US Refuses to Give Assurances of First Amendment Protection to Julian Assange

On the 16th April 2024, the US Embassy in London responded to the Appeals Court Judges request for assurances regarding the treatment of Julian if extradited to the US. The response specifically excluded First Amendment and hence freedom of expression under article 10 of the European Convention to Julian Assange. A decision as to the … Continue reading “US Refuses to Give Assurances of First Amendment Protection to Julian Assange”

On the 16th April 2024, the US Embassy in London responded to the Appeals Court Judges request for assurances regarding the treatment of Julian if extradited to the US. The response specifically excluded First Amendment and hence freedom of expression under article 10 of the European Convention to Julian Assange.

A decision as to the applicability of the First Amendment is exclusively within the purview of the U.S. Courts

Embassy of the United States of America London,England. April 16, 2024

Full communication:


Editors Note:
A simple overview of the separation of powers.
The United States Congress ( Senate and House of Representatives) make the laws,
The Administration ( Executive under the President) enacts and operates within these laws.
The Judiciary interpret laws.

The prosecution is under direction of the Department of Justice which is part of the administration. They cannot make assurances ( ie tell the Judiciary how to run a case)
Also as there is no case before the Judiciary, they cannot make a ruling on the applicability of a First Amendment defence

The fact that the US constitution only offers protection to United States citizens is central to allowing the excesses of he US administration such as Guantanamo Bay, extrajudicial extradition, Abu Ghraib

The following issues are still of concern

1. European Convention on Human Rights

The note issues an empty statement, namely, that Assange can try to raise the First Amendment at trial, but the U.S. Department of Justice can’t guarantee he would get it, which is precisely what it must do under British extradition law based on the European Convention on Human Rights. 

The U.S. is legally restricted to assure a free speech guarantee to Assange equivalent to Article 10 of the European Convention, which the British court is bound to follow. However without that assurance, Assange should be freed according to a British Crown Prosecution Service comment on extraditions.

2. UK Courts cannot enforce assurances

The US assurances mean nothing because if Julian gets to a US court there is nothing UK courts can do to enforce them. They cannot guarantee his safety in any way whatsoever.

1.  USAID v. Alliance for Open Society, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2020 that non-U.S. citizens outside the U.S. do not possess constitutional rights.
2. Both former C.I.A. Director Mike Pompeo and Gordon Kromberg, Assange’s U.S. prosecutor, have said Assange does not have First Amendment protection

INTERVIEW: There’s a lot of history about the US giving assurances they won’t keep

On the 30th March 2024, George Galloway UK MP interviews Craig Murray on the ramifications of the recent appeal ruling. Editors Note: This gives a good understanding of legal logical contortions which could and an expected will be used

On the 30th March 2024, George Galloway UK MP interviews Craig Murray on the ramifications of the recent appeal ruling.

Editors Note: This gives a good understanding of legal logical contortions which could and an expected will be used

UK Court Gives Biden Chance to Dodge Assange Appeal by “Assuring” His Rights

On the 29th March 2024, Marjorie Cohn writes in truthout WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange is closer than ever to being extradited to the United States for trial on 17 counts under the Espionage Act and one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion over WikiLeaks’s 2010-2011 revelation of evidence of U.S. war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay. He … Continue reading “UK Court Gives Biden Chance to Dodge Assange Appeal by “Assuring” His Rights”

On the 29th March 2024, Marjorie Cohn writes in truthout

WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange is closer than ever to being extradited to the United States for trial on 17 counts under the Espionage Act and one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion over WikiLeaks’s 2010-2011 revelation of evidence of U.S. war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay. He faces 175 years in prison.

“This is a signal to all of you that if you expose the interests that are driving war they will come after you, they will put you in prison and they will try to kill you,” said Stella Assange, Julian’s wife, of his prosecution.

On March 26, the United Kingdom Divisional Court denied Assange the opportunity to make most of his appellate arguments. But the two-judge panel of Justice Jeremy Johnson and Dame Victoria Sharp left open the possibility that Assange could appeal on three grounds. They found that Assange “has a real prospect of success” on the following issues: If extradited to the U.S., he will be denied the right to freedom of expression, will suffer discrimination because he’s not a U.S. citizen and could be sentenced to death.

Rather than simply allowing Assange to argue the three issues on appeal, however, the panel gave the Biden administration an out. If the U.S. provides the court with “satisfactory assurances” that Assange won’t be denied any of these rights, his extradition to the U.S. can proceed without an appeals hearing.

Stella Assange called the decision “astounding,” adding, “The court’s recognized that Julian has been exposed to flagrant denial of his freedom of expression rights, that he is being discriminated against on the basis of his nationality and that he remains exposed to the death penalty.” 

At an earlier stage in this case, the U.S. gave the U.K. High Court “assurances” that Assange would be treated humanely if extradited. That caused the court to reverse the magistrate judge’s denial of extradition (which was based on the likelihood of suicide if Assange is held in harsh U.S. confinement). The High Court accepted those assurances at face value in spite of the U.S.’s history of reneging on similar assurances.

The current ruling, however, requires U.S. assurances to be “satisfactory” and the defense will have an opportunity to challenge them at a hearing.

“Mr. Assange will not, therefore, be extradited immediately,” the panel wrote, implying that if they had denied his appeal outright, the U.K. authorities would put him on a plane to the U.S. forthwith. They gave the U.S. three weeks to come forward with satisfactory assurances.

If the U.S. fails to provide any assurances, Assange will be granted a hearing on the three grounds. If the U.S. does give assurances, a hearing to decide whether they are satisfactory will occur on May 20.

“The Biden administration should not offer assurances. They should drop this shameful case that should never have been brought,” Stella Assange said.

These are the grounds the High Court will review if the U.S. fails to provide “satisfactory assurances”:

1. Extradition Would Violate Freedom of Expression Guaranteed by Article 10 of European Convention on Human Rights 

Assange would argue at trial that his actions were protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. “He contends that if he is given First Amendment rights, the prosecution will be stopped. The First Amendment is therefore of central importance to his defence,” the panel concluded.

The First Amendment provides “strong protection” to freedom of expression, similar to that provided by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the panel noted. Article 10 (1) of the convention says, “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.”

Gordon Kromberg, assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia, where Assange’s trial would be held, said the prosecution might argue at trial that “foreign nationals are not entitled to protections under the First Amendment,” the panel noted. In 2017, then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo said that Assange “has no First Amendment freedoms” because “he is not a U.S. citizen.”

In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 2020 case of Agency for International Development v. Alliance for Open Society International that “it is long settled as a matter of American constitutional law that foreign citizens outside United States territory do not possess rights under the US Constitution.”

The panel wrote that if Assange “is not permitted to rely on the First Amendment, then it is arguable that his extradition would be incompatible with article 10 of the Convention.”

But even if the U.S. Department of Justice prosecutors give “significant assurances” that Assange’s First Amendment rights would be protected, that is no guarantee. Prosecutors are part of the executive branch, which cannot bind the judicial branch due to the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers.

“The ruling reveals that the High Court does not understand the American system of government,” Stephen Rohde, who practiced First Amendment law for almost 50 years and writes extensively about the Assange case, told Truthout. “It only has before it the executive branch of the U.S. government. Whatever ‘significant assurances’ the Department of Justice may give the High Court, they are not binding on the judicial branch.”

Moreover, Rohde said, “The High Court is obligated to uphold Assange’s rights to ‘freedom of expression’ under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects Assange even if the U.S. courts refuse to do so. The only way to do that is to deny extradition.”

2. The U.K. Extradition Act Forbids Discrimination Based on Nationality

Julian Assange is an Australian citizen who would be tried in the U.S. if the Biden administration’s pursuit of extradition is successful.

Section 81(b) of the U.K. Extradition Act says that extradition is barred for an individual who “might be prejudiced at his trial or punished, detained or restricted in his personal liberty by reason of his … nationality.”

Due to the centrality of the First Amendment to Assange’s defense, the panel noted, “If he is not permitted to rely on the First Amendment because of his status as a foreign national, he will thereby be prejudiced (potentially very greatly prejudiced) by reason of his nationality.”

3. Extradition Is Barred by Inadequate Death Penalty Protection Required by the Extradition Act

Section 94 of the U.K. Extradition Act says, “The Secretary of State must not order a person’s extradition … if he could be, will be or has been sentenced to death for the offence” in the receiving state. That limitation does not apply if a written “assurance” that is “adequate” says “that a sentence of death- (a) will not be imposed, or (b) will not be carried out (if imposed).”

None of the charges that Assange is currently facing carry the death penalty. But if extradited to the U.S., he could be charged with aiding and abetting treason or espionage, both of which are capital offenses.

Ben Watson KC, secretary of state for the Home Department, admitted that:

a.) The facts alleged against [Assange] could sustain a charge of aiding or abetting treason, or espionage.

b.) If [Assange] is extradited, there is nothing to prevent a charge of aiding or abetting treason, or a charge of espionage, from being added to the indictment.

c.) The death penalty is available on conviction for aiding or abetting treason, or espionage.

d.) There are no arrangements in place to prevent the imposition of the death penalty.

e.) The existing assurance does not explicitly prevent the imposition of the death.

