chris Hedges
D: Manning alleges that Julian Assange undertook some evil conspiracy to try and help Manning protect her identity and ask for files

(Also known as "protecting the source", and asking for info: basic practices in journalism. See why this case is outrageous and dangerous?)
D: "curious eyes never run dry" this is a quote from a chat log, that the United States claims was between Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning.

(They don't really have proof it's them because they used pseudonyms, but are basing their charge of conspiracy to hack on this)
D is alleging, as the US did in the lower court, that Assange encouraged Manning to get more documents when she said she had none more.

(Once again, a basic journalistic practice).
D: this wasn't a slip, or mistake, it was the publication of a vast tranche of documents on purpose
Literally all I'm watching right now is a woman with a wig complaining that two people downloaded government files and published them, while omitting the fact these files show US soldiers blasting civilians with attack helicopters and laughing about it
Make no mistake: what Dobbin is arguing to the High Court, is that things journalists do every day, e.g. protecting sources, requesting classified materials, somehow constitute a criminal offence.

They don't and she is wrong.
D: published disclosures were found in Al Qaeda and Taliban compounds, and put the lives of informants/spies in China and Syria were put at risk Image
and put the lives of informants in China and Syria at risk*

Forgive the typo
Dobbin goes on to claim that Assange was in contact with other people, before and other than Manning, in a bid to recruit them with the aim of hacking to obtain classified materials.
(This is the "alleged conduct" added to the additional US indictment. They're not real charges. It's just fantasy storytelling put in there to make the defendant look bad and receive harsher sentencing in the United States. Yes, that's a thing in the "land of the free".)
It's fascinating watching the US prosecution talk for hours about everything in the world, except the fact that these documents prove they have committed war crimes.
One of the judges interrupts Dobbin to (logically, and correctly point out): what of the other organizations that published the materials before Assange but aren't being prosecuted
Dobbin responds in essence that it's a separate argument, and doesn't change the fact Assange did publish these things and is responsible for the materials falling into the hands of others in the first place.

(Not true, Guardian journalist David Leigh leaked password to files)
Note: The files were encrypted and stored on WikiLeaks server. They asked people to clone and rehost their website to make sure that the documents stay online for the world to see, because (supposedly the US govt) kept trying to take the website offline with DDoS attacks. Assange had confided the password in Leigh and he published it in a book. Someone put two and two together and they were first published on It's even timestamped on Twitter, and the owner of the website testified to the lower court that he was first to publish them but the US govt never bothered him. (This shows the case is political and selectively aimed at Assange)
Dobbin has been going on for about 10 mins re the difference between the US-UK Extradition Treaty and its implementation in English law (Extradition Act).
She goes on about how the 1972 treaty was overhauled in 2003. She says domestic law and international treaties needn't correspond; that it doesn't matter the Extradition Treaty forbids extradition for political offences, but not the Extradition Act (a clever loophole for the US)
She also rejects the proposition that this indictment is based on a political offence (espionage) in the first place.
D: the DJ went into detail in her original ruling, about why she rejected allegations of executive pressure to prosecute Assange.
D talks about the Obama administration refusing to prosecute #Assange, because they'd have to go after the NYT and other outlets who published same things as @wikileaks

She says the DJ rejected this argument, and claims prosecution was always on the table.
Dobbin says the Yahoo news article provides no fresh evidence, and is unsubstantiated. She says the DJ was correct in her ruling, not to rely on it to bar extradition.
Dobbin says there's no plot here, doesn't really address the point, then says #Assange is subject to legal extradition proceedings from the UK because the Ecuadorian govt rescinded his political asylum and asked the Met (London police) to go inside the Embassy and arrest him.
D: Assange not someone who just setup an online box for people to upload files (actually yes, that's exactly what @wikileaks innovated) -- Dobbin goes on to argue why he is not a journalist, etc.
Just to clarify: Yahoo article came out much later, after Jan 4 2021 ruling of the District Judge.

We did hear in the lower court, however, similar evidence submitted by protected witnesses, who were former security workers at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, testifying about how they were contracted by the CIA to spy on Assange and maybe kidnap or kill him.

