EDITORIAL: A Trial Begins in London, from Consortium News

Is the ruling in Julian Assange’s extradition proceeding a foregone conclusion? It sure looks that way. From the Consortium News editorial board at consortiumnews.com:

Judging by the first week of hearings in February, it doesn’t seem to be important whatever the prosecution says or does, or how the defense responds. The decision already appears to have been made.

There can surely be a surprise when the next three to four weeks of hearings in the extradition case of Julian Assange at Old Bailey are completed. There is still every possibility that when the last word is said in court, Magistrate Vanessa Baraitser will decide that the United States has not made its case and that Assange will not be sent to stand trial in Alexandria, Virginia.

But judging from the first week of hearings in February at Woolwich Crown Court, all signs point to a decision already having been made to extradite Assange, and that the next three to four weeks will be simply justice going through the motions to make it appear that the WikiLeaks publisher is getting a fair trial.  There is a name for such a thing:

“A show trial is a public trial in which the judicial authorities have already determined the guilt, and/or innocence, of the defendant. The actual trial has as its only goal the presentation of both the accusation and the verdict to the public so they will serve as both an impressive example and a warning to other would-be dissidents or transgressors.” (Wikipedia)

Is there any better way to describe what has been happening to Assange than the above definition?

A Weak Case

The prosecution’s case against Assange is exceedingly weak, but it doesn’t seem to matter. In the first week, America’s British lawyers didn’t mention the only technicality that Assange can really be charged with:  unauthorized possession and dissemination of classified information.

That’s because it’s a charge that directly implicates the rest of the press, which for years has possessed and disseminated secret material and never faced charges. It was an issue so much in the forefront of U.S. thinking that it had its Queen’s Councillor directly address the press gallery at the beginning of February’s proceedings to try to convince the reporters that they were not a target.

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