The panel noted that when former President Donald Trump was asked about WikiLeaks publishing the leaked documents, he said, “I think it was disgraceful…. I think there should be like a death penalty or something.” If Trump is reelected, he may seek to ensure that his Justice Department adds capital charges to the indictment.

In concluding that Assange could raise this issue on appeal subject to “significant assurances,” the panel cited “the potential, on the facts, for capital charges to be laid; the calls for the imposition of the death penalty by leading politicians and other public figures; the fact that the Treaty does not preclude extradition for death penalty charges, and the fact that the existing assurance does not explicitly cover the death penalty.”

Appeal Grounds Denied by Panel

Remaining grounds for appeal that Assange requested were denied by the panel. They include prosecution for a political offense, prosecution based on political opinion; violation of right to a fair trial; violation of right to life; and violation of right to be free from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In addition, since no publisher has ever been prosecuted under the Espionage Act for publishing government secrets, Assange could not have known it was a crime.

The panel also ruled that Assange could not introduce new evidence adduced after the magistrate judge’s ruling. This includes a Yahoo News report detailing the CIA’s plan to kidnap and kill Assange when he was living under a grant of asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

If the U.S. offers “significant assurances” and extradition is ordered, Assange could appeal to the European Court of Human Rights and raise these additional issues as well.

Meanwhile, there is a possibility that instead of filing “assurances,” the Biden administration will opt to avoid the political pitfalls of Assange’s extradition to the U.S. and offer a plea bargain to end the case.

Read original article and please donate in truthout

The Assange Hearing Permission Appeal Judgment: Mad and Bad

On the 29th March 2024, Craig Murray posted his assessment of the latest Judgement in the High Court Appeal in the Assange Case The latest judgment by the High Court in the Assange case achieved completely the objectives of the UK and US states. Above all, Julian remains in the hell which is Belmarsh maximum security prison. … Continue reading “The Assange Hearing Permission Appeal Judgment: Mad and Bad”

On the 29th March 2024, Craig Murray posted his assessment of the latest Judgement in the High Court Appeal in the Assange Case

The latest judgment by the High Court in the Assange case achieved completely the objectives of the UK and US states. Above all, Julian remains in the hell which is Belmarsh maximum security prison. He is now safely there alone and incommunicado, from the authorities’ point of view, for at least several more months. 

Importantly, the United States has managed to keep him detained without securing his actual appearance in Washington. It is crucial to grasp that the CIA, who are very much controlling the process, do not actually want him to appear there until after their attempt to secure the re-election of Genocide Joe. No matter what your opinion of Donald Trump, there is no doubt the CIA conspired against him during his entire Presidency, beginning with the fake Russiagate scandal and ending with their cover-up of the Hunter Biden laptop story. They do not want Trump back.

Biden is politically in deep trouble. Biden’s lifelong political support for Israel has been unwavering to the point of fanaticism. In the process he has collected millions of dollars from the Zionist lobby. That always seemed a source of political strength in the United States, not of weakness. 

The current genocide in Gaza has changed all those calculations. The sheer evil and viciousness of the Israeli state, the open and undisguised enthusiasm for racist massacre, has achieved the seemingly impossible task of turning much American public opinion against Israel. 

That is particularly true among key elements of the Democratic base. Young people and ethnic minorities have been shocked that the party they have supported is backing and supplying genocide. The mainstream media have lost control of the narrative, when the truth is so widely available on mobile phones, to the point that the MSM have actually been forced to change course and occasionally tell truths about Israel. That also was unthinkable a few months ago. 

Precisely the same groups who are outraged by Biden’s support for genocide are going to be alienated by the attack on a journalist and publisher for revealing true facts about war crimes. Assange is not currently a major public issue in the United States, because he is not currently in the United States. Were he to arrive there in chains, the media coverage would be massive and the issue unavoidable in the presidential election campaign. 

The extradition proceeding has therefore had to be managed in such a way as to keep Assange locked in a living hell the whole time, without actually achieving the extradition until after the presidential election in November. As the years of hearings have rolled by this has become increasingly difficult for the British state to finesse on behalf of their American masters. 

In this respect, and only in this respect, Dame Victoria Sharp and Lord Justice Johnson have done brilliantly in their judgment. 

Senior British judges do not have to be told what to do. They are closely integrated into a small political establishment that is socially interlinked, defined by membership of institutions, and highly subject to groupthink. 

Dame Victoria Sharp’s brother Richard arranged an £800,000 personal loan for then Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and subsequently became chairman of the BBC despite a complete lack of relevant experience. Lord Justice Johnson as a lawyer represented the intelligence services and the Ministry of Defence. 

They did not have to be told what to do in this case explicitly, although it was very plain that they entered the two-day hearing process knowing nothing except a briefing they had been given that the crux of the case was the revelation of names of US informants in the Wikileaks material. 

The potential danger of an appeal, the granting of which would achieve the United States’ objective of putting the actual extradition back beyond the election date, was that it would allow the airing in public of a great catalogue of war crimes and other illegal activity which had been exposed by Wikileaks. 

Sharp and Johnson have obviated this danger by adjourning the decision with the possibility of granting an appeal, but only on extremely limited grounds. Those grounds would explicitly gag the defence from ever mentioning again in court inconvenient facts, such as United States war crimes including murder, torture and extraordinary rendition, as well as the plans by the United States to kidnap or assassinate Julian Assange. 

All of those things are precluded by this judgment from ever being raised again in the extradition hearings. The politically damaging aspect of the case in terms of the Manning revelations and CIA behaviour has been cauterised in the UK. 

There has been some confusion because the judgment stated that three grounds of possible appeal were open. But in fact this was really only two. The judgment states that freedom of expression under article 10 of the European Convention is adequately covered by the First Amendment protections of the US Constitution. Therefore this point can only be argued by the defence against extradition if the First Amendment will not be applied in the case. 

The second ground of appeal which they stated may be allowed was discrimination by nationality, in that the prosecution has stated that as a foreign citizen who committed the alleged acts whilst outside of the United States, Julian may not have the protection of the First Amendment or indeed of any of the rights enshrined in the US Constitution. 

So the first two grounds are in fact identical. Sharp and Johnson ruled that both would fall if an assurance were received from the government of the United States that Julian would not be denied a First Amendment defence on grounds of nationality. 

The other ground on which an appeal may be allowed to go forward is the lack of an assurance from the United States that, following additional charges, Julian may not become subject to the death penalty. 

I shall go on to analyse what happens now and the chances of success on any of these allowed appeal points, but I wish first to revisit the points which have not been allowed and which are now barred from ever being raised in these proceedings again. 

The most spectacular argument in the judgment, and one which I trust will become notorious in British legal history, refers to the application to bring in new evidence regarding the US authorities’ illegal spying on Julian and plotting to kidnap or assassinate him. 

There are any number of things in this case over five years which are so perverse that they have to be witnessed to be believed, but none has risen to this height and it would be a struggle for anybody to come up with anything in British legal history more brazen than this. 

Judge Johnson and Judge Sharp accept that there is evidence to the required standard that the US authorities did plot to kidnap and consider assassinating Julian Assange, but they reason at para. 210 that, as extradition is now going to be granted, there is no longer any need for the United States to kidnap or assassinate Julian Assange: and therefore the argument falls.

It does not seem to occur to them that a willingness to consider extrajudicial violent action against Julian Assange amounts to a degree of persecution which obviously reflects on his chances of a fair trial and treatment in the United States. It is simply astonishing, but the evidence of the US plot to destroy Julian Assange, including evidence from the ongoing criminal investigation in Spain into the private security company involved, will never again be allowed to be mentioned in Julian’s case against extradition. 

Similarly, we are at the end of the line for arguing that the treaty under which Julian is being extradited forbids extradition for political offences. The judgment confirms boldly that treaty obligations entered into by the United Kingdom are not binding in domestic law and confer no individual rights. 

Of over 150 extradition treaties entered into by the United Kingdom, all but two ban extradition for political offences. The judgment is absolutely clear that those clauses are redundant in every single one of those treaties. 

Every dictatorship on Earth can now come after political dissidents in the UK and they will not have the protection of those clauses against political extradition in the treaties. That is absolutely plain on the face of this ruling. 

The judgment also specifically rejects the idea that the UK court has to consider rights under the European Convention of Human Rights in considering an extradition application. They state that in the United States—as in other Category 2 countries in terms of the Extradition Act 2003—those rights can be presumed to be protected at trial by the legislation of the country seeking extradition. 

That argument abdicating responsibility for application of the ECHR is one that is not likely to be accepted if this case ever gets to Strasbourg (but see below on the possibility of that happening). 

By refusing to hear the freedom of expression argument, the court is ruling out listening to the war crimes exposed by the material published and hearing that the publication of state level crime is protected speech. That entire argument is now blocked off in future hearings and there will be no more mention of US war crimes. 

