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#Assange Case: How can Westminster Magistrates Court – Extradition Unit justify such incompetence?

Attribution: https://twitter.com/VanhouteghemE

Please join me in expressing your frustration with the way the public is prevented from getting the right information in the Julian Assange case due to the incompetence of an archaic Magistrates Court that desperately needs to be dragged into the 21st century!
Don’t be shy! Write to westminster.ij@justice.gov.uk call 0300 303 0645
Attribution: https://twitter.com/VanhouteghemE

Here is my letter:

Enquiry regarding Julian Assange Case No: 1900802699
Dear Sir/Madam
 
I am writing to you on a matter of public interest, the quantity and quality of information regarding the Julian Assange case at British courts, and I will include these comments in future to my complaint with the Ministry of Justice.
 
It is regrettable that the public is unable to follow the case of Julian Assange at Westminster Magistrates court in a manner that would allow to form a satisfactory understanding. First, we don’t get to hear about upcoming court hearing dates till, often after the event we therefore miss the opportunity to attend court. Second, there has been an occasion that the public attends but the public gallery gets closed (Westminster Magistrates Court 2nd May 2019). Third, there are no recordings at WMC and therefore no transcripts of court hearings so we cannot request documents of authoritative nature to be informed on the case as it develops. Fourth, press reports are often inaccurate and without context, creating a sense of perplexity.  

 

The BBC has reported that last Friday 13th of September 2019 there was a Court Hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court regarding Julian Assange here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-49689167
 
ITV News have also reported on these proceedings here: https://www.itv.com/news/2019-09-13/assange-to-be-kept-in-prison-because-of-history-of-absconding/
 
These reports are hardly instructive to the general public and I would be extremely grateful if you were able to do so. I have made enquiries directly with Westminster Magistrates Court, unfortunately court hearings are not recorded and I cannot request a transcript or any paperwork that can throw some light in the issue. The Court Clerk requested I contact the Extradition Unit giving me your e-mail address for information about the proceedings last Friday at Westminster Magistrates Court.

My questions are as follows:

What was the nature of this hearing. Did it relate to the reason he is currently serving a sentence in Belmarsh? Was it a court hearing relating to the US extradition request? Was the court hearing in relation to applying for bail after serving his current sentence?

The BBC reports:

District judge Vanessa Baraitser on Friday told Assange, who appeared by video-link: “You have been produced today because your sentence of imprisonment is about to come to an end.
“When that happens your remand status changes from a serving prisoner to a person facing extradition.”
She said that his lawyer had declined to make an application for bail on his behalf, adding “perhaps not surprisingly in light of your history of absconding in these proceedings”.

“In my view I have substantial ground for believing if I release you, you will abscond again.”

It is not clear from the report the functionality of the hearing. 

ITV reports:

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser told him: “You have been produced today because your sentence of imprisonment is about to come to an end.
“When that happens your remand status changes from a serving prisoner to a person facing extradition.
“Therefore I have given your lawyer an opportunity to make an application for bail on your behalf and she has declined to do so. Perhaps not surprisingly in light of your history of absconding in these proceedings.

“In my view I have substantial ground for believing if I release you, you will abscond again.”

The final hearing in Assange’s extradition case is due in February.
Assange was asked if he understood what was happening, and replied: “Not really. I’m sure the lawyers will explain it.”
Again from this report the purpose of the hearing is not clear. Both press reports claim that the judge ruled against bail for Julian Assange. Is this true? Was this a bail court hearing?
 
The ITV report says:
 
Another administrative hearing will take place on October 11 following by a case management hearing on October 21, the court heard.
Would you be so kind as to explain what these scheduled court hearings are about? 
 
Furthermore, Westminster Magistrates Court said to me this morning that there is a further Case Management hearing scheduled for 20th of September 2019 at WMC in preparation for the hearing on October 11th.
 
Perhaps it might be a good thing for the Extradition Unit to be issuing press releases on the Julian Assange case for the public to understand what is going on with the matter.
 
I would like to remind you the public interest in this country and internationally for this unique case where the First Amendment of US Constitution is challenged by the US Department of Justice at the same time as attempting to deregulate sovereign legal jurisdiction internationally by applying extraterritorial jurisdiction. Sadly, the US/UK extradition treaty is weak in its defence of British sovereignty as it is imbalanced. The world over from Human Rights to Press Freedom Institutions decry such efforts. Julian Assange is also someone the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has found as arbitrary detained by the UK. The UN Special Rapporteur for Torture has recently produced an authoritative report stating he carries the effects of prolonged psychological torture. He is currently at the infirmary ward of Belmarsh prison. You can clearly see the intense interest of the public as well as the public interest in having accurate timely information about this legal case.
 
I would also like to remind you that back in 2012 when another case involving Julian Assange was at the British Courts there was similar interest about his fate. The Supreme Court accredited 90 (out of hundreds of requests) journalists to report their proceedings which where live streamed and more than 14,000 members of the public, legal and journalistic professionals tuned in to watch the live stream the first day alone.
 
I regret to have to take your valuable time answering questions for information that should already be in the public sphere in a way that the public both in this country and internationally can understand.
 
Still, would be extremely grateful if you were able to clarify the developments in the Julian Assange case.
 
I thank you in advance for your time.