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Martin Sonneborn on Assange hearing: “Attempt to silence critical journalism”


Highlights: Martin Sonneborn on Assange hearing: “Attempt to silence critical journalism”. As of: February 24, 2024, 5:13 a.m Germany sends another warship to the Red Sea – frigate “Hamburg” with special armament. Russia openly threatens to shoot down NATO jets – read “return of particularly aggressive attitude” Is Putin sick? Ex-secret service chief gives insight: read ‘One of the symptoms’

As of: February 24, 2024, 5:13 a.m

By: Christine Grateful




Martin Sonneborn speaks in an interview about the Julian Assange hearing.

© Alberto Pezzali/Philipp von Ditfurth/dpa

The High Court in London decides on the extradition of Julian Assange to the USA.

EU parliamentarian Martin Sonneborn speaks about the case in an interview.

Mr. Sonneborn, you are at the extradition hearing for Julian Assange in London.

How has it gone so far? 

Sonneborn: Actually quite good.

There were two brilliantly argued pleas from Assange's lawyers.

I was in the courtroom and barely understood anything.

There were reports that the technology left a lot to be desired.

What the British are doing here borders on sabotage.

The world's most important trial involving press freedom - and they're going into the smallest courtroom you can find in the High Court.

The court has banned the granting of online access outside of England and Wales - so people from the USA, Australia and the EU could not connect.

And then there is just space for two dozen journalists on a gallery.

With live broadcast, postage stamp-sized heads on a screen, often without intelligible sound in the first half.

We were able to sneak into the hall; MP Sevim Dagdelen was sitting with the Assange family and ushered us in.

Germans abroad must stick together. 

Sonneborn on Assange: “Attempt to silence critical journalism”

The Assange case

The US charges against Julian Assange

for espionage and conspiracy threaten his personal integrity - and freedom of the press.

A hearing on Assange's extradition to the USA took place at the London High Court on February 20th and 21st.

This initially ended without a decision.

If extradited, Assange could face up to 175 years in prison.

The Frankfurter Rundschau

accompanies the Julian Assange case with analyses, comments and interviews.

They shed light on the background and provide an outlook on the events in London.

We bundle the texts in our online dossier on Assange.

What did Assange's lawyers say?

All arguments are on his side. - You have once again made it clear how insane it is to accuse a publicist for publishing true information, including American war crimes.

The whole thing is an attempt to criminalize and silence critical journalism.

Assange's information was in the Spiegel, the Guardian and the New York Times. 

Assange is accused of espionage.

What do you think?

Even if the accusation of espionage were considered justified, he would not be allowed to be extradited because this would violate the bilateral extradition treaty between the USA and Great Britain, which contains an express ban on political crimes.

Espionage is a political offense under British law.

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An Australian citizen is to receive 175 years in prison in the USA for exposing US war crimes.

I once recommended the film “Collateral Murder” on YouTube to my colleagues in the EU Parliament in a speech.

American soldiers can be seen randomly shooting civilians, children and journalists from a helicopter in Baghdad.

The people who committed these war crimes will not be prosecuted.

And the man who made this public has been rotting in six square meters of cells for five years.

Extradition hearing – Concern for Assange is great

Julian Assange himself was not there on Tuesday.

They said he was sick.

What do you know about his condition? 

There is great concern for him here.

He has been in a maximum security prison for five years now, with no valid legal basis.

Belmarsh, to make this a bit more descriptive, is the prison where the supervillains are imprisoned in the James Bond films.

Mostly in solitary confinement, with poor nutrition, British food is additional torture, as I'm just discovering again in London. 

At least he was still connected to the last trial, right?

Yes, there was a camera in the cell he was in.

Assange suffered a minor stroke during the trial.

It must be a terrible situation when you sit there and have to listen to lawyers negotiating with other lawyers about your own fate, and you can't even express yourself.

On Tuesday, a fancy cell was prepared for him in the courtroom, a wire cage. 

A wire cage?

Yes, you have to imagine it a bit like old Robin Hood films.

A late British Gothic room in which a few electric lamps were hung, a few malfunctioning microphones and a few blinds adorned in front of the high windows.

At the front left there were a few square meters, probably larger than his cell, which were cordoned off with massive black bars.

That's where Assange was supposed to be sitting.

The pleas argued that Assange was charged with a political crime and that Britain was not allowed to extradite him because of a related treaty with the United States.

What to expect for the second day?

On Wednesday, the American side presented its charges under the Espionage Act, a law dating back to World War I.

I actually don't see what could be big in terms of content.