The judges accept—hook, line and sinker—the tendentious argument that Julian is not being charged with the publication of all of the material but only with those documents within the material which reveal the name of US informants and sources. As I reported at the time, this was plainly the one “fact” with which the judges had been briefed before the hearing.

That it is a legitimate exercise to remove entirely from consideration the context of the totality of what was revealed in terms of state crimes, and to cherry pick a tiny portion of the release, is by no means clear; but their approach is in any event fatally flawed by a complete non sequitur: 

At para. 45 they argue that none of the material revealing criminal behaviour by the United States is being charged, only material which reveals names. Their argument depends upon an assumption that the material revealing names of informants or sources does not also reveal any criminal behaviour by the United States. That assumption is completely and demonstrably false. 

Let us now turn to the grounds on which a right to appeal is provisionally allowed, but may be cancelled in the event of sufficient diplomatic assurances being received from the United States. 

To start with the death penalty, which has understandably drawn the most headlines: it astonishes me, as this argument has been in play now for several months, that the United States has not provided the simple assurance against imposition of the death penalty which is absolutely bog standard in many extradition proceedings. 

There is no controversy about it, and it is really quick and easy to do. It is a template: you just fill in the details and whiz off the diplomatic note. It takes 5 minutes. 

I do not believe the Biden administration is failing to provide the assurance against the death penalty because they wish to execute Julian Assange. They do not need to execute him. They can entomb him in a tiny concrete cell, living a totally solitary existence in a living hell. Arguably, he is of more value alive that way as a terrible warning to other journalists, rather than an executed martyr. 

I view the failure so far to produce a guarantee against the death penalty as the clearest evidence that the Biden administration is trying simply to kick this back past the election. By not providing the assurance, already they have achieved a delay of another few weeks which they have been given to provide the assurance, and then further time until the hearing on 20 May to discuss whether assurances produced have been adequate. Not giving the death penalty assurance is simply a stalling tactic, and I am sure they will go right up to the deadline given by the court and then provide it. 

The second assurance requested by the court is actually much more interesting. They have requested an assurance that Julian Assange will be able to plead a First Amendment defence on freedom of expression and will not be prevented from doing so on the grounds of his Australian nationality. 

The problem which the United States faces is that it is the federal judge who will decide whether or not Julian is entitled to plead that his freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment. Neither the Department of Justice nor the State Department can bind the judge by an assurance. 

The problem was flagged up by the US prosecutor in this case who stated that it is open to the prosecution to argue that a foreign national, operating abroad as Julian did, does not have First Amendment rights. It is extremely important to understand why this was said. 

The prisoners in Guantanamo Bay are deemed not to have any constitutional rights, despite being under the power of the US authorities, because they were non-US citizens acting abroad. 

A key US Supreme Court judgment in the case of USAID versus Open Society stated unequivocally that non-US citizens acting abroad do not have First Amendment protection. At first sight that decision appears to have little relevance. It concerns foreign charities in receipt of US aid funds which, as a condition of aid, they must oppose sex work. They attempted to claim this was in breach of First Amendment rights but the Supreme Court ruled that, as foreigners acting abroad, they did not have any such rights. 

While that may appear of limited relevance, referring to NGOs not individuals, there is a paragraph in the Open Society judgment which states as a rationale that were First Amendment rights to be granted to those NGOs they would also have to be granted to foreigners with whom the US military and intelligence services were in contact – i.e. the Guantanamo problem. 

This paragraph of the Supreme Court ruling appears inescapable in the Assange case:

Julian was a foreign national operating abroad when the Wikileaks material was published. So I do not see how the United States can simply give an assurance on this point, and indeed it seems to me very likely that Julian would indeed be denied First Amendment rights at trial in the United States. 

The sensible solution would of course be that as a non-US citizen publishing material outside the United States, Julian should not be subject to US jurisdiction at all. But that will not be adopted. 

So I anticipate the United States will produce an assurance which tries to fudge this. They will probably give an assurance that the prosecutor will not attempt to argue that Julian has no First Amendment rights. But that cannot prevent the judge from ruling that he does not, especially as there is a Supreme Court judgement to rely on. 

In May when we come to the hearing on the permitted points of appeal, it is vital to understand that there will be two parts to the argument. The first part will be to consider whether the assurances received by diplomatic note from the United States are sufficient for the grounds of appeal to fall completely. 

However if it is decided that the assurances from the United States are insufficient, that does not automatically mean that the appeal succeeds. It just means that the appeal is heard. The court will then decide whether the death penalty or nationality discrimination points are strong enough to stop the extradition. 

The absence of the death penalty assurance should end the extradition process. But the hearing would see the prosecution argue that it is not necessary, as there are no capital charges currently and none are likely to be added. The judges could go with this, given the undisguised bias towards the United States throughout.

The state will again kick in with its iron resolve to crush Julian. I don’t think that the United States will be able, for the reasons I have given, to provide assurances on the nationality and First Amendment rights, but I think the court will nonetheless order extradition. 

The United States will argue that it is a free country with a fair trial system and independent judges and that Julian will be allowed to make the argument in court that he should have First Amendment rights. The UK court should accept that the US judge will come to a fair decision which protects all human rights considerations. They will say that it is perfectly reasonable and normal for states to treat citizens and foreign nationals abroad in different ways in different contexts, including consular protection. 

A justice system which is capable of ruling that a person should be handed over to his attempted kidnapper, because then the kidnapper does not have to kidnap him, and ruling that the clauses of the very treaty under which somebody is being extradited do not apply, is capable of accepting that the ability to argue in court for a First Amendment defence is sufficient, even if that defence is likely to be denied.

There is, however, plenty of meat in those questions that would allow another adjourned hearing, another long delay for a judgment and plenty of leeway to get past the November election for Genocide Joe. 

The British establishment continues to move inexorably towards ordering Julian’s extradition at the time of its choosing. Once extradition is ordered, Julian in theory has an opportunity to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. 

The European Court of Human Rights can delay the extradition until it hears the case by a section 39 order. But there are two flaws: firstly the extradition may be carried out immediately upon the court judgement before a section 39 order can be obtained, which would take at least 48 hours. Secondly the Rwanda Safety Act has provision, though specifically in the Rwanda context, for the government to ignore section 39 orders from the ECHR. 

It cannot be ruled out that the British government would simply extradite Julian even in the face of an ECHR hearing. That would be popular with the Conservative base and, given Starmer’s extremely extensive and dubious role in the Assange saga while Director of Public Prosecutions, I certainly do not put it past him either. It is worth noting that there have been several occasions in recent years when the Home Office has deported people despite British court orders putting a stay on the deportation. There has never been any consequence other than a verbal rap on the knuckles for the Secretary of State from the court. 

So the struggle goes on. It is a fight for freedom of speech, it is a fight for freedom of the press, and above all it is a fight for the right of you and me to know the crimes that our governments commit, in our name and with our money. 

I am ever more struck by the fact that in fighting for Julian I am fighting exactly the same power structures and adversaries who are behind the genocide in Gaza. 

I need to close with an appeal. Please do not stop reading. You will recall that I recently addressed the UN Human Rights Committee on Julian’s case and in doing so had the opportunity to state a few hard truths about the war crimes of the United States.

My opportunity to do so was organised by the Swiss NGO Justice For All International, who submitted a shadow report (open link and click on red icon) by their lawyers to the UN 7 year Periodic Review of the UK’s human rights record. Justice For All also carried out a great deal of lobbying activity in connection with this to get me onto that stage and into meetings with key officials. 

I had agreed a fee to pay Justice For All for this legal and lobbying activity, in the expectation that it would be met from the substantial funds held by the bodies comprising the US/European institutions of Julian Assange campaign. 

Unfortunately the Assange campaign has refused to meet the bill and I have been left holding it. 

I have been told that I failed to follow correct procedures to apply for the spending. I am frankly in shock and a form of grief, because I thought we were friends working for a common cause, in my own case for free. I am reminded of the brilliant perception of Eric Hoffer: “Every great cause begins as a movement and becomes a business”. 

I am left with this bill I cannot pay for the work at the UN. Justice For All could not have been nicer about the situation, but if you could contribute to this Justice For All crowdfunder, I should be very grateful.

