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USA vs. Julian Assange Judgment (judiciary.uk)
814 points by yuriko 13 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 606 comments





Reading the judgement the key points are on pages 116 onwards and the extradition is denied under section 91(3) of the EA 2003 which reads:

> The condition is that the physical or mental condition of the person is such that it would be unjust or oppressive to extradite him.

The judge states:

> it is my judgment that there is a real risk that he will be kept in the near isolated conditions imposed by the harshest SAMs (special administrative measures) regime, both pre-trial and post-trial

And goes on to contrast with the conditions at HMP Belmarsh:

> many of the protective factors currently in place at HMP Belmarsh would be removed by these conditions. Mr. Assange’s health improved on being removed from relative isolation in healthcare. He has been able to access the support of family and friends. He has had access to a Samaritans phone line. He has benefited from a trusting relationship with the prison In-Reach psychologist. By contrast, a SAMs regime would severely restrict his contact with all other human beings, including other prisoners, staff and his family. In detention subject to SAMs, he would have absolutely no communication with other prisoners, even through the walls of his cell, and time out of his cell would be spent alone.

These conditions sound barbaric to me and I'd go as far to describe them as torture. Amnesty International do a better job of outlining the problems with this regime than I can: https://www.amnestyusa.org/reports/entombed-isolation-in-the...

Frankly I don't understand why the UK continues to maintain an extradition treaty with a country which clearly has a poor record on human rights and fails to maintain a justice system that meets the UN's Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.

She concludes:

> I am satisfied that, in these harsh conditions, Mr. Assange’s mental health would deteriorate causing him to commit suicide with the “single minded determination” of his autism spectrum disorder.

> I order the discharge of Julian Paul Assange, pursuant to section 91(3) of the EA 2003

Whilst a victory nonetheless for Assange, it is unfortunate that the entire judgement seems to come down to this point alone. Let's hope it is not overturned.


Relatedly, Canada has struck down America's status as a safe third country for refugees as "U.S. immigration detention violates their human rights." [1]

"Nedira Jemal Mustefa, among the refugees turned back and on whose behalf a challenge was launched, described her time in solitary confinement in the United States as 'a terrifying, isolating and psychologically traumatic experience,' according to the court ruling."

[1] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-canada-refugee-safethird/...


That court ruling is not yet final and is on hold during appeals: https://www.immigration.ca/decision-to-strike-down-safe-thir...

Ah I see that happened in late October, I must have missed it.

If you take an absolutist, principled or binary view, then most imprisonment is a torture of some sort. It causes severe psychological distress. That's what a prison is. The differences are in the nuance, and you might call those subjective.

This was an extradition hearing, not a trial. This seems to have given the judge room to justify a nuanced conclusion that doesn't extend far past this case. IDK if there's much precedent. If there is, it relates to espionage-adjacent cases. That kind of makes sense. Espionage is different to other crimes. The imprisonment is different, and so is the standard for justice. Closed trials & such. This was also true of these extradition hearings.

I have to wonder though, did all the other stuff relating to this saga affect her decision. The odd charges in Sweden. The party-politic aspects to the US' pursuit of him. Also the "time served" aspect. If he's found guilty, the sentence is unlikely to be longer than the 8 years he has spent imprisoned already.


> If you take an absolutist, principled or binary view, then most imprisonment is a torture of some sort. It causes severe psychological distress. That's what a prison is. The differences are in the nuance, and you might call those subjective.

That's what prison in America is, but that's not what prison either has to be, or is everywhere else in the world.

If your goal is to torture people, America's system is very effective. If your goal is to rehabilitate people and make sure they don't go on to commit more crimes, America's system is an abject failure.

Recidivism in the US is 55% after 5 years, as compared to Norway's 20%. Apparently not treating people inhumanely is a great way of getting them not to commit more crimes. [1] Who would have thought?

[1] https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/recidivis...


>>Recidivism in the US is 55% after 5 years, as compared to Norway's 20%.

I'm no defender of the US prison system, but why compare the US to Norway, a country with:

* a population of 5 million Norwegians, the descendants of whom actually rank very high in socioeconomic indicators in the US

* one of the highest per capita GDPs in the world, thanks in large part to being one of the highest per capita oil exporters in the world for decades


> a population of 5 million Norwegians, the descendants of whom actually rank very high in socioeconomic indicators in the US

Why does this matter?

> one of the highest per capita GDPs in the world, thanks in large part to being one of the highest per capita oil exporters in the world for decades

Their GDP per capita is almost identical to the US. (And the US has tons of oil too for what it's worth.)


Because who the people are, who administer the prison system, and who are the objects of the prison system's rehabilitation program, matters. Humanity isn't a mass of identical copies. Certain traits, that might be highly conducive to effective rehabilitation, concentrate in certain regions of the world.

A smaller polity also tends to mean a much more accountable government which might be expected to be much more effective at implementing any policy.

>>Their GDP per capita is almost identical to the US.

Nominal per capita GDP is $5,000 higher.

The country also has a population that is 80X smaller. Smaller population size tends mean much smaller regional variations in socioeconomic conditions and fewer regions with the extreme conditions associated with high crime rates and pervasive criminal sub-cultures.


Don't we think the way we handle prisons greatly affects the culture around them?

> Smaller population size tends mean much smaller regional variations in socioeconomic conditions and fewer regions with the extreme conditions associated with high crime rates and pervasive criminal sub-cultures.

Do US regional prisons in non-hotspot areas do much better?

How many criminal sub-cultures extend past a single city?


> but why compare the US to Norway

Because it is currently fashionable in the US to esteem, exalt, or even hallow many things Scandavian. If you live in the US, you’ve no doubt seen this.

To many in the US, the Scandavians have just nailed it everything social-economic. Personally, I wish we’d take more influence from their diet (fish! fish! more fish!)


> Personally, I wish we’d take more influence from their diet (fish! fish! more fish!)

I mean, the furthest you can get from fresh fish in Norway is pretty different to what is seen in most the US. I'm not sure that Fish is the answer there


> I'm not sure that Fish is the answer there

Well, there was no question so I’m not sure what fish is or is not the answer to.

Anyway, you cannot deny America’s obsession with Scandinavia culture, economy, and society.


Are you really suggesting that a country full of white people is a priori superior to a diverse country? Do you realise how insanely racist that is? Can you back up your assertion that Norway's good record on recidivism is because of all the whites?

Hold up. That's a bit of a strawman argument. He didn't say "country full of white people", he specifically mentioned socioeconomic status. Socioeconomic status generally correlates negatively with criminality. There's nothing inherently racist about that statement, it's just stating that:

- desperate people will do desperate things to survive

- oppressed people are bound to lash out

- the poor are powerless against authority

- people in poorer neighbourhoods are prone to overpolicing

- destitute people are more likely to succumb to substance abuse

If he said recidivism or crime rates were higher because the population was black/hispanic/etc, that would obviously be racist.


But when it comes to US vs. Norway, surely what matters is their status in their home country. Why is the status of the descendants of the ones that move to the US important, if you're not trying to say it's something innate about them?

I don't want to assume such a motivation for bringing it up, which is why in my own comment I just asked why it was relevant in a completely neutral way. But that got me no response.


I didn't read too much into his use of "descendants", trying to be charitable in my interpretation. But having read his response to you I'm starting to have second thoughts...

Culture matters, and survives migration.

Now you're losing me. In what way does "culture" matter? Socioeconomic status has nothing to do with "culture".

Well as Devil’s advocate, look at how people in Japan reacted after Fukushima. The world was awed by how awesome their “community spirit” was - nobody denied they exhibited far more social cohesion, sacrifice and civic responsibility than would ever be on display in the US.

That’s a cultural difference on display. Culture is not determined by race, so let’s not conflate the two. Culture is something you are immersed in and it does influence behavior.

There are also massive downsides to extreme cultural cohesion, looking at it another way.

But let’s not deny that social culture has a bearing on individual and group behavior. It has a massive impact. Conflating that observation with race or _racism_ seems a particularly unhelpful neuroticism of the US.


I agree with most of what you say. It's just that culture in the US isn't nearly as homogeneous as culture in Japan, and I have my doubts now as to whether the poster in question was talking about US as a whole or the culture (read race) of a specific demographic. Also, your examples here entirely sidestep the subject, which is crime and recidivism, things that are also found in Japan, probably lower than in the US but probably still higher than in Norway.

I never said anything that would imply that, so please take your absurdly inflammatory accusation out of here.

You’re comparing Norway’s 2 year recidivism rate with the US’s 5 year rate. The US’s 2 year rate is 29%.

You’re comparing Norway’s 2 year recidivism Reconviction rate with the US’s 2 year Reimprisonment rate. The US’s 2 year Reconviction rate is 36%.

Even if those are the correct numbers to compare (which the other reply to you is questioning), the US number is 45% higher than Norway's which is still quite significant. Using the 36% rate from the other reply to you, the US rate is instead 80% higher than Norway's.

What I find striking are the reported recidivism rates of Sweden and Norway: 43% vs. 20% after 2 years. Sure, Norway is richer and socially/ethnically more homogeneous, but can this be the whole explanation for this extreme difference, considering the two countries are otherwise very similar?

Well Norway is a fraction the size of the US in population.

I would imagine that wealth, cultural homogeneity, and a very small population accounts for at least 80% of the explanation. So not the “whole” explanation, but the critical mass of why it works, sure.

It’s questionable to assume that Norway’s system could scale up by a factor of even 3x, let alone something sixty times the size. I’d be interested if it could produce results in a country like Spain or France with 50m people before calling on the US to simply do what Norway does but with 350m people.


Sure, but my question is about the difference between Norway and Sweden. Sweden has (merely) twice the population size of Norway, is culturally similar, highly developed, has a similar political system etc, but still seems to fair far worse.

Why not implement it at a state level then? Many states in the US have a similar population to Norway.

Wow, I had no idea recidivism in Norway was that high. I expected something like 5%.

Basically 1 in 5 ex convicts return to crime.


Worth noting that rates don't necessarily tell the whole story. In some countries you will avoid prison entirely for a whole range of offences including even some "heavy" things. It's not impossible that in countries like Norway or Denmark, people who are in prison are already statistically part of the people less likely to be rehabilitated.

On the other hand, prisons entirely create problems they're supposedly there to solve. Just ask people who've gone through juvenile detention if it's not a breeding ground to make some contacts and learn the ropes..

You'd almost need a compound unit like (reconviction rate at x years) * (prison population/total population) in order to figure out what is going on, with the idea that you'd want both reconvictions and proportion of population in prison to be low numbers.

For reference, the US has 655 prisoners per 100k, Norway has 60 per 100k.


It's generally higher than that depending on the data you use too. Most statistics you see are based on 1-2 year recidivism rates, so if they end up in prison at a later date then that's not included. For example, the UK keeps data of up to 9 years. It increases from 46% to 78% during that time period, so really almost 4 in 5 people return to crime.

Another thing to note is some base it on reconviction, instead of reimprosonment, which obfuscate the data again.

A decent summary of some research done in 2020 in recidivism rates: https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/recidivis...


As someone who grew up around serious criminals, this number is far lower than what you’d see in North America and shows that Norway at least makes some progress.

X/5 convicts return to crime because it is all they know and their peer group, family, and professional network are all infected by crime and their childhoods were marked by abuse, neglect, drugs, stress, anxiety, and isolation from healthy and stable human relationships. Good, well to do people like to pretend they are better than the lower classes but seriously undervalue their own good luck.

You can give an exconvict a bath, haircut, and paper degree all you want but at the end of the day the average citizen will still see them as scum and irreversibly damaged. Good luck finding a good job as a minority or (to a lesser degree) otherwise with any kind of record. The truth is that the punishment for a crime doesn’t end with one’s first stint in prison but continues for life.

Criminals are made far more often than they are born and the system is too quick to affirm the idea that they are little better than animals. No surprise to me that many return to crime.


As we know, correlation doesn’t mean causation. Recidivism may have nothing to do with prison conditions for all we know. The link you provided even says that numerous other factors have more of an impact on recidivism.

> Recidivism in the US is 55% after 5 years, as compared to Norway's 20%. Apparently not treating people inhumanely is a great way of getting them not to commit more crimes. [1] Who would have thought?

Your mistake is in not realizing that this is considered a feature, not a bug. The US incarceration system is very much designed so that "certain people" stay in prison for the majority of cradle to grave. It is not in the interest of this design that recidivism be reduced.


Certainly feels that way with the minimum prison occupancy contracts states sign with private prisons. [1]

[1] http://www.aublr.org/2017/11/private-prison-contracts-minimu...


>Recidivism in the US is 55% after 5 years, as compared to Norway's 20%. Apparently not treating people inhumanely is a great way of getting them not to commit more crimes. [1] Who would have thought?

There's a thousand other ways America is different from Norway. The quote statistic -> unwarranted conclusion -> logic dunk! shitposting ruins websites.


> it causes severe psychological distress. That's what prison is.

Depends. Some penal systems are there for "retribution" or punishment, and those match your definition. Other concepts available are rehabilitation and simply separating proven dangerous elements from society at large. Apart from the loss of freedom of movement (which I would not describe as "severe psychological distress"), there is no hard requirement for a prison system to be even unpleasant.


Having your freedom restricted for years is not "severe psychological distress"?

Have to disagree there.


