Home Australian News Why did Julian Assange’s lawyers accuse the CIA of a murder plot?

Why did Julian Assange’s lawyers accuse the CIA of a murder plot?

Why did Julian Assange’s lawyers accuse the CIA of a murder plot?

As the UK High Court takes another look at Julian Assange’s extradition case, the WikiLeaks founder finds himself at a crossroads. If the pair of judges overseeing his current application agree with his lawyers’ arguments, he’ll be allowed to continue his legal fight in the UK. 

If the lawyers fail to convince the judges, his only recourse will be an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. Assange’s wife Stella Assange told the BBC’s Today radio program the legal team would have to make that appeal within 24 hours of the court’s decision. 

“This case will determine if he lives or dies, essentially,” she said.

Wednesday night, Australian time, will mark the beginning of the second and final day of arguments in the High Court hearing. Judges Victoria Sharp and Jeremy Johnson are reviewing an earlier ruling that refused Assange permission to appeal his extradition to the US. 

When Assange’s lawyer Ed Fitzgerald introduced his arguments for why his client should be allowed to appeal, he began by saying Assange was being “prosecuted for political offences”.

“The prosecution is politically motivated. Mr Assange was exposing serious criminality. He is being prosecuted for engaging in [the] ordinary journalistic practice of obtaining and publishing classified information, information that is both true and of obvious and important public interest,” Fitzgerald said according to the BBC

As the BBC’s legal correspondent pointed out, however, the team does not need to convince the judges those claims are true, they only need to convince the court Assange’s case is worthy of re-examination. 

To that end, the legal team made a number of explosive claims, including that the US government had “developed a plan to try to either kill or rendition Mr Assange to the USA”. 

Fitzgerald said there was “specific evidence” to support that, and added: “There is a real risk of further extrajudicial actions against him by the CIA or other agencies”.

Another of Assange’s lawyers, Mark Summers, said the alleged plot was hatched during the Donald Trump presidency, while the WikiLeaks founder was hiding from authorities in the Ecuadorean embassy in London. 

The court also heard allegations of a CIA plot to spy on Assange were still being investigated by a Spanish court. 

In 2022, when Crikey interviewed another of Assange’s lawyers, Australian barrister Jennifer Robinson, she said a group of lawyers and journalists had filed a lawsuit against the CIA in a Spanish court, alleging the spy service violated their constitutional rights by copying material from their phones when they visited Assange in 2017 and 2018.

Robinson, too, had been a victim of phone spying, she told Crikey at the time: “I’ve taken my own case against the British government for spying on me, which was resolved successfully with a friendly settlement where the UK admitted my rights had been violated.”

European Court of Human Rights documents showed Robinson was awarded €1000 for costs and expenses in relation to her suit against the UK.

When the UK High Court returns overnight, it will hear from lawyers for the US government, who are expected to try to punch holes in Assange’s team’s arguments.

According to the Associated Press, the US legal team said in written submissions that Assange’s actions during his work for WikiLeaks “threatened damage to the strategic and national security interests of the United States” and put people named in the leaked documents at risk of “serious physical harm”.

Assange was permitted to attend the first day in person, but the court heard he was too unwell to do so.

Ahead of this week’s hearing, Assange’s father John Shipton told Crikey the family still had hope the court would side with Assange: “Lawyers say Julian’s arguments are strong, and odds are if arguments are given their due weight and UK law is honoured, an appeals hearing will be allowed.”


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