Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Baltimore Activist Alert - Part 4


48] Justice for Trayvon meeting – May 30

49] Occupy Bilderberg – May 31 – June 3

50] Protest Wal-Mart – May 31


52] James Fallows, a new book – May 31

53] MOBConf – June 1 – 3

54] The 12th Annual DC Caribbean Filmfest – June 1 - 4

55] Save a rec center – until June 8

56] CCAN internships


58] Sign up with Washington Peace Center

59] Join Fund Our Communities 

60] Submit articles to Indypendent Reader 

61] Donate books, videos, DVDs and records

62] Do you need a television and/or a computer?

63] Join Global Zero campaign

64] War Is Not the Answer signs for sale

65] Click on The Hunger Site 

66] Fire & Faith  

67] Join Peace Park Antinuclear Vigil


48] – There is an Organizing Meeting for Justice 4 Trayvon Martin Committee and Occupy 4 Jobs. This Special Session on a Peoples Assembly - Hearing – will present an update on West & East Baltimore cases on Wed., May 30 at 7 PM at the Solidarity Center, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore 21218.  Justice 4 Trayvon Martin Committee is convening a Baltimore Peoples Assembly -- HEARINGS ON POLICE ABUSE, RACISM & MISCONDUCT – on Sat., June 30 from 3 to 5 PM at Sharp Street Memorial United Methodist Church, Dolphin & Ettings Sts., Baltimore 21217.


HAVE YOUR RIGHTS BEEN VIOLATED!  It is critical to come to this hearing and testify before the People's Council.  Volunteers & student interns are needed. Call 410-500-2168 or email  Go to

49] –  Occupy Bilderberg 2012 is happening on Thurs., May 31 from 8 AM through Sun., June 3 at 11 PM at Westfields Marriot, 14750 Conference Center Dr., Chantilly, VA 20151.  Truth Exposed Radio, WeAreChange San Antonio and FunkMasterFive are uniting activist groups from around the world to finally expose the Bilderberg Group.  Go to

50] –  Respect DC Parade and Rally takes place on Thurs., May 31 from 11 AM to 1 PM at CDT,  801 New Jersey Ave. NW, WDC.  Help highlight Wal-Mart's 50 years of bad practices.  Go to

51] – In the spirit of African Liberation Day, IPS' Foreign Policy In Focus project will hold a screening of THE NEO-AFRICAN-AMERICANS, which is about how rapid, voluntary immigration from Africa and the Caribbean is transforming the "African-American" narrative, on Thurs., May 31 from 6 to 8 PM at IPS Conference Room, 1112 16th St. NW, Suite 600, WDC.  The documentary is a jump off point for dialogue about even the broader identity issues confronting all people of African descent worldwide. Following the film, the director Kobina Aidoo will be present.

These screenings are free and open to the public but a suggested $5 donation will be appreciated. Popcorn and beverages will be provided.  RSVP to

52] – On Thurs., May 31 from 6:30 to 8 PM at University of California - Washington Center, 1608 Rhode Island Ave. NW, WDC, join the World Affairs Council-Washington, DC as it hosts print and radio journalist, James Fallows, author of CHINA AIRBORNE, an illuminating peek into China's rapidly expanding air transport industry, networks and capabilities, and the central role it plays in enabling China's ambitious internal development and economic growth plans. Over the past ten years, air traffic has declined throughout most of the world, while in China it has more than doubled. But the Chinese are determined to be more than just customers. In 2011, China announced its twelfth "Five-Year Plan," which included the commitment to spend a quarter of a trillion dollars to jump-start its aerospace industry.  In China Airborne, James Fallows examines, for the first time, the extraordinary magnitude and scale of China's air transport project, highlighting how it is poised to catalyze the nation's hyper-growth and hyper-urbanization trends, revolutionizing China in ways analogous to the building of America's transcontinental railroad in the 19th century. This event is open to the public, but there is a $10 fee for non-members.  Members, students and teachers get in for free.  Visit or call 202-293-1031.



53] – Red Emma's is organizing Mobilizing and Organizing from Below, a multilayered, multifaceted conference starting Fri., June 1 through Sun., June 3. It begins Fri., June 1 at 8 AM and closes on Sun., June 3 at 8 PM at and around the 2640 Space, 27th and St. Paul St., Baltimore MD 21218.  Visit



There will be panel discussions and workshops on topics ranging from youth organizing to lessons from history, from the local struggle for living wage jobs in Baltimore to international solidarity with Haiti, Quebec and Greece.  Sessions will deal with personal issues, such as surviving sexual assault, coping with mental illness, and combating oppression based on race and sexuality, but from politicized standpoints.

MOBConf will be a weekend of intensive, horizontally-organized political education, in which we can share skills, analyze the problems we face, and pose difficult questions. It will also provide a space for people from different traditions to come together and recognize the depth of our similarities and the richness of our differences; a space for reflection and discussion, distinct from both the chaotic excitement of spontaneous mass actions and the intense demands of long-term organizing work.

54] – The 12th Annual DC Caribbean Filmfest in honor of Caribbean Heritage Month is happening from Fri., June 1 at 8:30 AM through Mon., June 4 at 8:30 PM at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, MD. This program of the Arthur R. Ashe, Jr. Foreign Policy Library acquaints people in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and beyond with African, Caribbean and Latin art and cultural traditions through films, presentations, discussions, and exhibits. For the festival schedule, visit or or call 202-223-1960 ext.13. 

