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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 9/27/20

Julian Assange US Extradition: Show Trial of Journalism at the Old Bailey

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by John Kendall Hawkins

Nozomi Hayase is the author of WikiLeaks, the Global Fourth Estate: History Is Happening(2018). At her website, she describes herself:

Nozomi Hayase, Ph.D is a liberation psychologist whose writing and activism is dedicated to the empowerment of people. Through her journalistic work, she applies psychological lenses to social and political issues and engages the public in a search for truth, justice and fairness. She has been covering issues of free speech and government transparency, including the vital role of whistleblowers and cryptocurrencies in creating a more democratic society. With the conviction that the foundation of investigative journalism is compassionate curiosity, she strives to bring an inquiry that fosters dialogue, and encourages the honest witnessing of history.

The following is the result of a Zoom interview on September 24, 2020.

John Hawkins: How are the extradition proceedings going?

Nozomi Hayase: First of all, WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange has been indicted on 17 charges of espionage and one charge of conspiring with a source to violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for his reporting on the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the torture at Guantanamo Bay.

This US extradition case is a direct attack on the First Amendment by the US government. This is the first time the US Espionage Act is being used to prosecute a publisher. If it's successful, it would threaten media freedom everywhere.

This is the most important press freedom case of our time and the hearings are taking place at the Old Bailey behind closed door. NGOs and international political observers were denied remote access to the court on the first day of the hearing. This includes Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders.

What has been unfolding this month at the London court is a Kafkaesque show trial. There have been problems with the abuse of process. Assange has not been allowed to sit with his lawyers and he's been placed behind a glass cage, as was the case during the hearing in February. The presiding judge, Vanessa Baraitser has been micromanaging the proceedings, challenging the credentials of the defense's expert witnesses and giving an unfair amount of time to the prosecutors.

With that said, I think Julian's defense team has been doing extremely well. From an offer of a pardon for Assange by the US President Donald Trump (which Assange refused to accept) to his administration's high-level plan to revoke Assange's political asylum granted by Ecuador, the defense team's witness testimonies have revealed the highly political nature of this case. Now, the judge acknowledged this and indicated that a ruling would not be delivered until the US presidential election was over.

But remember, this is a show trial. If this were a fair trial, where the judge has her own judicial authority, there's no way that his US extradition request would be accepted. So ending this political prosecution requires ordinary people to engage in political action. More than 150 politicians and lawyers, judges and legal academics including 13 former presidents called for an end to this political prosecution of the journalist who exposed the evidence of US government's war crime and torture. We can all increase our pressure to demand our representatives to join those who decided to be on the right side of history and are standing up for free press.

Consortium News and journalist Kevin Gosztola, managing editor of Shadowproof.com, along with Courage Foundation, the organisation that defends rights of whistleblowers, have been giving updates on the hearing. So please follow their work to know the latest about this important case.

In your preface to WikiLeaks, the Global Fourth Estate, you reference 'illegitimate governance,' by which you seem to mean any 'democracy' out there that hides from the People what they need to know in order to pressure their representatives in Congress (or Parliament) to make corrective changes to improve their democracy. Can you say more about such 'illegitimate governance' and how it relates to Assange's work?

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John Kendall Hawkins is an American ex-pat freelance journalist and poet currently residing in Australia. His poetry, commentary, and reviews have appeared in publications in Oceania, Europe and the USA, such as Cordite, Morning Star, Hanging (more...)
 

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