Read original article and much more and hopefully contribute to Craigs mammoth efforts in Craig’s Blog

Rules for Video Access to Julian’s Feburary 2024 Appeal

On the 1st February 2024 the UK Courts and Tribunals Judiciary published these directions for video access Before:President Of The King’s Bench Division and Mr Justice Johnson Between:Julian Paul Assange-v-Government Of The United States Of America-v-Secretary Of State For The Home Department(Interested Party) Order UPON the appellant’s renewed application for permission to appeal being listed … Continue reading “Rules for Video Access to Julian’s Feburary 2024 Appeal”

On the 1st February 2024 the UK Courts and Tribunals Judiciary published these directions for video access

President Of The King’s Bench Division and Mr Justice Johnson

Julian Paul Assange
Government Of The United States Of America
Secretary Of State For The Home Department
(Interested Party)


UPON the appellant’s renewed application for permission to appeal being listed on 20 and 21 February 2024
AND UPON the court receiving requests to attend the hearing by video link, and anticipating that further requests will be received before the hearing

It is ordered that:

  1. If the parties wish to make any representations about the way in which the court should treat requests to attend the hearing made under paragraph 3 below, those representations must be filed with the court by 4pm on 9 February 2024.
  2. Any person may, with the written permission of an employee of HMCTS (which shall only be granted after approval by the court), observe the proceedings by way of an audio-visual link.
  3. Any person seeking such written permission shall send the request to by 4pm on 15 February 2024.
  4. Any person (“the applicant”) seeking permission under paragraph 3 above, shall include in their request:
    (a) the full name of the applicant;
    (b) the email address of the applicant;
    (c) information as to whether the applicant would be located within the jurisdiction of England and Wales at all times when attending the Hearing remotely (if a transmission direction were to be made); and, if not, details of the applicant’s location;
    (d) any information the applicant wishes to provide in support of the request, including in particular any reason(s) why it is contended that making such a direction would be in the interests of justice; and
    (e) a statement by the applicant in the following terms:
    “I agree and undertake to the Court that, if permitted to attend the Hearing remotely, I will not make a recording, capture images, and/or broadcast any part of the proceedings. I understand that to do so may be an offence and/or contempt of court, punishable by imprisonment and/or a fine. I will abide by any directions given to me by the Court during the Hearing. I agree and undertake to the Court that I will not provide the link that I am given to access the Hearing to any other person.”
  5. A request for permission that is not made by the deadline imposed by this Order and/or does not comply with paragraph 4 of this Order may be refused.
  6. All those who are provided with a link t observe the proceedings shall be provided with a copy of this order.
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  12. Any party who wishes to vary or set aside this direction may do so on written application.
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    Important note: See the attached rules for those who observe proceedings remotely. If you do not obey the rules then that might amount to a criminal offence or a contempt of court which may be punished by imprisonment.
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(A) The Court anticipates that there is likely to be interest from media representatives and members of the public in attending remotely the hearing that is due to commence for 2 days on 20-21 February 2024. To manage the process, we have set out a procedure whereby anyone who wishes to attend the hearing remotely can make a transmission direction request.

(B) The court will not normally grant a transmission direction request in respect of an applicant who will not be in England and Wales during the Hearing. Anyone making a transmission direction request who will not be in England and Wales should provide information (pursuant to paragraph 4(d) above) as to why it would nevertheless be in the interests of justice to make a transmission direction order in his/her case.

(C) Late requests, because they cause disruption to the Court’s work are likely to be refused, unless there are compelling reasons why the applicant was unable to comply with the Court’s directions.

Dated this 1st day of February 2024

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  5. Take all these rules seriously. If you break them you might not just lose your access. You might be guilty of an offence or contempt of court for which you could be fined or sent to prison for up to 2 years.

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Reference original article at

Julian Assange Files Perfected Grounds of Appeal

On the 26th August 2022, Julian Assange’s legal team file his Perfected Grounds of Appeal Today, 26 August 2022, Julian Assange is filing his Perfected Grounds of Appeal before the High Court of Justice Administrative Court. The Respondents are the Government of the United States and the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Priti … Continue reading “Julian Assange Files Perfected Grounds of Appeal”

On the 26th August 2022, Julian Assange’s legal team file his Perfected Grounds of Appeal

Today, 26 August 2022, Julian Assange is filing his Perfected Grounds of Appeal before the High Court of Justice Administrative Court. The Respondents are the Government of the United States and the
Secretary of State for the Home Department, Priti Patel.

The Perfected Grounds of Appeal contain the arguments on which Julian Assange intends to challenge District Judge Vanessa Baraitser’s decision of 4 January 2021, and introduces significant new evidence that has developed since that ruling.

The Perfected Grounds of Appeal concerning the United States Government include the following

  • Julian Assange is being prosecuted and punished for his political opinions (s.81(a) of the Extradition Act);
  • Julian Assange is being prosecuted for protected speech (Article 10)
  • The request itself violates the US-UK Extradition Treaty and International law because it is for political offences;
  • The US Government has misrepresented the core facts of the case to the British courts; and
  • The extradition request and its surrounding circumstances constitute an abuse of process.

The Perfected Grounds of Appeal concerning the Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD) include arguments that Home Secretary Priti Patel erred in her decision to approve the extradition order on grounds of specialty and because the request itself violates Article 4 of the US-UK Extradition Treaty.


4 January 2021: Westminster Magistrates Court discharges (throws out) the US extradition request against Julian Assange. District judge Vanessa Baraitser rules that extradition is barred under the 2003
Extradition Act because it is “opressive” (s.91). The United States Government appeals.
27-28 October 2021: US appeal hearing before the High Court Appeal. Julian Assange suffers a
transient ischemic attack (TIA) on the first day.
10 December 2021: The decision to discharge the extradition request is overturned by the High Court due to the United States Government issuing so-called ‘diplomatic assurances’ to the UK Government.
The High Court rejects the United States Government’s arguments that the district judge erred in her findings.
14 March 2022: The Supreme Court refuses Julian Assange permission to appeal the High Court’s decision. The case is sent back to the Magistrates’ Court with instruction to issue the extradition order.
20 April 2022: The Magistrate issues the extradition order, which is sent to Home Secretary Priti Patel for approval.
17 June 2022: Home Secretary Priti Patel approves the extradition order to extradite Julian Assange to the United States.

Coverage in many media outlets:
ABC News

The US will break its assurances on Assange. Here’s why

On the 12th December Richard Medhurst offered his opinion in RT News after attending the Assange Extradition Appeal I’ve been covering Julian Assange’s extradition hearing since 2020. I’ve attended every hearing and ruling. What happened on Friday in the British High Court was a travesty of justice. To recap where we are in the Assange … Continue reading “The US will break its assurances on Assange. Here’s why”

On the 12th December Richard Medhurst offered his opinion in RT News after attending the Assange Extradition Appeal

I’ve been covering Julian Assange’s extradition hearing since 2020. I’ve attended every hearing and ruling. What happened on Friday in the British High Court was a travesty of justice.

To recap where we are in the Assange case: 

  • January 2021: District Judge Vanessa Baraitser blocked Julian Assange’s extradition from the United Kingdom to the United States on health grounds.
  • October 2021: the United States appealed this decision on five grounds.
  • December 10, 2021: the High Court ruled in favor of the US, overturning January’s decision, and saying the extradition could go ahead.

I watched Lord Justice Timothy Holroyde read out the ruling on Friday, when I attended the High Court remotely. It was done so casually and quickly – the whole thing lasted barely 10 minutes.

The High Court denied three grounds of the US appeal. It accepted Baraitser’s findings that Assange’s precarious mental state would cause him to take his own life if extradited, making the extradition oppressive. It accepted the medical evidence, despite the US’ attempts to attack the credibility of Prof. Michael Kopelman, the lead medical expert. But it allowed it to go ahead on two grounds: it said it accepted the diplomatic assurances provided by the US, and that the district judge should have notified the US of her provisional view, so as to afford it the opportunity to give these assurances beforehand.

The High Court’s entire decision was based on the assumption that you can trust America’s assurances. You can’t.

When the lead US prosecutor, James Lewis, told the High Court justices that “the United States have never broken a diplomatic assurance, ever”, I guess they decided to believe him. Assange’s lawyers pointed to the case of David Mendoza Herrarte, extradited from Spain to the US in 2009 for drug trafficking. He, too, was given diplomatic assurances by the US, which Lewis said, “are not dished out like Smarties”.

In its ruling on Friday, the High Court judges said they had looked at Mendoza’s case and found the US had not violated its assurances, and that Mendoza’s case did not offer any support to Assange’s claim that US assurances cannot be trusted.

We take a similar view of two other cases relied on by Mr Assange, namely those of David Mendoza and Abu Hamza [extradited in 2015 from the UK to the US on terrorism charges and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole]. Both can be said to show that the USA may be expected to apply the strict letter of an assurance which it has given, but neither provides any evidence of a failure to comply with an assurance and neither provides any support for Mr Assange’s submission that this court should not regard the offered assurances as reliable.

It’s astonishing that the High Court justices could reach such a conclusion. I recently published classified documentspertaining to Mendoza’s case. They reveal how the US offered diplomatic assurances for his extradition, only to violate them later. Did the judges see these documents at all? This ruling gives the impression they didn’t.

In Mendoza’s case, Spain placed three conditions on his extradition:

1) He had to serve his sentence in Spain.

2) There should be no life sentence (or similar term of confinement).

3) There should be no “currency-structuring” charge. 

Verbal note sent from the US Embassy in Madrid to the Spanish government, containing diplomatic assurances regarding David Mendoza Herrarte, January 2009. © Richard Medhurst

Here’s the diplomatic note sent by the US Embassy in Madrid. It doesn’t actually say the US will allow Mendoza to serve a sentence in Spain – it says the US does not object to Mendoza “making an application to serve his sentence in Spain”, which is completely different. Every prisoner can apply for a treaty transfer anyway – it’s not up to the US.