The series advances TransAfrica's mission of disseminating information on issues of concern to Africa and its Diaspora. Centerpieces to the African World Film Series are three major festivals: the New African Films Festival co-sponsored by afrikafé and AFI; the DC Caribbean Filmfest co- sponsored by Caribbean Association of World Bank and IMF Staff (CAWI), Caribbean Professionals Network (CPN), Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS), and AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center; and the Washington African Diaspora Film Festival co-sponsored by the African Diaspora Film Festival.

55] – Help rally Baltimore citizens to support the DeWees Recreation Center for the opportunity to win $50,000 worth of renovations. The Rec Center is one of the oldest community centers in the city and offers an array of activities including sporting events, community meetings, homework assistance, acting courses, arts and crafts, water aerobics, cooking and nutrition classes, computer education, and photography classes to the Baltimore community. Viewers can vote online for one of 10 community centers, and the top three will receive renovations.  This will continue until Fri., June 8 at midnight.  Go to

56] – Do you want to fight global warming while gaining valuable grassroots organizing knowledge and experience? If yes, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network has the perfect internship for you. The group is currently hiring interns for the summer to work out of its Takoma Park and Richmond offices.   For ten years, CCAN has been working in Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. to fight climate change by standing up to polluters and working to pass clean energy policies. Bill McKibben called CCAN "the best regional climate organization in the world."  You can contact Chesapeake Climate Action Network by emailing or at P.O. Box 11183, Takoma Park, MD 20913 or at 240-396-1981.

57] – HELP MAKE PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST! Since a civil war in 1974 the island of Cyprus has been divided in two with a United Nations patrolled border.  Turkish/Muslim Cypriots are in the north; Greek/Christian Cypriots are in the south.  Animosities and prejudices run deep. Children throw rocks at each other across the border.  Experts believe that Cyprus is at a crossroads between renewed conflict or becoming an example in the Middle East of how two such cultures can live in peace.


The Cyprus Friendship Program, based on the successful model that helped build peace in Northern Ireland, brings over a Muslim and Christian teen to stay with an American host family for the month of July (or ½ month if paired with another host family). This bonding experience in a neutral environment almost always results in a strong friendship. Programming here and after their return to Cyprus turns them into peace builders who are trained in how to influence their peers.  The teens are chosen for their maturity, leadership potential, and English speaking ability. You choose the gender and age (from 15 to 17). To learn more contact Tom McCarthy at 301-774-7069 or


This video is only 3 minutes long but gives a good overview of the program. It was made by the US State Department This video is about 8 minutes, gives more info on some of their activities while here, and was made in part by the teens:  


58] – The Washington Peace Center has a progressive calendar & activist alert! Consider signing up to receive its weekly email:


59] – Fund Our Communities campaign – is a grass roots movement to get support from local organizations and communities to work together with their local and state elected officials to pressure Congresspersons and senators to join with Congresspersons Barney Frank and Ron Paul, who have endorsed a 25% cut to the federal military budget.  Bring home the savings to state and county governments to meet the local needs which are under tremendous budget pressures.  Go to      


60] – The new Indypendent Reader is seeking articles for its web site at  Submit an article. 


61] – If you would like to get rid of books, videos, DVDs or records, contact Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at 


62] – Can you use a television set and/or a computer, monitor etc.? Contact Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at 


63] – Join an extraordinary global campaign for the elimination of nuclear weapons: A growing group of leaders around the world is calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons and a majority of the global public agrees.  This is an historic window of opportunity.  With momentum already building in favor of Zero, a major show of support from people around the world could tip the balance. When it comes to nuclear weapons, one is one too many.  


64] – WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER signs from Friends Committee on National Legislation are again for sale at $5.  To purchase a sign, call Max at 410-366-1637.


65] – The Hunger Site was initiated by Mercy Corps and Second Harvest, and is funded entirely by advertisers.  You can go there every day and click the big yellow "Give Food for Free" button near the top of the page; you do not have to look at the ads. Each click generates funding for about 1.1 cups of food.  So consider clicking.  


66] – Go online for FIRE AND FAITH: The Catonsville Nine File. On May 17, 1968, nine people entered the Selective Service Offices in Catonsville, Maryland, and burned draft records in protest against the war in Vietnam. View


67] – Peace Park Antinuclear Vigil takes place every day in Lafayette Park, 1601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 24 hours a day, since June 3, 1981.  Go to; call 202-682-4282.


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to


"One is called to live nonviolently, even if the change one works for seems impossible. It may or may not be possible to turn the US around through nonviolent revolution. But one thing favors such an attempt: the total inability of violence to change anything for the better" - Daniel Berrigan

Meet the Little Girl Killed by a US Missile: Tracing One Tragic Story in Our Horrific Drone War

Meet the Little Girl Killed by a US Missile: Tracing One Tragic Story in Our Horrific Drone War

By Jefferson Morley, Salon
Posted on May 30, 2012, Printed on May 30, 2012

Around midnight on May 21, 2010, a girl named Fatima was killed when a succession of U.S.-made Hellfire missiles, each of them five-feet long and traveling at close to 1,000 miles per hour, smashed a compound of houses in a mountain village of Mohammed Khel in North Waziristan along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Wounded in the explosions which killed a half dozen men, Fatima and two other children were taken to a nearby hospital where they died a few hours later.

