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Washington swears he will be treated well to get his extradition
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Washington swears he will be treated well to get his extradition
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To convince British justice to deliver Assange to them, the United States assured that he would be well treated in the event of extradition. An aberration for the defense that asks how those who planned to kill him can promise his safety.

During two days of appeal hearings on October 27 and 28, the United States tried by all means to reassure the British judges about the treatment that would be reserved for Julian Assange if they agreed to extradite him. An argument swept aside by the journalist’s lawyers who highlighted what they believe to be inconsistent and unreliable promises due to the information revealed of plans for the kidnapping and assassination of Julian Assange by the US intelligence services.

Minimize his depression and promise to treat him well

The American prosecutor James Lewis thus got down on the first day of the hearing to give guarantees of good treatment of the founder of WikiLeaks.

It is indeed the fear for his mental health and the risk of suicide that had motivated the decision of the British justice to refuse the extradition of Julian Assange on January 4. To win the appeal, James Lewis notably promised that the founder of WikiLeaks would receive all the necessary care and would not be subjected to special measures nor would be detained in the dreaded ADX very high security prison in Florence, Colorado. , nicknamed the “Alcatraz of the Rockies” where members of Al-Qaeda are held in almost total isolation.

The US government lawyer even went so far as to argue that Julian Assange’s sentence should not exceed 63 months in prison. To assert this, he relies on the longest sentence handed down to date under the Espionage Act, which is prosecuting the WikiLeaks founder who released war crimes revelations from the US Army. In fact, the penalty for the Espionage act in the United States is 175 years in prison.

Faced with the deep doubts expressed by the defense, James Lewis swore that these diplomatic assurances are presented as “a solemn question”. “We don’t distribute them like Smarties,” he insisted.

The American prosecutor also devoted a large part of his argument to attempting to discredit the psychiatric expertise which had convinced Judge Vanessa Baraitser of the fragility of Julian Assange’s state of health in January. The United States thus wants to convince that the psychiatric expert Michael Kopelman, head of the service of neuropsychiatry at King’s College of London, who had pointed in September 2020 the “very high risk of suicide” of Assange in the event of extradition, would have “Cheated” justice by “concealing” that his patient had become a father while he was cloistered at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. According to Assange’s defense, the expert himself had decided to withhold this information because he had fears about the safety of Assange’s companion Stella Moris and their two young children by publicly revealing their existence. .

A prosecutor who replaces the doctors

In an attempt to put into perspective the seriousness of the jailed journalist’s mental health condition, the US prosecutor went so far as to question the diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome (spectrum of autism) from which Julian Assange suffers, arguing that ‘he had been granted custody of his first child at the age of 20 and that autistic people, he said, generally did not get custody of their children.

An assertion that outraged the companion of Julian Assange. “Today in court, the US government outrageously argued that people with autism spectrum disorders shouldn’t be parents: they argued that people with ASD [trouble du spectre de l’autisme] would not have custody of their own child, ”wrote Stella Moris on her Twitter account, posting a photo of her companion with their son Max in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

The American prosecutor also called for putting into perspective the state of depression of Julian Assange, yet attested by psychiatrists. As a medical expert, he asserted that Julian Assange had “no history of serious and lasting mental illness”, assuring that even the experts commissioned by his defense found him only “moderately depressed”, thus alleviating their diagnosis at will. and that of the doctors who had accompanied the UN rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer. They then estimated that Julian Assange presented “all the typical symptoms of prolonged exposure to psychological torture” as well as “chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma”.

But for the US attorney, these are all nonsense. James Lewis thus affirmed that the Australian had “every reason to exaggerate his symptoms” and warned against a decision based on predictions made in a “crystal ball” concerning his fate in the event of extradition. A crystal ball that Julian Assange’s defense mirrored him, arguing that there was no reason to believe in promises of good treatment in the event of extradition.

“Surreal” that those who planned to kill him promise to treat him well

On the second day of the hearing on October 28, Julian Assange’s defense was in turn able to express its reservations about the American promises, and insisted on the high risk of suicide in the event of extradition to the United States. She also pointed to the CIA’s “revenge obsession” against Julian Assange and urged British judges to conduct an independent investigation into the CIA’s aggressive measures targeting her client, including the aborted plan in 2017 to kidnap Assange. of the Embassy of Ecuador, even to assassinate him. A detailed plan in a recent headline-grabbing Yahoo News article.

Assange’s defense thus questioned the British judges on the credibility of the guarantees promised by the American prosecutor in the light of this information. Mark Summers, one of Assange’s attorneys, said it was “the first time the United States has sought the assistance of a British court in obtaining jurisdiction” over a person that a US government agency had taken. intended to poison or murder. Understanding the CIA.

Same feeling for Julian Assange’s fiancée who found “surreal” the experience of hearing representatives of “the country that plotted to assassinate Julian [Assange] tell a court that it will be safe in their hands ”. The US prosecutor made no comment on this information during the hearings.

The decision of the British judges is not expected for several weeks. “You have given us a lot of grain to grind and we will take our time,” said Judge Ian Burnett, in charge of the case with another senior magistrate, without giving a date, after two days of hearings. Whatever the decision, the loser will have the opportunity to apply to the British Supreme Court.

The only possibility to stop this judicial spectacle that some qualify as criminal would be a political decision by Joe Biden to drop the charges against this journalist. A decision urged by countless human rights and press freedom NGOs, but also doctors, lawyers, and many personalities from the political and artistic world. To this day, Joe Biden has given no sign of inclination in this direction. The Democratic President seems to be continuing the path of judicial persecution started under Barack Obama and accentuated under Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, Julian Assange, who was not allowed to physically attend these hearings where his life is at stake, appeared, prostrate, exhausted, by videoconference from a room in Belmarsh high security prison where he has been detained for two and a half years with long periods of isolation.

Meriem Laribi

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