Julian Assange’s High Court fight against extradition

by Stella Moris

Julian Assange’s High Court fight against extradition

by Stella Moris
Stella Moris
Case Owner
I am the partner of Julian Assange and the mother of his two youngest sons.
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Stella Moris
Case Owner
I am the partner of Julian Assange and the mother of his two youngest sons.
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Latest: April 24, 2021

Latest update on Julian Assange

It has been another week of suffering for my partner, the publisher and human rights defender Julian Assange. He remains inside Belmarsh Prison where he continues to be held as a prisoner, even thoug…

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Today, the next stage of the legal battle to free my partner Julian Assange begins.

Two days before the inauguration of the new President, the Trump administration appealed a ruling the UK Magistrates Court made on 4 January. The UK judge had decided to block the US request for Julian's extradition, on medical grounds. The US government is now seeking to overturn that decision on appeal.

Although the District Judge refused the extradition she nevertheless denied Julian bail. He is still being held in Belmarsh Prison, as an unconvicted prisoner, in appalling conditions. He has been there for almost two years.

Because of the Covid lockdown he is not allowed to receive any visitors and has no direct access to his lawyers.

Julian's lawyers have already started working on their reply to the US Government and they are preparing to defend Julian's victory in the High Court. If they win again, he will be free.

Why are we raising funds?

Undertaking the next step in the legal process and defending Julian in the High Court will be expensive, even though Julian’s legal team continues to work for low remuneration and have contributed much of their time pro bono. We cannot do it alone and we need your support.

The significance of Julian's case

It was the Trump administration who charged Julian under the Espionage Act for exposing war crimes and human rights abuses in 2010 and 2011.

The decision to indict him was a political act motivated by malice. Julian exposed the killing of unarmed civilians and the torture of innocent people. For that the people who are driving this want to bury Julian in the deepest, darkest corner of the US prison system for the rest of his life. Julian faces a potential sentence of 175 years.

Press freedom groups consider the indictment against Julian the single gravest threat to press freedom in the US, the UK and Europe, because of its extraterritorial nature. It is the first ever indictment of a publisher under the US Espionage Act.

If Julian is extradited he will be put on trial in Alexandria, Virginia, where he stands no chance of a fair trial. It is where US intelligence agencies are headquartered. The court complex is 15 miles from CIA headquarters. The state is populated by employees of the very sector whose abuses and crimes Julian exposed.

The Espionage Act prevents Julian from arguing why he published what he published, what he exposed, and the fact it didn't result in any physical harm.

How can you help?

Please join me in this epic fight for justice, for freedom of expression and for the rights of journalists and publishers to hold Governments to account without being imprisoned and potentially losing their life. Any donation, no matter how small, will make a huge difference.

On behalf of Julian and our family, I want to thank you for standing with us and helping to raise money for this important legal battle. It is a fight for our family, to give our sons Max, 2, and Gabriel, 3, the right to grow up with their father. It is also a fight for truth and justice, and a fight for everyone’s right to live in a free society.

Please do share the link to this page with anyone who may want to help.

I will be posting updates here so that you can follow the developments.

Thank you for your support,

Stella Moris

Update 6

Stella Moris

April 24, 2021

Latest update on Julian Assange

It has been another week of suffering for my partner, the publisher and human rights defender Julian Assange. He remains inside Belmarsh Prison where he continues to be held as a prisoner, even though he is not convicted of anything - in the same conditions as convicted murderers and armed robbers. He is now into his third year of arbitrary, pre-trial imprisonment, awaiting the outcome of the US government's application for permission to appeal.

A few days ago I gave a briefing to a group of parliamentarians from eleven countries about Julian's case:

I said: "[The 11th of April] was the two year anniversary of Julian's arrest and incarceration in Belmarsh. There were protests, and vigils on five continents and stories in the major UK Sunday papers. A double decker bus filled with people and draped with "Free Assange" followed the path from Julian's arrest at the Ecuadorian embassy to Belmarsh prison, where Julian has been buried from public view for the last two years. If it weren't for Julian's communications with me and a limited number of other people, he would have no idea of what was going on not only around the world, but fifty yards from the cell that holds him." (Full briefing: https://youtube.com/watch?v=WdWbMqZomtY.)

