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24 Feb, 2020 15:19

‘We should talk war crimes & killing civilians, not US espionage claims in this court’ – WikiLeaks head Kristinn Hrafnsson

‘We should talk war crimes & killing civilians, not US espionage claims in this court’ – WikiLeaks head Kristinn Hrafnsson

It is “outrageous” that Julian Assange stands trial in London on “hollow US claims” that haven’t changed in the last ten years, Kristinn Hrafnsson said, promising the defense has some strong arguments to avert the extradition.

“There’s absolutely nothing new that is being presented here this morning by the Crown Prosecution Service on behalf of US prosecution,” Hrafnsson told a crowd of journalists who gathered outside Woolwich Crown Court where the extradition hearing for Assange began. 

Lawyers representing US authorities presented arguments that were “more of the same things we’ve been hearing for ten years.” Back in July 2010, WikiLeaks was accused of putting US lives at risk by exposing its military and intelligence operations worldwide, but “ten years later, there is no evidence of such harm.” 

“And to the contrary, a Pentagon official was forced to admit in Manning’s trial in 2013 that nobody was physically harmed because of the revelations in 2010 and 2011. And now, in 2020, they are in court, not able to present a single evidence of that harm,” Hrafnsson reminded the press, before hitting back at the US side.

And I’m sitting there listening to these claims, these subjective claims, and thinking: Why aren’t we discussing the harm that was revealed by WikiLeaks in 2010 and 2011? Why aren’t we talking in court about war crimes, the assassination of innocent civilians by the military, the slaughtering of Reuters journalists? 

If extradited to the US, Assange faces espionage charges carrying a 175-year prison sentence. As Hrafnsson believes, the American claims “were hollow ten years ago, and they don’t increase in legitimacy as years go by.” 

Assange’s lawyers have prepared dozens of “overwhelming arguments” that could avert the extradition. These will be presented “tomorrow, the day after tomorrow and in the weeks ahead in this long fight for justice.” 

At any rate, the very existence of the extradition trial is a disgrace, Hrafnsson pointed out: “It is a shameful thing that we have to defend journalism in a court of law in this country.”

Also on rt.com Assange’s US extradition hearing begins: What’s it all about and how did we get here?

The imprisoned publisher’s legal team believe he is unlikely to receive a fair and unbiased trial in the US, but the ongoing proceedings in Britain are also far from flawless. 

The courtroom in Woolwich has only a dozen seats reserved for the general public, Hrafnsson revealed, and journalists have trouble getting inside.

“Very hard to talk about open and transparent proceedings, especially when the microphones are so bad that you have to stretch your ear to hear what is being presented,” the WikiLeaks editor-in-chief added.

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