Julian Assange would proficiently be held in solitary confinement if he had been to be extradited to the US, a courtroom heard these days.
The WikiLeaks founder faces 20 several years in a high-security jail underneath the greatest circumstance, but could be sentenced to 175 years, a US lawful pro said.
Eric Lewis, a US law firm with a master’s degree in criminology who has represented significant-stability prisoners, which include those accused of terrorism offences, informed the courtroom that the US selection to increase the variety of costs in opposition to Assange would “significantly maximize the jeopardy” Assange confronted.
The most serious espionage expenses imposed in the US have resulted in lifestyle sentences. Even individuals at the lessen stop of the scale have led to sentences of 20 or 30 yrs, he mentioned.
Lewis was talking on the fifth day of an extradition listening to from Assange at the Aged Bailey.
The 49-12 months-previous defendant faces 17 charges below the US Espionage Act 1917, right after WikiLeaks printed hundreds of files from the previous US Army soldier Chelsea Manning in 2010-11.
Assange faces a additional demand of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion underneath the indictment filed by a grand jury in the Japanese District of Virginia.
The situation was disrupted by technical complications all over the day, which created hard for the court to hear Lewis giving evidence remotely from the US.
Lewis claimed it was considerable that Assange was billed less than the Trump administration in 2018, fairly than below the Obama presidency in 2013.
The Obama administration had concluded that it could not prosecute Assange for publishing leaked paperwork without also prosecuting journalists on The New York Times.
When the US submitted a late indictment versus Assange, that showed that The New York Times issue had “been blown out of the water”.
Lewis mentioned that if Assange was extradited, he was pretty much surely likely to be matter to particular administrative measures (SAMs) in a secure detention centre in Alexandria, Virginia.
This would necessarily mean Assange would not be ready to associate with other prisoners, reported Lewis. He would be detained for 22 or 23 several hours a working day in his cell.
Though prisoners are allowed out of their mobile for a shower or recreation, this normally usually takes spot at night time when other prisoners are sleeping, and prisoners are shackled, Lewis explained to the court.
He mentioned it was remarkably most likely that Assange would experience SAMs.
“All the symptoms are pointing to the government taking the look at that Assange has obtain to massive quantities of mystery information and getting nervous about disclosure,” he stated.
Prosecution question’s Eric Lewis’s impartiality
James Lewis QC, symbolizing the prosecution, questioned the abilities of the witness and his impartiality.
Beneath questioning, Eric Lewis disclosed that he experienced been compensated £100 an hour for his do the job as an pro witness in the circumstance, but did not know how numerous hours he had worked.
The barrister asked Eric Lewis why he had not included a assortment of thoughts, including that of US prosecutor Gordon Kromberg, in his witness statements.
“I don’t feel I am necessary to established out Mr Kromberg’s 50 % a dozen affidavits, usually my statements would be hundreds of web pages,” he mentioned.
The QC also questioned Eric Lewis’s independence as an skilled, pointing out that he experienced published an op-ed in The Impartial newspaper and had presented a radio job interview supporting Assange.
“Before I became an professional, I expressed my possess sights as a political and plan matter,” he mentioned. “Those are my sights and nonetheless are my sights.”
Eric Lewis claimed he was in a position to analyse the legislation and the points and put his particular sights powering him – “something that is carried out all the time”.
The prosecution lawyer pressed the witness on regardless of whether he experienced any qualification in prison disorders or experienced prepared any peer-reviewed articles or blog posts on situations in prisons.
Eric Lewis claimed he had invested extra time than he cared to feel about checking out prisons and speaking to prisoners. He holds a degree in criminology and taught prison legislation for numerous decades, which also required a information of jail situations.
James Lewis QC for the prosecution turned to the circumstance of Abu Khathallah, who was accused of masterminding the Benghazi terrorist assaults and was represented by Eric Lewis.
Eric Lewis claimed he and other lawyers experienced difficulty accessing Khathallah when he was put less than specific steps.
“I and other legal professionals on the workforce put in time with him, but it was neither easy nor swift,” he said. “That is partly why he was held in remand for three decades.”
Eric Lewis said he did not concur that there was a big difference among administrative segregation and solitary confinement.