The prison system takes a long time to navigate, and even when you have a sense of what is going on, bureaucratic hurdles can appear out of nowhere. This happened for a few days last week, when contact with Julian was unexpectedly disrupted. It meant the vital contact which keeps him and us going stopped until it was re-established through mechanisms neither of us control.

These types of problems pale in comparison with the extraordinary difficulty of preparing a complex case such as his from prison, where Julian's access to his own court documents and prosecution material is partial and delayed. Julian hadn't even seen his lawyers in person for 6 months before the extradition hearing in September. There is no question that the prosecution has a major advantage when the defendant has to prepare his case from prison. That was true even before COVID, but COVID has made everything immensely more difficult.

Although COVID restrictions have eased in the UK, inmates in Belmarsh are still unable to receive family visits in person. We have not been able to see each other in person since October, except for in the court room. The last time I was in the same room as Julian was on January 6th, when his bail application was refused. He hasn't been able to hold his little boys in his arms for over a year.

Julian's defence team served its objections to the US Government's request for permission to appeal on April 6th. The team also informed the Court of the cross-appeal points it will pursue if the High Court agrees to hear the US appeal. We expect the court to grant permission to hear the appeal, because that is normally what happens.

In the meantime, the campaign has to focus on the big picture and plan around the political calendar rather than the court calendar, because court dates are constantly subject to change and delay. The political calendar, and key dates such as Julian's 50th birthday on the 3rd of July, are the best guide for planned actions.

Julian is not charged with anything in the UK, and the case that has been brought against him has been blasted by every credible international and press freedom organization. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer recently did a briefing to a group of 40 countries' members of parliament. The United Nations expert has just published a book about Julian's case in German. His investigation concluded that "The prosecution [against Assange] isn't pursuing law and injustice, it is pursuing political purposes. Therefore it is a persecution, not a prosecution." (Watch Melzer's briefing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1v6H0nRVzU).

Thanks for your continuing support. Please share this fundraiser and follow me (@stellamoris1 on twitter) and visit https://dontextraditeassange.com

Key dates:

24 April

10-year anniversary of the publication of the Guantanamo Bay Detainee Assessment Briefs (also known as the Gitmo Files https://wikileaks.org/gitmo/). The potential sentence for exposing this publication is 40 years, according the Trump indictment. Guantanamo Bay has been in the news because the Biden Administration has announced its intention to close the prison camp. A new film has been released based on Mohamedou Ould Salahi who was detained without charge in GITMO, and eventually freed, called The Mauritanian. In addition to the Detainee Assessment Briefs, WikiLeaks published numerous documents exposing prisoner abuse in the secretive prison at Guantanamo Bay (https://www.wikileaks.org/wiki/Category:Analyses).


May

This is very tentative but in May it is possible there will be a hearing in the High Court concerning the US government's appeal against January’s extradition decision – if the courts allow permission for an appeal.


June

26 June: Start of 'Assange week; for Julian's 50th birthday, ending on Julian's birthday on July 3rd


July

3 July: Julian's 50th birthday

25 July: 11 year anniversary of the publication of the Afghan War Diaries


October

22 October: 11 year anniversary of the publication of the Iraq War Logs


November

1-12 November 2021: COP26 UN Climate Conference to be held in Glasgow. The COP26 conference will see the world's leaders travel to Glasgow to discuss global climate and health challenges.

28/29 November: 11 year anniversary of the publication of Cablegate (US State Department cables)


December

7 December: 11-year anniversary of Julian's deprivation of liberty. Julian was arrested on this day in 2010 and has never been free since.



#DropTheCharge #FreeAssangeNOW

Stella Moris


Update 5

Stella Moris

April 9, 2021

Julian's second anniversary in Belmarsh this Sunday

On Sunday, April the 11th, Julian will have spent 2 full years in Belmarsh prison. 730 days. It marks the beginning of the third year of Julian's incarceration.

Protests and solidarity actions are planned around the world to raise awareness.

Reporters Without Borders (@rsf_inter on Twitter) has changed its banner into a Free Assange message for the anniversary. When I tell Julian about these actions it lifts his spirits.

Anniversaries are a platform to educate, nurture compassion and solidarity, and bring like-minded people onboard.

I was recently speaking to someone who was not particularly familiar with the case. The striking thing to them, they said, was the passage of time. It changes people's perception of the situation.