Behram Noor, a Pakistani journalist, went to the hospital and took a picture of Fatima shortly before her death, then went back to the scene of the explosions looking for evidence that might show who was responsible for the attack. In the rubble, he found a mechanism from a U.S.-made Hellfire missile, and gave it to Reprieve, a British organization opposed to capital punishment, which shared photographs of the material with Salon. Stafford Smith alluded to the missile fragments in an Op-Ed piece for the New York Times last fall. They have also been displayed in England.

“Forensically, it is important to show how the crime of murder happened (which is what it is here),” said Reprieve executive director Clive Stafford Smith in an email. “One almost always uses the murder weapon in a case. But perhaps more important I think this physical proof — this missile killed this child — is important to have people take it seriously.”

In the religious rhetoric used by  Al-Qaida’s online allies, Fatima was a “martyr.” In an statement quoted by Long War Journal, the al-Ansara forum said the senior al-Qaida commander Mustaf abu Yazid had been killed in a “convoy of martyrs on the road with his wife and three daughters and his granddaughter, men, women and children, neighbors and loved ones.” But Fatima was not Yazid’s daughter, according to Noor who reported from the scene. She was the daughter of another man who lost two wives and three children in the barrage.

In the euphemistic jargon of Washington, Fatima was “collateral damage” in the successful effort to assassinate Yazid, an Egyptian jihadist also known as Saeed al-Masri. In disregard for the official secrecy that envelopes the drone war, U.S. intelligence officials leaked the classified details of the attack, telling the New York Times that they considered Yazid  to be al-Qaida’s “No. 3 leader.” Relying on similar sources, the Washington Post that al-Masri was the group’s “chief organizational manager. Unlike other news organizations reporting on the attack, neither the Post or the Times mentioned that women and children had been killed in the attack.

(In news reports published before the Post and Times stories,CNN cited Pakistani intelligence officials as saying that two children and two women had been killed in the attack. Dawn, a leading Pakistani news site, reported three children and two women, had died. Reuters quoted residents saying four women and two children were killed.)

Some might say that Yazid invited the killing of his wife and children by travelling with them while allegedly plotting attacks on U.S. targets. But Fatima was not his child. She was just a girl in the neighborhood who came into the crosshairs of the CIA.

“It seems easy to say it was children of a terrorist rather just children of anyone else,” said Shahzad Akber, a Pakistani lawyer who represents families of the drone victims. “For us it is difficult to say otherwise. How do we question that because the CIA, who is [doing the] killing, is not sure either.”

Whether Fatima was murdered, as Stafford Smith alleges, has yet to be determined. But the responsibility for the chain of events that culminated in her death are becoming clearer as the mechanics of the drone war continue to emerge.

The Hellfire Romeo

The laser-guided missile that killed Yazid, Fatima and the others was probably made at Lockheed Martin’s “Mission and Fire Control” facility in Troy, Alabama. The Hellfire missile, the most often cited weapon used in drone attacks, is produced in a factory located 30 miles south of Montgomery. The plant, which employs 271 people and is a mainstay of the local economy, produces a wide variety of missiles for the U.S. Armed Forces. The latest version of the missile, known as the Hellfire Romeo,  “defeats a broad range of targets,” according to Lockheed Martin.

The missile destined to land in Mohamed Khel was then shipped by plane to a base in Afghanistan where U.S. airmen fitted the missile onto the fuselage of another technological miracle, the Predator B drone (also known as the MQ-9 Reaper) built by Pentagon contractor General Atomics. Assembled at three different General Atomics factories in San Diego, this mammoth unmanned aircraft with a 66-foot wingspan was first deployed to Afghanistan for combat sorties in Oct. 2007, according to the company.

But the CIA had obtained its own Predator for use in armed attacks in Pakistan as early as 2002, according to news reports. Because of the need to officially deny U.S involvement in Pakistan, the CIA — not the U.S. Air Force — runs the drone program in Pakistan. The CIA now controls a fleet of up to 30 drones worldwide, according to a  Washington Post story last year. The Federation of American Scientists says the CIA fleet includes several Predators/Reaper drones.

The CIA flight crew that sent the armed Reaper aloft in May 2010 was probably operating out of a U.S. air base in Afghanistan. Once in the air, the drone was probably controlled by a two-man crew sitting at an ergonomically adjusted ground control station in a CIA office in northern Virginia. Former CIA counsel John Rizzo told Daily Beast reporter Tara McKelvey last year that he had witnessed drone attacks at such an office. The drone operators acted on the orders of senior Agency officials, he said.

In the first officially sanctioned public description of how the drone attacks work, White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said last month that individual targeted for assassination must actively involved in a plot to attack American forces, facilities or other targets. “The intelligence is vetted at high levels, and the decision to fire a missile is made with “extraordinary care and thoughtfulness,” he said.