D says therefore, the Yahoo article provides nothing new, and even in the similar prior evidence, the DJ was right not to rely on it to bar extradition.

Sound issues continue to plague this case, no matter the court building, making it impossible for journalist to follow

Dobbin basically shrugs off the CIA plot to kill #Assange; basically saying it doesn't matter because the indictment against Assange is legitimate.

An interesting interaction:

High Court judge (Johnson) interrupts Dobbins to ask: if a journalist in this country was aware of significant crimes by a government intelligence agency, and asked an employee there for info, would this be a prosecutable offence?

Dobbins hesitates.
Justice Johnson: do you accept journalists are in a different position?

D: yes, but you have to be careful. Prosecution would only get off the ground if you could prove they published something which they knew was damaging
(She means damaging in the sense that the disclosures allegedly include unreacted names of informants, which forms an integral part of the US indictment against #Assange, and which is naturally unsubstantiated by the weeks-long testimony of media partners who redacted tirelessly)
Dobbins has spent the better part of an hour trying to paint #Assange as someone who is not a journalist because he actively sought out classified materials-- a common and basic practice of news gathering.

The US is clearly trying to make journalism a crime, even outside the US.
Once again, I can only agree with Stefania.

I appreciate all the efforts of the Court staff & Judiciary, but the infrastructure needs to be upgraded immediately for everyone's sake and adequate resources provided to press. We are not asking for the moon.

I'm literally In the same room and it's still difficult to hear. They have larger rooms in the court that could have been allocated for this hearing for other journalists to sit in and not shuffled into overflow rooms.
Justice Johnson asks Dobbin if there is any evidence to support the idea that foreign nationals are given equal rights or treatment to US citizens. Dobbins says no
Court breaks for recess.

I'll be back at 2pm London time to continue coverage of the #Assange hearings
Back in court. Court resumes.
Prosecution shall address the aspect of sentencing enhancement or rule of speciality (piling on of charges; additional punishments once #Assange would be in US jurisdiction)
Smith, speaking for the US, spent about 10 minutes accusing Julian Assange of being a "hacker" and committing crimes on the farthest end of the spectrum, regarding the disclosure of sensitive materials.
He claims Assange disclosed names of, and harmed informants; that this caused many to flee their home countries. Smith claims this had "global" ramifications on those whose names were disclosed, not just in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in Syria, China and Iran.
He goes on to smear Assange as a "recruiter of hackers", to chip away at his credibility as a journalist.
Smith argued that no sentence is too harsh for Assange. That no punishment handed down by the court can be too grave, because of how grave his "crime". allegedly is. Disproportionality doesn't apply here.

(Assange is being threatened with almost 2 centuries in prison).
Forgive above typo. He spent far more than 10 mins, was speaking closer to 45.
Smith sits down and hands it over to a lawyer for the Secretary of State of the Home Department (SSHD) who is responding to the other part of Julian's appeal application, which is against Priti Patel's signing of the extradition order.
UK govt lawyers argued that it wasn't the Home Secretary's place to distinguish between the Extradition Treaty and Extradition Act, and had to use the Act is it is the direct implementation of British law, and lacks the protection against extradition for political offences.
They say that in her capacity, this was what she had to work with.

(You see how this treaty, since the very beginning-- and many said this at the time-- is biased in favour of the United States. The United States can grab whoever it likes from the UK on bogus charges)
Justice Johnson asks the govt lawyer: once someone is in US jurisdiction, is there anything preventing the US from piling on new charges and handing down a death penalty

Govt lawyer: technically no

(Perfectly encapsulates everything wrong with this case and danger to #Assange)
Edward Fitzgerald for Julian #Assange's defense takes over
He addresses the disparity between the Extradition Treaty and Extradition Act

F: "One can't escape the treaty [and its protections against extradition of political offences]. It's not something parachuted from outside. It's the basis of the extradition request.
F: You've got to identify a real reason why the extradition could reach a real injustice. "You can't say 'oh the system is bust, everybody goes free."