Remind people that the judge threw out the US extradition request in January. Remind them that Julian published information because he defends people's right to know what the government does in their name. Remind them that he has done nothing wrong and to put him in prison is to criminalize journalism. Remind them that he has a family and that he is suffering.

Please join protests and solidarity actions where you are, and share information online too. Follow @deacampaign and my account (@stellamoris1) and others, and please share this fundraiser to your networks too.

And don't forget to take pictures!

Stella Moris
Update 4

Stella Moris

March 22, 2021

Some key upcoming dates

I want to thank everyone on behalf of Julian and myself for helping to raise the funds to defend him against the US extradition appeal. This fundraiser has now passed £75,000 which will help to support the new legal challenges.

I hope Julian will be able to spend his 50th birthday this year on July 3rd at home, safe and with his kids. But it is by no means a certainty, so I ask everyone to redouble your efforts to make sure that his liberty becomes a reality. There is a severe risk that the lower court's decision could be reversed, and if Julian is extradited it would be a death sentence.

Small actions have a multiplying effect, and we must step up efforts until he is a free man.

Pressure must mount on the Biden Administration, and especially incoming Attorney General Merrick Garland, to break with this Trump-era indictment, to "return to sanity" and to the Obama-era policy not to prosecute Julian. Biden and his Justice Department under new leadership must drop the charges. These efforts should also extend to lawmakers and administration officials at the federal and state levels.

There are some key dates coming up which are really important to Julian and our campaign:


5 April

11-year anniversary of the Collateral Murder/Rules of Engagement publication: https://collateralmurder.wikileaks.org/. The video footage, taken from an Apache helicopter gunsight, showed the crew firing on a group of men and killing them, including two journalists from Reuters. It provoked a debate about the Iraq War and accountability for war crimes. The potential sentence Julian faces for his part in releasing this publication is 40 years, according to the Trump-era indictment. Whenever you hold an event about Julian please show the Collateral Murder video if the opportunity lends itself. Many people, especially those under the age of 30, have not seen the video. The video is key to understanding why the US administration wants to silence Julian.


11 April

This marks the 2-year anniversary of Julian's incarceration in Belmarsh prison. Julian is now into his 11th year of deprivation of liberty. Julian has not been a free man since his arrest without charge in December 2010. He was held in Wandsworth prison from 7 - 16 December 2010; then under house arrest from 16 December - 19 June 2012; then besieged at the embassy of Ecuador where he was granted political asylum in order to protect him from US extradition between 19 June 2012 and 11 April 2019. The UN (WGAD 54/2015) concluded that UK and Sweden were acting unlawfully by arbitrarily depriving him of his liberty. The UN demanded his freedom of movement be restored in February 2016. US charges were unsealed on the day of his arrest (Sweden never presented charges and dropped the investigation shortly after). Julian has been incarcerated in Belmarsh prison since 11 April 2019 to the present day, under a Trump-administration indictment, for exposing Bush-era war crimes.


24 April

10-year anniversary of the publication of the Guantanamo Bay Detainee Assessment Briefs (also known as the Gitmo Files https://wikileaks.org/gitmo/). The potential sentence for exposing this publication is 40 years, according the Trump indictment. Guantanamo Bay has been in the news because the Biden Administration has announced its intention to close the prison camp. A new film has been released based on Mohamedou Ould Salahi who was detained without charge in GITMO, and eventually freed, called The Mauritanian. In addition to the Detainee Assessment Briefs, WikiLeaks published numerous documents exposing prisoner abuse in the secretive prison at Guantanamo Bay (https://www.wikileaks.org/wiki/Category:Analyses).


May

This is very tentative but in May it is possible the High Court appeal against January’s extradition decision will be held – if the courts allow an appeal.


3 July

Julian's 50th birthday.


1-12 November 2021

COP26 UN Climate Conference to be held in Glasgow. The COP26 conference will see the world's leaders travel to Glasgow to discuss global climate and health challenges.



Please keep sharing our CrowdJustice page with friends, family, colleagues and anyone else who might be able to donate.

#FreeAssangeNOW

#DropTheCharges

Stella Moris



Update 3

Stella Moris

March 8, 2021

The latest developments in Julian Assange's extradition case

It has been another busy week for my partner Julian Assange's legal team and for the wider community of supporters.