As for the life sentence, it says the US “will not seek a sentence of life imprisonment”, but that it “will do everything within its power, that Mendoza receives a determinate sentence of incarceration”. That could mean five months, five years, five centuries or any number of years – a practice not unusual in US courts.

It also lists all the charges brought against Mendoza – including the currency-structuring charge, despite this being explicitly ruled out by the Spanish court.

All this is very reminiscent of the assurances for Assange. The wording is equally ambiguous; even if you take these assurances at face value you simply can’t trust them. They allow the United States to subject the WikiLeaks co-founder to so-called special administrative measures (SAMs) or imprison him at ADX Florence supermax prison, a maximum-security facility in Colorado, if “after entry of this assurance, he was to commit any future act that met the test for the imposition of a SAM”. 

spoke to Mendoza, who was imprisoned at Englewood, near ADX Florence, where Assange is likely to be sent. He said that any innocent, random conversation Assange has with his partner or lawyers could be interpreted by the US authorities as some sort of “code”, and used as a pretext to lock him up immediately under SAMs in some other hellhole – that’s if they don’t do it the moment he sets foot in the US.

Alternatively, they could also place Assange in a communications management unit (CMU) or special housing unit (SHU) and then say, “See? We didn’t break any assurances, because we didn’t place Assange under SAMs.” The thing is, the reason Baraitser blocked the extradition is because the isolation and psychological torment is what could drive Assange to suicide. Whether it’s SAMs or a CMU or an SHU isn’t the issue here.

The High Court has also accepted an assurance from Washington that Assange could serve any potential sentence in his home country, Australia. As I heard Lewis put it in court, Assange could “look forward” to being jailed Down Under.

Prison transfers don’t work that way. The United States can’t just say Assange can serve his sentence in Australia, in Tanzania or on the Moon and then make it so. The administering state, meaning Australia, must also accept the transfer ahead of time. This is very clearly spelled out under Article 3(f) of the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons.

Having applied numerous times for treaty transfer to Spain, and being so familiar with the system, Mendoza told me that, as the United States and Australia are part of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, the US could easily talk to Australia through back channels and simply tell it not to take Assange. Having covered the court proceedings for so long, I can confirm that Australia has said nothing about taking Assange.

In Mendoza’s case, the assurances he got from the US were so vague, the Spanish courts ordered more concrete assurances. The result of this was a contract called the “Acta de Entrega” or “Deed of Surrender”. This document was signed by Mendoza himself, Spain and the United States. Kimberly Wise, an employee at the US Embassy in Madrid, signed the document on behalf of the American government.

The Acta de Entrega, a contract between Mendoza, the US and Spain, stipulating that his extradition comply with the conditions imposed by the Spanish National Court © Richard Medhurst

This contract was very explicit: it didn’t say only that Mendoza had been surrendered to the US authorities, it said he had been surrendered to them “in accordance with what was previously stipulated by Section Two of the National Criminal Court”. That means the US agreed to all the conditions of Mendoza’s extradition i.e., serving his sentence in Spain, no life sentence, etc.

And did the US respect the contract once Mendoza was on American soil? Absolutely not. As a matter of fact, it refused to give him a copy of the contract once he got there so he wouldn’t be able to contest non-compliance in court. They told him it was classified and, instead, gave him a copy without his signature.

The US refused to give Mendoza a copy of the Acta de Entrega he signed (left), saying it was classified and that he was not privy to diplomatic communications. They instead gave him a copy without his signature (right) © Richard Medhurst

Mendoza was extradited to the US in 2009 and sentenced to 14 years. He applied three times for a treaty transfer back to Spain. Washington denied his request on every single occasion, and also told him he would have to wait two years before reapplying. I couldn’t find any mention of such a rule in the prisoner-transfer treaty.

The US Department of Justice denying Mendoza’s request for a transfer to Spain to serve his sentence, despite this being a condition of his extradition, July 2010 © Richard Medhurst

Mendoza was allowed to return to Spain in 2015 only after he sued Spain in the Spanish Supreme Court – twice – and won both times. The Supreme Court practically threatened to suspend the Spain-US extradition treaty if the Spanish government didn’t get him back. Mendoza told me this was really when Washington began to feel some pressure, because the Americans wanted to keep extraditing people to the US – having the treaty suspended would have been a legal nightmare and required getting it through the Spanish congress again and having all their dirty practices exposed.

Mendoza also sued the US Department of Justice (DoJ) for breach of contract. He was only able to do so because a Spanish judge, sympathetic to his case, sent him a copy of the original Acta de Entrega with his signature on it.

David Mendoza Herrarte’s civil suit against the United States Department of Justice and then-Attorney General Eric Holder for breaching the conditions of his extradition from Spain to the United States, March 2014 © Richard Medhurst

I spoke to Mendoza’s lawyer, Alexey Tarasov. He recalls how American prosecutors called him up one day and said that if his team dropped the civil suit against the DoJ, Mendoza could go back to Spain. Mendoza said having agreed to drop the suit had been the “biggest regret” of his life. He spent six years and nine months trapped in the United States. He was able to return only after suing both Spain and the US for failing to enforce the conditions of his extradition.

If Julian Assange is extradited, and Washington breaks its diplomatic assurances, what options will Assange be left with? He can’t sue the US in the civil courts. They’ll tell him: you’re not a signatory of the US-UK Extradition Treaty, so you have no claim, which is what they told Mendoza.

Assange’s other option would be to go to the UK courts. Does anyone seriously believe the British government could be compelled into pressuring the US to hold up its end of the deal and raise hell on Assange’s behalf? You can already see the results of the Special Relationship in the extradition itself.

When I spoke with Mendoza, he told me it was very important that any assurances include Assange as a party to the agreement despite his status as a non-signatory of the extradition treaty, so that, in the event of non-compliance, he can contest this in court. Moreover, he said, any transfer to Australia had to be agreed to by Australia in advance, otherwise it would be meaningless. 

Mendoza was fortunate to have the Spanish public, Spanish judges and the Spanish Supreme Court applying pressure on his behalf. Otherwise, he would still be in an American prison. The United States never held up its end of the deal, and the Spanish government did virtually nothing to get him back. Mendoza told me: “I’m a nobody. If they did that to me, what are they going to do to Julian Assange?

Mendoza’s case is now more important than ever, because it shines a light on how the United States makes false promises and cannot be held to account after the fact. When the High Court says in point 54 of Friday’s ruling that it “can be said to show that the USA may be expected to apply the strict letter of an assurance which it has given”, sure, in one sense, that’s correct. The diplomatic note sent by the US Embassy in Madrid is so purposely vague, the US could get around what it appeared to have promised.

However, in Mendoza’s case, there was an additional document: the Acta de Entrega. Diplomatic assurances can come in different forms and the Acta de Entrega is one of them – hence why the US Embassy in Madrid signed it. Did the judges even see this document? Or did they see only the vague, ambiguous verbal note sent in January 2009? That was nowhere near enough to make an accurate assessment of Mendoza’s case.

I can confirm, at the very least, that the vast majority of the documents I published have not been referenced in court in Assange’s case as of yet. Whether the judges had these documents in front of them, I don’t know. But if they did, and they still arrived at the conclusion that the US’ current assurances for Assange can be trusted, then they are terribly mistaken.

Anyone with a shred of common sense can see these assurances are worthless. Ironically, in that regard, Assange’s case isn’t all that unique. Mendoza told me about the countless Spaniards, Colombians, Mexicans and others he’s seen extradited to the US. It’s standard practice for the US to give these ambiguous assurances to game foreign judges and jurisdictions. It will play whatever games it can to get people into its jurisdiction, whether through the courts or by kidnapping and rendition, because once you’re in its grasp, there’s nothing you can do.

Read original article in RT News

FBI Fabrication Against Assange Falls Apart

On the 29th June 2021, Craig Murray reports 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 defence had been unable to respond to the new accusations in the … Continue reading “FBI Fabrication Against Assange Falls Apart”

On the 29th June 2021, Craig Murray reports

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 defence 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 8 September 2020. 

The defence 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 defence had requested an adjournment to give them time to address the new accusations, but this adjournment had been refused by 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 US government. The arguments that political extradition is specifically banned by the UK/US extradition treaty, and that the publisher was not responsible for Chelsea Manning’s whistleblowing on war crimes, appeared to be strong. The US 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 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.

Notwithstanding all of that, in June 2020 we had the extraordinary position of the US government, 18 months since the start of extradition proceedings and six months after opening arguments had been heard by the court, being permitted completely to change the charges and alleged crimes which were the grounds for extradition, in the second superseding indictment. 

On 8 September 2020 I was in court to report Mark Summers QC addressing the question of these new superseding charges:

The court resumed with a new defence application, led by Mark Summers QC, about the new charges from the US governments new superseding indictment. Summers took the court back over the history of this extradition hearing. The first indictment had been drawn up in March of 2018. In January 2019 a provisional request for extradition had been made, which had been implemented in April of 2019 on Assange’s removal from the Embassy. In June 2019 this was replaced by the full request with a new, second indictment which had been the basis of these proceedings before today. A whole series of hearings had taken place on the basis of that second indictment.

