Australian news, and some related international items

Injustice of UK court process regarding Julian Assange. Assange too sick to attend

Monica Del Mestre 3 June 20
1. It is extremely concerning that Assange has not been well enough to attend the past several hearings, even remotely. Yet proceedings continue as if this has nothing to do with him – not dissimilar to when he couldn’t follow properly from the glass dock in Woolwich Crown Court.

2. In addition to other ongoing health concerns, Assange faces the serious risk of exposure to Covid in Belmarsh prison, and has been advised that even going to the video room to take part in hearings is unsafe. This is another reason he should be immediately released.

3. Assange’s lawyers have long complained they have had insufficient access to him in prison. Under lockdown conditions, they have had no access to him at all. They have repeatedly flagged that this lack of access seriously impacts their ability to prepare his defence.

4. One of the next steps agreed today is that psychiatric reports on Assange from the prosecution and defence will be due to the court on 31 July. Remember that UN Special Rapporteur @NilsMelzer has expressed alarm many times that Assange shows symptoms of psychological torture.

5. It is a welcome step that the continuation of the full extradition hearing was adjourned, as lockdown conditions present clear barriers to open justice – but 7 September may not be late enough to make a meaningful difference. Also the court is still struggling to find a venue.

6. It remains extremely frustrating that the court does not adequately accommodate NGO observers. I have never experienced so much difficulty accessing a trial in any country as at Woolwich Crown Court in February, and the teleconference option we now have is far from sufficient.

7. The press are also facing severe restrictions. Only 6 journalists have been allowed to attend in person the past 2 hearings, with others limited to the awful phone line. This case is of high public interest and a better solution must be found before the full hearing resumes.

8. Assange’s next callover hearing has been scheduled for 29 June at 10 am. We urge the court to find workable solutions to enable his safe attendance and ensure the press and observers are able to properly monitor proceedings. /END

June 4, 2020 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, politics international

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