Why? Would you really say that restricting freedoms generally causes severe psychological distress? What about militaries around the world, that either through volunteer or conscription, severely restrict a soldier’s freedom and requires compulsory training and work? It seems that we are stretching “severe psychological distress” to the point of meaninglessness if simply having your movement restricted and being required to follow some sort of rules and regime based system causes it. There is a difference between stress and “severe psychological distress”.

The philosophy of imprisonment is fairly vast, I believe.

But hard/philosophical requirements notwithstanding, prisons tend to be what they are. The famous moral philosopher Jeremy Bentham designed some a "modern" prison system with some of these goals in mind, especially reform. The result was quite horrific.


You've chosen to ignore any of the cases of actually modern reform-based prison systems and instead bring up the late 18th century? Odd choice.

Note that the exaggerated theoretical horrors of Bentham's panopticon are the mundane reality of modern non-prison life under camera and cell phone surveillance.

Being watched by guards isn't one of the top 10 worst aspects of living in prison.


I can't agree. I doubt many people on HN are "absolutist" a lot of us do realize that the US prison system is horrible if you're not in a white collar minimal security prison (and he would not be, he is headed for a federal prison with probably 23.5 hours solitary confinement a day in a room and 30 minutes of exercise) and probably some time with his lawyers. I can't say I wouldn't side with the English judge in this case, he's just calling it like he sees it.

Pretty sure the judge is "she", not "he".

what's extra horrible is solitary is used for 'protection' and mental health. e.g. if you report fear for your life (common in US prisons if you don't want to play the gang game) they throw you into the SHU. It's barbaric as punishment, disgusting for supposed health reasons

I have been fascinated with the effects of solitary confinement on mental health. Why the Covid pandemic has added horrors is because large parts of human populations are under virtual imprisonment, not being able to visit and touch friends and family, and not being able to travel. Anecdotal evidence strongly indicates that this had vastly detrimental effect on mental health.

(Understanding this may be also crucial for the proper design of long-duration space travel.)

Just like ordeal by fire, and ordeal by boiling oil, I wish that solitary confinement be identified as cruel and unusual punishment, used sparingly and only with the highest levels of bureaucratic clearance. Probably only against the insanely violent, rather than the mildly inconvenient.


It's understood to be torture no? If you look in the CIA manual on torture, they found that mental torture or psychological torture worked better than physical torture. This would include deprivation and isolation.

Regarding your comment about how the entire ruling centers on this one point, would this mean all the US would have to do to get it overturned is pinky promise they won't throw Assange in solitary? What if they then put him in solitary anyway?

> What if they then put him in solitary anyway?

Nothing, but now you've potentially damaged diplomatic relations with an ally. Countries generally (!) try to keep their promises to each other, or they won't be considered reliable in the future. Just like individuals.


> you've potentially damaged diplomatic relations with an ally.

The UK has done exactly that by denying extradition to the US.


One wonders if there is not some element of 'tit-for-tat' in response to the Anne Sacoolas / Harry Dunn affair at play here.

I'm sure Anne Sacoolas will be presenting herself at the Old Bailey forthwith?

With the new administration, perhaps. Not sure this would have been true with the current admin.

>> Frankly I don't understand why the UK continues to maintain an extradition treaty with a country which clearly has a poor record on human rights and fails to maintain a justice system that meets the UN's Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.

It's because the US is a powerful ally and the UK does not want to displease them. The British call this their "special relation" to the Americans. I don't know what the Americans call it.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1efOs0BsE0g

There was an amusing twist after this was published. The creators got in trouble with the Australian Government, who were concerned about their use of the Australian coat of arms: it might confuse viewers into thinking the video was an official government one.


What do all the other countries with an extradition treaty with the US call their own relationship? They can't all be special ... can they?

[flagged]


Please don't post unsubstantive comments.

While cynical and snarky towards US government, the comment is substantive if you're familiar with the term: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Useful_idiot

It's a cliché. That is one reason the GP comment was unsubstantive.

That's my fault- I should have left that last sentence out. Reading it again it begs a reply like Sharlin's. I should have known better than to post it.

[flagged]


In reality the relationship is quite the opposite of this framing, but carry on I suppose.

I have never come across the use of satisfied for "persuaded by argument or evidence" before. (yes, I had to look it up, not a native speaker) Is this usage common or just some kind of legalese?

Its normal - its even used in Computer Science, eg https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boolean_satisfiability_problem

Relatively common in the UK but fairly formal; can be substituted for 'fulfill' pretty much everywhere it's used

"You have satisfied the requirements of a degree and have been granted the award of BSc Physics"


It's not legalese, but it is frequently used in judgments.

I don't think it's common, but it certainly isn't legalese.

It is normal usage.

I guess it's more common in British English (and maybe a bit old-fashioned?).

Edit: google ngrams seems to agree.


As in sentences like "I'm satisfied that you did your best" and "I'm satisfied that it contains no gluten". Do those not work in American or other international English?

According to google ngrams the frequency of 'satisfied that' is 0.00026% in British English and 0.00012% in American English. So only a factor of 2 difference. Interestingly the peak of American usage was in the 1860s (~0.001%), followed by a slow decline, but in Britain there was a small peak around 1920 (~0.00127%), then a higher peak in the 1940s (~0.002%), followed by a rapid decline to the present day.

No, that's the definition that does track perfectly in American English: where it can be substituted by "pleased."

But those sentences are also perfectly meaningful assuming the other sense of "satisfied", which may be what GP meant. Ie. "I am convinced that you did your best" and "I am convinced that it contains no gluten".

Oh, I definitely agree that those example exist on the fuzzy line, but the question was whether they didn't read to Americans.

The more I think about it, the harder the actual barrier between "pleased" and "convinced" is hard to draw.


It's not that hard to draw it: 'I am satisfied that this man is the one who killed my dog'. Whether you are convinced that this is the man, or whether you are pleased that this particular man killed your dog are clearly different senses.

But would you not be pleased to be certain who killed your dog? It's not a 1:1 concept mapping, but the conceptual space is close enough that the semantic drift of "satisfied" is completely understandable.

I am satisfied that I am satisfied that this is the man who killed my dog ;)

Interestingly, the BBC asked the question: “is HMP Belmarsh the British Guantanamo Bay?” [0]

By the transitive properties of anglo-american fascist thought, does that make the US prison system better or worse than the US extrajudicial prison in Cuba??

[0] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/3714864.stm


There are better and worse parts in each system. Not everyone is in solitary confinement or 22hr per day in cell. The worst parts of all 3 are bad.

Camp X-Ray is a criminal enterprise against humanity. There are no "better parts" of an extra-judicial detention and torture center. You must be one of those "new" Americans who grew up watching "interrogations" on cable tv shows. [I'm one of the "old" Americans who stopped watching TV as soon as torture was promoted on American airwaves.]

> You must be one of those "new" Americans who grew up watching "interrogations" on cable tv shows.

Instead of discussing the issue, you are just dismissing the person based on a completely made up attribute about them.

> I'm one of the "old" Americans who stopped watching TV as soon as torture was promoted on American airwaves.

Calling yourself morally superior and acting as if your tv watching habits when discussing detention centers gives you any sort of credibility.


I dismissed the notion that 2 correctional facilities that nominally are subject to a legal regime are in the same set as Camp X-Ray.

Well, we Americans until 21st century were repeatedly told that our way of life was in fact “morally superior” to “torturing” USSR. I can dig up the imdb link for TV shows in 90s that used that very line in discussing the Soviets.

[here you go: Stalin, 1992, Robert DuVall https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0105462/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1]

> any sort of credibility

https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=542354234235


I’m not disagreeing about what was on television. However, you are saying that if someone disagrees with you that it is because of the tv they watched and your moral and legal opinion on the workings of detainment center are apparently proudly derived from tv shows, or at least that is the only thing you have provided in support of your position.

I’m really not sure why you linked to my profile. I can only assume you are attempting to imply that because my account is only a few months old, and your account is several years old, that that gives you some sort of credibility. So, to summarize, you have used old tv shows and an old account on social media as your bonafides in a discussion on the moral, ethical, and legal framework around Guantanamo Bay. Very compelling.


That is not an accurate reading of what I wrote.

To spell it out: prior to 9/11, institutionalized use of torture was anathema to our national mores as reflected by American cultural products. Only ad-hoc extra legal violence (various police shows) was on the entertainment menu.

After 9/11, institutionalized use of torture was promoted as "necessary" and "acceptable" and cultural products were duly modifed to represent that radical shift in American ethos.

American children who grew up post 9/11 are likely not even aware that as recently as 1992, use of torture was systemically held up as a sign of a repressive system. I merely bring up TV given that it is the main source of social conditioning for the masses. We could discuss academic and political content not on TV and see the same abrupt shift in our national value system.


(Lousy) conspiracy theory: the judge is on the US payroll to keep him in Britain. It’s cheaper and easier for the British to house and guard him than it is for the US to deal with him (and go through the spectacle of his ostensible execution). Better to jail him away in Britain while muttering something about humanitarianism.

What exactly is his fate if the appeals process which the US is planning fails to change anything? Does he live free in the UK or will he be prosecuted there for something else?

AFAIK he just continues to chill in the UK under house arrest until he succumbs (ostensibly during a decade).

"Mr. Assange’s mental health would deteriorate causing him to commit suicide with the “single minded determination” of his autism spectrum disorder."

This would be entirely speculative for an MD let alone a Judge who doesn't really know what 'autism' is.

So it's possibly a good outcome but based on bad legal proceedings.

We're supposed to be 'advanced countries' why can't we get simple things right?


That's what expert witnesses reported, not some thought the judge just came up with. I recommend reading the actual ruling if you want to understand how the judge came to this conclusion.

I find this to be an odd statement as well (as someone who did not know Assange had autism until I read that sentence)

Although I think the ruling is reasonable if the justification is simply that US prisons are inhumane

Vaguely related: I heard about a thought experiment from Amanda Askell (in one of her podcast interviews), but it's kind of interesting: what would you give up in order to not go to jail for 5 years. What amount of money would you pay? Would you be willing to lose a finger instead?

This does not immediately imply that we should abolish jails, but at the very least we should consider just how serious the punishment is. (And then repeat the experiment for a federal prison Assange would be in)


It's not speculative, it's literally what he and his lawyers said. The judge was persuaded on the balance of probability (more likely than not) that it was true.

"It's not speculative, it's literally what he and his lawyers said. "

Then it's the most absolutely biased possible thing upon which to rule.

Assange's isolation was a) self imposed and b) considerably better than any 'prison' than he would face in Sweden, the UK or the USA. You don't get to 'not go to jail' because 'it will be depressing'.


Do you understand what happens in a court case?

One side puts forward an argument, and the other side puts forward their argument, and a judge decides which is true and then applies the law.

Here the judge decided that he was at risk of death if he went to a US prison, the US was unable to answer that point, and the judge then looks at law - ECHR article 2 - to decide whether to send him or not.

The judge seems pretty clear that Assange should be in jail. Just not in an inhumane US jail.

Your comment BTW is a great example of how toxic these convos can be. I loathe Assange and I don't care if he rots in prison. You've assumed that I think he should be walking free.


>You don't get to 'not go to jail' because 'it will be depressing'.

To add to DanBC, a country absolutely can decide not to extradite to another country they believe plans to imprison someone at well below what they consider to be the minimum standard for human rights, the same way many countries do not extradite to a country that tortures or has the death penalty. There is a difference between making the argument “I don’t want to go to jail because it is depressing” and “the country’s planned imprisonment would violate my basic human rights and is to such an inhumane level as it would likely cause severe physiological damage”.


>We're supposed to be 'advanced countries' why can't we get simple things right?

for the same reason old projects tend to suffer from old unfixed bugs and a burden of backwards compatibility


If there's anything to learn from Assange and Snowden:

1. Our western "liberal" democracies stop being liberal when the government gets angry at you at a personal level.

2. With enough propaganda, you can make people believe anything, even that Snowden is a "traitor" to the US.

3. Politically vociferous people (the mob) don't give a shit about you unless you're instrumental to support the cause du jour


> Our western "liberal" democracies stop being liberal when the government gets angry at you at a personal level.

That's a fairly weak observation both because liberal democracies still punish criminals and many people do take serious issue with what Assange is and has done - it's just not a common thing to say on hackernews.


> it's just not a common thing to say on hackernews.

It's a heavily penalized sentiment in this portion of the internet.


Publishing what he did is not a crime (under ruling on the Pentagon Papers) however everyone here seems to miss the point that he did so without the normal process a journalist would apply, redacting the names of people that would be put at risk of harm in doing so. That was irresponsible and could be considered criminal. If you read the ruling the judge makes it clear that his actions would be considered a crime in the UK.

So what exactly is his fate if the appeals process which the US is planning fails to change anything? Does he live free in the UK or will he be prosecuted in the UK for something else?

I can’t find any information about that.


Honestly, I am going to bet he looses in the end. The US government has unlimited time and will around these things (look at what they did to the mob). Let’s say he steps one foot out of the UK to another country that has an extradition treaty, US issues warrant and it starts all over again. It is likely given the fact that the UK judges only reason for not granting the request was how he would be held that the US government as we speak are drawling up a proposal that would be agreeable to the judge.

> The US government has unlimited time and will around these things

> ...

