Judge’s acceptance of ‘complexity’ of Assange’s case “is an important win”, says historian John Rees

Mohamed Elmaazi writes

Baraitser: Main hearing now to be held over 3 – 4 weeks

At the case management hearing Judge Baraitser announced that the main extradition hearing will now be scheduled to be held over three to four weeks, after initially scheduling it for around five days. Judge Baraitser’s decision followed the defence’s submission of “40,000 pages worth of documents” separated in six separate court bundles on:

  • The 1917 USA Espionage Act under, which Assange faces 175 years in prison
  • Proceedings as they relate to ex-military whistle-blower Chelsea Manning
  • Medical evidence from “three distinguished psychiatrists”
  • The Spanish judicial investigations as they relate to the bugging of Assange’s conversations with his lawyers in the Ecuadorian embassy
  • Public statements by US officials ‘denouncing’ Assange
  • Trial issues and prison conditions

Judge Baraitser remains unwilling to intervene with Belmarsh prison authorities

Despite the Judge’s apparent recognition of the seriousness and ‘complexity’ of the case she still refused to intervene with prison authorities to compel them to give Assange proper access to his case files and lawyers.

Assange’s barrister Edward Fitzgerald QC reminded the court that of the “great difficulties” the legal team was having in “getting to see Mr Assange for sufficient periods of time”.

But the judge said she was not prepared to go further than making a generalised statement in open court that it would be “very helpful” if prison authorities aided Assange with what he needed. This is despite being confronted with precedent, on 13 December, of another judge in a separate case called up Belmarsh prison in order to get them to ensure a prisoner had sufficient access to their lawyers.

Ress argued that Assange can’t get a fair trial if he isn’t able to properly prepare for his defence

Read full articles in Sputnik International and The Interregnum