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Mohamed Elmaazi

Judge in Assange's Case Says She Has 'No Jurisdiction Over the Conditions Over Which He is Held'

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Washington is seeking Julian Assange's extradition to the US where he faces an 18-count indictment over his role in publishing classified documents revealing alleged war crimes perpetrated by American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On Monday, the judge presiding over the case of Julian Assange dismissed concerns raised by his lawyer over the unsuitability of the computer equipment provided to the WikiLeaks publisher by prison authorities as being outside her jurisdiction.

Gareth Pierce, from Birnberg Peirce solicitors, who is acting for Assange, told the judge that she wanted to put on record  that a, "major impediment is Mr Assange’s ability to access the materials he need to prepare his case.”

She explained that while the prison authorities at Belmarsh prison have finally provided her client with a computer “after months of battle" the computer is, “not suitable for the purpose for which he needs it.”

However District Judge Vanessa Baraitser dismissed Pierce's concerns saying that she had, "no jurisdiction over the conditions over which he is held."

When Pierce put it to the Court that she wanted her concerns on the record saying, Judge Baraitser insisted that, “there is nothing I can say that will assist you I have no jurisdiction over the prison state or how it is operated.”

Baraitser has ruled previously on certain matters pertaining to Assange's case. On 13 September she ruled that Assange must remain in prison despite his custodial sentence for absconding on bail expiring on 22 September and on 21 October she denied a request for additional time for Assange to prepare for his case:

The judge then confirmed that the next "substantive hearing" will be on 19 December with a further mandatory administrative hearing to be held on 13 December.

© Photo : Mohamed Elmaazi
Julian Assange's father John Shipton speaks to supporters outside of Westminster Magistrates Court in London on 19 November 2019

Rallies in Support of Assange Outside Courthouse

Outside of the court demonstrators held signs in support of Assange and calling for 'resistance' to his extradition.

One such person was Jeannie, who is based in Stratford. She preferred not to disclose her last name but emphasised that she was, "concerned" because Chief Magistrate Lady Emma Arbuthnot, who has been overseeing Assange's case and making rulings regarding it, "actually has a conflict of interest and should have acknowledged this and stepped down." Jeannie was referring to the recent investigative exposé published in the DAILY MAVERICK by British historian Mark Curtis and investigative journalist Matt Kennard detailing strong links between Arbuthnot's husband and son with national security organisations, which have taken aim against WikiLeaks and whistleblowers more generally.

​Supporters of Assange were handing out printed copies of these revelations to journalists outside the court room. They told Sputnik that as far as they were aware no mainstream UK news outlet had yet reported on these reports from Curtis and Kennard. It is still unclear who will be presiding over Assange's case and whether Chief Magistrate Arbuthnot will continue to have a role in it.