Court Monitoring

Bridges for Media Freedom runs a closed email list for political and civil observers who are monitoring the ongoing hearings in Government of the United States v Julian Assange.

We publish regular, detailed briefings on proceedings and key legal arguments to assist those following the case. Some of these are listed below.

Date Briefing title and summary
1 September 2020USA v Assange – September hearings Q&A
1 September 2020USA v Assange – witness list: September update
14 August 2020Case management hearing

The US issued their new extradition request less than 24 hours before the this final administrative court date. DJ Baraitser refused a defence
request to proceed on the basis of the previous indictment. The defence has until 19 August to apply for a delay to the 7 September date for the resumption of the main hearing. A new psychiatric report from the defence says that Julian Assange’s health has deteriorated in the past few weeks.
27 July 2020Case management hearing

Julian Assange was not able to attend the first part of this hearing, apparently due to disorganisation at HMP Belmarsh. The second superseding indictment still has not been served in the UK proceedings.
29 June 2020Second superseding indictment

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a second superseding indictment against Julian Assange on Wednesday 24 June 2020. The indictment expands the scope of the US prosecution beyond the Manning disclosures of 2010-11 and changes the evidential basis of some of the 18 counts the extradition case has been based on to date.
29 June 2020Case management hearing

This short, administrative hearing was the first to be held after the public release of a second superseding indictment from the United States. The defence does not want the new indictment to interrupt the current schedule. The main hearing will still resume on 7 September, “almost certainly” at London’s Central Criminal Court.
1 June 2020Case management hearing

This short, administrative hearing served to restate the difficulties of preparing this case in pandemic conditions. A date was set for the delivery of prosecution medical evidence that will not be possible to fulfill unless conditions at HMP Belmarsh change. No location has yet been found for the main hearing.
4 May 2020Case management hearing

Following last week’s adjournment, a new timetable was set for the evidentiary stage of the first instance extradition hearing. This will now start in September, at a Crown Court yet to be confirmed and possibly outside London. The phone conference for journalists and monitors was not activated, severely limiting the ability to audit the hearing.
27 April 2020Case management hearing

The defence made a second application for the main evidential hearing to be adjourned on the scheduled date of 18 May and put back to September, given the practical difficulties of holding the hearing in lockdown conditions. This time, the prosecution supported the application. The date for the resumption of the main hearing has yet to be confirmed.
7 April 2020Case management hearing

The defence made an application for the main evidential hearing to be adjourned on the scheduled date of 18 May and put back to September,
given the practical difficulties of holding the hearing in lockdown conditions. Julian Assange’s legal team are having considerable problems in consulting with their client. DJ Baraitser rejected the application. The defence indicated it would go to judicial review to preserve a reporting restriction on the identity of Assange’s partner and children.

25 Mach 2020Bail application

The defence made an emergency bail application in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, presenting medical evidence that Julian Assange was in a high risk group. The application was denied on flight risk grounds; DJ Baraitser expressed scepticism that Mr Assange would attend further extradition hearings if he were granted bail.
27 February 2020Political offence authorities

Authorities cited in argument on the political offence exception are listed here in the order in which they were brought up in oral argument, together with brief context.
27 February 2020Assange Extradition Hearing Day 4

The prosecution continued their response to the Treaty argument and introduced a new authority to support their argument about the political offence exception being ‘a relic of the past.’ In somewhat acrimonious exchanges in the afternoon DJ Baraitser denied an application for Julian Assange to sit in the main body of the court and the first week of hearings was brought to a close.
26 February 2020Assange Extradition Hearing Day 3

A second day of defence arguments was dominated by discussion of the 2003 UK-US Extradition Treaty, the exception it provides for political offences and whether UK domestic law should be read in accordance with this provision. During the prosecution response, Mr Assange indicated that he could not communicate effectively with his lawyers. DJ Baraitser asked the defence to submit written arguments if they wished for their client to sit in the well of the court.
25 February 2020Assange Extradition Hearing Day 2

In a full day of defence arguments, Mark Summers QC presented a powerful case for Zakrzewski abuse, based on factual mis-statement in the US indictment. Concerning details arose about Julian Assange’s treatment in Belmarsh Prison overnight. The day at court ended early because Assange could not follow proceedings.
24 February 2020US Damage Assessments

A key plank of the US case against Assange is that the disclosure of information including “the unredacted names of human sources” put those sources,
and wider US security interests, at risk. Nevertheless, official US inquiries since 2010 have generally failed to find evidence of actual harm caused.

24 February 2020Assange Extradition Hearing Day 1

The prosecution opened their case with a series of assertions about why Assange should not be considered as a journalist. Elements of the prosecution’s dual criminality argument raise concerns about possible future prosecutions of journalists in the United Kingdom. The defence opened with three separate abuse of process arguments and an overall narrative of political interference with the case.
23 January 2020Case management hearing

District Judge Baraitser granted a joint application from prosecution and defence that the extradition hearing be split into two parts. After a week of arguments starting 24 February there will now be a break of several months before the hearing resumes on 18 May 2020. A witness statement submitted by the prosecution on 18 January is said to raise profound press freedom issues.