> Let’s say he steps one foot out of the UK to another country that has an extradition treaty

Very much agree with this take, after all the US already forced the landing of the Bolivian presidential plane in Austria when they believed that Snowden could be aboard it in order to capture him and extradite him to the US


> US already forced the landing of the Bolivian presidential plane in Austria

What would they do if Snowden was actually on the plane and the Bolivian president had a reason not to land the plane?

I bet they would do nothing. Or do you think they would literally down a plane with a president of another country?

The only reason they landed was because they had nothing to hide. I am also pretty certain American politicans are smart enough to realise that the only reason that plane landed was because there was no one there.


Additionally, it probably doesn't matter how the particular judge is placated, if that occurs - once he's in the states the US Government can essentially do as it pleases because who's going to stop them? A sternly worded letter might be sent, which will be filed, and that'll be the end of it is my guess.

> The US government has unlimited time and will around these things

So why are Lauri Love and Gary McKinnon still free after the same extradition denial years ago?


Failure to edit wasn't what he was accused of.

US government secrets are not expressly protected by UK law.

Consider this absurdity: you could be extradited to South Korea for having some North Korean songs on your phone.


So in the UK you can go to jail for what he did, unlike in the US. The Pentagon Papers ruling gave cover for journalists leaking government secrets. In the UK the official secrets act offers no such protection and is a ticket right to jail.

> With enough propaganda, you can make people believe anything, even that Snowden is a "traitor" to the US.

When you do things like https://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1266892/exclusive-ns..., no propaganda is necessary.


That is horrible. Wasting tax dollars spying on schools.

Does Lincoln Lab count as MIT? Is it really a "school" per se?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIT_Lincoln_Laboratory

It'd be pretty surprising if no one was attempting to spy on such organizations

I don't know what Tsinghua does but I can imagine a top school doing similar government-funded work anywhere


> It'd be pretty surprising if no one was attempting to spy on such organizations

Just last year a professor and two Chinese nationals at Harvard were indicted for something similar: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/harvard-university-professor-...


A country’s premier research university seems like a pretty normal espionage target.

> Our western "liberal" democracies

....are by far not all like the United States.


Back when Snowden initially did what he did, I had a conversation with some coworkers about whether he was a hero or a traitor for releasing that information. I, personally, concluded that he was a bit of both, but, on balance, I considered him more heroic than traitorous. These days, I've shifted my opinion even more toward "heroic."

Power structures protect themselves. They use various combinations of propaganda and force.

The lesson is that the US and the UK are the same power structure.


One of the most interesting aspects of the assange saga is how journalists and mainstream media treated him throughout the years.

When he exposed Bush, the media and journalists celebrated him as a hero. I believe he was even given some awards. When he exposed Hillary, the media and journalists attacked him. Journalism is political activism at its core.


He's been a piece of shit for decades

Pretty sure Snowden dumped every single thing he could get his hands on. That pretty much makes him a traitor.

Reading your comment history, you are only here to spew your hate for Snowden and Assange: clearly a political motive.

> Please don't use Hacker News for political or ideological battle. It tramples curiosity. -- https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


They're both fools that a certain subset - call them uncritical libertarians - of the tech comunity seem to worship. The topic annoys me.

Reading from that to my "purpose" for being here, and moreover calling it a "political" purpose (ignoring the fact that basically everything is political) is entirely spurious.


You think exposing government atrocity and showing people what is done in their name to them and by them makes people fools?

I actually don't think this is such great news for him.

Extradition was specifically blocked on the grounds of a particular regime he might be subjected to (to be fair, probably the only legal grounds on which he had any chance of succeeding). That leaves the US with a way out if they want to proceed with the extradition - guarantee a different set of circumstances.

If the judge had found on more substantive grounds, those would have been much more resistant to that. For instance, all the claims based on language in the extradition treaty and other international agreements failed and they failed for pretty fundamental legal reasons. English courts only have regard for domestic law and it is for parliament to pass laws consistent with the treaties that have been signed, therefore claims based on treaty language won't work.

That means that none of the claims on the political nature of his activities were upheld and those would have provided a much more robust and durable bar to extradition.


> Extradition was specifically blocked on the grounds of a particular regime he might be subjected to (to be fair, probably the only legal grounds on which he had any chance of succeeding). That leaves the US with a way out if they want to proceed with the extradition - guarantee a different set of circumstances.

And isn't that actually done on a fairly regular basis? IIRC, the US has pledged not to pursue the death penalty in certain cases in order to get cooperation on an extradition.


In many cases.

Virtually any jurisdiction that knows no capital punishment refuses to extradite if it be possible the extraditee face it.


Maximum security prison + solitary confinement is way too harsh for this issue IMHO.

Agreed. The k ly thing I would say is that extradition from the UK to the US is almost always granted, so even a delay and appeal is a better result than expected...

Kevin Gosztola: "The United States government's mass incarceration system just lost them their case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange" - https://twitter.com/kgosztola/status/1346048531249958914

Matt Kennard, investigative journalist: "Brilliant news, but be in no doubt. This ruling is utterly chilling for investigative journalism. Baraitser sided with US prosecutors on pretty much all of their arguments. It was the barbaric nature of the US penal system that saved Assange." - https://twitter.com/kennardmatt/status/1346051928011235328

Rebecca Vincent from Reports Without Borders responding to the judgment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lm3JMUREH8A


> "Brilliant news, but be in no doubt. This ruling is utterly chilling for investigative journalism. Baraitser sided with US prosecutors on pretty much all of their arguments. It was the barbaric nature of the US penal system that saved Assange."

A barbarical nature of US penal system it is, but they did not even note a prima fascie political nature of the prosecution when the defence was slashing it left, and right.

They omitted it very deliberately.


Are we sure that Assange is better off in the UK? Reports from other sources suggest he is being kept in terrible conditions in UK as well.

https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/julian-assange-is-kept-u...

>> "Each day Julian is woken at 5 am, handcuffed, put in holding cells, stripped naked, and x-rayed. He is transported 1.5 hours each way in what feels like a vertical coffin in a claustrophobic van,” Morris said.

>> The lawyer pointed out that during the criminal hearings Assange is kept in a glass box at the back of court from where he cannot his lawyers properly.


Certainly better in the UK than the US. He gets to see family and has contact with support including calls with e.g. the Samaritans.

> Each day Julian is ... x-rayed

Wait, what? This can't be true - daily x-rays would guarantee cell/DNA damage.


I think they meant put through a metal detector? Assange was put on suicide watch (whether justifiedly or not I do not know) so presumably they're checking for weapons he could harm himself with, still seems like overkill though.

Could just be sloppy, inaccurate writing. But yeah that would be pretty bad.

It's a direct quote from his fiancé, who is also a lawyer and part of his defense team: https://twitter.com/StellaMoris1/status/1306205472521891840?...

I can't vouch for the analysis here, but this is interesting. It's an FOIA request that seems to show the equipment being used. https://wiseupaction.info/2020/10/15/julian-assange-was-x-ra...


That second link says "each full body scan of an individual would generate 6 Micro Sieverts (µSv)" so 2 scans per day would be 12 µSv, and a dose chart [0] shows the average daily background dose to be 10 µSv while a flight from NY to LA is 40 µSv. So it's a bit like taking that flight every 3.3 days. So maybe it's no worse than being a pilot / flight attendant?

[0] https://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/the-daily-need/how-muc...


2 scans a day for 1 year would be 4,380 µSv, or 4.3 mSv. The yearly dose limits recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) is 1 mSv per year for the general public, and 20 mSv for “occupationally exposed workers” [1]. Since Assange is receiving this for very specific reasons, I don’t think he would fall into the general public. So he is receiving less than a quarter of what is considered max safe for a radiation worker. For further comparison, long haul airline pilots receive and average of 2.94 mSv/year [2] and “diagnostic radiology, nuclear medicine, and radiotherapy workers were found to be 0.66, 1.56, and 0.28 mSv, respectively” [3]. So he could be on the high end when compared to medical workers and pilots, while still being well under the safe max limits.

[1] https://radiopaedia.org/articles/dose-limits?lang=us

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5019040/

[3] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S165836551...


Thanks, this is very informative. Does the peakiness of being subject to X-ray scanning (a duty cycle like 500ms on, 12hr off) come into play when comparing with those other occupations, though?

First, I am probably as much as a layman as you. But from what I have read and some quick googling now, there is no additional risk or appreciative difference. Although I did find a few regulations that the general public should not be exposed to any sort of radiation higher than 10 µSv per hour. However I believe that is to prevent regular people unknowingly being around high radiation sources that would add up to a high cumulative total, since the general public does not have any way to track their cumulative exposure, not a problem with that level of single dose radiation per se.

Ionizing radiation damage is overwhelmingly and almost exclusively in its cumulative effects, namely the cancer it can cause. Each “unit” of radiation has a certain likelihood of slicing through the DNA of one of your cells, which has a certain likelihood of causing a mutation, which has a certain likelihood of being a cancerous mutation and not a “kills the cell” mutation, which has a certain likelihood of being a specific type that can evade all the body’s natural defenses against rouge cells. It is a long chain of dice rolls that have to all go just wrong.

So, unless the dose is concentrated to a physical location, e.g. radon in the lungs or sunburn on the skin, then it doesn’t really matter if you get a given dose over a month or a year. It will still start the same number of cascading dice rolls.

If someone that actually knows what they are talking about feels the need to correct anything, please do.


Pilots get a lot of radiation exposure though! It's not to be casually dismissed.

Do they ever get pulled off of flights to reduce their cumulative radiation exposure?

12 µSv in two 500 ms bursts is very different 12 µSv spread out over 1 hour of flight time.

The difference in intensity is 3,600 fold. It's the difference between being subjected to 1 hour of 30 degree celcius heat and 1 second of 108,000 degree celcius heat.


To bolster your argument: only the Kelvin scale is eligible for multiplication operations, so 30C * 3600 = 1,091,067C when converting to K and back.

On the other hand: I expect 500 ms of such extreme heat would instantly kill a human, although I'm having a hard time finding an answer for such a short time scale. Since X-ray imaging doesn't instantly kill, it's apples and oranges, but point taken.


This is not a description of how he's being treated as a prisoner, but rather specifically as a prisoner who is being transported between a prison and a courthouse during a trial or hearing.

So... somewhat disingenuous.


on what charges is he being held in the UK?

Arrested in 2019 when his Ecuadorian asylum was revoked, charged with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, maximum 5y sentence. Was changed a month later to be the Espionage Act charges.

Those all stem from the US though, I think he's only detained by the UK for extradition?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indictment_and_arrest_of_Julia...


Yes. We prosecuted him for jumping bail by going to the embassy, but he's served his sentence for that. He's only being held for possible extradition.

And for breaking the terms of his bail conditions by legging it to the Ecuadorian embassy in the first place.

For skipping bail

This fell into a broader question of whether the Extradition Act 2003 has to be enforced notwithstanding the terms of the extradition treaty. The treaty refers to political offences; the Act does not. The answer to this question was yes, the Act is self-contained. Therefore the judge did not need to decide the question of whether it was a political offence. So she did not discuss it or decide the question.

You are correct in a way -- judges do not decide issues that do not need to be decided, and things they do say about those issues are ignored, so yes, she omitted to discuss it.

But you couldn't say she "sided with US prosecutors" on whether it was a political offence or not. If you put that language in the Extradition Act, then you would get a decision on it. It's not so much "chilling for investigative journalism" as a deficiency in the Act itself not accounting for the particular US-UK treaty language or the US' categorisation under the Act that should reflect its recent anti-democratic bent.


It's just bizarre that the terms of the extradition treaty, which explicitly bars extradition for political offenses, would be irrelevant. If the terms of the treaty don't matter, then what's the basis for extraditing Assange in the first place?

> It's just bizarre that the terms of the extradition treaty, which explicitly bars extradition for political offenses, would be irrelevant.

Basic UK constitutional law: judges apply the law as written by Parliament, not the law as it ought to be written if the treaty had been properly implemented. If this leads to the UK not following their obligations, the remedy for this is Parliament need to modify primary legislation to satisfy their international obligations. All treaties need ratification by Parliament.

(There are two major exceptions to this: the European Convention of Human Rights which was "domesticated" by the Human Rights Act 1998, and EU law which, pre-Brexit, was brought into UK law by the European Communities Act, and has now been integrated into UK law through the EU Withdrawal Act.)


The basis is the Extradition Act, which according to the judgment is a self-contained implementation of a bunch of different extradition treaties.

Hypothetically, let’s say the statute actually had a section with “no extraditions for unsavoury offences” in it. That’s pretty weird and ambiguous, so you might, subject to UK law on statutory interpretation, look to the treaty/treaties the Act is implementing to figure out what the legislature meant by unsavoury when they wrote it. Maybe a bunch of treaties had similar provisions using the word unsavoury, but the US one changed it, and you would analyse why they didn’t use the language again, or whether political offences as referred to by the US treaty would fit the bill... But according to the judgment, the Act is not ambiguous. There is nothing to look to the treaty for.

