Julian Assange Update: Three Major Developments

December 28th, 2023 - by Frank Lawrence / AssangeDefenseChicago

Julian Assange Update:
Three Major Developments
Frank Lawrence / AssangeDefenseChicago

(December 27, 2023) — After several months of little progress and minimal US mainstream press attention, there have recently been some significant developments that give renewed hope that Julian Assange could eventually be free from the persecution and prosecution he has faced for more than a decade.

Over the next few weeks, we must put pressure on lawmakers to support efforts to pressure Biden’s DOJ to drop the extradition request, and we must work to convince mainstream journalists of the threat to journalism and journalists that this issue poses.

ACTION: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative

Key Developments:

  1. 1.  The circulation of House Resolution HR 934 demanding Biden drop the extradition request
  2. 2.  The granting of a UK High Court Hearing on Feb 20-21, 2024
  3. The decision to allow the “CIA spying suit”on Assange’s US lawyer to proceed to trial.

House Resolution.934 
Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that regular journalistic activities are protected under the First Amendment, and that the United States ought to drop all charges against and attempts to extradite Julian Assange.

“Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that—

(1) regular journalistic activities, including the obtainment and publication of information are protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States;

(2) First Amendment freedom of the press promotes public transparency and is crucial for the American Republic;

(3) the Federal Government ought to drop all charges against and attempts to extradite Julian Assange; and

(4) the Federal Government allow Julian Assange to return home to his native Australia if he so desires.”

Rep. Paul Gosar introduced this resolution on Dec.13th – so far it has 7 Republican co-sponsors and only one Democrat — Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Please contact your representative soon to demand that he or she sign on as co-sponsor: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative

Note: This resolution follows a November 8th letter to President Biden from a bipartisan Congressional group calling for Biden to withdraw the US extradition request. Nine of 16 signatories were Democrats — AOC, Ayanna Presley, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Pramila Jayapal, Greg Cesar, Cori Bush, Jamaal Bowman and Chuy Garcia.

The letter stated:
“It is the duty of journalists to seek out sources, including documentary evidence, in order to report to the public on the activities of government. The United States must not pursue an unnecessary prosecution that risks criminalizing common journalistic practices and thus chilling the work of the free press. We urge you to ensure that this case be brought to a close in as timely a manner as possible.”

2. Assange UK High Court Hearing – Feb 2021

This hearing will consider whether Assange can further appeal the extradition order within the UK courts.

On December 19th, the High Court ruled that Assange “had an arguable point of law that Supreme Court justices may want to consider” and announced that there will be a two-day public hearing on Feb 20-21, 2024.

“Lord Burnett, the Lord Chief Justice, said Mr. Assange’s case had raised a legal question over the circumstances in which judges received and considered assurances from the US about how he would be treated in prison.”

 However, if the High Court judges rule out a further appeal following the February hearing, the extradition may be immediate.  If the appeal is allowed, we can expect several more months to pass before the legal process is exhausted.

Note that Julian Assange has been confined in Prison Belmarsh in London since April 2019 — almost 5 years in a maximum-security prison by the time the February hearing takes place.

3. The suit re. CIA spying on Assange US lawyer and journalist visitors will proceed to trial.

In August 2022 two lawyers and two journalists filed a federal lawsuit against the CIA for spying on them during their visits to Julian Assange while he was based in the Ecuadorian embassy.  The CIA sought to have the suit dismissed but on December 19th Judge Koetl of the Southern District of New York ruled that the suit could proceed to trial.

“In his 27-page decision, Koetl said: “[t]he plaintiffs’ complaint contains sufficient allegations that the C.I.A. and [former C.I.A. Director Mike] Pompeo, through [David] Morales and UC Global, violated their reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of their electronic devices.”

The Court said that because Pompeo “in an April 2017 speech … Pompeo ‘pledged that his office would embark upon a ‘long term’ campaign against WikiLeaks,’” there was sufficient reason for the case to continue.” Consortiumnews

This suit is of historic proportions — it will involve depositions of those connected with the spying operation (including Pompeo) and discovery of highly sensitive and embarrassing documents.  It could impact the case against Assange dramatically.

What is at stake is more than just Julian Assange, but the ability of mainstream and alternative media journalists throughout the world to report on the crimes and misdeeds of the US without fear of being charged with espionage and ending up in a US federal prison for years on end.  Certain US allies, especially Britain and Israel, are more than willing to be accomplices to the US extraterritorial reach.

Peace and solidarity,
Frank Lawrence