Media freedom is on its last legs. Julian Assange now faces an extradition hearing that begins on 25 February 2020 in the magistrates’ court. That’s under chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot, who has previously thrown Assange and the United Nations’ version of events out the window.
The opinion of UK judges like Arbuthnot is crucial. Because there will be no jury at any stage of Assange’s UK extradition process. Supposedly, he’ll receive his right to a fair trial in the requesting state. In this case – the US. But in the words of UN official Professor Nils Melzer, he has “no chance” of that. Once extradited, it could be all over for the WikiLeaks co-founder.
The truth is there’s only one thing that can stop Assange dying in prison and media freedom along with him. And that’s if public opinion doesn’t stand for it.
No fair trial in the US
In the US, the authorities can simply invoke the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA), which means Assange would face a secret trial with no jury. This closed trial would take place in what’s known as the ‘Espionage court’ under national security judge Leonie Brinkema, who Bill Clinton appointed. According to CIA torture whistleblower John Kiriakou, who was tried in the East District of Virginia court under Brinkema, no national security defendant has ever won a case there.