Still, the basis for the extradition is not the treaty. Treaties bind States (ie countries) against each other. The remedy for a treaty law breach is stern words from the UN, maybe a fine, whatever. But treaty law cannot establish domestic laws that govern things like extradition. The only requirement imposed by the treaty is on the UK as a State to implement the treaty in domestic law, which is how countries like the UK comply with the terms of the treaty. International law does not bind local decision makers who decide whether the extradition goes ahead. It also does not bind parliament, which can refuse to implement a treaty or decide to deviate from it. It should also be quite plain that Assange is not a State party to the extradition agreement, being neither the literal United States nor Kingdom, so he does not have standing to object to the UK’s implementation, and of course, is in utterly the wrong court for that :)

(That the UK is bound to comply makes for a strong suggestion that parliament actually intended to be true to the treaty when they implemented it, but this is only relevant where there is ambiguity in the domestic law requiring resolution, because of the primacy of legislative power and its ability to write laws in clear terms that can’t be wriggled out of.)


The political offenses exception is not ambiguous. It's well understood what the exception means, and the treaty explicitly bars it. It's just very strange to me that the US and UK explicitly agreed to arrange for extradition on certain terms, but that those terms are now deemed by this judge not to apply in the UK.

> But treaty law cannot establish domestic laws that govern things like extradition

In the US, treaties are law. The political offense exception absolutely applies when extraditing people from the US to the UK.

There are enough other problems in this ruling to make me very skeptical of the judge's reasoning here. A few of them:

* The judge says that it's an open question whether or not a journalist from The Guardian was the person who first published unredacted cables with informants' names. As was established beyond any doubt, it was The Guardian's journalist who first published the cables. The decryption key was the title of a chapter in his book, for crying out loud, and the encrypted archive was available online. Yet Baraitser treats this as an open question. Doing so allows Baraitser to argue that Assange put people's lives at risk.

* The judge asserts that Pompeo's statements about going after Assange do not represent the views of the US government, and therefore cannot be used to argue that the prosecution is politically motivated. Pompeo is the former director of the CIA and the current Secretary of State. He's one of the most senior members of the government, and he gave an entire speech devoted to arguing that the government should go after Assange.

To me, these are just unbelievable statements by the judge. The bottom line, though, is that the judge's ruling makes it possible for the US to go after investigative journalists in the UK who publish about the US military or intelligence apparatus. All the protections that journalists thought they had do not exist.


> In the US, treaties are law.

In Britain and Australia, they're not. (Except for the Tasmanian Dams Case.) Parliament has to, in effect, cut and paste the treaty into legislation, and only then will courts enforce it. Sometimes parliament refuses to do that, and sometimes they try but slip up.


> In the US, treaties are law. The political offense exception absolutely applies when extraditing people from the US to the UK.

Sure, in the US they are. The judge explicitly contrasts the US’s “monist” system with the UK’s “dualist” system where treaties are not law. Correspondingly, in the US treaties require Congressional approval to be ratified. In the UK, at least prior to 2010, treaties could be ratified by the executive branch alone, but Parliament’s approval was required to incorporate the terms into national law. (As of 2010, Parliament has a greater role in treaty ratification [1], but AFAICT that still doesn’t make them automatically national law. Anyway, the treaty in question was ratified prior to 2010.)

[1] https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/sn05...


> It's just very strange to me that the US and UK explicitly agreed to arrange for extradition on certain terms, but that those terms are now deemed by this judge not to apply in the UK.

The Treaty does not limit extradition permitted under other law, it creates an obligation. If another law requires extradition, the terms of the treaty are immaterial.

> In the US, treaties are law.

They are a kind of law, but unless they are “self-executing” treaties, they aren't law with much practical force until and except to the extent that implementing legislation is adopted.

Now, IIRC, extradition treaties have generally been held to be self-executing in US law, but it's simply not generally the case that treaties are automatically judicially-enforceable laws in the US without separate legislative action.

> The political offense exception absolutely applies when extraditing people from the US to the UK.

The US statute law governing extradition also allows extradition outside of any extradition treaties, but in far more limited circumstances (mostly,for non-US citizens/nationals who are alleged to have committed crimes against US citizens or nationals) than UK law does. I'm not sure what point you are trying to make here except that the domestic law of the United States is not identical to that of the United Kingdom, which is unsurprising.


> I'm not sure what point you are trying to make here

That the judge is making a novel argument that there is no longer any barrier to extraditing people from the UK to the US for political offenses, despite what it clearly says in the treaty. As I understand it, this is a contentious issue, and most commentators had previously expected the political offenses exception to hold. The argument that the judge made - that the terms set out in extradition treaties are irrelevant in extradition hearings - does not appear to be as straightforwardly accepted as you're claiming. My understanding is that the Extradition Act of 2003 itself, without the treaty, is not sufficient to extradite Assange. If the treaty with the US did not also exist, there would be no extradition to the US. So to argue that the defendant derives no protections from the text of the treaty is quite a strange argument.

If people can now be extradited from the UK to the US for political offenses, that is a major development with extremely worrying consequences. Now that the US is treating national security reporting as espionage, if UK journalists are no longer protected by the traditional political offenses exception, they are open to prosecution in the US.


The EA2003 Part 2 applies to territories with which the UK has extradition relations in place but aren’t designated as category 1 territories. Yes, there is a threshold requirement that a relationship should exist. No, that does not mean you automatically import all the language in a treaty into domestic law. It is not strange at all.

Calling it “novel”, “strange”, “contentious”, going against what “commentators” expected (who? why do we care?), etc are all pretty much just your opinion, man. All you’re really saying is that you still don’t understand how you can have two different kinds of law and have them operate in different ways, which is perfectly okay. It’s tricky. I don’t think this HN thread is going to do a better job of figuring out if the judgment is right about the EA2003 being self-contained than the actual UK appellate court system. If we dive any deeper than “there are different kinds of law and here are the ways they usually interact” then even those of us here with law degrees are out of our depth without doing way too much research for HN.

But rather than directing your ire at today’s legal reality at this judge, maybe you should be angry that the EA2003, rushed through Parliament in the wake of 9/11 with very little scrutiny as is SOP for almost all NatSec legislation floated in western democracies since then, appears to cut off the protection against extraditions of political offences for anyone — terrorists or journalists - despite this being a common exception in treaties and I think may have been a significant part of the old scheme. Just skimming old reports I think this problem may have been raised but not addressed before passage. As I said in my first post, this is a deficiency of the EA2003, not a judge making up “novel arguments” (afaik this has never been actually tested since the EA passed, so you can’t really call it novel) and creating a problem. The problem has been there for 17 years.


The treaty was ratified after the passage of the act, and the act only applies to the US through the treaty. This is not some normal case of, "We're required by this treaty to tax pickles at 25%, but Parliament has only imposed a tax of 20%." Extradition to the US is enabled by this treaty. Without the treaty, there's no extradition in the first place. The treaty was ratified after the passage of the Extradition Act, and the government apparently felt that the terms of the treaty, including the provision on political offenses, could be implemented without further legislation.

Okay, but none of that can have any bearing on the interpretation of the 2003 legislation, since as you say, it was a treaty ratified by the executive after Parliament had already expressed their intention.

If your point is that there is in fact an express importation of the various treaties’ terms into UK law, you need to point to the words in an Act of Parliament that say that. If your point is that the threshold requirement in the first section of Part 2 of the Act that a treaty relation exist actually constitutes an importation of treaty terms, or that an express importation is not actually required for this kind of thing, then go ahead and argue that based on UK statutory interpretation law. The defence didn’t manage it, but I look forward to seeing their attempt in any appeal proceedings. It’s not really obvious how “Extradition to the US is enabled by this treaty” is an argument for either; you’re only really saying it meets the threshold requirement, which was a given. You have to argue based on the words in the Act and UK law first, and your instinct about what treaties should mean second.

Edit: While you’re at it, you’ll have to rebut quite a lot of points about the intention of Parliament in EA2003, when it deliberately omitted the previous domestic implementation of treaties that refer to political offences. Read the judgment 41-63 over and over to see what you’re up against.


I'm not an expert and not in a position to fully judge the legal argument, but I am aware that this is a contentious issue, and it appears to me from Assange's lawyers' arguments that it's not so open and shut. But given the judge's really absurd rulings on other issues (such as whether Assange is a journalist or whether or not he'll face a fair trial), I'm not inclined to automatically believe her interpretation is correct here. If she is correct, though, then the UK has not implemented the treaty, and more importantly, journalists in the UK are in serious danger if they report on foreign governments.

> You are correct in a way -- judges do not decide issues that do not need to be decided, and things they do say about those issues are ignored, so yes, she omitted to discuss it.

And that's a bad thing as it leaves the case more or less open to US side coming up with "We promise to put him in some VIP jail with blackjack, and hookers," and more opportunities for retrials for state attorney to attack weaker defense arguments one at a time.

Having the extradition flopped as political, would've closed the door on it for good.


Are you saying she should have discussed it anyway? Just lob up an opinion from the magi court on a searing hot political issue regarding which according to her own reasoning anything she says isn’t binding whatsoever? Yeah, she totally could have “flopped” the extradition by doing that lol

There’s a difference, as I’m sure you’re now aware having stopped accusing her of being extremely suspect, between judgments that are simply annoying for your team, and producing utterly biased, pre-decided results that match the tie of the President that nominated you. You’ll find that the former happened here, and the latter isn’t nearly as big a problem in the UK as you seem to have assumed to be the case.


To be fair there was quite a lot of lobbing of opinions as it pertained to his guilt and ability to be prosecuted. Including: “This conduct would amount to offences in English law” and many , many other statements outlining exactly why she thought asking for information and publishing it would be considered aiding and abetting in espionage. I only got about 40 pages of skimming in, the documents is 130+ pages, but the vast majority of it was related to way the charges are felt to be appropriate in his case and very little evidence from the defense other than their broad objections.

> To be fair there was quite a lot of lobbing of opinions as it pertained to his guilt and ability to be prosecuted.

There's a difference between legally meaningful findings and lobbing opinion on legally non-germane questions.

> Including: “This conduct would amount to offences in English law”

That's a determination the court is called on to make in an extradition case under Section 137 of the Extradition Act.


I think maybe that determining the defense's evidence as not "legally meaning findings" constitutes an a opinion of some kind, even if only through exclusion. I mean 130 pages on why he is guilty does not quite say: We were only interested in making a mental health determination as some of the comments seem to suggest. Then again, maybe there is much more there that I did not read or understand properly.

The conduct being refereed to is part of the issue many people are having here. As the defense argued the conduct is that of an investigative journalist. If such conduct constitutes an offense in the law, then some are worried that there is precedent to charge a wider range of conduct then previously though possible. Weather this is true or not remains to be seen I guess. Either way its a meaningful determination that this judge made.


*> Baraitser sided with US prosecutors on pretty much all of their arguments. It was the barbaric nature of the US penal system that saved Assange.

Another interpretation is, the judge tried as much as s/he could to prevent extradition while "saving face" (either preventing a political conflict, or even saving themselves from assassination!)


Are you really calling what Assange did "investigative journalism"?

It doesn't matter what you think is investigative journalism.

What Assange did is investigative journalism... as proven by Bellingcat, that literally bought private phone, flight, bank and train ticket data on private individuals to show how FSB tried to kill Navalny.


well bellingcat went (and still goes) looking for information, sources and then publishes article on those stories, which is not exactly what Assange did, which was mostly making confidential documents (sent by a variety of sources) available to the wider public

They also publish their source materials and how they obtained them.

Writing summary articles is not the definition of journalism.


that still doesn't make what Assange did "investigative journalism", unlike what Bellingcat does

It does, so stop trying to be the "ultimate authority on what is investigative journalism"

and you are the one, to claim it was? Because nothing you wrote changed my mind on whether or not Assange did investigative journalism. Some journalists did use the documents that Assange released into the wild as a basis for their investigations, but that's not what Assange did

Assange first provided the cables to newspapers like The Guardian, Der Spiegel and El Pais, so that they could write articles about them. After they had had time to work through the material and write up a series of articles, WikiLeaks published redacted versions of the cables.

Irrelevant pendantry is boring.

I wasn't trying to be pedant, I just don't think what Assange did is investigative journalism, which was an important part of the comment I was replying to.

Of course it is and was, it's very valuable investigative journalism, which was picked up by major newspapers (Guardian, NY Times) who won awards for their work.

It isn’t cut and dry. What the newspapers did was very clearly investigative journalism. But it is argued that investigative journalism requires some sort of care and responsibility when dealing with the safety of others. Assange’s classified data dumps did not redact names and details that could/did put people in danger. Is simply broadcasting information investigative journalism? Maybe. What if amongst the documents there were lists of names/locations of persecuted minority populations within an authoritarian country? Is it journalism to simply publish the list, giving the country greater ability to target those people? Or does it require using that information expose the targeting and the implications of why that list exists and what the implications are while protecting the identities of the vulnerable people?

I don’t think anyone is arguing that a lot of the information was valuable and needed to be brought to light. The “devil is in the details” of how it was done and what responsibility was taken on his part.


Doesn't matter whether we agree on whether he's an investigative journalist, this'll still be cited as precedent in the future against investigative journalists

Funny how everyone's opinion about Assange changed after 2016.

One of the main activities of the CIA is to shape public opinion. They already proved that they hated him enough to hire contractors to destroy him, and the leaked HBGary/Palantir proposal from 2011 even talks about smearing him on social media:

https://wikileaks.org/IMG/pdf/WikiLeaks_Response_v6.pdf


I've been a pretty consistent believer that Assange is a narcissist and an ass on personal level. His public statements about his work always seemed childish and petulant. It probably does bias me somewhat against his work. I'm generally supportive of bringing information to light, but Assange himself doesn't seem to do much besides host the data and he doesn't even do that well since he leaked the unredacted cablegate. And given that MSM sources have exposed far more and it don't more responsibly and faced courts over their actions, it makes me think that he's not much of a hero. I'm not sold that his actions wrt to cablegate were espionage, but I'd very much like to hear about what he discussed with Roger Stone and Guccifer 2.0.