In his interview with McKelvey, Rizzo said that he had signed off on CIA cables from requesting “approval for targeting for lethal operation.” Rizzo, who resigned as general counsel in June 2009, said the cables provided a space for his signature, along with the word “concurred.” A typical cable targeted 30 people, he said. “The agency was very punctilious about this,” Rizzo said. “They tried to minimize collateral damage, especially women and children.”

The CIA general counsel at the time of the attack that killed Yazid and Fatima was Rizzo’s successor, Stephen Preston, appointed by President Obama. In a talk at Columbia University Law School last October, Preston insisted that all decisions in cases of lethal force complied with  “the four basic principles in the law of armed conflict governing the use of force: Necessity, Distinction, Proportionality, and Humanity.”

“Great care would be taken in the planning and execution of actions to satisfy these four principles and, in the process, to minimize civilian casualties,” he said in remarks that were cleared for release by the CIA.

“To enforce the law”

What specific actions U.S. officials believed Yazid was planning in May 2010 have not been disclosed but Yazid was public in his desire to retaliate for U.S. drone strikes. He had praised the “supreme bravery” of the suicide bomber who killed seven CIA employees at the U.S. airbase in Khost in December 2009 to avenge the death of a Pakistani militant leader in a previous CIA drone strike.

Whether CIA officials watching Yazid’s convoy on live video feed on the afternoon of May 21, 2010 knew that it carried women and children is not known. So it is impossible to know if “great care” was taken to prevent the death of Fatima and the other children in the convoy. The presence of non-combatants in the immediate vicinity of targeted individuals has not prevented other CIA drone attacks in the past, most notoriously in the case of a June 2009 drone attack on a funeral ceremony that killed an estimated 60 people.

In the face of persistent complaints from Pakistani government and near universal opposition in Pakistani society, the U.S. has since reduced the number of drone attacks. After a peak of 118 reported attacks in 2010, attacks declined to 70 in 2011, according to the New America Foundation in Washington. So far in 2012 there have been 14 drone attacks in Pakistan, the most recent coming on Monday in which eight people were reported killed, none them named or identified.

Civilian casualties from U.S. drone attack are “exceedingly rare,” Brennan said in his public comments, a characterization that critics hotly dispute with hard data and eyewitness testimony. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which monitors news reports of drone strikes says 175 children have been killed in CIA drone attacks in Pakistan since 2004. Using a different methodology, the New America Foundation estimates that  11 percent percent of all victims in 2011 were civilians. Akbar’s Foundation for Fundamental Rights says U.S. attacks “frequently hit civilians.”

Stafford Smith says Reprieve hopes to end the drone attacks by publicizing evidence from the scene of the strikes and taking legal action.

“Not all drone use is a war crime,” he said in his email, “but what is happening in Waziristan most definitely is — as was Nixon’s illegal war in Laos and Cambodia 40 years ago — so we will be pressing to enforce the law.”

In response to questions about the Hellfire missile debris found at the scene of May 2010 attack, a Lockheed Martin spokesperson referred Salon to a U.S. Army Public Affairs office in Alabama near the factory where the missiles are built. Salon has asked the Army if the serial numbers found near the place where Yazid was killed and Fatima was fatally injured came from missiles built  in Troy. The Army has yet to reply.

In response to questions from Salon, a CIA spokesman cited Stephen Preston’s remarks, added some “off the record” observations about Yazid, but otherwise declined to comment.

 Jefferson Morley is a staff writer for Salon in Washington and author of the forthcoming book, Snow-Storm in August: Washington City, Francis Scott Key, and the Forgotten Race Riot of 1835 (Nan Talese/Doubleday)

© 2012 Salon All rights reserved.
View this story online at:

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


Julian Assange loses extradition case



Julian Assange loses extradition case – live coverage

• WikiLeaks founder given 14 days to decide whether to ask supreme court to reopen the case

Gareth Peirce, a lawyer representing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, addresses the media outside the supreme court this morning. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images


8am: Good morning. The supreme court will rule this morning on whether Julian Assange should be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault. The WikiLeaks founder denies the accusations.

The judgment will be announced at 9.15am. Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, the president of the supreme court, will give a summary of the point of law raised by the case, the court's decision, and a brief explanation of why it has reached that decision.

Today's ruling does not deal with the substance of the accusations – which relate to a trip Assange took to Sweden in 2010, after which he was accused by two women with whom he had had sex of four offences of unlawful coercion and sexual misconduct including rape.

Instead it relates to one specific question: can a prosecutor rather than a judge legally order someone's extradition?

In Britain generally only judges can approve arrest warrants. But the warrant for Assange was issued by Sweden's public prosecutor, as is normal there.

Assange's lawyers argue that the Swedish system is unfair because it puts the power to issue arrest warrants in the hands of the same prosecutors who are trying to put the accused person in jail.


After a court ruled in February 2011 that Assange should be sent to Sweden to answer the accusations against him, the WikiLeaks founder appealed, lost, and then took the case to the supreme court. This February the supreme court heard two days of dense legal argument about whether a Swedish prosecutor constitutes a judicial authority under the European arrest warrant framework and the Extradition Act 2003, which incorporates it into British law, along with discussions of the history of the European arrest warrant framework going back to the 1957 European convention on extradition. (I live-blogged those two sessions in exhaustive detail here and here.)