“I would recommend that 22 hours a working day in a 50ft2 mobile with no contact with the relaxation of the inhabitants causes persons to deteriorate swiftly, and in my perspective is solitary confinement,” he explained.
Eric Lewis explained that in his check out, Khathallah was held in solitary confinement, even even though he experienced access to unrestricted visits from attorneys.
“In fact, it did not include things like unrestricted visits since there have been a lot of sensible and authorized road blocks,” he claimed.
The witness stated that all of his lawful visits to his client have been recorded by cameras.
“We ended up told there was not sound [recording] but we ended up not particular of that. We were explained to that the crew that reviewed [the recordings] had been not the prosecution crew,” he explained. “But I have seen far too several cases where all those assurances ended up not fulfilled.”
He agreed that the circumstances imposed on Khathallah did not have any affect on his acquittal on capital prices.
Prosecution law firm beneath ‘intolerable pressure’
Pursuing the cross-examination, Lewis instructed the choose, Vanessa Baraitser, that he was beneath “intolerable pressure”, to cross-examine the witness under a time guillotine.
He claimed Eric Lewis’s responses ended up also prolonged. “I ask a dilemma and he offers a speech,” he mentioned.
Baraitser explained Lewis experienced requested for four several hours to cross-look at the witness and had applied 30 minutes.
“I requested your see how long you will acquire. You have offered that estimate,” she claimed. “The planet ‘guillotine’ arrives completely from you. I have not used it.”
Assange would be ‘unable to prepare for trial’
Under further more cross-evaluation from the prosecution, Lewis stated circumstances in US prisons would make it difficult for individuals concerned in national stability trials, these as Assange, to get ready for their situation.
“We are chatting about a million categorized paperwork that Mr Assange simply cannot see without the need of security clearance.”
He stated that everyone below SAMs is not allowed obtain to news or other materials unless of course that is agreed.
The prosecution barrister took Lewis by way of selections by the European Court docket of Human Legal rights in the situation of Barbar Ahmad in 2012.
The European court docket rejected an application that SAMs contravened Report 3 of the European Conference on Human Legal rights pre-trial.
“I see that is the conclusion of the court docket,” stated Lewis, incorporating that new data on the state of US prisons experienced appear to light-weight given that 2012.
The prosecution pushed Eric Lewis to say, if SAMs can make raising defence problems impossible, what ended up the defence problems that Assange is boosting?
“I cannot say for specific. I am not his attorney. There had been a million documents that were being leaked,” he stated.
The witness claimed in composed submissions that US courts had been unwell-ready for people with mental overall health concerns.
He said that ADX Florence, a most safety establishment that Lewis referred to in his proof, had been explained by the warden as “dehumanising, not in shape for humanity, a fate even worse than death”.
The prosecution lawyer asked Eric Lewis if he would settle for that the European court docket took into account the psychological state of a man or woman with Asperger’s when discovering incarceration in a most-stability facility did not seaside EU human rights regulation in its 2012 verdict.
“I would take that with the caveat there has been a lot additional data due to the fact 2012,” he mentioned. “Psychological investigate is dynamic.”
Eric Lewis reported he was not a medical professional, but relied on a public assertion of the Inspector Common of Prisons and of a research of “supermax prisons” by Yale Regulation Faculty.
He said that only 35% of psychological wellbeing patients in US prisons ended up becoming addressed, that the amount of psychological health and fitness professionals in US prisons experienced been lower and that self-damage experienced absent up.
James Lewis QC challenged the witness, if he was an skilled on mental wellness, to condition from memory when the US Bureau of Prisons (BoP) experienced current its pointers
“I have looked at countless numbers and hundreds of webpages of paperwork and I do not have that form of eidetic memory,” he claimed.
The barrister pressed Lewis to say irrespective of whether he was an specialist on US prisons or not.
“I am an expert in what I have set in my professional report. I think I have professional knowledge. If you are inquiring if I am a governor or a warden, I am not,” he reported.
Subsequent a collection of specialized issues, which intended the courtroom could not hear Lewis offering proof remotely from the US, the court docket adjourned the hearing till tomorrow.
The case carries on.