Day 1 of Day X - Craig Murray's Report from the Courtroom in London, Feb. 20, 2024

Craig Murray's detailed, literate, and historical account of February 20 in the Royal Courts of Justice, when Assange's lawyers had the entire day to lay out all their grounds for appeal, is often hilarious.  In Murray's blogpost,  "Final Appeal - Your Man in the Public Gallery", he describes Assange's lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald, KC: 

Barristers’ wigs have tight rolls of horsehair stuck to a mesh that stretches over the head. In Mr Fitzgerald’s case, the mesh has to be stretched so far to cover his enormous brain, that the rolls are pulled apart, and dot his head like hair curlers on a landlady.

But Murray's meticulous presentation will give you a thorough understanding of the points of law under consideration.  This is the first time that issues such as freedom of the press, and the war crimes exposed by Assange's publications, and the plot to assassinate Assange by the U.S. government, for example, have been allowed to be brought up in court to appeal the amended verdict to extradite.

Given how the U.K. excluded all applicants from the U.S. and Australia who were not on British or Welsh soil from even viewing a live-stream of the court proceedings, and given the poor quality of the stream provided, it is clear that the court did not want a wider audience to hear this "public" trial. (As I've noted, my application was denied as was that of others here in Milwaukee, as well as Chicago's Kevin Gosztola, author of the book, Guilty of Journalism, about Assange.  Noteably, the New York Times did not report on the content of the day's hearing.)

About two thirds of the way though the day, the lawyers seemed to miss the opportunity to explain the context for the revelation of unredacted names, failing to bring up the Guardian's David Leigh and Luke Harding's printing of the password to the unredacted cables in their book. That password made the entire cache of unredacted cables vulnerable to exposure by others, which is exactly what happened and was testified to in the 2020 hearing.

That evening, Craig and many of his fellow journalists gathered together to rehash the day in court and specifically brought up that missed opportunity in their conversation.  You can watch the entire confab here.  It's a fascinating discussion with among others: Pulitzer-prize-winning Chris Hedges, Joe Lauria of Consortium News, London-based journalist Mohamed Elmaazi, and Fidel Narvaez who was the Ecuadorian consul while Julian was in the Embassy - all of whom were in London that day.

Below is the beginning of Craig Murray's extensive and comprehensive blog-post of that day in court.  The link to the entire publication is below.


Assange Final Appeal – Your Man in the Public Gallery

by Craig Murray

Reporting on Julian Assange’s extradition hearings has become a vocation that has now stretched over five years. From the very first hearing, when Justice Snow called Assange “a narcissist” before Julian had said anything whatsoever other than to confirm his name, to the last, when Judge Swift had simply in 2.5 pages of glib double-spaced A4 dismissed a tightly worded 152-page appeal from some of the best lawyers on earth, it has been a travesty and charade marked by undisguised institutional hostility.

We were now on last orders in the last chance saloon, as we waited outside the Royal Courts of Justice for the appeal for a right of final appeal.

The architecture of the Royal Courts of Justice was the great last gasp of the Gothic revival; having exhausted the exuberance that gave us the beauty of St Pancras Station and the Palace of Westminster, the movement played out its dreary last efforts at whimsy in shades of grey and brown, valuing scale over proportion and mistaking massive for medieval. As intended, the buildings are a manifestation of the power of the state; as not intended, they are also an indication of the stupidity of large scale power.

Court number 5 had been allocated for this hearing. It is one of the smallest courts in the building. Its largest dimension is its height. It is very high, and lit by heavy mock medieval chandeliers hung by long cast iron chains from a ceiling so high you can’t really see it. You expect Robin Hood to suddenly leap from the gallery and swing across on the chandelier above you. The room is very gloomy; the murky dusk hovers menacingly above the lights like a miasma of despair; below them you peer through the weak light to make out the participants.

A huge tiered walnut dais occupies half the room, with the judges seated at its apex, their clerks at the next level down, and lower lateral wings reaching out, at one side housing journalists and at the other a huge dock for the prisoner or prisoners, with a massy iron cage that looks left over from a production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

This is in fact the most modern part of the construction; caging defendants in medieval style is a Blair era introduction to the so-called process of law.

Murray's full article can be found here:


The judge will receive some materials requested by March 4th.  Given how this appeals process has played out in the past, I would not be surprised if the judges say that Assange can appeal on one or more of the grounds raised, but then wait almost a year before giving that announcement.  Their strategy seems to be to kill Assange by process - to keep him incarcerated, convicted of nothing, as his physical and mental health continue to decline.  He declined to be present at this most recent hearing; some accounts said he was too ill.  Earlier in the year, we had been told his coughing caused him to break a rib.  Because of his isolation from the sun for so many years, he suffers from  osteoporosis.

Please continue to call your Representative and Senators Baldwin and Johnson's offices using the switchboard number 202-224-3121.  Ask them to sign onto H. Res. 934 to free Julian Assange.


For Craig Murray's account of Day 2 (which includes the rebuttal of the entire defense case by the U.S. U.K. proxies and a subsequent rebuttal by Assange's lawyers), go here.

Firebrand Assange lawyer, Mark Summers, KC,, brings up David Leigh and Luke Harding's publication of the password in his rebuttal of the prosecution's rebuttal here:

The prosecution refused to acknowledge the fact, backed up by extensive and unchallenged witness evidence, that Assange had undertaken a whole year of a major redaction exercise to avoid publication of names which might be put at risk. This year was followed by one of the media partners publishing the password to the unredacted material as the chapter heading in a book. Then Mr Assange made desperate efforts to mitigate the damage, including by phoning the White House. This did not accord at all with the prosecution narrative: “At best, Mr Assange was reckless in providing the key to Mr Leigh”.

Several others had then published the full, unredacted database first, including Cryptome. None had been prosecuted, yet more evidence that this prosecution was unforeseeable.

There was, however, no evidence given of harm to any individual from the disclosures.

The link (again) to the journalists' discussion on February 20 after their day in court is here.

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