You have to show that a real injustice could arise, and that applies in this case
Mark Summers takes over.
MS: When you prosecute someone for the very publication that exposed a government crime, then there is a nexus, a clear link between the two. This makes you a "refugee" in the modern and legal sense
MS: Once that's recognised, that you're prosecuting somebody for the publication of exposing states crimes, then that falls squarely within section 81 of the Extradition Act and extradition should be barred. Image
MS: We're not saying that AUSA Kromberg isn't doing his job as a federal prosecutor in good faith. We're making the case that this came from above his head.

"You can't focus on the sheep and ignore the shepherd.
MS: This is state retaliation ordered from the very top.

The matter lay inexplicably unprosecuted for 6 years until the ICC took interest [in the exposure of US war crimes]
It was then followed by political denunciations of Julian Assange
The case has been made here by prosecution that the United States is engaging in good faith.

We can't see how such an assertion can be advanced with a straight face, while the president of America is entertaining plans t kidnap, rendition and murder #ASsange
MS: There must be an Article 10 balancing act
MS: talks about how Assange and @wikileaks media partners spent a year redacting files.
MS: Assange even phoned the White House to try and warn them of the impending leak after Guardian journalist David Leigh had published the password to the files, confided in him by Assange Image
MS: The reality is that if Julian ends up at the Strasbourg court, they would look at the issue of alleged harm as follows: unintended and unforeseen
Lol, I have so much typed out of what Mark Summers said. Very good stuff. Things that finally needed to be said in this court.

Forgive me as I might take a moment to put it all in here.
My favorite moment is when the judges asked Summers at one point, wait, are the names mentioned in the WikiLeaks publications people who participated war crimes and torture?

And he has to explain to them that yes that is exactly what these people were engaged in and supporting
Hearing has ended. As I said I will add the other notes frmo Mark Summers as he spoke to the judges in a short while.
Hi guys, back to finish the rest of what was said on Day 2 of #Assange's High Court hearing (2024)

I was giving a speech in front of Downing Street-- we marched there from outside the court-- and then went on a panel with fellow journalists.

Videos are later in the thread.
Mark Summers did a great job of explaining #Assange's case to the judges, and how dangerous the US indictment is.

Over and over during the last 2 days we heard how Julian's rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) are violated by this US indictment.
I made a video a couple of years back, near the start of the extradition case, on how the case violates #Assange's rights in literally every jurisdiction: British, American and EU. We heard many of these points back then and again in last 2 days.

Mark Summers employed a clever strategy of repeatedly hinting to the judges: if you deny #Assange an appeal hearing, and we have to go to the Strasbourg court, they are not going to side with you. On the contrary, they will frown upon what you and the Americans have done
This was illustrated by the fact that we heard over and over how Julian's human rights under the ECHR would be violated.

(Remember, these aren't just European laws, but they also incorporated into English law by the Human Rights Act.)
I'm not joking, there are so many violations of the ECHR against #Assange 's rights in this indictment-- I went through them all in my video above-- but the main examples brought up in the last 2 days are listed below:
Art. 5 of the ECHR protects you from arbitrary and unlawful detention.

Extraditing #Assange for a political offence constitutes a breach of the Extradition Treaty, and therefore Art 5
Assange's right to a fair trial under Art 6 of ECHR is violated:

-CIA illegally recorded Assange's conversations with his lawyers

-US could use this tainted "evidence": in court, or other stolen items/info

(Usually, any case would be thrown out for this kind of behavior) Image
Another point: the indictment was issued by the Eastern
District of Virginia aka "Espionage Court".

#Assange is therefore guaranteed to get an unfair trial, as the jury will be picked from a population of CIA and NSA-connected people who hate Assange for exposing their crimes.
Art 7 of ECHR which protects you from being charged retroactively is also violated by the US indictment against #Assange.

-Assange is being prosecuted in an unprecedented fashion. No publisher has ever been charged let alone convicted in the US for espionage. Image
Art 10 of ECHR guarantees freedom of expression.

The entire indictment against #Assange seeks to criminalize journalism and is therefore in violation of Art 10 protections. Image
Mark Summers explained that the European Court will take into consideration the public interest in #Assange and @wikileaks' publications.

They will say US crimes are so big (renditions, torture, murder, war crimes, CIA black sites), that the public's right to know comes first.
Mark Summers: The Strasbourg court will say:

-These US crimes were real, and were happening on the ground at the time.

