Julian Assange’s Extradition Hearing Concludes, Verdict Due January 4th

The trial conducted by the American government against Julian Assange is now over. A verdict is due to be delivered on January 4th.

It’s a trial that is being described as “journalism on trial”. Award winning journalist, Julian Assange, is being sought by US authorities after he helped exposed American corruption and wrongdoing through his site, Wikileaks. Among the things he helped expose are the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Wikileaks also exposed the US diplomatic cables and various war diaries, both of which document American action abroad – not all of it portraying the US in a positive light.

Ever since then, the US government has been seeking political revenge on the journalist. After cornering Assange in an Ecuadorian embassy for nearly a decade, Assange was eventually dragged out of the embassy without resistance and sentenced to a controversial 50 week sentence for the comparatively trivial crime of skipping bail. As questions over it all mounted from human rights organizations and observers like the United Nations, Reporters Without Borders, Amnesty International, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the trial seemed to move ahead at the behest of the American government.

At one point, one US prosecutor found herself exposed to COVID-19 which caused a delay the proceedings.

Now, the court process, which started in May of last year has finally concluded. Reports are surfacing that Assange faces life in prison at one of the most notorious super maximum security prisons in the US. From Common Dreams:

Julian Assange would likely be incarcerated in what is arguably America’s most notorious super-maximum security prison if he is extradited to the U.S. from the U.K. and convicted of charges resulting from his journalism, a British court heard Tuesday.

The Associated Press reports Maureen Baird, a former federal prison warden in New York City, told London’s Old Bailey that the WikiLeaks founder and war crimes whistleblower would likely be imprisoned in the ADX Florence prison in Colorado if he is convicted for violating the 1917 Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act by publishing secret U.S. military documents a decade ago.

Among the massive trove of documents published by WikiLeaks were the Afghanistan and Iraq War Logs, which revealed U.S. and allied war crimes, many of them exposed by Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

The most infamous of the leaks is the “Collateral Murder” video, which shows U.S. Army attack helicopter crews laughing and joking while massacring a group of Iraqi civilians, including journalists, and shooting children and first responders.

Another report from the CBC notes that the verdict is expected on January 4th. From the CBC:

A British judge said on Thursday she would give her decision early next year on whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should be extradited to the United States to face charges including espionage.

Judge Vanessa Baraitser told London’s Old Bailey Court at the conclusion of hearings from witnesses in the case that she would deliver her verdict on Jan. 4.

Assange’s lawyers argue that the charges are politically motivated, that his mental health is at risk, that conditions in U.S. prisons breach Britain’s human rights laws, and that he and his lawyers were spied on while he was in the Ecuadorian embassy.

Many supporters believe that the verdict was rendered long before the trial even took place. So, many are generally expecting that he will be found guilty regardless of the facts in this case. Some are saying that once Assange sets foot on American soil, his life is pretty much over. chances are, we’ll find out what the next steps in this story are in the new year.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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