I don't think my opinion much changed since I heard about wikileak

I am incredibly happy for this ruling, I really hope it stands after the appeals. Freedom of expression and the right to know what oppresive governments are doing are too important to lose.

It's an awful ruling overall, from what I can tell from skimming it. It's great Assange won, but this ruling is not at all support for freedom of expression. This is the one part the judge agreed with the defense on as far as I can tell:

> 363. I find that the mental condition of Mr. Assange is such that it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America.

For anyone not suffering from severe mental health problems that want to expose secrets this ruling in scary as hell.


I really don't get it why the UK is even allowed to extradite a citizen of Australia to the US. Shame on Australia too for not protecting it's citizens.

While I would prefer that Assange not be extradited to the USA on the specific circumstances of that case, extradition treaties in general seem reasonable?

If a citizen of A commits murder in B and there is credible evidence, but the person has fled to C, should C not be able to extradite the person to B under any circumstances?

Barring civil rights problems, corruption, etc (e.g., some very specific exceptions), it seems in general that we should want to allow extradition so that justice can be met. No?


Did Julian Assange commit his alleged crimes while in the US?

This scenario is more like person who's never left B gets shipped off to C because he said something C didn't like.


You don't need to be in a country to commit crimes in that country. A lot of financial crime wouldn't be a prosecuted in that case.

That seems incorrect, you can be prosecuted in your country of origin just fine for stealing from or hacking foreigners

We'll set aside for a moment the fact that a country like Nigeria hasn't even HAD laws against hacking on their books:

https://www.zdnet.com/article/new-nigerian-law-means-seven-y...

There are countless examples of state sponsored hacking. There's no way the actor would be punished in the country of origin if their country of origin was not only OK with their actions but supporting them. Does that mean whoever did it should be free to travel anywhere they want without repercussions? You're essentially saying that countries are no longer allowed to enforce their laws on any foreign citizens... that seems EXTREMELY short sighted.

Furthermore, how would the country of origin even prosecute when the victim wasn't one of their citizens. What are the mental gymnastics to say that your citizens can't be prosecuted anywhere but their country of origin...b ut the victims have to what? Travel to your country to get justice? If a nigerian scammer is caught, you expect a US citizen to fly to nigeria on their own dime to try make their case?


What you are arguing is moral myopia.

Countries are sovereign, a Nigerian person living in Nigeria is only beholden to laws of Nigeria.

In your world, you can accuse someone who lives in Mongolia of a crime that doesn't even exist is Mongolian legal system, such as some peculiarities of US copyright or packaging of lobsters. You seem to think they should be flown to the US to be tried at your convenience to in a language they don't speak, in a legal system they don't understand at their expense?

You could prosecute him in Australia for hacking in whatever form it broke Australian law. How can any non-US citizen be held responsible for some vague 'damage to US national security' if they have nothing to do with the US? Why should a hypothetical person living in Nigeria be responsible for US, UK, Russian, Saudi, Israeli and everyone else's national security?


I mean, if I make war on a foreign country, I don't think "I'm don't live there" is a valid defense against retaliation.

Laws and customs of war are not about justice, presumption of innocence, due process or fair trial. I have no idea why you would compare the two, to me this speak to lack of clarity you have on this issue.

An individual can't 'make war', only countries can do that.

We are talking about an allegation (not proven!) of a crime, highly political in nature to boot, not 'retaliation'


Extradition requires dual criminality. If you can extradite you can prosecute the offence locally.

I don't think that's universally true? E.g. reading the judgement here, when evaluating the charges regarding the conspiracy to obtain national security documents, does not ask "is stealing US national security documents against UK law", but rather "if Manning had been a UK army member, targeting the UK, would this have been against UK law", finding that would be the case and thus accepting the conspiracy charges as fulfilling dual criminality.

But you couldn't prosecute Assange in the UK for conspiracy to steal documents from the US and damage done to US national security, but at best for damage done to UK national security through that.

(It's possible I am misunderstanding something?)


True, that Country can make a Penalty application and your getting prosecuted in your country.

Service related activities are treated a little different.

Service is considered to be delivered in the country where the service beneficiary is.

That's why financial services cannot be delivered cross border, without legal approval in the "destination" country.

On the other hand sales of goods is something that happens in the seller's country - that's how companies in countries without consumer protection can just tell you to STFU on thing you bought from them.


A lot of financial crime does not get prosecuted

I agree there a valid cases for such a rule: In a world that has global communication and logistics available for practically everyone, you can potentially cause a lot of harm in a country without ever stepping foot in it.

On the other hand, this is also a very obvious slippery slope if now the jurisdiction of any country were to be applied globally.

What if a country abuses this to get rid of political opponents, to gain an economic advantage or to cover up its own crimes? (See e.g. the recent threats from China about showing solidarity with the Hong Kong movement even outside of China. See the US covering up war crimes.)

What happens if two countries have mutually exclusive laws? (e.g. at least for some time, it was a crime in Turkey to acknowledge the Armenian genocide while in France it was a crime to not acknowledge it)

If we don't want this to devolve simply to "rule of the strongest", more detailed rules are needed.


That's why you should just make extradition contracts with country's that have a fair and ~humane justice system.

Bin Laden did not go to the USA to commit his crimes.

Bin Laden had no court hearing. He was killed by a special commando. It really surprises me that anyone thinks that this has something todo with justice.

BTW: No saying it's right or wrong, but it's definitely something else than justice or a Curt-order.


Well, Obama claimed he sent in a team to kill him and dump his body in the ocean, during an election year, even though the French intelligence agencies said he was probably dead for at least 7 years. That seal team also died in a helicopter crash later, but it wasn't "the same seal team."

Honestly I don't understand how Americans still trust our news sources today.


> French intelligence agencies said he was probably dead for at least 7 years

All I have been able to find was 1 French newspaper publishing what it claimed was a French intelligence report that simply noted that Saudi intelligence agencies believe bin Laden had died in 2006. The report seems to have been immediately noted by the French president as not being confirmed. Furhtermore, in 2010 a recording of bin Laden threatening France was confirmed as genuine by the French Foreign Ministry, showing that French intelligence services still considered it at least possible that he was still alive.


>dump his body in the ocean

Yeah that's a bit crazy if you ask me.



The post was claiming that the raid never happened and articles like the one you read are propaganda.

Succinct..agreed.

And US presidents have been warm and fuzzy in the White House when ordering killing of thousands of completely innocent people...

So you can stop with the "justice angle" on that one.


Given the action (as I understand it [0]) involved communicating with Americans in America, the muder-analogy you replied to would be a person from country A, living in country B, firing a gun over a border and killing someone in country C, surely?

[0] """conspiracy contrary to Title 18 of the US Code (the “U.S.C.”), section 371. The offence alleged to be the object of the conspiracy was computer intrusion (Title 18 U.S.C. Section 1030)""" was the actual phrase used


Some countries (France at least I think) have a constitutional bar on extradition of citizens from their own territory and instead allow citizens to be prosecuted domestically for crimes committed abroad (but according to the standards of domestic law). This is a logical alternative I think although it typically doesn't extend to a bar on the extradition of foreigners to either their home country or third countries so that system wouldn't have helped him here.

This is not the case with the European Arrest Warrant anymore. France only retained the right for the accused to spend the eventual sentence in France.

European Arrest Warrant has a strong protective clause and a court that oversees European Justice. (ECHR)

Do you know what happens if a penalty doesn't exist in France? E.g. Sweden cannot sentence people to a 40 years prison sentence. Could a German court sentence me to something like that and send me home to Sweden for 40 years?

The European arrest warrant, as other extradition agreements have a clause that they only work in cases where the offence is a criminal act in both countries. A famous recent case is Carles Puigdemont who was arrested in Germany by request on the Spanish government for "rebellion" but a German court decided that what he did (fight for Catalan independence) isn't a criminal offence in Germany and that he only could be indighted for misuse of public funds.

"""On 12 July 2018 the higher court in Schleswig-Holstein [Germany] confirmed that Puigdemont could not be extradited by the crime of rebellion, but may still be extradited based on charges of misuse of public funds. Puigdemont's legal team said they would appeal any decision to extradite him. Ultimately, though, Spain dropped its European arrest warrant, ending the extradition attempt. Puigdemont was once again free to travel, and chose to return to Belgium.""" https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carles_Puigdemont


Double-criminality is not an absolute requirement for the execution of an EAW. The most common categories of crime are explicitly excluded from such a requirement - precisely because the whole point of the EAW is to speed up extradition of the most common cases. It just happened that Spain attempted to prosecute Puigdemont for a crime that did not fall in any of those categories. That decision was mostly a sign that the Spanish government that initiated the process was not very competent on this subject.

I’ve not read the whole treaty, but according to Wikipedia only the Dutch enjoy a system where the sentence has to match what an equivalent Dutch sentence should be. So I would assume that yes, Germany could convict you and send you to Swedish jail for 40+ years. But to be fair there are a number of grey areas, depending on the details of each case. It’s difficult to harmonize 27 criminal systems...

There is a good rule when dealing with government enforcement of laws. Everyone must be equally treated under the law, it must be safe against misuse, and failure by the government must be punished harder than the offense itself.

Extradition cases sadly fails all three of those. They are extremely selective enforced, there are few safeguards, and generally no punishment against officials that fails to uphold the few safeguards that exist. The whole ordeal is intertwined with diplomatic relations and politics of both national and international nature.


True it's not a easy question, but for example in Switzerland you cannot extradite someone if the punishment is harder then in Switzerland, that prevents that someone is send to a country with death-sentence, let's say for murder. But yeah it's not that easy and contracts exist.

Ban on the death penalty is quite possibly true here too (it would have been under EU treaties, I didn't find a quick statement how the situation is now exactly).

This is my first time thinking through this deeply, so I'm open to changing my mind.

> If a citizen of A commits murder in B and there is credible evidence, but the person has fled to C, should C not be able to extradite the person to B under any circumstances?

Perhaps in certain circumstances. But in general, this is a dispute between A and B. C should let those two countries handle it. I.e., deport the citizen back to A, their home country. [edited: s/extradite/deport]

Consider: in many countries, certain forms of speech are illegal. I shouldn't need to worry that I may have said something illegal in China in order to visit South Korea. It's hard enough to learn all the laws in the country I am visiting, let alone every country that directly or indirectly has an extraction treaty.

The one scenario where I could see this being reasonable is within a bloc of countries that have free travel between and a somewhat unified set of laws, and only for breaking one of those bloc-level laws.


I don't think your ideas are unreasonable, though this would have to be governed by any existing treaties, of course. In practice, however, I think that, to use your example, South Korea will act based on its relationship with China rather than your relationship with China. So, if KOR agrees with you that free speech is more important than how China might react to non-extradition, then KOR may not extradite you. However, if KOR thinks that they must turn you over to preserve their relationship, then they might. Again, all of this is of course hypothetical and in the real world should be defined by treaties.

I'll just note that in your example, if C is just trying to stay neutral and acting of its own accord, then the correct term would be that C would deport the suspect to A rather than extradite the suspect to A, unless A is seeking extradition in its own right.


Yes, I am totally agreed that the real world is often very messy. It's oh-so-easy to say how things should work when we can conveniently ignore all the other complexities of international diplomacy. All of this is hypothetical. Including, I am not trying to come to a conclusion on Assange in particular, just form opinions on how things ought to work — and from there, of course, there will be compromises.

---

I am imagining a scenario like the UN countries all agreeing on a common standard for extradition.

The guiding principle I'm working off of is that if B and C share the same law against X, then extradition is reasonable. The fuzzy line is where B and C both outlaw X, but each have their own laws against it.

On one hand, it is reasonable. If B and C both outlaw murder, then C should extradite the murderer, because the citizen can't claim ignorance, nor can they claim that "murder isn't illegal here in C."

On the other hand, I have trouble seeing how you'd write a consistent standard here. Sure, it's easy to equivocate premeditated murder across different laws, but what about even manslaughter? Then it requires both countries to have the same definition of negligence, etc.

So basically, the only form of extradition treaty that doesn't seem to pose an unreasonable burden on tourists is, "Here is a set of laws that are enforced in both B and C. If you break these laws in B and then flee to C (or vice versa), you are still under jurisdiction of the law you broke, so you may be extradited."

In practice, that might look like CHN and KOR signing a treaty that unifies their libel law. Then, if you commit libel against someone in CHN while in KOR, you may be extradited. This is quite reasonable, since a tourist would be expected to learn KOR libel law before travelling there.

> I'll just note that in your example, if C is just trying to stay neutral and acting of its own accord, then the correct term would be that C would deport the suspect to A rather than extradite the suspect to A, unless A is seeking extradition in its own right.

Thanks, edited.


It depends on what type of crime you're talking about. For common criminals, then sure, but for example, most Western countries have laws or constitutional provisions against extradition for political offences.

Espionage is 100% a political offence, yet...

A lot of things are political in nature.

But extraditions are mostly issues of diplomacy, not justice.