Julian Assange and his QC Dinah Rose at the supreme court in February. Photograph: Sky News

Assange's QC, Dinah Rose, argued that the European arrest warrant's use of the term "judicial authorities" was meant to mean a judge or magistrate, and not a prosecutor, who is not independent. For Sweden, Clare Montgomery QC argued that the term "judicial authorities" was always meant to encompass prosecutors in some EU countries, and there was no requirement for the figure issuing the warrant to be independent.

If Assange loses today he can appeal to the European court of human rights. The ECHR will then respond within 14 days.

If it decides to take the case, it can also order "interim measures" to stay Assange's extradition until the case is heard.

However, the Crown Prosecution Service says that if the ECHR agrees to take the case it will not extradite him until the case has been heard, with or without interim measures: "If the ECHR takes the case then his current bail conditions would remain in force and he would remain in the UK until the proceedings at the ECHR have concluded." That could be months away.


However, it seems unlikely that the ECHR would agree to take the case. Barrister Carl Gardner of the Head of Legal blog told the Guardian that such an application would be a "steeply uphill" struggle for Assange:


His argument could only be that extradition (an application against the UK would have to be about the extradition itself) would breach article six [of the European convention on human rights – the right to a fair trial] indirectly, because a trial in Sweden would be a "flagrant denial of justice" - more than just an ordinary unfair trial.


The only time I think the ECHR has ever said extradition/deportation/removal on these grounds would be in breach is I think Abu Qatada's case this year, in which it said the risk of use of evidence gained by torture would be a flagrant denial of justice. Assange's complaint would be much less powerful than that.

Assange may choose not to appeal to the ECHR. A source close to the WikiLeaks founder told the Guardian during February's supreme court hearings that he was unlikely to do so.


If the ECHR refuses to take the case Assange will be extradited to Sweden "as soon as arrangements can be made", the CPS says. Once in Sweden, Assange would probably be kept in custody - bail does not exist there - and if he is charged a trial might begin in a few months.

If Assange wins, however, he will not be extradited, and the system of European arrest warrants will be thrown into doubt, because many European countries have a system similar to Sweden's.


8.46am: Karen Todner of Kaim Todner Solicitors, which has fought many extradition cases, has told the Associated Press she thinks Assange's prospects of success have increased:


When he first started out, I thought: "He hasn't gotten much of a chance," but now I'm much more hopeful. I would say that in the last few months there has definitely been a swing in favor of defendants in relation to extradition.


But she suggested that if Assange wins Sweden could reissue the extradition warrant through a judge.

And a spokewoman for Sweden's prosecutors told Reuters that if he wins the Swedish arrest warrant will still be valid in any other European country bar Britain.

In Stockholm, former senior prosecutor Sven-Erik Alhem expressed frustration with the delays, saying that European arrest warrants "should work efficiently and rapidly" and that he was surprised that the legal wrangling in Britain had dragged on for a year and a half. "If I were in his shoes, I would have been going to Sweden at once to get rid of this horrible situation where an investigation has been going on for so long," Alhem said.

8.52am: Esther Addley tweets from the supreme court:

esther addley @estheraddley

Team #Assange - Vaughan Smith, Gavin McFadyen, John Pilger, Kristin Hrafnsson - arrive at court. I haven't seen JA tho assume he's here

30 May 12


9.00am: Owen Bowcott tweets from the supreme court:

Owen Bowcott @owenbowcott

More cameras than pro-Assange demonstrators outside. Usual Rolls Royce service inside supreme ct as machinery of justice glides into place.

30 May 12


9.03am: Esther Addley tweets from court:


20-30 journalists in court, all on laptops, iPads, smartphones. Similar scene on public benches too, obv. #Assange

30 May 12


9.08am: The live feed from the supreme court has begun. You can watch it here.

A Julian Assange supporter outside the supreme court in London today. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA


9.12am: BBC News is showing pictures of pro-Assange supporters outside the supreme court, carrying placards backing the WikiLeaks founder.

9.15am: Dinah Rose QC and Assange's legal team are taking their seats.

9.17am: All rise as the justices enter the court.

9.17am: Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, the president of the supreme court, begins speaking.

He says the Swedish extradition request has raised a point of law for the court to address. That has nothing to do with the actual accusations against Assange, he says.

9.18am: Phillips runs through the brief recent history of the European arrest warrant system.

This introduced a new rule whereby the state requesting extradition no longer had to prove the case to the other state.

9.20am: Phillips says the point of law - does a prosecutor have the right to order extradition or must that be done by a judge - had not been simple to resolve and the decision on the supreme court was 5-2.

9.20am: In French the words judicial authority can be used to mean a public prosecutor, Phillips says. Many countries use public prosecutors. The majority of justices agree that this means a public prosecutor is included in the Extradition Act.

9.22am: Lady Hale and Lord Mance did not agree, he says.

9.22am: That means Julian Assange has lost his case.

9.22am: The Swedish public prosecutor is a judicial authority. The request for Assange's extradition has been lawfully made and his appeal has been dismissed, Phillips says.

9.23am: Dinah Rose QC, for Julian Assange, says she has not had time to study the decision properly yet but she says it means that a majority of members of this court have made their decision based on the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties - but that was never brought up at the time, she says.

She is considering an application to argue that this matter should be "reopened", Rose says.

