A from OZ

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  • in reply to: Julian Assange and the Conservative Press #63204
    A from OZ

    There is one other highly important thing to note.

    Julian Assange is being gagged by his own “team”.

    Way back in March 2018 his internet was cut off and his Twitter account taken over, Initially, that was done by Ecuador but since then we have not heard a single direct word from him despite many, many visits from the “inner circle” to him in both the embassy and Belmarsh prison. All we ever get is second-hand bland bromides in the abstract about “press freedom”.

    He is NOT being gagged by the UK government, the prison system or the Courts. He is only on remand (not applying for Bail and not then exercising his legal right to appeal a refusal is another story I’ve gone into here before). He has the right to speak, and from pre-March 2018 it is well established that he always has a lot to say about everything. The only people keeping him gagged are the tight circle surrounding him.

    Other “supporters” have a viscerally negative knee-jerk reaction to these facts and refuse to even consider that this could be true. The best they usually can do is to make speculative excuses (such as: ‘Well maybe that’s for his own good, maybe the lawyers advised it…’ maybe, maybe, maybe – let’s hear it from the man himself.)

    PS – I’m a lawyer and there is no legal or strategic reason for a total gag on Assange. My fear is that the “inner circle” are actually selling him out.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle December 14 2019 #52138
    A from OZ

    The other founder of Doughty Street Chambers of course was Keir Starmer (now “Sir” Keir), who would very much like to take over the leadership of the UK Labour Party from Corbyn.

    Keir Starmer is/was the man responsible for Labour’s Brexit policy – the one that lost them the election just now.

    He used to be the Director of the Crown Prosecution Service at the exact time that the CPS was urging Sweden to not “get cold feet” on continuing to push for the extradition of Assange at a time when Sweden was saying there was no “there” there.

    Many people think that Jen Robinson is “Julian Assange’s Lawyer”, mostly because she is often introduced that way at her many public appearances. But, his lawyer for what? His lawyers on the extradition are solicitor Gareth Pierce and Barrister Mark Summers QC.

    Jen Robinson is from Doughty Street Chambers. Just a few days ago she was retweeting Sir Keir Starmer’s tweets urging people to vote Labour.

    Political freedom is essential and everyone can vote how they want, but with Assange the issue is not and must not be used in any way as a partisan plaything. And yet….

    in reply to: Debt Rattle December 13 2019 #52125
    A from OZ

    It’s me again.

    The Judge is actually correct – she has no jurisdiction to tell Belmarsh what to do about visitors etc.., if there is some breach of his rights in that area it is again up to his lawyers to actively do something about that.

    Of course, the best thing to do would be to apply for bail, then he’d be out of Belmarsh altogether – yet again the lawyers failed to do that.

    Naomi Colvin (who I would consider to be an “insider”) was in Court and tweeted about it.

    One strange passage from her reporting that isn’t in the piece linked above is:

    Finally, DJ Baraitser asked Gareth Peirce if it would help if Julian #Assange were presented in person on the 19th in order to facilitate a meeting afterwards. Peirce declined saying that “It’s a difficult claustrophobic journey from Belmarsh”

    So, the main complaint apparently – and the headline to the story – is that they need more direct access to Assange. But when the Judge offers one thing that IS in her power to order that would give them at least some direct access in person, the lawyers decline with a flimsy excuse.

    Now that he is on remand he is supposed to be allowed 2 social visits per week and unlimited legal visits. Those two things are separate, one doesn’t preclude the other. If he isn’t getting that and he was my client I’d be raising merry hell about it and dragging whoever necessary into the appropriate Court TODAY to get an Order fixing it.

    In that twitter thread there was an interesting exchange between Colvin and someone called “CarryCandy”:

    CC: do you know why the lawyers did not ask for release from Belmarsh for medical reasons?

    Naomi Colvin: I imagine because there’s no chance of such an application being granted.