It would seem more logical for the person to be extradited from C to A, and then A to B.

The problem with your analogy is the extradition treaties extend far beyond the red herring of "surely you want a murder to get justice right"

This is not far removed from "Think of the children" style rhetoric that is used in the US to pass all kinds of oppressive laws and regulations

Everyone can generally agree that having a murderer stand trail is a good thing, but what about someone that illegal distributes a file to one nation thus committing a "crime" in that nation.

What about other less extreme crimes, which is more often what extradition treaties are used for, not murder as your strawman desires it to be


That was simply a reply to a specific question asked in the previous comment.

Australian governments would easily send their own citizens to foreign countries they never been to, for non violence offences like copyright infringement.

UK is way better than Australia in terms of bill of rights, etc.


Because Julian Assange was on UK territory, not Australian.

Yes and? Australia should have asked the UK that he is extradited to them (and prosecuted under Australian Law) and not to a third party (with a possible death sentence).

Espionage:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishment_by_the_Unit...


That's not how extradition works, ever. Yes, many countries have extra protections against extraditing their own citizens, but those only apply while those citizens reside there.

Otherwise there would be a booming naturalization business for some less-scrupulous nations.


In France it often does, and in other country's too, like a trade...China and the US trade allot of "bad boys".

>some less-scrupulous nations

Like the US, where you can buy your "out of prison" Card?


Do you have an example of country A asking France for permission before extraditing a French citizen who was not wanted for crimes in France to country B?

It's written in German, a bit different and even more complex:

https://www.swissinfo.ch/ger/auslieferungs-gesuch/2803478

Argentina asked Switzerland to extradite Jean Bernard Lasnaud for smuggling Weapons to Ecuador and Croatia (he's French), and why Argentinia? Because the former President Carlos Menem and other Politicians where involved in it.

As an example, France would ask A if he can extradited to France and prosecuted there, even when let's say the crime was in Country B. The US did something like that with Otto Warmbier:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_Warmbier

That whole thing is often not National or International Law but Diplomatic (especially with someone like Assange)


> Argentina asked Switzerland to extradite Jean Bernard Lasnaud

That's Argentina asking Switzerland to extradite a French citizen to Argentina for crimes committed under Argentinian law. The article does not say that France was asked for their opinion or permission.

> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_Warmbier

That's the US asking North Korea to release a US citizen jailed there for a crime against North Korean law. Extradition does not enter the picture at all.


As an Aussie, sadly our politicians are a bunch of cowards.

Far cry from just years ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYbY45rHj8w

Allowed by whom?

It is a magistrate court judgment, so as a precedent, it only has persuasive authority at best (or at worst, depending on your perspective) when deciding future cases.

I'm more worried about why the judge acted like this in the first place.

[deleted]

This is incoherent.

How would this work in the context of English courts?


Yes, the fact that the extradition wasn't rejected on press freedom grounds makes me think maybe it's just a way for the judge to shake it off so that it's not HER who goes down in history books as to have made the decision to extradite.

But having sided with the U.S. on pretty much all of the counts concerning press freedom, an appeals court may well 'find' that the heath condition is not enough.

I REALLY hope am wrong here.

But it goes to show the West is again only concerned with 'press freedom' when it's our strategic competitors violating it.


To my understanding, the judge found that Assange's rights will be sufficiently upheld by the US courts, based on the US constitution and precedent - so, she is willing to allow the US judicial system to conduct their trial (if it weren't for the abhorrent conditions in which he would be kept, which she found too likely to be detrimental to his well being).

It is not really a matter for an extradition judge to rule on whether what Assange did falls under press freedom. The US courts would have to decide that. If however the case had been identical but coming from China, the judge would still not have ruled on press freedom, but would have likely considered that the Chinese constitution and court precedents do not offer sufficient guarantees that there would actually be a fair trial, unlike in the US system.

Whether you agree with this point or not is another matter, but I don't see the ruling as being either for or against press freedom, by my understanding.


Don’t the charges at least need to be credible?

IFF the legal system of the country seeking extradition is trust-worthy and offers the same guarantees of human rights as the UK one, why would the charges need to be credible at all? The accused could be sent to that country, with the expectation that the trial would quickly go in the accused's favor.

Of course, they do have to be charges for something which would be illegal in some way in the UK as well. If the US criminalized ice cream consumption, you would not be able to extradite someone in the UK for having consumed ice cream in the USA, of course. But this is not the same as, say, extraditing someone accused of murder in the USA who is not known to have been physically there - the extradition judge may be ok in not looking at the evidence that the charges are based on (except maybe to ascertain whether they may be a sign of a politically-motivated trial).


I wonder about this. Let's say that in the US I'd have a budget of about $3000 to spend on the trial, without having to completely ruin my savings.

Would that be enough for housing, airline tickets (back to europe), and the trial/lawyers/bail/court fees in the US?

If frivolous extradition/trial would ruin me financially, I'd rather extradition procedure took the credibility/frivolousness of charges into account...


Imo the problem is that the ruling accepts the premise that the case has merit i.e. is criminal in the UK, that itself is a threat to press freedom given the charges.

The charges are of espionage and illegal access to computer systems. Those are also illegal in the UK.

Whether the actions Assange took amount or not to espionage and illegal access to computer systems is a matter for a fair trial to decide, not the extradition judge. I happen to believe that they did not in any way, but it should be a jury trial that decides that, not an extradition judge in the UK.


Are you claiming the judge’s decision was made on political grounds rather than on legal grounds under UK law? It seems to me she looked at the appropriate laws and made a reasonable decision. That’s her job and it has nothing to to do with “siding with the US”. Whether they are good laws or not is a matter for the UK Parliament and people.

> It seems to me she looked at the appropriate laws and made a reasonable decision.

It is true that the UK technically doesn't guarantee 'freedom of the press' per se, it does have laws however that protect the freedom of expression, not as strongly as the 1st Amendment but still.

Further, there's a long precedent of British newspapers doing what WikiLeaks does and even collaborating with WikiLeaks without being prosecuted.

It's clear Assange is someone who the intelligence community views as an individual who crossed them and needs to be used to deter others. Reading the judgment it is hard not to come to the conclusion she agrees with this view.


> there's a long precedent of British newspapers doing what WikiLeaks does and even collaborating with WikiLeaks without being prosecuted

The judge discusses that in the opinion. The difference she notes is that the newspapers carefully choose what they publish in order to avoid harm--for example, they don't publish the names of government informants even if those names are contained in the materials they obtain, since that would put the lives of those informants at risk. Wikileaks did not do that with the information obtained from Manning; they just released it all. The judge quotes the newspapers themselves condemning Wikileaks for doing that.


Except of course she fails to note that Assange tried[1] to do that and was rejected.

She cites the Guardian who has a history of questionable reporting on Assange and WikiLeaks because they didn't do a good job[1][2].

In fact WikiLeaks made a point of going via the newspapers after being blamed.

1 - https://www.salon.com/2010/08/20/wikileaks_5

2 - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51633303


> Assange tried to do that and was rejected.

Assange tried (at least he claims he tried) to get the US government to help him remove names that it felt should not be released. The US government refused. Which is perfectly understandable: why should the US government tell Wikileaks exactly which names in some leaked documents are the names of actual US government informants? That would be stupid.

Assange then chose to release all the material anyway, putting the life of anyone whose names were in that material potentially at risk. Newspapers, in the same position, did not publish the names. Whether you agree or not with either action, the fact remains that they are clearly different actions, and that one involves publishing people's names and potentially putting their lives at risk and the other does not.


He was right to publish it, I as a non-American care less about US operatives than about knowing the truth, esp. considering what was revealed. We're talking about people who were complicit in the organization that claimed there were WMDs in Iraq, among other bs.

> I as a non-American care less about US operatives

What if you lived in an oppressive regime and believed, rightly or wrongly, that the US was trying to help improve the situation in your country, and you gave the US information? Would you still be OK with your name being published and your life being put at risk?


What situation was the US trying to improve during O.I.L. (Operation Iraqi Liberation, original name, look it up)? Removing non-existent WMDs? What a smashing success it's been since then.

> Assange tried (at least he claims he tried) to get the US government to help him remove names that it felt should not be released. The US government refused. Which is perfectly understandable: why should the US government tell Wikileaks exactly which names in some leaked documents are the names of actual US government informants? That would be stupid.

If that's stupid then complaining asking him to redact names without telling him which ones is even more stupid and gives the U.S. no right to complain. Especially when top secret is used to conceal war crimes.

> Assange then chose to release all the material anyway

Not publishing war crimes because those who commited them refuse to cooperate in redacting names would be a great way for the Pentagon to make sure their crimes stay hidden. In fact it appears that was their goal in not cooperating.

> Newspapers, in the same position, did not publish the names.

Newspapers were NOT in the same position. They published the leaks but Pentagon started cooperating with them by then.

It's remarkable that people exposing war criminals get more blame that actual war criminals who did not face any consequences and laughed about while murdering civilians including journalists.


> asking him to redact names without telling him which ones is even more stupid

He should have had the good judgment to redact all names even without being asked to. (Or at least all names that he didn't know belonged to people whose lives would not be put at risk by their publication.) He didn't.

> Newspapers were NOT in the same position.

It is true that newspapers (and other "mainstream" media organizations) have a special relationship with governments (and note that I'm not saying it's right that they do, only that as a matter of fact they do), so they aren't in exactly the same position as Wikileaks. That still does not excuse Wikileaks putting people's lives at risk by publishing their names.

> people exposing war criminals get more blame that actual war criminals

I haven't said anything at all about blame regarding anyone other than Assange, so you have no basis for even making any such comparison.

Also, I'm not blaming Assange for publishing the material itself. I'm blaming him for publishing people's names and putting their lives at risk. As I've already said, he could have published the material without publishing the names. He chose not to.


> He should have had the good judgment to redact all names

So how exactly are you supposed to hold officials accountable if you don't have any names to go on?

> I haven't said anything at all about blame regarding anyone other than Assange

Right. That is exactly my problem. When we're talking about war criminals I'd hope the person who exposed it would be the last to get some blame in the matter.


Leave the names of officials. Redact names your don't know, as was already suggested. Newspapers seem to have managed to do this just fine for ages.

If there issue is that high ranking officials aren't being held accountable, there's no reason to publish the names of some random agent.


> Leave the names of officials. Redact names your don't know

That's not as easy as it sounds. Many of the names you'd want to leave up would be of smaller generals whom you may not be familiar with. The actual shooters should perhaps also not be redacted. At least not fully.

> Newspapers seem to have managed to do this just fine for ages.

They do this by being cozy with the Pentagon and asking them exactly for what WikiLeaks has asked them for. The difference is the Pentagon's not going to ignore an email from the NYT. It did ignore WikiLeaks.


> Many of the names you'd want to leave up would be of smaller generals whom you may not be familiar with

Investigative journalism is a difficult profession. Yet people manage. Throwing your hands up is a disservice to the profession. Calling someone who does so a journalist is a disservice to actual investigative journalists.


I did address this above but you ignored it.

You didn't. Assange found that it was difficult to be a real journalist. Instead of attempting to be responsible and do the investigative work required to figure out names that might be worth publishing, he threw up his hands and published them all

That's not investigative journalism. It's much closer to muckraking.


I know, you'd consider the likes of NYT/WaPo to be 'real journalists'.

The ones that had so cozy of a relationship with the Pentagon that they saw no problem in being government mouthpieces and getting the public to support a war in Iraq that killed 200k+ people on a made up pretense of WMDs. Same for Lybia, Syria etc.?

Because that's how you get the level of government access to be what you'd consider a 'real' journalist.

I am glad that you don't get to define who makes a 'real' journalist and who doesn't. Julian is not one of these[1] indeed.

1 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Access_journalism


> The ones that had so cozy of a relationship with the Pentagon that they saw no problem in being government mouthpieces and getting

I consider that journalistic malpractice. Like I said, investigative journalism is difficult. People, including the "real ones" sometimes do it badly. When they do, the good ones apologize and retract.

For what its worth, I don't actually think that you'd need particular government access to do a reasonable job of censoring the names of at risk agents in the documents wikileaks leaked. I'd go far enough to say that me, as a layperson, with practically no journalistic experience could do a better job than Assange did. In fact, I'm certain of that.

That's disqualifying. He didn't even try.


Assange did not allow the Pentagon to redact names. Specifically:

“...Assange wrote that WikiLeaks would consider recommendations made by the International Security Assistance Force "on the identification of innocents for this material if it is willing to provide reviewers."

That’s from your salon.com article.

So Assange would “consider” redacting (not promising anything) and only if a group from the United Nations identified “innocent” names. There’s no mention that the Pentagon has any input at all. And there’s no reason to think anyone at the ISA should know the names of undercover intelligence agents in those documents, especially the documents completely unrelated to Afghanistan... since the ISA was involved only with issues in Afghanistan.


> When we're talking about war criminals

We're not. We're talking about Assange. He can still be at fault and worthy of blame for some things he did, even if the US government is also worthy of blame for some things it did.


> We're not.

And that's exactly the problem. No wonder they're still free today while Julian's not.


> how exactly are you supposed to hold officials accountable if you don't have any names to go on?

Manning could have told Assange which names were the names of US government officials. (In fact, I'd be surprised if Manning didn't actually do just that; on your own theory of who should be held accountable it would be irresponsible not to.)