9.24am: Lord Phillips gives her two weeks to make an application to reopen this case.

9.25am: Rose asks if the extradition can be stayed for two weeks too. Phillips says that is a reasonable request and grants that.

9.27am: Assange was not in court today.

9.31am: The supreme court has just sent its full judgment. The press statement reads:

The issue is whether an European arrest warrant ("EAW") issued by a public prosecutor is a valid Part 1 EAW issued by a "judicial authority" for the purpose and within the meaning of sections 2 and 66 of the Extradition Act 2003.

By a majority the court has concluded that the Swedish public prosecutor was a "judicial authority" within the meaning of both the framework decision and the Extradition Act.

It follows that the request for Mr Assange's extradition has been lawfully made and his appeal against extradition is accordingly dismissed.

It adds:

The supreme court by a majority of five to two (Lady Hale and Lord Mance dissenting) dismisses the appeal and holds that an EAW issued by a public prosecutor is a valid Part 1 warrant issued by a judicial authority within the meaning of section 2(2) and 66 of the 2003 Act.

9.34am: Here are the supreme court's reasons for its judgment:

Article 34 (2)(b) of the Treaty on European Union provides that framework decisions are binding on member states as to the result to be achieved but that national authorities may choose the form and method of achieving this. For the reasons given by Lord Mance in his judgment the supreme court is not bound as a matter of European law to interpret Part 1 of the 2003 [Extradition] Act in a manner which accords with the framework decision, but the majority held that the court should do so in this case.

The immediate objective of the framework decision was to create a single system for achieving the surrender of those accused or convicted of serious criminal offences and this required a uniform interpretation of the phrase "judicial authority". There was a strong domestic presumption in favour of interpreting a statute in a way which did not place the United Kingdom in breach of its international obligations.

An earlier draft of the framework decision would have put the question in this appeal beyond doubt, because it stated expressly that a prosecutor was a judicial authority. That statement had been removed in the final version. In considering the background to this change, the majority concluded that the intention had not been to restrict the meaning of judicial authority to a judge. They relied, as an aid to interpretation, on the subsequent practice in the application of the treaty which established the agreement of the parties. Some 11 member states had designated public prosecutors as the competent judicial authority authorised to issue EAWs. Subsequent reviews of the working of the EAW submitted to the European council reported on the issue of the EAWs by prosecutors without adverse comment and on occasion with express approval.

Lord Phillips felt that this conclusion was supported by a number of additional reasons: (1) that the intention to make a radical change to restrict the power to issue EAWs to a judge would have been made express, (2) that the significant safeguard against the improper use of EAWs lay in the preceding process of the issue of the domestic warrant which formed the basis for the EAW, (3) that the reason for the change was rather to widen the scope to cover some existing procedures in member states which did not involve judges or prosecutors and that the draft referred to "competent judicial authority" which envisaged different types of judicial authority involved in the process of executing the warrant.

Lord Dyson preferred not to infer the reasons for the change and did not find the additional reasons persuasive. Lord Walker and Lord Brown also found these reasons less compelling. Lord Kerr relied on the fact that public prosecutors in many of the member states had traditionally issued arrest warrants to secure extradition and a substantial adjustment to administrative practices would have been required.

Parliamentary material relating to the debates before the enactment of the 2003 Act were held by the majority to be inadmissible as an aid to construction under the rule in Pepper v Hart [1993] AC 593, given the need to ensure that the phrase "judicial authority" had the same meaning as it had in the framework decision. Lord Kerr remarked that that it would be astonishing if parliament had intended radically to limit the new arrangements (thereby debarring extradition from a number of member states) by use of precisely the same term as that employed in the framework decision.

Lord Mance, dissenting, held that the common law presumption that parliament intends to give effect to the UK's international obligations was always subject to the will of parliament as expressed in the language of the statute. In this case, the correct interpretation of "judicial authority" in the framework decision, a question of EU law, was far from certain. Thus if parliament had intended to restrict the power to issue EAWs to judges or courts, that would not have required a deliberate intention to legislate inconsistently with the framework decision. As the words in the statute were ambiguous, it was appropriate to have regard to ministerial statements, and those statements showed that repeated assurances were given that an issuing judicial authority would have to be a court, judge or magistrate.


Lady Hale agreed with Lord Mance that the meaning of the framework decision was unclear and that the supreme court should not construe a UK statute contrary both to its natural meaning and to the evidence of what parliament thought it was doing at the time.


9.42am: Legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg was just on BBC News talking about the request by Julian Assange's QC, Dinah Rose, for two weeks to decide whether to ask the supreme court to reopen the case. He said:

This is a very unusual thing. It's not happened since this court was set up. It happened in the Pinochet case in the House of Lords. Very unusual, and means there's everything left to play for still.


He said that since Assange was not in court his lawyers had not been able to take instructions from him yet regarding what he wanted them to do. "We're waiting to see what he says. In the meantime he can stay in this country for at least two weeks, while they consider making this unprecedented application to reopen the case on the basis that it was decided on a point of law in the Vienna Convention on the Interpretation of Treaties that was simply not argued by either side and which the court gave no notice to either the Crown Prosecution Service, representing the Swedish authorities, or Mr Assange's lawyers, that they were considering taking into account."