Julian's lawyers are preparing submissions to counter the US application to appeal the Magistrate Court's decision of 4 January 2021, which blocked the extradition on grounds that extraditing Julian would be tantamount to the death penalty.

In Australia, which is heading into a general election in the second half of this year, the head of the main opposition party, Anthony Albanese, is now calling for Julian to be freed after more than a decade of having his freedom denied.

In the United States, the incoming Attorney General Merrick Garland could drop the charges against Julian entirely. This would align Biden's administration with Obama's, rather than Trump's, on the WikiLeaks matter. If Garland opts to pursue the Trump administration's indictment against Julian it will adopt, entrench and continue the most serious assault unleashed by the Trump administration against the press and civil liberties.

It was the Trump administration which brought charges against Julian, all relating to the revelations he helped to expose about Guantanamo Bay, the US embassy cables, and the Bush-wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Garland faces a choice: whether to continue the Trump administration's war on the press or defend the integrity of the US Constitution.

It is possible that Merrick Garland will see sense and drop the charges. Julian's indictment is opposed by people within the administration. The press and virtually every press freedom group have advocated for the US to end this prosecution because it criminalises journalism itself. Even within the administration, the political nature of the case and its threat to the Constitution has reportedly led to resignations.

The outgoing US prosecutor Zachary Terwilliger gave an interview the day after the US lost its bid to extradite Julian before the Magistrates' Court. Terwilliger anticipated that the new Attorney General would look at the case afresh and determine whether the case should be continued, further evidencing that there is already disagreement within the ranks.

Keep up the pressure on the Biden administration to return to the right position, the position under Obama.

Please share these updates with your networks and help us raise money to pay for the legal costs to defend against this outrageous appeal.

#DropTheCharges

#FreeAssangeNOW

Stella Moris

Update 2

Stella Moris

Feb. 16, 2021

Important updates to Julian Assange's extradition case

It is a busy time for the lawyers working on my partner Julian Assange’s extradition case. Last Friday was the deadline for the US government to finalise its application to the High Court, asking for permission to appeal last month’s decision. Earlier in the week, a coalition of dozens of major US press freedom groups had called on the Biden Administration to drop the charges against Julian.

The next step in the legal case is that Julian’s legal team will respond to the US grounds for appeal. Julian's lawyers are hard at work. Julian's team has asked the High Court to give them more time to consider whether to lodge a cross appeal in order to challenge parts of the ruling where the magistrate did not side with Julian and the press freedom arguments. A cross appeal would provide an opportunity to clear Julian’s name properly.

On January 4, a UK magistrates court ruled that it was unsafe to extradite Julian because to do so would likely result in his death. The magistrate took into account extensive medical evidence and blocked the extradition on grounds that to extradite him would be so oppressive as to be contrary to s.91 of the Extradition Act. Although Julian won at the Magistrates Court, the magistrate did not side with him on the wider public interest arguments.

We wanted a UK court to properly quash the extradition and refute the other grounds too. We wanted a finding that the extradition is an attempt to criminalise journalism, not just in the US but in the UK and the rest of the world as well; and that the decision to indict Julian was a political act, a violation of the treaty, a violation of his human rights and an abuse of process.

Julian’s extradition team is considering all these issues, and whether they can be cross-appealed. The Court will set the deadline for the defence to submit its response, and once it has all the arguments before it, the High Court will decide whether it wishes to grant permission for the appeal to be heard.

Meanwhile, Julian – who is an unconvicted innocent man – remains on remand in the high security Belmarsh Prison where he has been for over 500 days. He should be home with his kids, but he was refused bail. There are many terrible things about Belmarsh, not least how cold it has been over the last couple of weeks and that he is isolated in a cell practically all day long.

However, the most pressing problem for Julian is that conditions in detention continue to obstruct his ability to prepare his legal case, a case on which his life depends. He is denied proper access to his lawyers--his legal team is unable to do in-person visits because of Covid, and there are months of waiting lists for video conferencing. There are delays in legal papers reaching him and the laptop issued by UK authorities for the court case is read-only, it has no text editing programs, and the keys are glued down to prevent him from typing. This makes it all but impossible for him to provide adequate feedback to his team with regards to the materials required for the appeal.