This just proves the point. Wikileaks is not a journalistic organisation because it lacks the editorial expertise, ethics, and resources essential to carry out responsible journalism. They have to rely on real newspapers or the pentagon (!) to do it for them. It’s no defence to say: we tried to get other people to help us do the right thing, but we couldn’t, so we knowingly did the wrong thing instead.

> Wikileaks is not a journalistic organisation because it lacks the editorial expertise, ethics, and resources essential to carry out responsible journalism.

There's (luckily) no exams (yet) for what makes a journalist. Someone who has a blog is no less a journalist than anyone at a national newspaper.

> They have to rely on real newspapers or the pentagon (!) to do it for them. It’s no defence to say: we tried to get other people to help us do the right thing

Actually it is. That's why intention is regularly taken into account in court cases and it shows WikiLeaks had the intention to redact and if needed even via the Pentagon.

> but we couldn’t, so we did the wrong thing instead.

They did no 'wrong' thing instead. They tried to consult the U.S. Government about any needed redactions and then published vital information to inform the public that the government is committing war crimes of foreign soil in their name.

Not publishing that would've been wrong and was most likely the goal of the Pentagon in not cooperating.

Is similar with zero days, researchers publish them if the vendor doesn't cooperate because not doing so and letting black hats exploit a known bug is way more 'wrong' than publishing the 0day widely is.


> it shows WikiLeaks had the intention to redact

No, it shows that Wikileaks can be just as disingenuous as any other "journalistic" organization. Wikileaks made a request to the US government that it had to know the US government would refuse (for the reason I gave in my other post in response to you upthread). It did that so it could disingenuously claim that it gave the US government a chance to protect people's names and the US government refused, making it seem like it's the US government's fault, not Wikileaks's fault, that the names got published. That's not "responsible journalism"; it's Wikileaks playing power politics just like governments and the media do.

> published vital information to inform the public that the government is committing war crimes of foreign soil in their name

Wikileaks could have published that information without publishing anyone's name. They chose not to do it that way.


> Wikileaks made a request to the US government that it had to know the US government would refuse (for the reason I gave in my other post in response to you upthread). It did that so it could disingenuously claim that it gave the US government a chance to protect people's names and the US government refused, making it seem like it's the US government's fault

It's the U.S. government who committed war crimes here and used secrecy to conceal their crimes. Of course it's the U.S. government's fault. The option to not commit war crimes and use the secrets act to conceal it was there. They didn't take it.

The U.S. Government proved it will use 'top secret' to hide not only information that is actually top secret but also information that is embarrassing. This would be a pretty clear motivator for the Pentagon not to respond and for WikiLeaks to go ahead with the publication.

> Wikileaks could have published that information without publishing anyone's name.

No. Names as such are vital. It lets you know WHO needs to be held accountable. Most leaks are published with names in them. There are names that the U.S. government could have suggested (not demand) to be redacted and WikiLeaks could have agreed to either some or all of the requests. They refused to cooperate. It's pretty clearly on them.

I also love how the people exposing war crimes are getting more heat that the actual war criminals who never spent a day behind bars. Speaks volumes.


> it's the U.S. government's fault

Even if the US government is at fault, that still doesn't mean Wikileaks can't also be at fault. Two wrongs don't make a right.

> Names as such are vital. It lets you know WHO needs to be held accountable.

Names of US government officials who made decisions that are being questioned, perhaps.

Names of people in other countries with oppressive regimes, who passed on information on the understanding that their names would be kept confidential, no.


> Even if the US government is at fault, that still doesn't mean Wikileaks can't also be at fault. Two wrongs don't make a right.

Between the two wrongs, am going to focus on the one where the most powerful military on Earth guns down civilians & journalists. Especially given Julian has already paid dearly for exposing what we should have known. The war criminals themselves haven't spent a day behind bars.

> Names of people in other countries with oppressive regimes, who passed on information on the understanding that their names would be kept confidential, no.

WikiLeaks asked for these names so they can redact them. The Pentagon refused. This is on them, as are the war crimes themselves.


> Julian has already paid dearly

IMO this would actually be a valid argument--Assange has already effectively served a sentence even though he hasn't been officially tried--but Assange's defense apparently did not make it.\

I note, btw, that this kind of consideration (as well as other considerations you have raised) is also one that a US President could take into account in deciding whether or not to pardon Assange. Do you think the President should do that?


> WikiLeaks asked for these names so they can redact them.

No, they asked for those names knowing that the US government couldn't possibly give them since that would expose the identities of people who would then be put at risk of their lives. In other words, they purposely put the US government in a "heads I win, tails you lose" situation. As I've already said upthread.


> But having sided with the U.S. on pretty much all of the counts concerning press freedom, an appeals court may well 'find' that the heath condition is not enough.

It is highly likely that the High Court will be asked to re-examine pretty much the whole judgment; it's highly unlikely that the defence won't question the holdings that they lost.

(It is also pretty likely that this will then be appealed to the Supreme Court, and relatively likely the case will be heard there too.)


If this case is indeed politically motivated, one would expect the US to lose interest on January 21 and drop the case instead of appealing to the Supreme Court.

"Political motivation" does not mean that the motivation must be associated with only 1 political party. There are many political decisions taken in the US that both parties agree on, especially in this area of the intelligence state.

If anything, as the judge notes, the current administration was likely somewhat more "friendly" to Assange than the Biden administration will be.


I'm confused: The Assange defense team literally argues that the Obama DoJ decided not to prosecute the case, and that the Trump administration resurrected it in 2017 for political reasons. (The judge rejects the premise and argues that since there is no sufficient evidence that the Obama DoJ decided not to prosecute, the Trump administration couldn't have made a political decision to resurrect, since the case was always ongoing.)

Your position seems to be that the defense is mistaken, but that the case is still political because it was already started as that under Obama and continues to be politically motivated throughout the Trump and Biden administrations?


Exactly. The case against Assange has always been political - it is not to the benefit of Justice or the American People, it is a case for protection of the surveillance state, and a case designed to scare away anyone who might emulate Assange. Same as the case against Chelsea Manning or Edward Snowden.

Most of the people in the intelligence community and beyond who hate being challenged will stay at their posts way past that date, not that Biden has a different take here.

Why would the intelligence community be involved with decision-making inside the department of justice?

And Obama's DoJ apparently decided not to pursue the case, why would we expect Biden's DoJ to come to a different conclusion?

It's also interesting that this case has so many overlapping conspiracy theories that I don't even know if my initial comment is downvoted by US patriots for suggesting that the case might be politically motivated (which is the assertion made by Assanges defence team and many human rights groups), or by Assange supporters for suggesting that there was no ongoing investigation in 2010 and the Swedish allegations were not a plot by the DoJ :)


> Why would the intelligence community be involved with decision-making inside the department of justice?

Because the intelligence community hates Assange and what he represents. They spied on US lawmakers, tortured, manufactured evidence... I find it hard to believe they WOULDN'T meddle in this case.

> Obama's DoJ apparently decided not to pursue the case, why would we expect Biden's DoJ to come to a different conclusion?

Because post 2016 election the Democrats are no friends of Assange and WiliLeaks, regardless of the implications for press freedom.


There is no real right to appeal in the UK. It's very unlikely there would be an appeal.

UK also doesn't really have freedom of speech or press in any meaningful way. I'm not surprised it failed on those grounds.


https://twitter.com/JoshuaRozenberg/status/13460308521369067... "this is a sitting of Westminster Magistrates’ Court. It is not a trial. The losing side may appeal against the DJ’s ruling."

Later in the same thread it says they have 14 days to do so and already announced they will.


Either side can appeal in an extradition hearing. There's no guarantee that the High Court will grant leave to appeal.

If the US seeks to appeal, it'd be under s105 of the Extradition Act.

If the appeal is filed and accepted, Assange can be kept in remand pending appeal under s107.

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/41


> UK also doesn't really have freedom of speech or press in any meaningful way.

Not in a way meaningful to libertarian extremists, no - thank goodness.

Citizens and the press can say pretty much what they want, barring libel and what you might describe as “violence done through speech” ie threats, harassment or abuse.

Consider that if I were to walk through London wearing a teeshirt emblazoned with “Atheist” I’d be perfectly safe. I suspect doing the same in many US towns or cities might result in assault - contrast “liberties” with “effective freedoms”.

Also, political free speech is pretty much absolute in the UK - it’s citizens putting the boot in to each other in public that tends to attract Police interest in keeping the peace.


> Consider that if I were to walk through London wearing a teeshirt emblazoned with “Atheist” I’d be perfectly safe. I suspect doing the same in many US towns or cities might result in assault - contrast “liberties” with “effective freedoms”. > > Also, political free speech is pretty much absolute in the UK - it’s citizens putting the boot in to each other in public that tends to attract Police interest in keeping the peace.

While I have a lot of sympathy for your argument about effective freedoms vs. de jure liberties, someone was stopped and told to cover up her "fuck Boris" t-shirt by police in London not that long ago[1]. (Though, while I consider the stop ridiculous, at the same time at least the officers in question otherwise conducted themselves calmly)

[1] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/boris-johnso...


I take your point, but would suggest that the stop was motivated by legitimate Police concern over public decency rather than political content (“Fuck” is quite offensive) and I believe that the Officers concerned probably wouldn’t have arrested her if she had refused to cover up.

If an aggrieved third party had been present, and her refusal to cover up created a likelihood of imminent breach of the peace then - perhaps - a temporary arrest might be justified, would you accept?

My point is our freedom of expression laws are aimed at creating an atmosphere where people don’t feel violence is necessary to defend their position or sensibility - it’s where we happen to draw the line in the paradox of tolerance.


"Fuck" in the context of "Fuck <name>" is really not particularly offensive in the UK. Furthermore, merely being offensive is insufficient under the law. Section 5 of the Public Order Act requires:

    > "(1) A person is guilty of an offence if he/she:
    > (a) uses threatening [or abusive] words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or
    > (b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening [or abusive],
    > within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby."
One might conceivably argue that these are "abusive" words. But case law also suggests that prosecuting merely on the behaviour of speech is only justified if it serves a need to maintain public order, so let's deal with your hypothetical:

> If an aggrieved third party had been present, and her refusal to cover up created a likelihood of imminent breach of the peace then - perhaps - a temporary arrest might be justified, would you accept?

In principle, if the language had been bad enough, yes. In this case? No, I would not. It's not nearly offensive enough language that you won't hear far worse on a regular basis. If someone can't handle seeing a t-shirt like that, they would not last long in London.

Here she'd be more likely to cause offence people by wearing a "Boris is great" t-shirt. Personally I'd find that horribly offensive (I'm not being facetious - the guy is a threat to life and liberty), but I wouldn't argue for it to be banned, because it's nowhere near bad enough for a reasonable person to disturb public order over.

[This is especially true because Boris is a politician, and people need to expect coarser language used to express frustration]

If an actual aggrieved party had been present and reported her, then they would have had a reason to intervene to at least consider the issue. But that aggrieved party is and was entirely hypothetical.


It sounds like you're saying that if someone wants to fight me over what I'm wearing, that I should be arrested. That feels backwards, and I don't think the specifics of the article of clothing change that.

The article of clothing was not called into question. The language "fuck" in terms of public decency, was. That is I believe a misreading of the OPs comment.

I was referring to the third party example, where there is an "imminent breach to the peace." The point about indecency can stand as it is: not how I'd order a society, but I get it.

However, I should not suddenly be in MORE trouble for wearing an indecent shirt because it made someone standing around me angry enough to get rowdy.


Public decency is not addressed by Section 5 of the Public Order Act, which was the act the police officer cited.

Other sources[1] expect the US to appeal.

[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-55528241


You might be able to argue that Assange crossed the line between "journalism" and "hacking", for example when he attempted to assist with cracking a hash.

The UK has other history about journalists hacking (see the phone hacking scandal).

It's one thing to receive the contents of a hack, and quite another to offer active assistance to exploit systems.


If you imagine Assange's "hacking" taking place with physical objects, the charge looks ridiculous.

In short, Manning told Assange she could access a military filing cabinet, and was going to go remove all the documents in them to leak to Assange. Before leaving, she asked Assange if he had some gloves to hide her fingerprints. He said he'd check, and Manning left to grab the documents.

Would you consider Assange's actions there to cross the line of journalism?


Yes.

The journalist in your example should not be accessory to a crime.

If Manning asked for gloves to hide her fingerprints, Assange should have answered "send me the documents when you have them, but I can't help you hiding your fingerprints"

If you imagine the hack being another crime, maybe it's clearer.

Imagine Manning told Assange she could get the files but in order to get them she had to kill the guards at the door and asked Assange if he had a gun.


'she had to kill the guards at the door' .

Why stop there, while we are at it, imagine she had to commit a terrorist attack and a genocide at once and Assange volunteered to help


A crime is a crime, justice doesn't care.

A journalist should not be accessory to a crime when receiving infornations.

I made that example to make it clearer, but if you don't like it I can make another one: to get the documents she needed to open the door, so she Asked Assange if he had a crowbar.

The simple fact that he didn't say "no, I can't help you with that" is the problem.


>crime is a crime, justice doesn't care.

Which is why all the war crimes detailed in Manning's leaks have been prosecuted with the criminals behind bars.