-#Assange's publications had a real and positive effect: helicopter massacres in Iraq came to an end, and the war in Iraq came to end.
Mark Summers: Strasbourg is not going to consider the argument that these ongoing, colossal war crimes somehow outweigh the imaginary "risk" to informants that comes with disclosure.

The names are in there because these people engaged in the very criminality exposed by #Assange
MS: There is context to these names. They’re not random names. They are the names of people who helped, enabled and facilitated US war crimes and torture
MS: Even if you argue that these name belong to innocent people, do you really think the Strasbourg court is going to say, "yes, protecting the names of these people is more important than the lives of people killed or tortured by US soldiers and CIA agents?
MS: district judge didn't even bother to perform this balancing act.

She didn't bother to ask: who's more important? US informants, who've never been harmed, or people being massacred and tortured by the US?

The High Court's intervention, and an appeal are therefore necessary
Mark Summers then returns to points that were raised by UK govt lawyers about the Sec of State's decision to allow extradition to proceed, despite the fact Julian could be killed in the US, which is a violation of UK law.
(It is illegal in the United Kingdom to extradite someone if there is a risk that they will be killed in the requesting state, unless the Sec of State (the Home Secretary) receives adequate assurances that this will not happen.)
MS: Home Sec is the authority on this issue. She has the stop extraditions, and it is her duty and job to consider the high likelihood #Assange could be killed once in the United States. She must bar extradition accordingly.
MS: The Sec of State knows very well there is a high risk #Assange could be given death penalty in US. Not only that, but she didn't even bother to ask for assurances from the US that this won't materialise.
MS: The assurances already given by US do not preclude the death penalty in any capacity
MS: one must be very careful about the words used In an assurance.

MS explains that the other assurances, e.g. allowing Assange to serve sentence in Australia, are meaningless unless this point is covered.

"You can’t apply the prisoner transfer if you’ve been killed"
MS: We don’t understand why there is no usual, normal death penalty assurance in this case.

The Sec of State and United States are responsible for ensuring this protection.
Now we must wait and see if the High Court Justices allow Julian to proceed with his appeal.

Whenever they give their decision I'll have it for you immediately.

More points that I have:
I don't want to offer any false hope, but I'll say this: this hearing was ever so slightly better than previous ones because the judges seemed to actually engage and ask questions, as opposed to the previous ones who really made it a point to make known their contempt to #Assange
What did surprise me, however, when they asked some questions, is they seemed not to grasp basic points of the case. Perhaps this was simply their way of clarifying things for the record, but this exchange sticks out nevertheless

This was the view coming out of the Royal Courts of Justice after two days of #Assange hearings came to an end. A sea of people with drums pounding.

We then marched from the High Court to Downing Street.
Additional footage from outside the court

My speech at Downing Street after attending #Assange hearings.

Afterwards I attended a panel with fellow journalists who were with me in court to recap and discuss the last two days of the #Assange High Court appeal hearings. A very interesting and eyeopening discussion.…
I'll be live tomorrow with @MarioNawfal at 6:00 PM EST / 11:00 PM UK to do a Twitter space on Assange, so make sure you tune in.
Thanks for following my coverage of the case and supporting independent journalism.


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More from @richimedhurst

Feb 20
LIVE THREAD: I am in London attending Julian Assange’s court hearing today from inside the courtroom, beginning at 10:30am local time at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Live updates below and subsequent coverage on
2) The US is seeking the extradition of Australian journalist and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for publishing classified documents, which reveal US war crimes in Afghanistan, Iraq and more. If extradited he could face up to 175 years in prison.
Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders and numerous other human rights and and free press organizations have warned for years that an extradition would risk Assange’s live and set a dangerous precedent for other journalists.
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I am accredited to cover Julian Assange's court hearing on Feb 20 and 21

I will attend the hearing in person at the High Court in London.

I'll have a live thread on Twitter at 10:30am each day and subsequent coverage on Rumble.

Remember to subscribe:

I've been covering Julian Assange's extradition case since 2020.

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Playlists of my coverage:

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