Julian Assange safe from extradition… for now

I had a post all ready to go to excoriate so-called British justice, expecting the decision of Vanessa Baraitser this morning regarding the extradition of Julian Assange to go the way of the US. And, by contrast, definitely not in the way of Julian Assange. My post was going to be angry. I was going to use lots of bad language. I was going to label the UK America’s favourite rent boy, for instance. The UK is now happy to bend over for any abuse of law and rights at the behest of the US government.

Then I heard the result.

Astonishing.

Then I read a full report. For all the welcome news that Julian Assange will not be extradited to the US — pending appeals by the craven forces of evil, of course — Dame Vanessa managed to make Assange once more the cause, claiming that it was only because he was likely to attempt suicide should he suffer extradition. She gave no sense that she had any sympathy for the man or even any sense of the injustice she had overseen in her court. You could almost hear the sighs and tuts. She was blaming Julian Assange for not taking his medicine like a man. Real men can handle 175 years in solitary for exposing war crimes.

More than that, she accepted that the US government had won its case. Perhaps the most chilling comment came from the US justice department, whose spokesperson said, “While we are extremely disappointed in the court’s ultimate decision, we are gratified that the United States prevailed on every point of law raised.” Every point of law. That is something for all journalists to ponder.

Jeremy Corbyn — unsurprisingly — put it best when he said, ” [it’s] alarming that the judge has accepted US government arguments threatening freedom of speech and freedom to publish”.

Julian is not free yet but this is certainly a victory, however tainted by the poor decision by a poor judge to temper the outcome with a sop to the US. In a better world I might think that the judgment was so worded to give everyone a face-saving way out. The US could quietly walk back into the shadows and make no appeal and UK subservience to the US would be fulfilled. That better world is not here yet, though, I don’t think. It would be nice to be proved wrong.

Oh, and by the way, there is now no mention of this case on the BBC home page this evening. These are the top stories — below some understandably important Covid updates — that the BBC feels are more important:

Hair ice: The strange phenomenon of ‘candy floss’ on trees

Zara Holland faces court for ‘breaking Covid rules’ in Barbados

Blue whales: New population found in the Indian Ocean

Woman’s Hour: The Queen sends ‘best wishes’ to show on its 75th year

EU firms refuse UK deliveries over Brexit tax changes

This is the national broadcaster, remember, with real journalists working there, who are now in real danger of being prosecuted for doing journalism after Baraitser’s judgement that the US had ‘won’ its case. It rather sums up the BBC, who barely reported during the lengthy hearing process at all. They have to be careful now. One slip from the corporate line and they could be on a plane to that super-max prison in the good old US of A.

Writer, husband, father.

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