17 September 2020 — Assange Defense
It was another day of explosive testimony in Julian’s extradition hearing, with two witnesses taking the stand. Journalist John Slobada explained to the court the important journalistic contributions of WikiLeaks in revealing civilian casualties, while legal scholar Carey Shenkman stressed how the U.S. indictment of Julian is for a “political offense” and that Julian’s human rights are being violated.
You can read our full report on the day here, but here’s a brief recap:
NGO Co-Founder: WikiLeaks Revealed 15,000 Casualties, Opened Public’s Eyes
Today’s first witness was John Sloboda, co-founder of the NGO Iraq Body Count. Sloboda started Iraq Body Count to give “dignity to the memory of those killed,” and WikiLeaks’ Iraq War Logs as “the single largest contribution to public knowledge about civilian casualties in Iraq.” The Iraq War Logs revealed 15,000 previously unpublished casualties, and Iraq Body Count argues that these revelations played “possibly the most important role in catalysing public opposition” to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sloboda agreed with previous witnesses that Julian imposed a “painstaking” and “very stringent redaction process” on all WikiLeaks media partners. This testimony undermines the prosecution’s argument that Julian recklessly disclosed sensitive information to cause harm.
Human Rights Attorney: Espionage Act is “Divisive” and Julian’s Indictment is Political and “Unacceptable”
The day’s second witness, human rights attorney and historian Carey Shenkman, condemned the U.S. prosecution of Assange on many grounds. Shenkman was critical of the 1917 Espionage Act in general, given its overbreadth, how it has been used to punish dissidents in the past, and how it does not allow a “public interest” defense. But Shenkman went further, pointing out that the Trump administration’s indictment against Julian (President Obama declined to prosecute) pushes this “divisive” law to disturbing new extremes. “There has never been an indictment of a U.S. publisher under the law for publication of secrets,” let alone “an extraterritorial indictment of a non-U.S. publisher,” Shenkman noted. Shenkman also noted that because the U.S.-U.K. extradition treaty bars extradition for “political offenses,” extraditing Julian in this case would violate that treaty.
It was a big day in court with compelling testimony, and we will continue our full coverage tomorrow at our live blog. You can also find hearing coverage from Courage Foundation’s Director Nathan Fuller and real-time updates on Twitter.
Team Assange Defense