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The horrifying silence of the Belgian mainstream media on Assange*.

As on every Monday, a rally in support of Julian Assange will be held at Place de la Monnaie in Brussels from 5 to 6.30pm (as well as at Place de l’Ange in Namur).

Newsletter 33 Julian Assange:

- After 10 months of waiting, a judge at the Court of Appeal in London refuses, with arguments of rare indigence, to allow Assange to appeal. An appeal against this decision is still possible within 5 days. The result will be a public hearing at which Assange’s lawyers will have a maximum of 30′ and 20 pages to express themselves …

- At a time when calls are multiplying around the world for US President Joe Biden to order the prosecution to be dropped, Belgian media management is conspicuous by its astonishing silence.

1) Developments

It took almost a year for a London Court of Appeal judge to reject Assange and his lawyers’ request to appeal. For the record, the Court of Appeal had already ruled in favor of the USA on the issue of Assange’s health in the event of extradition. But after this initial setback, Assange’s lawyers appealed against the other part of the ruling, relating to the political nature of the US extradition request, which infringed freedom of expression and freedom of information. This appeal brief was around 100 pages long and broke down into 12 grounds for appeal. It also included new information that had come to light in Assange’s favor. Like the admission, by a key US witness against Assange, that he had lied. Or information on the espionage to which Assange and his lawyers were themselves subjected by the American services. Or about plans for Assange’s abduction or assassination by the US services when he was a refugee confined to the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

In a twenty-page judgment, Mr Justice Swift of the London Court of Appeal quickly and summarily sweeps all these grounds under the carpet. It therefore refuses to allow Assange’s appeal to be lodged, heard and processed. 

In short, » he says, « there is no reason to re-examine the first judgment, no reason to think that it is wrong, or that the new elements are interesting and relevant. In any case, the first judgment was amply detailed and argued, and there is no reason to reconsider it. Period. Without further argument.

Perhaps we were foolish to think it could be otherwise? The previous stages had already shown all the distortions and contortions that British judges could indulge in? And so the impression of constant smoke and mirrors continues… which at the same time serves to justify the prolongation of an incredibly harsh detention for a journalist, a political prisoner in a supposedly democratic state. Some observers also point to the strong ideological affinities of a judge who, in the recent past, validated the British government’s plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda (in return for payment), which was subsequently halted by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Then there are the peculiarities of British procedure, where the possibilities for in-depth review on appeal are in fact much more limited than on the Continent. The judge here isn’t really saying anything about the merits, but he is saying that in fact there is no fundamental matter to appeal (which is already a bit of the merits, … hard to understand, by the way). It’s a kind of filter. So we won’t talk about it. Game over.

A second ruling was handed down, as the defense had also challenged the Home Secretary’s extradition decision, deeming it contrary to the extradition treaty between the UK and Great Britain. This appeal was also rejected.

The appendix contains

- An excellent article by Tareq Haddad, (who meticulously archives all trial documents on his website)



- An excellent Dissenter article which, in addition to the ruling, also describes the ideological « connections » of Judge Swift who wrote the ruling;



A final appeal remains possible against these decisions, which would then have to be examined by two other judges of the same Court. It must be submitted within 5 days, and the judge specifies that it must not exceed 20 pages, and that the public hearing devoted to it may not exceed 30′.

A similar situation arose in the summer of 2021. The United States, for its part, had obtained a review of the first judge’s decision, which rejected extradition solely on the grounds of health and risk to Assange’s life. The U.S. lawyers then filed a request for appeal, based on 5 arguments. A first judge had agreed to appeal two of them. Two other judges then extended the list to include all 5 arguments. The discrimination with the current situation — refusal to hear the slightest argument from the defense — is thus flagrant.

If the High Court judges uphold Judge Swift’s first decision next week, there will be only one appeal — unlikely to succeed — to the Supreme Court. Then, if all Assange’s legal options in Britain are exhausted, the case should be taken to the European Court of Human Rights. The latter could possibly issue an injunction to suspend extradition before examining the case. But it is by no means certain that the UK would comply with an ECHR ruling.

2) The main Belgian media are silent in all languages about Assange

Surprisingly, even four days later, the major Belgian media have yet to report on this latest development. Thus persists their serious and widespread indifference to Assange’s treatment, which should concern them first and foremost. This indifference is confirmed by their silence in the face of Julian Assange’s defense committees.

On April 16, 2023, the Free.Assange.Belgium committee and Belgium4assange sent a letter to the directors and editors of numerous Belgian media, both French- and Dutch-speaking.

The request was very simple. They offered to sign a letter addressed to the President of the United States, Joe Biden, asking him to put an end to the prosecution of Julian Assange and thus bring about his immediate release. This letter is attached. To make things easier, the committees offered to practically take charge of such a grouped shipment to the White House, without adding any comments of their own.

In doing so, the leading Belgian media would also have joined the growing number of media outlets around the world that have taken this simple step.

The committees sent these Belgian recipients a reminder on April 28, 2023.

Seven weeks later, they have received no reply. Not only was there no response in the sense of acceptance or refusal, but not even a single acknowledgement of receipt. Neither on the French nor on the Dutch side

A deafening silence. Embarrassment? Contempt? Unconsciousness? the reader is the judge. 

For our part, we simply have to point out that the management of the main Belgian media is giving a distressing picture of one of the weakest links in the mobilization in support of Assange. Even media outlets that were hardly sympathetic to the journalist Julian Assange and his struggle have come to understand the seriousness of what is at stake in the prosecution and Assange’s fate for the whole of information and freedom of expression.

In Belgium, no. By the time they realize this — if they ever do — it will be too late.

  • The title is from the editorial team. This silence comes as no surprise to us, unlike the author of this newsletter. 

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