Nevertheless, we know of course that the ultimate decision will be made in Washington to either stop this process or continue to the bitter end. 

“That’s not enough”: Sonneborn on the lack of support for Assange

Do you have the impression that the number of Assange's supporters has decreased?

In Germany, many of the leading Greens have virtually fallen silent.

What is it like in the European Parliament?

I think there are three MEPs here.

This is too little.

I saw Andrej Hunko and Sevim Dagdelen from the Bundestag and Jeremy Corbyn from the Labor Party.

It is very unfortunate that more politicians do not stand up for Assange.

It's about absolute fundamental rights, and it's about these Western values ​​that we always propagate loudly when it suits us.

Unfortunately, both Baerbock and Habeck, who had publicly called for Assange's release before taking over the government, immediately forgot their demands in their offices.

Fortunately, there were relatively many people on the streets in London. 

It was said in advance that Julian Assange could possibly be extradited to the USA in just a few days after the hearing.

How do you assess that?

So, from everything I've heard, I'm speculating that the Democrats don't want to have a third contentious issue before the presidential election in addition to the problem areas of Ukraine and the Middle East.

I believe that it will not be delivered for the time being.

Assange may remain locked in his cell until the US election.

Supporters demand freedom for Julian Assange.

But if he is not extradited to the USA after the hearing but remains imprisoned in Belmarsh, that will be anything but a victory.

On what legal grounds could one continue to hold him? 

The court can delay its pending decision indefinitely.

Assange has hardly any contact with his family.

He has two small children and a wife.

This is extremely stressful for everyone.

An example is being made here.

FR texts on the Assange case (selection)

- Portrait of Julian Assange: One man, many faces

- Commentary: The Assange case is a campaign against press freedom

- Essay: Art, protest and the Julian Assange case

- The USA and the Assange case: The dark side of power

- Analysis: What remains of Wikileaks?

- Retrospective essay: For Julian Assange it's now about everything

- Support: Protests in front of the magnificent London palace

- Politics: In the Assange case, the Greens are conspicuously silent


-Stella Assange: “Julian could be on a plane to the US the day after the hearing”

-Jeremy Corbyn: “The media is very disappointing”

Assange case: Every whistleblower will “think three times” in the future

What do you mean?

In the future, every whistleblower will think three times whether they really want to disclose government crimes.

But I think everyone understood that at this point, so: Free Assange!

There is a public interest in disclosing secret service and military crimes. 

We have published a 32-page brochure about the case, which can be downloaded from my homepage.

This is the only at least semi-official document from the EU Parliament in which Assange's name is even mentioned.

Otherwise, the major parties will keep him out of even the smallest mention in any sub-point, even the most unimportant resolution.

In our documentary, which unfortunately isn't satirical at all, just a bit polemical at times when the story got too stressful, it becomes clear that Mike "Fatty" Pompeo is waging a vendetta against him.

Mike Pompeo, the former secretary of state and former CIA director?


Assange has spread via Wikileaks that the CIA not only carries out mass surveillance and spying on governments and citizens around the world, but also - and this is against US law - its own American citizens.

It's capable of invading all computers and even taking over Internet-connected household devices, even steering your car or turning your refrigerator into a well-filled listening bug.

Pompeo took this personally, and the CIA then developed a plan to kidnap and murder Assange.

Approved by the White House.

How can you want to extradite a person to a country that was planning to murder him?

You said that at EU level they avoid mentioning Assange's name.

Why is that? 

I believe that at the moment under Ms. von der Leyen we are too close to the USA and NATO.

This is anti-European and contrary to the Treaty.

The Assange case is important to high government circles in the United States; all US presidents have pursued him, from Obama to Trump to Biden.

“There are two reasons”: Sonneborn is running for the EU Parliament again

One more question about your renewed candidacy for the EU Parliament.

What motivates you to do this – a last bit of idealism? 

There are two reasons why we are competing again.

The first is: We don't want to be thrown out the door.

The CDU and SPD have passed an electoral law reform that violates the constitution and is intended to keep us out of parliament using a threshold clause.

The real accusation: too bad jokes, too much transparency.

We are conducting organ dispute proceedings, and the Federal Constitutional Court recently informed President Steinmeier that he should not draw up the new electoral law for the time being.


I assume the accusation of transparency is more serious, right?

Exactly, and that is also the second reason: we can create transparency.

Your colleagues here in Brussels are not so terribly critical.

But we in the EU are moving more and more towards surveillance, non-treaty militarization and discrimination of opinions.

I would like to continue to make all such things transparent.

Interview: Christine Grateful

Source: merkur

All news articles on 2024-02-24

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