    CC: 1. it would be very helpful for the campaign cos everyone wonders why they are inactive. 2. it would shift the legal responsibility to the judge/justice system/British State, who has the excuse that no one asked in the present situation

    Apparently I’m not the only one deeply concerned about the difference between what is presented and what action is, or isn’t, taken to address that.

    in reply to: Assange and Auschwitz #52054
    A from OZ

    OK, some further concerns…

    Assange was charged for “jumping bail”. The actual section of the Bail Act is technically “fails…to surrender”. If someone is on bail and they fail to appear at the time and place required then they have committed an offence under the Act. HOWEVER, there is an exception which is available as a Defence and that is “reasonable cause”.

    From the reporting of the conviction in April when Assange was dragged out of the embassy and into Court charged under the Bail Act, there is nothing to confirm that his lawyers forcefully argued that seeking and being granted political asylum in accordance with international law and every person’s right to do so provided him with the Defence of “reasonable cause”. Maybe they did, but I’ve never seen evidence of it. In any case, he was famously convicted and later sentenced to just short of the maximum possible penalty (52 weeks imprisonment is the max). Usually the penalty is a fine, or in very serious cases a brief jail sentence.

    He was convicted of the bail offence on 11 April and then remanded to the higher Crown Court for sentencing. The Crown Court could impose the maximum penalty whereas the Magistrate could only impose a lesser sentence. He was sentenced on 1 May to 50 weeks.

    After conviction, you have 28 days to file an appeal against the conviction. IF they ran the “reasonable cause” Defence and it was rejected then that would have been grounds to appeal. No appeal was filed and once the time expires you have lost that chance.

    Even if you do not appeal against your conviction, you CAN appeal against the sentence imposed within 28 days of sentencing. SOMEONE, we really don’t know who but I suspect it may have been Assange himself, DID file an appeal against the sentence. That appeal was listed for a full hearing on 23 July, but it was mysteriously dropped on 18 July, just a few days before the hearing. No announcement or explanation from Wikileaks or the “team”, just confirmation from the Court that it had been dropped.

    So what?

    It’s extremely important because now he is being held on remand, and as I said above he has a right to apply to be released on bail until the extradition hearing. If you have been convicted for jumping bail and that offence was so “serious” that you got the maximum penalty for it, then obviously it is much harder to now apply for bail in this case. IF he had appealed against the conviction (and even the sentence imposed) then it would be much easier to argue for bail now. It can still be done, and it should be done, but the task is made harder.

    So – no appeal against the conviction, no appeal against the sentence, and no application for bail even though every 4 weeks his remand must be re-considered by the Court. AND, he is being effectively gagged by his closest circle.

    On remand he is allowed 2 social visits (up to 3 people each visit) every week and unlimited legal visits. There has been a parade of people coming and going from Belmarsh: singer MIA, Vivienne Westwood, John Pilger, his father John Shipton, Australian journalists and many more….and yet not a single serious direct message out from him? Yes, they all tell us “he’s effectively in solitary confinement”, “he has lost 15 kilos”, :Nils Melzer says he’s being tortured”, “doctors say he might die” and so on. But NEVER: “Julian says xxxxx, and yyyyy and zzzzz”. Never. He’s being gagged but I can’t work out why or what good that could possibly do his cause. Nobody needs to know personal private information or what he discussed with his lawyers, but he is being turned into an abstraction without a voice.

    Wikileaks has appointed a UK Labor connected PR man from New Zealand called Richard Hillgrove to do the PR which we are seeing played out as a campaign which seems to have the theme: “This isn’t about Julian, it’s about freedom of the [establishment] press and free speech!”

    A PR industry news outlet called “The Drum” did an interview with him – it’s behind a wall but the NZ Herald did a piece on it in November 2018. It’s eerie, the gagging and “de-personalising” of Assange is a deliberate PR strategy:

    The Christchurch-born and Massey University-educated Hillgrove, 47, came to work for the WikiLeaks figurehead after being connected by Assange’s long-serving lawyer Jennifer Robinson, according to an interview with UK marketing and advertising trade news site, The Drum.