The new superseding indictment dated from 20 June 2020. In February and May 2020 the US government had allowed hearings to go ahead on the basis of the second indictment, giving no warning, even though they must by that stage have known the new superseding indictment was coming. They had given neither explanation nor apology for this.

The defence had not been properly informed of the superseding indictment, and indeed had learnt of its existence only through a US government press release on 20 June. It had not finally been officially served in these proceedings until 29 July, just six weeks ago. At first, it had not been clear how the superseding indictment would affect the charges, as the US government was briefing it made no difference but just gave additional detail. But on 21 August 2020, not before, it finally became clear in new US government submissions that the charges themselves had been changed.

There were now new charges that were standalone and did not depend on the earlier allegations. Even if the 18 Manning related charges were rejected, these new allegations could still form grounds for extradition. These new allegations included encouraging the stealing of data from a bank and from the government of Iceland, passing information on tracking police vehicles, and hacking the computers both of individuals and of a security company.

“How much of this newly alleged material is criminal is anybody’s guess”, stated Summers, going on to explain that it was not at all clear that an Australian giving advice from outwith Iceland to someone in Iceland on how to crack a code, was actually criminal if it occurred in the UK. This was even without considering the test of dual criminality in the US also, which had to be passed before the conduct was subject to extradition.

It was unthinkable that allegations of this magnitude would be the subject of a Part 2 extradition hearing within six weeks if they were submitted as a new case. Plainly that did not give the defence time to prepare, or to line up witnesses to these new charges. Among the issues relating to these new charges the defence would wish to address, were that some were not criminal, some were out of time limitation, some had already been charged in other fora (including Southwark Crown Court and courts in the USA).

There were also important questions to be asked about the origins of some of these charges and the dubious nature of the witnesses. In particular the witness identified as “teenager” was the same person identified as “Iceland 1” in the previous indictment. That indictment had contained a “health warning” over this witness given by the US Department of Justice. This new indictment removed that warning. But the fact was, this witness is Sigurdur Thordarson, who had been convicted in Iceland in relation to these events of fraud, theft, stealing Wikileaks money and material and impersonating Julian Assange.

The indictment did not state that the FBI had been “kicked out of Iceland for trying to use Thordarson to frame Assange”, stated Summers baldly.

Summers said all these matters should be ventilated in these hearings if the new charges were to be heard, but the defence simply did not have time to prepare its answers or its witnesses in the brief six weeks it had since receiving them, even setting aside the extreme problems of contact with Assange in the conditions in which he was being held in Belmarsh prison.

The defence would plainly need time to prepare answers to these new charges, but it would plainly be unfair to keep Assange in jail for the months that would take. The defence therefore suggested that these new charges should be excised from the conduct to be considered by the court, and they should go ahead with the evidence on criminal behaviour confined to what conduct had previously been alleged.

Summers argued it was “entirely unfair” to add what were in law new and separate criminal allegations, at short notice and “entirely without warning and not giving the defence time to respond to it. What is happening here is abnormal, unfair and liable to create real injustice if allowed to continue.”

The arguments submitted by the prosecution now rested on these brand new allegations. For example, the prosecution now countered the arguments on the rights of whistleblowers and the necessity of revealing war crimes by stating that there can have been no such necessity to hack into a bank in Iceland.

Summers concluded that the “case should be confined to that conduct which the American government had seen fit to allege in the eighteen months of the case” before their second new indictment.

Baraitser refused to rule out the new charges, and then did rule out the immediate defence request for an adjournment to give them time to respond to the new charges. At the end of the hearings she refused to accept the Peirce affidavit explaining why the defence was unable to respond. The court had by then spent nearly a month listening to witnesses refuting the first superseding indictment, as prepared by the defence, but nothing addressing the second superseding indictment. 

Summers was absolutely furious when Baraitser refused to accept Peirce’s affidavit on the subject, to the extent he was still explosive in the street outside after the hearings had concluded. 

While Baraitser’s eventual decision barred extradition on the grounds of Assange’s health and US inhumane prison conditions, the second superseding indictment and Thordarson’s accusations were accepted as a valid basis for extradition.

Thordarson has now told Icelandic magazine Stundin that his allegations against Assange contained in the indictment are untrue, and that Assange had not solicited the hacking of bank or police details. This is hardly a shock, though Thordarson’s motives for coming clean now are obscure; he is plainly a deeply troubled and often malicious individual.
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 US/UK Extradition Treaty, the CIA spying on the preparations of Assange’s defence counsel, all of these should have stopped the case dead in its tracks. 

It is now five months since extradition was refused, no US 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 democratised information and gave real power to the people for a while, worldwide. He revealed US war crimes. For that his life is destroyed. Neither law nor truth have anything to do with it.

Read original article in Craig’s blog and contribute to Craig’s humanitarian and reporting efforts
Craig references the source post in
Studin “Key witness in Assange case admits to lies in indictment
by Bjartmar Oddur Þeyr Alexandersson and Gunnar Hrafn Jónsson
And this has been analysed by many commentators with highlights in
Consortium News “Key Witness in US Case Against Assange Changes His Story” by Joe Lauria,
The Canary “FBI collusion with discredited witness may undermine entire Assange extradition case” by Tom Coburg,
Democracy Now “Attorney: U.S. Case Against Julian Assange Falls Apart, as Key Witness Says He Lied to Get Immunity” interviewing Jennifer Robinson,
Sydney Criminal Lawyers “Key US Witness Admits to Falsifying Evidence Against Assange in Return for Immunity” by Paul Gregoire
World Socialist Web Site “Corporate media blacks out admission that witness against Assange lied for US indictment” by Oscar Grenfell
Los Angeles Progressive “After Key Witness Recants, Assange Supporters Demand Release” by Julia Conley
Jacobin “The Julian Assange Media Blackout Must End” by Branco Marcetic and
samples from a veritable Twitter storm

Key Witness in Assange Case Admits to Lies in Indictment

On the 26th June 2021, Bjartmar Oddur Þeyr Alexandersson ( and Gunnar Hrafn Jónsson ( write in the Icelandic newspaper Stundin A major witness in the United States’ Department of Justice case against Julian Assange has admitted to fabricating key accusations in the indictment against the Wikileaks founder. The witness, who has a documented history … Continue reading “Key Witness in Assange Case Admits to Lies in Indictment”

On the 26th June 2021, Bjartmar Oddur Þeyr Alexandersson ( and Gunnar Hrafn Jónsson ( write in the Icelandic newspaper Stundin

A major witness in the United States’ Department of Justice case against Julian Assange has admitted to fabricating key accusations in the indictment against the Wikileaks founder. The witness, who has a documented history with sociopathy and has received several convictions for sexual abuse of minors and wide-ranging financial fraud, made the admission in a newly published interview in Stundin where he also confessed to having continued his crime spree whilst working with the Department of Justice and FBI and receiving a promise of immunity from prosecution.

The man in question, Sigurdur Ingi Thordarson, was recruited by US authorities to build a case against Assange after misleading them to believe he was previously a close associate of his. In fact he had volunteered on a limited basis to raise money for Wikileaks in 2010 but was found to have used that opportunity to embezzle more than $50,000 from the organization. Julian Assange was visiting Thordarson’s home country of Iceland around this time due to his work with Icelandic media and members of parliament in preparing the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, a press freedom project that produced a parliamentary resolution supporting whistleblowers and investigative journalism. 

The United States is currently seeking Assange’s extradition from the United Kingdom in order to try him for espionage relating to the release of leaked classified documents. If convicted, he could face up to 175 years in prison. The indictment has sparked fears for press freedoms in the United States and beyond and prompted strong statements in support of Assange from Amnesty International, Reporters without borders, the editorial staff of the Washington Post and many others. 

US officials presented an updated version of an indictment against him to a Magistrate court in London last summer. The veracity of the information contained therein is now directly contradicted by the main witness, whose testimony it is based on.

No instruction from Assange

The court documents refer to Mr Thordarson simply as “Teenager” (a reference to his youthful appearance rather than true age, he is 28 years old) and Iceland as “NATO Country 1” but make no real effort to hide the identity of either. They purport to show that Assange instructed Thordarson to commit computer intrusions or hacking in Iceland. 

The aim of this addition to the indictment was apparently to shore up and support the conspiracy charge against Assange in relation to his interactions with Chelsea Manning. Those occurred around the same time he resided in Iceland and the authors of the indictment felt they could strengthen their case by alleging he was involved in illegal activity there as well. This activity was said to include attempts to hack into the computers of members of parliament and record their conversations.

In fact, Thordarson now admits to Stundin that Assange never asked him to hack or access phone recordings of MPs. His new claim is that he had in fact received some files from a third party who claimed to have recorded MPs and had offered to share them with Assange without having any idea what they actually contained. He claims he never checked the contents of the files or even if they contained audio recordings as his third party source suggested. He further admits the claim, that Assange had instructed or asked him to access computers in order to find any such recordings, is false.