Further, a crime isn't just a crime. A journalist attempting to protect their source is an essential part of their freedom of the press. Prosecuting them for that action infringes on their rights, making it unconstitutional. Even if you disagree with my assessment of Assange's actions, it should be clear that justice does care about the context.


> Further, a crime isn't just a crime. A journalist attempting to protect their source is an essential part of their freedom of the press

What Assange is accused of is not that.

> Even if you disagree with my assessment of Assange's actions, it should be clear that justice does care about the context.

It doesn't.

Protecting a source is not a crime, hence a journalist cannot be prosecuted for that.

Nobody is forced to reveal a criminal activity, people have the right to remain silent.

Another thing entirely is if someone actively participated in committing the crime (for example helping a thief to hide their fingerprints)

Also, I don't believe Assange should be extradited, but from a legal point it doesn't matter if he looked for gloves because Manning wanted to hide her fingerprints or a gun, if (and it's a big if) he said "I'll help you" that's a problem.


I don't want to try and change your opinion on Assange's actions, many journalist have said the "I'll help" you see as a problem is a routine procedure, but you clearly disagree.

A crime still isn't just a crime though. A less ambiguous example, unauthorized possession's of classified information is a crime, yet no journalist has been charged for it.


I'm honestly expressing no opinion on Assange's actions.

"I'll help" is not a problem, if they are not helping someone to commit a crime (clarification: when I say "it's a problem" I mean it's a problem for whoever says "I'll help" because they are being accessory to a crime).

What routinely escapes from the prosecution of the law is irrelevant.

The fact that I have downloaded copyrighted material without any consequence doesn't make it legal.

A crime is a crime by the law, the court has to decide if you either committed it or not (regardless if you did it for real, if the court can prove you did it, you did it).

That doesn't mean that killing a baby and downloading an episode of a TV show illegally is the same thing, it means that if I helped you to download the content and you are accused of downloading that content and the court can prove it, I am accessory to the crime even if people routinely get by.

> unauthorized possession's of classified information is a crime

Are you referring to this?

> Whoever, being an officer, employee, contractor, or consultant of the United States, and, by virtue of his office, employment, position, or contract, becomes possessed of documents or materials containing classified information of the United States, knowingly removes such documents or materials without authority and with the intent to retain such documents or materials at an unauthorized location shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than five years, or both.

What journalists do is not retain them, it's publish them, which AFAIK is not illegal.


>What journalists do is not retain them, it's publish them, which AFAIK is not illegal.

Unless you are just immediately releasing all documents you receive unedited, you will have to retain them for a period first.

Would a journalist raided the second before he could click publish be committing a crime, while a second later he would not be committing a crime and have never been committing a crime.


Most journalists are not "an officer, employee, contractor, or consultant of the United States" and therefore it's not a crime for them to retain them at all.

They picked the wrong part of the code, 18 U.S. Code § 793 and 798 both have various relevant laws.

True.

I'm not American, but I think that two points are relevant to the discussion

- few people in American history have been prosecuted for leaking classified documents, the most simple explanation is that it would mean revealing even more classified documents during the trial

- journalist can’t be punished for publishing info that was obtained illegally, as long as the journalist didn’t do anything illegal

Assange is accused of helping the leaker to obtain the documents illegally, which is illegal.

I don't know if that's true or not, but that's what DOJ is charging him with.


Assange is accused of basically running hashcat. I am sure that a fair percentage of HN would be criminals under this logic.

I doubt a fair percentage of HN has used hashcat to break passwords to attempt to steal US government documents. The tool is not the point of the charge.

I'm very sad to say this, but HN as a Place to discuss is not up to the standards people say it is.

I'm being downvoted for basically stating the obvious and, worse than that, by people that do not stop a second to think about what other people wrote.

I'm not putting Assange on trial, I'm not a judge, this is not a tribunal, I was just clarifying what he's been accused of!

Having said that: yes, if you are the driver in a Bank robbery, you can get arrested for "basically driving a car"

The crime is not driving, is helping other criminals to commit the crime.

Which is what Assange is accused of. He's not accused of running hashcat.

Even if he did the decryption with pen and paper and failed he would be an "accessory to the crime" (allegedly, because he's only accused of doing it)

To put it in other words, he is accused of being

> a person who knowingly and voluntarily participates in the commission of a crime.

Regardless of the crime, the simple fact that he (allegedly) helped is a crime.


>I'm being downvoted for basically stating the obvious

Because "stating the obvious" is rarely a productive mode of discussion. People are trying to discuss the nuance of the topic, but you have a very hard-lined view that leaves little room to actually discuss anything.


I'm from a country where the law is the law and ignorance of the law is no excuse.

I've read "Dei delitti e delle pene" (on crimes and punishments) from Cesare Beccaria many times.

I truly believe what Montesquieu said "every punishment which does not arise from absolute necessity is tyrannical"

That's why I also believe that justice means letting the judicial system do its job and prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that someone is guilty or let him go.

We can discuss about what we believe is right or wrong, but that won't change the reasons why Assange is being prosecuted.

It's up to the court now to prove him guilty or declare him an innocent man.

When I say I'm stating the obvious I'm not expressing any opinion on Assange's actions, I'm only saying what are the charges.

We can agree or disagree with them, but we can't undo what's already happened.

He's accused of allegedly helping Mannings to commit a crime.

That's all I've said.


Sure but I don't know how this is relevant to what I said.

> Having said that: yes, if you are the driver in a Bank robbery, you can get arrested for "basically driving a car"

Driving in a bank robbery is different to basically just doing some calculations. It might be a crime but it should not be one. Regardless though I would claim that even if he tried to physically get into buildings and steal documents in order to expose warcrimes I would say that they should let him free.


Driving is driving

Doing some calculations is doing some calculations

Driving for bank robbers or doing some calculations for the mob can be a crime, if driving or doing calculations was helping them to commit a crime and you knew it.

> even if he tried to physically get into buildings and steal documents in order to expose warcrimes I would say that they should let him free.

That's your opinion.

I'm not saying you are wrong in principle, but that's not how law works.


Sure, and it is your opinion that assange should have refused to help manning.

I think there's a (big) misunderstanding here.

My opinion __is not__ that Assange should have refused to help Mannings, Assange is an adult, he can chose to do whatever he wants.

What I'm saying is that Assange should have refused to be accessory to a crime.

Journalists are protected when they receive classified informations, even if obtained illegaly, as long as the journalist didn’t do anything illegal

He knew he was helping with something illegal (at least he should have known) and that by doing it he would lose the kind of protections guaranteed to the press.


> My opinion __is not__ that Assange should have refused to help Mannings ... Assange should have refused to be accessory to a crime

These two are literally the same thing.


Helping in committing a crime is different from helping.

Sorry if I insist on this, but helping != being accessory to a crime.

You can help in many ways, most of them are not crimes.

If I ask you to help me to set on fire the car of someone who harassed my girlfriend and you say "I can't" you are not refusing to help, you are refusing to commit a crime in order to help me. You might help in other ways like saying "please, don't do this".


Don't get too downhearted by the downvotes.

I get the feeling people in this thread are getting mixed up between the difference of what people think is right or should be right and what the courts and laws say.

I think Assange was a hero. At the same time, the claim that he tried to help crack a US military hash to assist with extracting files does sound pretty illegal on the face of it, despite its good intentions and positive outcomes for truth and journalism.

Just because you did good by breaking the law, or that you broke the law in the name of journalism, doesn't provide you protection from the courts in the eyes of the law (And particularly not at a magistrates court!).


The statement is factually false, the reason we have judges is to consider individual circumstances and to make the tradeoffs between conflicting rights and laws. Cutting a person open without their consent could be murder or a lifesaving surgery depending on context. Breaking and entering is justified if you did it to save a child out of a burning building, breaking someone's bones is OK if it happens during CPR (varies by country).

Your right to privacy conflicts with the State's desire for surveillance, your right for self-defence can clear your of charges of manslaughter, and depending on exact circumstances the judge will decide if your actions were justified or if you belong in jail.


> The statement is factually false, the reason we have judges is to consider individual circumstances and to make the tradeoffs between conflicting rights and laws.

Not really, we have judges at the level of the magistrates to apply laws based on the precedents set in higher courts, not based on their own feelings of what the law should be.

There are legal tests that need to be applied - in your example about murder and surgery the definition of murder requires intent. As we know from cases like Shipman, a surgery can be murder, but it’s not for the judge to decide that arbitrarily, it’s for a judge to apply case law.

A district judge is not a one person jury!


Is he a journalist or an intelligence asset? In my mind, he can't be both. Once you pick a side, you lose the right to press protection.

I don't see why journalists should have some sort of special protection that should not apply to the "peasants".

seems like a function of their role in the 4th estate as the watchdogs of government.

In practical terms, a journalist covering a protest should not be treated the same by security forces as a protestor. I am sure other, similar scenarios can be imagined.


I would say that they should, both the protestor and the journalists should be treated with respect. Even then though, a non-journalist that is not a protestor should be able to cover a protest just as well as professional journalists can.

> as the watchdogs of government.

More like dogs of the government. The ones willing to go against it in any meaningful manner are few and sidelined.


re: protestors vs journalists, one is an active participant in the story and the other is an observer. While I do think protestors deserve respect, I feel journalists should be given wider protection (for example, assembly is cited as unlawful, protestors must disperse. Journalists should be allowed to stay and document what happens).

The second part, I won't disagree.


If justice had any say we wouldn't be blowing up civilians with helicopters and laughing about it.

I’m not convinced by your implied equivalence of, on the one hand, phone hacking celebrities and murder victims to generate tabloid clickbait, and on the other, helping protect an intelligence source whose leaked material shows human rights abuses and the death of innocent civilians.

If he hacked a celebrity's account and used it to uncover a killing spree by said celebrity it might be equivalent.

And, no doubt the celebrity's supporters would argue that he'd crossed the line from journalism to hacking as well.

If Assange were a Russian holed up in Belarus being extradited to Russia for uncovering Russian war crimes by cracking password hashes I really wonder how many people here would still be arguing that he "crossed the line".

My guess is precisely zero, and any Russians who did so would be mocked and accused of being shills.


Some people are still into the idea of "national unity" and "collective insult" things.

Unfortunately the law usually legislates against acts rather than outcomes.

Additionally in the eyes of the law, hacking a celebrity does not bring a higher punishment than hacking a nation state, despite its good intentions and the public interest of the released information.

And he isn't accused of "helping to protect an intelligence source", because that's not a crime. One claim raised by the prosecution is that Assange was sent hashes and ran them against a rainbow table in an attempt to provide assistance to manning in order to grant further access to confidential government systems.

If this claim is true or not, we don't know because it hasn't gone to court yet, but the accusation is more than "just protecting a source".

And personally I think there should be an exception to releasing documents that show government wrongdoing which means it isn't illegal - however this is not codified in law.


You're certainly right that there are other charges related to Assange's crimes.

How scandalous, he hacked someone... Of course that is far worse than killing hundreds of thousands of people in the middle east which he put the finger on.

Hacking and computer sabotage.... really? You call that justice? It is not and the UK jurisdiction remains a joke. A posh joke, but a joke nonetheless.

Please... as if there would have been alternative to leaking hunan rights violations.


> Of course that is far worse than killing hundreds of thousands of people in the middle east which he put the finger on.

> as if there would have been alternative to leaking hunan rights violations.

The comment you're responding to did not make either of these claims.


Unfortunately nowhere in the law does it state "you can break any law if it helps human rights causes".

I fully support Assange FYI, but at the same time I think he possibly broke laws while doing his (incredibly important) work, or at least there would be enough ambiguity around law to bring a case to the crown court (remember this is the magistrates).


But a judiciary should be careful to synchronize laws and justice to the best degree possible. Otherwise they end up as the joke that they are. There is room to the bottom of course, but I don't think trust is available in excess in western nations.

> when he attempted to assist with cracking a hash

Was it ever proved that he did? There was some non-committal talk quoted, but nothing beyond that?

You also say "for example" - are there any other credible allegations that Assange "crossed the line"?


This is a little bit disingenuous.

There is no proven accusation because Assange hasn't gone to trial, which is the part of the process where that standard applies.

The credible allegation part is the indictment handed down from a federal grand jury; this is the 'probable cause' standard.


I should've worded that differently - we obviously do not expect accusations to be proven before a trial.

What I meant was rather: has there been made any credible/sensible accusation for him being involved in hacking? Because while the drivel made it through the grand jury, it's still a vague answer without any allegations of follow-up. Could I help you crack a password hash? Sure, maybe I could. Am I now conspiring to hack into a military network? I rather think not. And that's even though you have my offer in writing.


If tomorrow NovemberWhiskey was arrested and found incontrovertibly guilty of hacking a military network, you don't think it's even slightly reasonable that you might also end up on the stand after that comment?

Not really, no. But even so, I certainly hope it's unlikely I'd end up in extradition hearings to the US, charged with conspiracy.

> Was it ever proved that he did?

No, which is why in the judgment every reference to a supposed attempt of "cracking a hash" is preceded by "alleged".


That was, in fact, the judgement of the court in this case; that he allegedly participated in the alleged crime and did not just receive the data resulting from it.

edit: added 'allegedly' as his guilt or innocence is not evaluated


This was coverered in point #117 in the summary. N.B. I should have said 'allegedly participated in the alleged crime'.

The ruling has nothing to do with freedom of expression. If the judge wouldn't think Assange is suicidal, he would be extradicted.

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