Mismatching Indictments, US Improvises its Prosecution of Assange: Bait and Switch to Entrap Assange into Extradition
Assange’s next US Extradition hearings will commence on September 7th, 2020 and are scheduled for three weeks. The countdown to that date is less than 54 days. Much can happen between now and then.
- Assange could die from prolonged psychological torture or COVID19. This is a grave threat.
- Assange could refuse to attend the hearings based on the extreme risk of contracting COVID19 in transit from his solitary confinement isolation cell, being handled by guards, likely strip searched, unable to physically distance from guards while going through multiple security checks, entering/exiting police vans, getting handcuffed and then having to sit in a fish tank (glass box) with poor ventilation beside Serco security guards, out of reach of his own lawyers, stuck in legal limbo during a critical legal case. In the meantime, Assange’s psychological torture persists, and he is out of reach for the US prosecution medical doctor to conduct a prerequisite evaluation to determine whether or not he is fit to participate in the upcoming hearing.
- If Assange refuses to attend the court hearings scheduled for Sept. 7 2020 until Sept. 25th, will the biased judge (Baraister) collapse the extradition hearing and order that he be extradited to the US immediately? Or, will she postpone it? If the US doctors cannot access Assange in jail, will the case be postponed indefintely? If so, he should be released on bail.
- If Assange does not have access to his lawyers, documents, a working computer fit for purpose, legal confidentiality (privacy / privilege) with his legal team then the case must be postponed or collapsed. Even the US prosecutors noted the importance of appearing to follow due process in this respect. The US does not want the UK messing up an important procedure which could deliver Assange into their custody.
- Assange may be granted bail in order to secure legal access (see supra), reduce his exposure to COVID19 and possibly be able to attend the hearing dates in September. That would be reasonable, fair and in line with due process. The only way that would happen is if his lawyers and the public demand his bail immediately.
- Assange’s lawyers could submit a Contempt of Court complaint to the UK courts outlining a number of fundamental problems to the execution of “justice”: inability to confer privately with their client, extreme concern about the health risks of their client, lack of access to their client in general (phone, internet, in person visits), restrictions on their client within the courtroom (fish tank issue), limited public access to proceedings and the most recent report of mismatching indictments which will be used in court proceedings in two different countries. See pic.
Author Craig Murray wrote a piece today about the latest perversion of justice within the UK courts. It has to do with the new “superceding indictment” which was unveiled last month.
The original US indictment against Assange for which he is being held on provisional arrest, with no criminal convictions but only suspicion, is different from the one that the UK will instrumentalise to export him to the US. It is bait and switch. The instruments don’t match.
Murray essentially argues that the US abused the first sessions of extradition hearings by testing its case, then switching its prosecution strategy to something totally different than the original indictment. He outlines how weak the original arguments by US prosecutors were and how they have revised, reloaded, and relaunched a new attack on Assange even though the revised submissions were not submitted within the mandated timeframe, and in fact were over a year late. The revised superceding indictment should have been rejected because it was not submitted on time (deadline was June 19, 2019).
Murray explains that the deadlines must be enforced to avoid exactly what the US is attempting to do: Bait, switch strategies and mismatch the indictments to the advantage of the prosecutors and the detriment of the defence. The prosecutors want the benefit of listening to four full days of Assange defence arguments in order to tweak and change their prosecution case in the UK to get him out of the UK, even though they will maintain their original indictment for the US trial. Read Craig’s version for details.
What Should Happen to Rectify This Perversion?
The new US superceding indictment must not be admissible or dealt with in the UK courts as it was not submitted prior to the June 19, 2019 deadline. Imagine if the shoe were on the other foot; would Judge Baraister allow Assange’s legal team to make a submission over a year after the submission deadline? The rules must apply equitably.
We must insist on fairness, not “moving the goal posts” in the middle of play, adherence to deadlines and hold the UK justice system to account if it is showing preferential treatment toward US prosecutors.
If the US does not want to prosecute Assange based solely on the original indictment, then it should withdraw is extradition request and the entire case is finished. It’s that simple. The US must be told that it has one option: to prosecute Assange based on the original submissions or to withdraw the request for extradition. Assange should not be held on provisional arrest on charges which the US no longer wants to prosecute. He must be released on bail immediately and the US must adhere to punctual deadlines.
As of last week Assange’s lawyers were informed that based on the new superceding indictment which does not match the indictments initially submitted to the UK courts (on time), he may be released and immediately rearrested for the June 2020 charge. If that happens, it would be clear that the UK is nothing more than a revolving door on behalf of the United States.
Assange is the pint of beer that the UK is holding on behalf of the US, cf. “Hold My Beer”. That sums up the 10 yrs of arbitrary detention, despite two United Nations rulings that ruled he should be free and compensated by the abusive countries (Sweden, US, UK, Australia, Ecuador).
To put it another way, Assange is the Aussie boomerang beer who, if and ever is released due to the incompetence of American lawyers, will just be put back on a conveyer belt, through a maximally secure revolving door and paraded back to an isolation cell, in the ancient walls of COVID infested Belmarsh prison.
Assange’s family and legal team have threatened to sue the UK government if this happens. Their execution of judicial abuse, torture, arbitrary detention and grotesque cruelty must be challenged.
Make a stink. On twitter, in emails, on the phone, teleconferences and podcasts/videos. Thanks. Make sure to read Craig’s blog.