Nonetheless, the tactics employed by US officials appear to have been successful as can be gleaned from the ruling of Magistrate Court Judge Vanessa Baraitser on January 4th of this year. Although she ruled against extradition, she did so purely on humanitarian grounds relating to Assange’s health concerns, suicide risk and the conditions he would face in confinement in US prisons. With regards to the actual accusations made in the indictment Baraitser sided with the arguments of the American legal team, including citing the specific samples from Iceland which are now seriously called into question.

Other misleading elements can be found in the indictment, and later reflected in the Magistrate’s judgement, based on Thordarson’s now admitted lies. One is a reference to Icelandic bank documents. The Magistrate court judgement reads: “It is alleged that Mr. Assange and Teenager failed a joint attempt to decrypt a file stolen from a “NATO country 1” bank”.

Thordarson admits to Stundin that this actually refers to a well publicised event in which an encrypted file was leaked from an Icelandic bank and assumed to contain information about defaulted loans provided by the Icelandic Landsbanki. The bank went under in the fall of 2008, along with almost all other financial institutions in Iceland, and plunged the country into a severe economic crisis. The file was at this time, in summer of 2010, shared by many online who attempted to decrypt it for the public interest purpose of revealing what precipitated the financial crisis. Nothing supports the claim that this file was even “stolen” per se, as it was assumed to have been distributed by whistleblowers from inside the failed bank.

More deceptive language emerges in the aforementioned judgment where it states: “…he [Assange] used the unauthorized access given to him by a source, to access a government website of NATO country-1 used to track police vehicles.”

This depiction leaves out an important element, one that Thordarson clarifies in his interview with Stundin. The login information was in fact his own and not obtained through any nefarious means. In fact, he now admits he had been given this access as a matter of routine due to his work as a first responder while volunteering for a search and rescue team. He also says Assange never asked for any such access.

Revealing chat logs

Thordarson spoke with a journalist from Stundin for several hours as he prepared a thorough investigative report into his activities that include never before published chat logs and new documents.

The chat logs were gathered by Thordarson himself and give a comprehensive picture of his communications whilst he was volunteering for Wikileaks in 2010 and 11. It entails his talks with WikiLeaks staff as well as unauthorized communications with members of international hacking groups that he got into contact with via his role as a moderator on an open IRC WikiLeaks forum, which is a form of live online chat. There is no indication WikiLeaks staff had any knowledge of Thordarson’s contacts with aforementioned hacking groups, indeed the logs show his clear deception. 

The communications there show a pattern where Thordarson is constantly inflating his position within WikiLeaks, describing himself as chief of staff, head of communications, No 2 in the organization or responsible for recruits. In these communications Thordarson frequently asks the hackers to either access material from Icelandic entities or attack Icelandic websites with so-called DDoS attacks. These are designed to disable sites and make them inaccessible but not cause permanent damage to content.

Stundin cannot find any evidence that Thordarson was ever instructed to make those requests by anyone inside WikiLeaks. Thordarson himself is not even claiming that, although he explains this as something Assange was aware of or that he had interpreted it so that this was expected of him. How this supposed non-verbal communication took place he cannot explain.

Furthermore, he never explained why WikiLeaks would be interested in attacking any interests in Iceland, especially at such a sensitive time while they were in the midst of publishing a huge trove of US diplomatic cables as part of an international media partnership. Assange is not known to have had any grievances with Icelandic authorities and was in fact working with members of parliament in updating Iceland’s freedom of press laws for the 21st century. 

On the FBI radar

Thordarson’s rogue acts were not limited to communications of that nature as he also admits to Stundin that he set up avenues of communication with journalists and had media pay for lavish trips abroad where he mispresented himself as an official representative of WikiLeaks.

He also admits that he stole documents from WikiLeaks staff by copying their hard drives. Among those were documents from Renata Avila, a lawyer who worked for the organization and Mr. Assange.

Thordarson continued to step up his illicit activities in the summer of 2011 when he established communication with “Sabu”, the online moniker of Hector Xavier Monsegur, a hacker and a member of the rather infamous LulzSec hacker group. In that effort all indications are that Thordarson was acting alone without any authorization, let alone urging, from anyone inside WikiLeaks.

What Thordarson did not know at the time was that the FBI had arrested Sabu in the beginning of June  2011 and threatened him into becoming an informant and a collaborator for the FBI. Thus, when Thordarson continued his previous pattern of requesting attacks on Icelandic interests, the FBI knew and saw an opportunity to implicate Julian Assange.

Later that month a DDoS attack was performed against the websites of several government institutions.

That deed was done under the watchful eyes of the FBI who must have authorized the attack or even initiated it, as Sabu was at that point their man. What followed was an episode where it seems obvious that Icelandic authorities were fooled into cooperation under false pretenses.

Ögmundur Jónasson was minister of interior at time and as such the political head of police and prosecution and says of the US activities: “They were trying to use things here [in Iceland] and use people in our country to spin a web, a cobweb that would catch Julian Assange”. 

Jónasson recalls that when the FBI first contacted Icelandic authorities on June 20th 2011 it was to warn Iceland of an imminent and grave threat of intrusion against government computers. A few days later FBI agents flew to Iceland and offered formally to assist in thwarting this grave danger. The offer was accepted and on July 4th a formal rogatory letter was sent to Iceland to seal the mutual assistance.. Jónasson speculates that already then the US was laying the groundwork for its ultimate purpose, not to assist Iceland but entrap Julian Assange:

“What I have been pondering ever since is if the spinning of the web had already started then with the acceptance of the letter rogatory establishing cooperation that they could use as a pretext for later visits,” says Jónasson.

Icelandic policemen were sent to the US to gather further evidence of this so-called imminent danger and Jónasson says he does not recall anything of substance coming out of that visit and no further attacks were made against Icelandic interests.

But the FBI would return.

Icelandic officials deceived by the US

Towards the end of August, Thordarson was being pursued by WikiLeaks staff who wished to locate the proceeds of online sales of WikiLeaks merchandise. It emerged Thordarson had instructed the funds be sent to his private bank account by forging an email in the name of Julian Assange.

Thordarson saw a way out and on August 23d he sent an email to the US Embassy in Iceland offering information in relation to a criminal investigation. He was replied to with a call and confirmed that he was offering to be an informant in the case against Julian Assange.

The prosecutors and FBI were quick in responding and within 48 hrs a private jet landed in Reykjavik with around eight agents who quickly set up meetings with Thordarson and with people from the Icelandic State Prosecutors office and the State Police Commissioner.

Mid day, Mr. Jónasson, then Minister of Interior got wind of this new visit and requested confirmation that this related to the same case as earlier in the summer. “I asked on what rogatory letter this visit was based and if this was exactly the same case”, Jónasson says in an interview with Stundin. “I then found out that this was of a totally different nature than previously discussed”. He says he put two and two together and said it was obvious that the intention was to lay a trap in Iceland for Assange and other staff members of WikiLeaks. 

Such actions were according to Jónasson way outside the scope of the agreement and thus he ordered that all cooperation with the agents be stopped and that they would be informed they were acting in Iceland without any authority. Only days later he learned that the agents and prosecutors had not yet left the country so the Ministry of Foreign Affairs contacted the US embassy with the demand they halt police work in Iceland and leave the country.

They did, but left with the new informant and “star witness”, Sigurdur Ingi Thordarson who flew with them to Denmark.

Not a hacker but a sociopath

Thordarson has been nicknamed Siggi the hacker in Iceland. That is actually an antonym as several sources Stundin has talked to claim that Thordarson’s computer ability is menial. This is supported by several chat logs and documents where he is requesting assistance from others doing rather uncomplicated computer jobs. Once he even sought FBI expert help in uploading a video from his own phone.

The meeting in Denmark was the first of a few where the FBI enthusiastically embraced the idea of co-operation with Thordarson. He says they wanted to know everything about WikiLeaks, including physical security of staff. They took material he had gathered, including data he had stolen from WikiLeaks employees and even planned to send him to England with a wire. Thordarson claimed in interviews he had refused that particular request. It was probably because he was not welcomed anymore as he knew WikiLeaks people had found out, or were about to firmly establish, that he had embezzled funds from the organization.

After months of collaboration the FBI seem to have lost interest. At about the same time charges were piling up against Thordarson with the Icelandic authorities for massive fraud, forgeries and theft on the one hand and for sexual violations against underage boys he had tricked or forced into sexual acts on the other.

After long investigations Thordarson was sentenced in 2013 and 2014 and received relatively lenient sentences as the judge took into account that he changed his plea at court and pleaded guilty to all counts.

According to a psychiatric assessment presented to the court Thordarson was diagnosed as a sociopath, incapable of remorse but still criminally culpable for his actions. He was assessed to be able to understand the basic difference between right and wrong, He just did not seem to care.