    The Kiwi expatriate and founder of 6 Hillgrove Public Relations, who was convicted in 2014 on a £93,000 tax fraud, said he’s trying to make Assange’s PR “less personal”.

    “The cult of personality aspect around Julian Assange has caused a lot of his problems,” Hillgrove told The Drum in a Q&A.

    “Even though he’s broken no laws and simply published the truth, in exactly the same way the New York Times or Guardian do, they are treating him personally like some sort of criminal.

    “The move [to] take him out of the editor role of WikiLeaks is a good start to de-personalising everything.”

    Hillgrove believes his PR skills have “greatly amplified” Assange’s message but he wants to get “more supportive voices” come forward and to reinforce the United Nations ruling that he has been arbitrarily detained and that there are serious concerns about his health.

    “Not just the usual voices like Vivienne Westwood and Pamela Anderson, but other people coming forward,” Hillgrove said.

    Sadly, I could go on but I’ll leave it there for now. In the short term I believe the most important thing is to get him his voice back and let him speak for himself. Equal or second is getting him out on bail. The extradition hearing is 24 February, the next remand decision is 13 December and there will be another in January and February (every 4 weeks). It’s almost getting too late to apply and then appeal to the High Court when it is inevitably refused.

    in reply to: Assange and Auschwitz #52029
    A from OZ

    I’m not so sure about this:

    Interesting. Let’s assume Wikileaks is no less honest than ever. So in that world, WHY would they not need to prosecute and sue? What hidden facts make laying low and waiting be a better idea?

    Assange has been gagged since 28 March 2018. Immediately prior to that, and forever before, he has always had plenty to say about everything. Ever since he was gagged, other people have been speaking ABOUT him, and presenting as if they speak FOR him, but in all that time we’ve never had any serious direct message conveyed by any of these people out from him.

    We were told (when he was in the embassy) that his food had been cut off, his heating had been cut off, they took away his bedding and so on – but if you look back carefully over this whole period, never a direct message from him. OK, maybe that was the Ecuadorian rules.

    But that doesn’t explain why it continues since 11 April when he was dragged out and jailed. OK, maybe that was because he was serving a sentence.

    But that sentence has finished and he is only being held on remand now – which means he has far more rights than a prisoner serving a sentence. In fact, under the extradition procedures a person held on remand must be brought back before the Court every 4 weeks and the Judge must decide whether they should continue to be held on remand or should be released (on whatever conditions would satisfy the Judge that the person is unlikely to abscond). Under UK law there is a presumption that everyone held on remand should be released on bail, it is up to the Crown to argue that the person should not be released on bail with conditions.

    Any person held on remand has a legal right to apply to be released on bail. If bail is refused they have an automatic right to appeal to the UK High Court and get a full hearing on whether they should be released on bail.

    Assange’s lawyers have not once even APPLIED for bail, even though they can argue for it every 4 weeks. The next opportunity will be the remand decision on 13 December. These have been previously referred to as “merely technical” court dates! If Assange is in mortal danger under his present conditions then his lawyers should be seeking bail.

    Then he can speak for himself, he can prepare his case against extradition and he can get every medical attention he needs.

    Instead, all of these facts are simply ignored and we are told that he’s dying, he can’t prepare his case, he’s being tortured etc..

    I am a lawyer, so I know what I’m talking about. Happy to discuss in more detail if interested, but serious action needs to be taken by his representatives right now to secure his IMMEDIATE (temporary) freedom.

    in reply to: Assange and Auschwitz #52018
    A from OZ

    The fabricated Manafort story was published 27 November 2018. Wikileaks immediately said they would sue for libel. Courage Foundation started a Go Fund Me page for that exact purpose (it is still current and has over $60,000). In January 2019 Wikileaks tweeted that they had reached their goal of $50,000 and that “Legal action will now commence”.
    On July 20 on Consortium News, Kristinn Hrafnsson confirmed they would sue before the 1 year limitation under UK law. The deadline passed, they didn’t sue. I’ve been stonewalled trying to find out why. Silence. The Guardian story is still online.

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