25 September 2020 — Assange Defense
It was an important day in Julian’s extradition hearing, with key testimony and some surprises from the judge.
The judge acknowledged the political nature of the case, which was surprising to observers. She also said that a ruling would not be issued until after the election, most likely in 2021.
On the testimony front, the court heard from a forensics expert who debunked U.S. arguments that Julian assisted Chelsea Manning and from a publisher who revealed that the Cablegate files did not come from WikiLeaks.
You can read our full report on today’s proceedings here. Here’s a brief recap:
Judge Acknowledges Political Nature of Charges; No Ruling Until 2021
It was a bit surprising to hear judge Vanessa Baraitser acknowledge the political nature of the charges against Julian. During discussion about how to schedule closing arguments and prepare for a decision, the judge agreed with the defense that the case had a political dimension to it and that the U.S. presidential election could impact the case. After considering these factors, the judge announced that no decision would be made before the election, with a decision likely coming in 2021.
Computer Forensics Expert: No Evidence of Any Crime
Witness Patrick Eller, a computer forensics expert, provided crucial testimony that undermined the government’s claims that Julian aided and abetted Chelsea Manning. Eller testified that Manning had already downloaded the files in question by the time he asked for technical assistance. He also explained that none of the assistance Manning sought would have given him access to more information or made him anonymous. Perhaps most importantly, from a legal standpoint, Eller pointed out that there’s no proof Manning was even chatting with Julian! Put together, these factors make the government’s case very weak: whatever help Manning sought was after he accessed the information, and that help wouldn’t have given him access or helped him conceal his identity, and there’s no proof Julian was even the one chatting with Manning! It’s hard to see the basis for charges!
Publisher: Cablegate Leaks Were Not from Julian
The court heard a statement from Jakob Augstein, publisher of Der Freitag, which published the story that made the unredacted Cablegate files visible. Augstein’s statement made it clear that the files came not from WikiLeaks, but from OpenLeaks mirrors.
Coverage Note: We’re going to be taking a break from the daily summary emails, so this will be the last daily update you receive. We will be shifting to a weekly recap email, with possible bonus updates for major developments.
For those who want to follow things on a daily basis, and we’ll continue to keep you updated at our live blog. You can also follow Courage Foundation Director Nathan Fuller’s real-time coverage of the hearing (and more) on Twitter.
Team Assange Defense