Rozenberg added:


It would be very embarrassing if the supreme court felt the need to reopen the case and it's extraordinary, isn't it, that they might have considered something which they gave the parties no opportunity to argue. From time to time judges do their research and they add points, minor points, that have not been considered, but it appears that the decisive point in this case was one that wasn't argued, and that's something which is pretty unusual, and that's what prompted this unexpected intervention from Dinah Rose which took Lord Phillips so much by surprise that he mixed her up with the other counsel, Clare Montgomery.

10.04am: Here is a summary of this morning's events:

• Julian Assange has lost his appeal against extradition to Sweden at the supreme court. By a majority of five to two, the justices decided that a public prosecutor was "judicial authority" and that his arrest warrant therefore had been lawfully issued.

• But lawyers for the WikiLeaks founder were given two weeks to decide whether to challenge one of the points made in the judgment, and Assange's extradition will be stayed at least until then. Dinah Rose QC, for Assange, said that the justices had made their decision based on the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties - but the provisions of that convention had not been raised during the hearing.

• Legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg said this meant there was "everything to play for still", and it would be "very embarrassing" if the supreme court had to reopen the case on the basis that "they might have considered something which they gave the parties no opportunity to argue".

• In brief, the judges ruled that the the UK had signed up to the European framework on extradition in order to help create a single system for surrendering accused people, and that it was always intended that the11 EU member states that allow prosecutors to issue extradition orders – as Sweden, but not the UK, does – would be able to continue doing so.

• Lord Mance, one of two dissenting justices, said the wording of the framework decision was ambiguous and so it was appropriate to consider what ministers said at the time, which was that it would be a judge, court or magistrate that issued the order.

• Assange was not in court. His solicitor, Gareth Peirce, told the Guardian's Owen Bowcott that he was stuck in traffic.

10.29am: My colleague Esther Addley has been speaking to Gareth Peirce, Julian Assange's lawyer.

Peirce said that Assange's team will ask the supreme court to reopen the case based on the fact that the justices made their decision based on the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, which was not discussed in court.


If that fails, Assange's supporter John Pilger, the Australian journalist, told Esther that his team would appeal to the European court of human rights.

Peirce told her it was premature to say that before domestic legal routes had been exhausted. "It's fair to say that the mood within the Assange camp is to take this as far as they can," Esther said.


The supreme court has just put out this statement:

Following this morning's judgment by the supreme court of the United Kingdom in Assange v The Swedish Prosecution Authority, Ms Rose (counsel for the appellant, Mr Assange) has indicated that she may make an application to reopen the court's decision.

Ms Rose suggested that the majority of the court appear to have based their decision on the interpretation of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, on which no argument was heard and no opportunity of making submission was given.

The supreme court has granted Ms Rose fourteen (14) days to make such an application. If she decides to do so, the justices will then decide whether to reopen the appeal and accept further submissions (either verbally through a further hearing, or on paper) on the matter.

We will keep you updated on progress with this application and the justices' consideration of any such application.

With the agreement of the respondent, the required period for extradition shall not commence until 13 June 2012, the 14th day after judgment in accordance with section 36(3)(b) of the Extradition Act 2003.

10.59am: The full judgment makes several references to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (to recap, Assange's team plan to ask the supreme court to reopen the case now because this convention was not discussed during the supreme court hearing in February). The convention was adopted in 1969 and codifies the principles of international treaties.

• On page 25 of today's judgment, Lord Phillips, the president of the supreme court, notes that the convention allows judges to consider how a treaty has been implemented in practice in order to interpret its intentions. He uses this principle to point out that EU member states, the European commission and European council have all acted as if the extradition agreement allowed prosecutors to issue extradition orders.

• On page 49, Lord Walker says he finds the above point "determinative" in his rejection of Assange's case. On page 53, Lord Kerr also uses the Vienna convention as evidence in rejecting Assange's case. Lord Dyson does the same on page 61.

• However, on page 77, Lady Hale, one of the dissenting justices, makes some points which may be similar to any case Assange's team may make if the case is reopened. Hale notes:

Article 31.3(b) of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties provides that there shall be taken into account, along with the context, "any subsequent practice in the application of the treaty which establishes the agreement of the parties regarding its interpretation". While the practice need not be that of all the parties to the treaty (as in this case it obviously is not) the practice has to be such as to establish the agreement of all the parties as to its interpretation.

Given the lack of common or concordant practice between the parties, is the failure to date of those countries which do not authorise prosecutors and other bodies to object to those who do sufficient to establish their agreement? Nobody in this country seems to have addressed their mind to the issue until it arose in this case. Failure to address minds to an issue is not the same as acquiescence in a particular state of affairs. Subsequent practice does not give support to the respondent's extreme position and there has been no consideration of the principles which might distinguish some prosecutors from others. This seems to me to be a rather flimsy basis on which to hold that we are obliged to construe a United Kingdom statute contrary both to its natural meaning and to the clear evidence of what parliament thought that it was doing at the time.

• And on page 94 Lord Mance claims "suspect practice consisting of the use and nomination of executive authorities by a few states cannot come near establishing 'the agreement of the parties regarding [the] interpretation of the Framework Decision' within the meaning of article 31.3 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties."

So it seems there is plenty of scope for legal argument on this point should the case now be reopened.

