On the final day of the Assange extradition hearing, magistrate Vanessa Baraitser refused to accept an affidavit from Assange’s solicitor Gareth Peirce, on the grounds it was out of time.
The affidavit explained that the defense had been unable to respond to the new accusations in the United States government’s second superseding indictment, because these wholly new matters had been sprung on them just six weeks before the hearing resumed on September 8, 2020.
The defense had not only to gather evidence from Iceland, but had virtually no access to Assange to take his evidence and instructions, as he was effectively in solitary confinement in Belmarsh.
The defense had requested an adjournment to give them time to address the new accusations, but this adjournment had been refused by judge Baraitser? She now refused to accept Gareth Peirce’s affidavit setting out these facts.
What had happened was this. The hearings on the Assange extradition in January 2020 did not seem to be going well for the U.S. government.
The arguments that political extradition is specifically banned by the UK/U.S. extradition treaty, and that the publisher was not responsible for Chelsea Manning’s whistle-blowing on war crimes, appeared to be strong.
The U.S. Justice Department had decided that it therefore needed a new tack and to discover some “crimes” by Assange that seemed less noble than the Manning revelations.
To achieve this, the FBI turned to an informant in Iceland, Sigi Thordarson, who was willing to testify that Assange had been involved with him in, inter alia, hacking private banking information and tracking Icelandic police vehicles.
This was of course much easier to portray as crime, as opposed to journalism, so the second superseding indictment was produced based on Thordarson’s story, which was elaborated with Thordarson by an FBI team.
The difficulty was that Thordarson was hardly a reliable witness. He had already been convicted in Iceland for stealing approximately $50,000 from Wikileaks and with impersonating Julian Assange online, not to mention the inconvenient fact he is a registered pedophile sex offender for online activities with under-age boys.
The FBI team was in fact expelled from Iceland by the Icelandic government, who viewed what the FBI was doing with Thordarson as wholly illegitimate.
Thordarson was always the most unreliable of witnesses, and I find it impossible to believe that the FBI cooperation with him was ever any more than deliberate fabrication of evidence by the FBI.
Edward Snowden has tweeted that Thordarson recanting will end the case against Julian Assange. Most certainly it should end it, but I fear it will not.
Many things should have ended the case against Assange. The First Amendment, the ban on political extradition in the U.S./UK Extradition Treaty, the CIA spying on the preparations of Assange’s defense counsel, all of these should have stopped the case dead in its tracks.
It is now five months since extradition was refused, no U.S. government appeal against that decision has yet been accepted by the High Court, and yet Julian remains confined to the UK’s highest security prison.
The revelation that Thordarson’s allegations are fabricated – which everyone knew already, Baraitser just pretended she didn’t – is just one more illegality that the Establishment will shimmy over in its continued persecution of Assange.
Assange democratized information and gave real power to the people for a while, worldwide. He revealed U.S. war crimes. For that his life is destroyed. Neither law nor truth have anything to do with it.
Consortium News / ABC Flash Point Blog 2021.