|A supporter of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen through a hole torn in a defaced U.S. flag during a protest outside the Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey, in London, Sept. 14, 2020. Matt Dunham | AP
1/ .@amnesty denied access again today to the court in the #Assange extradition hearing. We've made 3 applications requesting recognition as expert fair trial monitors. Judge states that no "special provision" will be made for our trial monitor's attendance. pic.twitter.com/psQ53H4aKU— Julia Hall (@JuliaHall18) September 16, 2020
Today in the Old Bailey I watched the grim farce of the US/UK attempt to extradite Julian #Assange. The bullying prosecutor is reduced to insulting the integrity of expert witnesses. Trapped behind glass, Julian is denied free access to his barrister. This is Britain's shame.— John Pilger (@johnpilger) September 14, 2020
Not only is Julian Assange’s fate at risk in this sordid affair, but so is that of journalism, freedom of speech, and democratic rights [more] generally. We can’t stand by and permit this monstrous offense against our highest values to proceed.”
Assange has also received support from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who yesterday told popular podcast host Joe Rogan that,
The US government under William Barr is trying to extradite this guy and put him in prison for the rest of his life for the best work that Wikileaks ever did, that has won awards in basically every country, including the United States.”
Snowden was referencing the Iraq and Afghanistan War logs, the 2010 release of hundreds of thousands of military documents exposing U.S. malfeasance in those two countries. Perhaps the most famous leak was the infamous “Collateral Murder” video, which showed footage of American helicopter pilots casually carrying out a massacre of Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in 2007, two of whom were Reuters-employed journalists.
Assange has been wanted since the war logs were published. In 2010, a Swedish prosecutor issued an international arrest warrant for him on sexual assault charges. Fearing it was a pretext for extradition to the United States, he sought and was given refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London by the progressive administration of Rafael Correa. After a change of government in Ecuador, however, he was arrested after seven years inside the building.
Since then, he has been kept in Belmarsh prison in London, where he was often kept in solitary confinement, a practice denounced as torture by human rights groups and international organizations like the United Nations. His treatment was so poor that other high security inmates in the notorious prison staged a protest, leading to somewhat more ethical treatment.