11.10am: Jago Russell of campaign group Fair Trials International has attacked Sweden over its use of pre-trial detention. Russell said: "Although Sweden is rightly proud of its justice system, its overuse of pre-trial detention means that, if extradited, he is likely to be imprisoned and placed under extremely restrictive conditions."


The charity also summarised what would happen to Assange if he is extradited:


Mr Assange will be arrested on his arrival in Sweden and taken to a Swedish police station. Within 96 hours of being detained he will be brought to court, for a decision as to whether he should be remanded in custody until trial … This hearing is normally in private, unlike in many other countries, including the UK, where such hearings are normally in open court. As soon as the investigation is over, a decision will be taken about whether to formally charge him. Swedish law requires a person to be physically present before charges can be laid, so this can only happen once Mr Assange is on Swedish territory. Alternatively, prosecutors may decide not to charge Mr Assange and to release him.


Fair Trials International is calling for reform of the European arrest warrant system to guard against its "abuse and overuse" and wants the EU to legislate "to require all EU countries to respect basic fair trial rights and ensure people are not kept in pre-trial detention for excessive periods".

11.26am: Here is a clip from this morning's hearing.

11.29am: A Liberal Democrat peer and MEP has attacked the length of Julian Assange's court case.

Lady (Sarah) Ludford, MEP for London, says that one of the positive aspects of the European arrest warrant is its "making extradition to trial quicker and less bureaucratic." But:

Lengthy court proceedings like this on procedural issues however defeat the objective, with justice delayed being justice denied.

It might therefore be helpful if EU legislation was clearer on definitions such as "judicial authority", although it is difficult to do so without encroaching on national competence for criminal justice systems.

She says she is going to ask her fellow MEPs to raise the judgment with the European commission and the European council.


11.40am: Here is the Guardian's interactive history of the supreme court.

11.52am: WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson has blamed Washington for today's ruling. "This is not the final outcome. What we have here is retribution from the US," he said, according to Reuters.


Claes Borgstrom, the lawyer who represents the two Swedish women who accuse Assange of sex crimes, dismissed such claims in comments to the Associated Press. "He is not at a greater risk of being handed over from Sweden than from Britain," Borgstrom said.


Per Samuelson, one of Assange's two Swedish lawyers, said he was confident his client would be cleared if he had to go to Sweden. "I feel a strong conviction that he will, in Sweden, in due time, one way or another, be vindicated - he will be exculpated and acquitted ... I look forward to this with confidence," he told Reuters.


12.30pm: My colleague Owen Bowcott reports that Assange's lawyers can begin appealing against the judgment to the European court of human rights at the same time as requesting the supreme court reopen the case.

12.40pm: Joshua Rozenberg has the inside story on how Dinah Rose's "quick legal footwork" ensured Julian Assange a two-week stay of extradition this morning.

The judges had been warned that Dinah Rose QC, his fearless counsel, wanted to address the court. But they were not prepared for what she had to say.

That was largely their own fault. Normally, draft judgments are circulated to counsel up to a week before delivery. That enables the lawyers to point out minor errors: a name mistyped, a date wrong and so on. It's something of a safeguard for the judges. But since it was the WikiLeaks man whose appeal they were hearing, the supreme court justices were taking no chances. To avoid leaks, lawyers were not shown the judgments until 8.30 this morning.


That was just enough time for Rose to work out that the court had based its reasoning on a point that had never been argued at the two-day hearing in February. Assange, who didn't turn up for the judgment, knew nothing of what was being done on his behalf.


He also gives a rough summary of what might happen when Assange's team asks the supreme court to reopen the case:

In the end, the judges may decide that they were entitled to take the Vienna convention into account. In that event, they would presumably confirm the decision they delivered today. But given two weeks to prepare her case, Rose could well come up with other arguments. In the meantime, Assange can stay in the UK.


2.02pm: Julian Assange's lawyer Gareth Peirce is quoted in this story by Owen Bowcott and Esther Addley:

The majority of the judges believe that parliament was seriously misled when it approved the European arrest warrant system. Parliament thought a "judicial authority" meant a judge or court but the majority of supreme court judges based their decision on what is the practice in Europe and decided it on the basis of the Vienna convention, which was never argued before the court.


Veteran Australian journalist John Pilger, a supporter of Assange's, was also quoted. He was putting a brave face on today's events:


I don't think this judgment is a blow. We are disappointed but it came so close. Three of the judges [who found against Assange] were tipping in our favour.

There was a consensus [on the bench] that parliament had been misled on this law. The court has now agreed to allow Julian Assange's legal team to go back and reconsider this. This case moves in mysterious ways and we are about to move into another mysterious stage of this whole unnecessary process.


2.09pm: Julian Assange has tweeted his response to today's ruling:

Julian Assange @JulianAssange_

We got the news not hoped for

30 May 12


2.11pm: With that I'm going to draw this blog to a close. Many thanks for all your comments. See you next time.


Posted by

Paul Owen

Wednesday 30 May 2012 09.12 EDT



© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.


This article was published on at 09.12 EDT on Wednesday 30 May 2012. It was last modified at 09.13 EDT on Wednesday 30 May 2012. It was first published at 03.08 EDT on Wednesday 30 May 2012.

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