The campaign is now at its most critical point. We cannot afford to have the Magistrate Court's ruling reversed on appeal.

The Biden Administration will soon appoint its new Attorney General and this will be an important moment to raise the pressure on the Biden Administration to live up to its commitments to defend press freedom and drop the charges against Julian. The Obama administration, of which Biden was Vice President, decided not to pursue charges against Julian because it recognised that to do so would be a wider attack on press freedom.

It was the Trump administration which charged him and pursued the extradition as part of its war against journalism.

Do whatever you can, however you can to help raise awareness about Julian's case in the coming weeks and months, until Julian's freedom is secured. Go to the dontextraditeassange.com campaign site for resources and ideas.

Please keep sharing this fundraising appeal with friends, family, colleagues and anyone else who might be able to donate. This is a David and Goliath battle, and the US government has unlimited resources. Keep explaining why Julian is guilty of nothing other than exposing truths about US war crimes and human rights abuses. An attack on him is an attack on a free press.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

#FreeAssangeNOW

#DropTheCharges

Stella Moris

Update 1

Stella Moris

Feb. 5, 2021

£50,000 raised for Julian Assange's appeal...but the fight continues

Our High Court appeal fund has reached £50,000, thanks to your generous support towards Julian’s new legal fight.

Over 1000 people have pledged to help defend Julian against the appeal of the extradition hearing decision.

The High Court appeal was lodged by the US government in the final days of the Trump administration. Julian and I are enormously grateful and heartened by the amazing support. More and more people understand what is at stake and the need for Julian to be free, and we need that to continue until Julian comes home.

On January 4 a UK Magistrates Court issued a ruling blocking the US government's request to extradite Julian. The UK magistrate ruled that extraditing him would be unsafe. The magistrate accepted that the evidence showed a high likelihood that Julian would die if the UK decided to extradite him. However, the US is now seeking to overturn that decision on appeal.

Although Julian won, he was refused bail, so he continues to be held as an unconvinced ‘remand’ prisoner in Belmarsh high security prison, where he has been for 22 months. He's been there for longer than many violent convicts. He faces difficult conditions, isolated for most of the day, which are compounded by Covid. In his block there were 97 inmates who had tested positive for Covid-19 by the end of December.

Julian should be warm, at home with me and his two sons. Max just turned two and we were forced to spend yet another birthday apart. Julian is really suffering with the cold weather. Even though winter clothes were sent to him in early October, Julian has still not received them. When he goes outside in the exercise yard he is having to layer up his existing clothes, which are not warm enough.

Many people are asking the Biden Administration to distance itself from the Trump-era prosecution of Julian, and to drop the charges entirely. Doing so would be in keeping with President Obama’s position that the US should not prosecute Julian because the case is the biggest single threat against press freedom. If the Biden Administration decides to drop the case, Julian could be free within weeks. But if it keeps the case going, it could take years.

The UK courts could decide to reverse the decision blocking the extradition on appeal, and if that happens, Julian will most likely never come home and our children will lose their father forever.

Julian’s lawyers must continue to prepare for all eventualities. Even though they are working for minimal rates, and in many cases pro bono, it is an expensive process and they carry enormous responsibility on their shoulders.

The next steps in the extradition case are as follows:

  • The US will submit its final appeal grounds by February 12. If the High Court is not satisfied that the US grounds for appeal are sound, Julian will be able to come home. If, on the other hand, the High Court agrees to hear the appeal, then that hearing is expected to take place in a few months.
  • If the High Court appeal goes ahead, the losing party could then appeal to the Supreme Court and/or the European Court of Human Rights. That could take several years.

In the meantime we must stay strong and grow the campaign for Julian’s freedom in every way we can.

Julian's life is at stake. That in itself is a terrifying and urgent reality. He should be free because his incarceration is a grave injustice to Julian and to our family.

This case is about an innocent man but it is also about our fundamental values. Julian is being punished for doing the right thing. Any prosecution of Julian – who exposed war crimes and human rights abuse– undermines press freedom in a way that affects every single person. The attempt to prosecute him criminalises public interest journalism.

Thank you again for continuing to be involved and engaged. Please share the CrowdJustice appeal with anyone who might be able to help.

#FreeAssangeNOW

#DropTheCharges

Stella Moris


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