CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

One-way justice

10 September, 2020 — By John Gulliver

Protesters outside the Old Bailey this week. Photo: Angela Cobbinah

THE powers of the extradition laws governing the trial of Julian Assange seems to run one way – from these shores to the USA.

Presumably, they emerged in legislation under the reforms introduced by New Labour more than 15 years ago

There have been various victims. Julian Assange is one of them. The law doesn’t work the other way round so the person who caused the death of Harry Dunn remains safely ensconced in the US – beyond the reach of our jurisdiction.

Under our laws a defendant is often bailed for a hearing even with the most serious charge of murder hanging over him or her. In today’s high-tech world electronic tagging can be used to control flight from the courts.

It seems as if politics is intruding into law. For Julian Assange to be held in one of the tightest jails in the UK, Belmarsh, while his case lumbers through the courts, suggests the heavy hand of high government is at work.

Apart from Julian Assange, the other victim is press freedom – essentially Assange is a journalist and a curtailment of his rights is a curtailment of press freedom.

This week Julian Assange’s trial began at the Old Bailey – and my colleague Angela Cobbinah witnessed one of the daily demonstrations outside the court where on Tuesday an Argentinian TV channel filmed the event because of the apparent involvement of a Spanish company bugging Assange’s room at the Ecuadorian embassy on behalf of the CIA.

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