UK Inexplicably Bars WikiLeaks Editor From Extradition Hearing

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Above photo: Hrafnsson with Shipton outside Assange’s extradition hearing © Reuters / Henry Nicholls

Wikileaks editor Kristin Hrafnsson was temporarily barred from the extradition hearing for publisher Julian Assange, who was reportedly handcuffed 11 times, stripped twice, and robbed of his legal papers after the first court day.

Hrafnsson was pulled out of the crowd as he attempted to enter the public gallery of Woolwich Crown Court on Tuesday morning, he told RT, after someone shouted “Where is the WikiLeaks editor?”

Explaining that he was given “no grounds” for the order and was unable to locate the head of the court to get an answer, he recorded and released a statement denouncing his exclusion from the supposedly-public proceedings as “outrageous” and calling on the public to “demand some answers — because I’m not getting any.

Assange’s father John Shipton also walked out in solidarity, while the publisher’s lawyer Gareth Pierce worked to get Hrafnsson permission to enter. He was finally approached and told “a misunderstanding had occurred,” given a verbal apology and allowed to enter the public gallery, but his exclusion was never explained. Hrafnsson has demanded an explanation in writing and a formal apology. The WikiLeaks editor was equally disgusted by the treatment of Assange himself, who was — according to his lawyer — handcuffed 11 times, stripped twice, and deprived of his legal papers following the conclusion of the first day of hearings. “How can anybody prepare for a trial when he is treated in this manner?” Hrafnsson asked, calling the UK’s handling of its high-profile prisoner “highly abusive.”

Hrafnsson is not optimistic about Assange’s future, noting that the “English court is being misled by Americans who are trying to abuse the process of extradition by mere fabrications.” The cramped quarters — just 12 or 13 seats in the public gallery, while the legions of protesters are kept outside the court compound “for no apparent reason” — are “totally inadequate for a trial of this importance,” he said, observing that despite London’s claims, the hearing is “not being held in public.”

Assange is facing extradition to the US, where he could be sentenced to 175 years in prison on a bundle of espionage and hacking charges stemming from the 2010 release by WikiLeaks of classified Department of Defense files that have come to be known as the Afghan and Iraq War Logs. The US has continued to argue that the disclosures put political dissidents and journalists in danger, but no names of “victims” or other proof have been supplied to back up that assertion.

  • Infarction

    Inexplicably? The headline writer must be blind in one and cannot see out of the other one. To anyone whose vision is even marginally operative, it is obvious that one of Assange’s lead advisers was barred because in a court run by a herd of kangaroos, the “guilty” verdict must be ensured.

  • mwildfire

    The guilty verdict is ensured. There is no jury, is there? Just a judge who has made her animosity to Assange perfectly plain. Barring Hraffnson and making it very difficult to get in there has a different purpose, made clear by yesterday’s post by Craig Morrison–they’ve already vetted the journalists, now they have to prevent anyone with the intelligence and standing to speak out from revealing to the world what is actually going on in that kangaroo den.