On October 27-28, the Royal Court of Justice in London will serve as the backdrop for a new attempt to drag Julian Assange to an American judge. The United States will be represented by Clair Dobbin and James Lewis. Their attacks will focus on the specializations, motivations and reputation of the witnesses and experts who defend Julian Assange. The battle in the courtroom therefore promises to be brutal, vicious and public. Even if it takes place behind closed doors.
Assange is currently being held in Belmarsh Prison in London, awaiting the outcome of legal maneuvers to prosecute him in the United States on charges relating to classified files published by WikiLeaks in 2010. After five weeks of hearing, in 2020, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser dismissed the United States, which requested the Australian’s extradition. Her motives are that with the US criminal regime being what it is, it would increase the likelihood of Assange committing suicide, which she considers “oppressive.” The United States appealed against this judgment.
The intention to pursue this call, however, is clearly not universally supported within the American establishment. In 2013, President Obama’s administration put a lot of energy into building a case against Assange. The latter was eventually dropped because of what is known as the “New York Times” problem: wouldn’t bringing the founder of WikiLeaks to justice require that the same treatment be applied to the platform of WikiLeaks? most prestigious news in America, who published the same stories? Wouldn’t doing this contradict the president’s claims to defend freedom of expression?
This reluctance evaporated with the election of President Trump and became even more pronounced with the appointment as Secretary of State of former CIA chief Mike Pompeo.
When Assange was at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, agents, acting for the United States, bugged the building, followed WikiLeaks associates, replaced electronic devices and attempted to steal DNA samples. When evidence of these actions was presented, during the court hearings for Assange’s extradition, it was not contested by the United States.
A few weeks ago, Yahoo! News revealed much worse attempts by the CIA during those “embassy years.” Based on interviews with 30 former agency officers, the report suggests plans were made to kidnap or assassinate the whistleblower. US agents were quietly awaiting orders in the streets of central London, British security services reportedly called “in case there was any shooting”, and a legal battle plan was ready.
The hypothesis that a shooting could have been organized by secret services in the streets of a big capital like London appears revolting and implausible – at the same time, the Russians were considering with the Ecuadorians to exfiltrate Assange of the country. It is the large number of sources who spoke to Yahoo that is revealing. It sounds like a coordinated effort by individuals linked to the CIA to make this story public. And that provides an indication of the internal struggles that President Biden’s administration now faces. When the latter took office, the British court’s decision had just been rendered, on January 4, to reject the extradition request. Dropping the case once he was president would have been logical and easy. By appealing in February, Biden shows he was on the side of the hawks when lawsuits were considered in 2013.
The story of the “assassination” also suggests that those who warned of the grave dangers of these lawsuits still hold positions of influence. This could have prompted Biden to drop the charges. Ultimately, these revelations could be a big part of when Judge Holroyd considers the appeal on October 27-28. Otherwise, how do you make sure Assange gets fair treatment if he’s extradited?