Incarceration did not seem to have an intended effect of stopping Thordarson from continuing his life of crime. It actually took off and expanded in extent and scope in 2019 when the Trump-era DoJ decided to revisit him, giving him a formal status as witness in the prosecution against Julian Assange and granting him immunity in return from any prosecution.

The New York Times Problem

In the month following Assange’s arrest in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on April 11th 2019 a new rogatory letter arrived in the Ministry of Justice in Iceland. This time the request was to take a formal statement from Thordarson in Iceland in the presence of his lawyer. The Ministry had a new political head at the time, who had limited knowledge of the prior history of the case. 

Although the Department of Justice had spent extreme resources attempting to build a case against Julian Assange during the Obama presidency, they had decided against indicting Assange. The main concern was what was called “The New York Times Problem”, namely that there was such a difficulty in distinguishing between WikiLeaks publications and NYT publications of the same material that going after one party would pose grave First Amendment concerns.

President Donald Trump’s appointed Attorney general William Barr did not share these concerns, and neither did his Trump-appointed deputy Kellen S. Dwyer. Barr, who faced severe criticism for politicizing the DoJ on behalf of the president, got the ball rolling on the Assange case once again. Their argument was that if they could prove he was a criminal rather than a journalist the charges would stick, and that was where Thordarson’s testimony would be key.

In May 2019 Thordarson was offered an immunity deal, signed by Dwyer, that granted him immunity from prosecution based on any information on wrong doing they had on him. The deal, seen in writing by Stundin, also guarantees that the DoJ would not share any such information to other prosecutorial or law enforcement agencies. That would include Icelandic ones, meaning that the Americans will not share information on crimes he might have committed threatening Icelandic security interests – and the Americans apparently had plenty of those but had over the years failed to share them with their Icelandic counterparts.

In any event, Assange has never been suspected of any wrongdoing in Iceland. Stundin has seen confirmation of this from the District Prosecutor in Iceland, the Reykjavik Metropolitan Police. Assange has no entry in the LÖKE database of any police activity linked to an individual collected by the Icelandic State Police Commissioner from 2009-2021.

Assange’s lawyer also inquired in the Icelandic Foreign Ministry if the points in his updated indictment where Iceland is referred to as NATO country 1 meant that his case had any relevance to Icelandic membership to NATO, the bilateral defense agreement between USA and Iceland or any national security interests. All such connections were dismissed in a reply from the defense attache at the Ministry.

Immunity and a new crimespree

According to information obtained by Stundin the immunity deal between DoJ and Thordarson was presented at the Headquarters of the Reykjavik police where the only role of the Icelandic policeman was to confirm the identity of Thordarson before leaving him alone with his lawyer in the back room where he met the US delegation.

It is as if the offer of immunity, later secured and sealed in a meeting in DC, had encouraged Thordarson to take bolder steps in crime. He started to fleece individuals and companies on a grander scale than ever; usually by either acquiring or forming legal entities he then used to borrow merchandise, rent luxury cars, even order large quantities of goods from wholesalers without any intention to pay for these goods and services. 

Thordarson also forged the name of his own lawyer on notices to the Company House registry, falsely claiming to have raised the equity of two companies to over 800 thousand US dollars. The aim was to use these entities with solid financial positions on paper in a real estate venture.

The lawyer has reported the forgery to the police where other similar cases, along with multiple other reports of theft and trickery, are now piling up.

When confronted with evidence of all these crimes by a Stundin journalist he simply admitted to everything and explained it away as normal business practice. He has not yet been charged and is still practicing this “business”. Local newspaper DV reported last week that Thordarson had attempted to order merchandise on credit using a new company name, Icelandic Vermin Control. Despite using a fake name and a COVID face mask he was identified and the transaction was stopped. He was last seen speeding away in a white Tesla, according to DV.

Read original English article in Stundin

UK’s Former Brexit Secretary Says Assange Judge ‘Got the Law Wrong

On the 22nd January 2021, Richard Norton-Taylor interviews Dave Davis in Declassified UK David Davis has told Declassified UK that the British legal establishment is “blinkered” to the one-sidedness of the UK/US extradition treaty under which the prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is being heard. Davis, a former chair of the Conservative Party who served as … Continue reading “UK’s Former Brexit Secretary Says Assange Judge ‘Got the Law Wrong”

On the 22nd January 2021, Richard Norton-Taylor interviews Dave Davis in Declassified UK

David Davis has told Declassified UK that the British legal establishment is “blinkered” to the one-sidedness of the UK/US extradition treaty under which the prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is being heard.

Davis, a former chair of the Conservative Party who served as Brexit minister in 2016-18, described the treaty as “massively asymmetric” and said the judge, Vanessa Baraitser, “got the law wrong” by claiming the treaty included political crimes. 

“Parliament made clear in terms that it would not cover political crimes,” he said.

The only circumstances in which alleged crimes with a political ingredient could be pursued under the treaty was when violence was involved, Davis insisted. He has raised the case, which has serious implications for human rights and press freedom – and in the view of Davis, a leading Brexiteer, British sovereignty – as a matter of urgency in the House of Commons.

Davis has been prevented from tabling a motion for debate in the Commons on the grounds that it would breach sub judice rules even though Assange’s case is being heard by a judge alone with no jury potentially liable to be influenced by outside pressure.

Baraitser, the district judge at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, ruled this month that Assange should not be deported to the US on the particular grounds of his mental health. She said there was a “substantial” risk that Assange would commit suicide if he was incarcerated in the conditions he was likely to be subjected to in the US.

However, she dismissed defence arguments, including that Assange’s motives were to expose US war crimes and other abuses of power. In key passages, Baraitser stated that when the UK Parliament passed the new extradition treaty with the US in 2003, it “clearly took the decision to remove the political offences bar which had previously been available to those facing extradition”. 

She added: “The removal of this bar is a clear indication that Parliament no longer intended for the protection to be available. The [treaty] retained the bar to extradition where the request is made for the purpose of prosecuting the requested person on the basis of their political opinions… but removed the protection for offences which have the character of a political offence.”

Davis contests this. The treaty was negotiated in secret by Tony Blair’s government and rushed through Parliament despite opposition from across the Commons. The “lacuna” in the treaty the judge appeared to have referred to – the “political offences” bar –  was never admitted by ministers at the time the treaty was debated, he said.

‘Massive disparity’

Under the extradition treaty, US prosecutors do not have to prove their case beyond claiming “reasonable suspicion” and there does not have to be any prima facie consideration of the charges in Britain. 

However, for Britain to extradite someone from the US, it has to clear the higher test of demonstrating “probable cause” and that could be challenged in the US courts. The US secretary of state also has a potentially decisive role. 

“There is a massive disparity between justice for foreigners in the US and justice for anybody in this country”, Davis told Declassified.

He told the Commons last year: “Since we agreed the UK-US extradition treaty in 2003, it has been abundantly clear that the British government of the day struck a truly dreadful deal – asymmetric, sometimes ineffective and often unfair on British citizens. Countless examples down the years have shown that, from the NatWest three to Christopher Tappin, from GaryMcKinnon to Anne Sacoolas, the person charged with causing the death by dangerous driving of Harry Dunn.”

British prosecutors have sought the extradition from the US of Sacoolas, reportedly a CIA officer who was based at RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire, but this request has been rejected by the US authorities. The British foreign office has said that “the US refusal to extradite Anne Sacoolas amounts to a denial of justice, and she should return to the UK”.

Davis added: “We now risk yet another serious miscarriage of justice with the US extradition request for Dr Mike Lynch, a successful and entrepreneurial British businessmen… Dr Lynch is now facing almost identical criminal charges in the United States, in yet another aggressive attempt by American authorities to exercise extraterritorial jurisdiction. Despite the Serious Fraud Office deciding that there is no basis for a prosecution in the United Kingdom, the United States authorities are doggedly pursuing his extradition.”

The US has a tradition of using its broad extradition treaties to cast a wide legal net around the world. It was now extending it to commercial cases and white collar crime, issues that were not debated at all in Parliament, Davis said.

Though the Blair government stressed the importance of the new treaty by pointing to the need to combat paedophilia and terrorists, most US cases were not in pursuit of terrorists or paedophiles or murderers, he said. 

“I was the shadow home secretary at the time and I opposed this treaty, but eventually our party gave in on the grounds that it was about paedophilia and terrorism and violent crime,” he told MPs.

If Assange was extradited, Davis told Declassified, he would be manacled in a police cell and immediately made to appear a criminal. Prosecutors would take the lead presenting their case before a grand jury – a process Davis described as medieval – and he would come under severe pressure to succumb to a plea bargain. He may eventually be sent back to Britain but faced a real prospect of dying in jail.

Davis also pointed out that journalists in the US were protected by the first amendment. Daniel Ellsberg was charged for leaking the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times. The newspaper was never prosecuted. No journalist in Britain or the US was prosecuted for publishing scores of secret documents from America’s National Security Agency or Britain’s GCHQ leaked by Edward Snowden.

The irony, said Davis, is that if Assange were an American journalist in the US, he would not be prosecuted.

Read original article in Declassified UK