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Monday, 7 September 2020

Julian Assange recruited teenager, 17, to hack his own former WikiLeaks associate and delete online chats, court hears, as judge refuses to delay his US extradition hearing any further despite last-ditch legal bid (23 Pics)

Julian Assange recruited a teenager to hack into the computer of a former WikiLeaks associate and delete messages relating to him, allegations filed against him by the US have claimed.
The activist today lost a last-ditch legal bid to have his extradition case at the Old Bailey delayed because of the fresh '11th hour' allegations as his lawyers complained they were 'abnormal and unfair'.
Prosecutors claim Assange, 49, who appeared in court for his hearing, met the then 17-year-old in 2010 in Iceland, who gave him data stolen from a bank.

According to an updated opening document, submitted by the US but not outlined by representatives in the Old Bailey on Monday, Assange later directed the teenager to target a former WikiLeaks associate.
'In September 2010, according to a human source, and as corroborated by the records of online chats between Mr Assange and that source, Mr Assange directed Teenager to hack into the computer of an individual formerly associated with WikiLeaks and delete chat logs containing statements of Mr Assange,' the document said.
Julian Assange, pictured in May 2019, faces 18 charges in the US - including plotting to hack computers and conspiring to obtain and disclose national defence information
Julian Assange, pictured in May 2019, faces 18 charges in the US - including plotting to hack computers and conspiring to obtain and disclose national defence information
'When Teenager asked how that could be done, Mr Assange wrote that the former WikiLeaks associate could "be fooled into downloading a trojan", referring to malicious software, and then asked Teenager what operating system the former WikiLeaks associate used.'
Defence lawyers said Teenager was previously referred to in court documents as 'Iceland1' and was convicted in Iceland of fraud, theft, and impersonating Assange.
Mark Summers QC told the court: 'The FBI were kicked out of Iceland by the Icelandic authorities because it was thought they were using Teenager to frame Mr Assange.'
The fresh allegations relating to the teenager form part of a new indictment against Assange lodged in June, which supersedes the previous 18-count indictment in the case, although the charges remain the same.
He and others at WikiLeaks are alleged to have recruited and agreed with hackers to commit computer intrusion between 2007 and 2015 using the organisation’s 'Most Wanted Leaks' - a 'wish list' including US military and intelligence documents up to the 'Secret' level.
The new allegations include claims a television network was hacked days after it aired a documentary about WikiLeaks, which included claims Assange intentionally risked the lives of named sources.
John Shipton, Mr Assange's father, was seen arriving at the Old Bailey today ahead of his son's extradition hearing
John Shipton, Mr Assange's father, was seen arriving at the Old Bailey today ahead of his son's extradition hearing


Assange is also accused of providing a list of targets to the leader of the hacking group LulzSec and attempting to assist Edward Snowden to avoid arrest, while he was in Hong Kong, after leaking NSA documents.
His lawyers say those claimed to be 'co-conspirators' have already been the subject of trials in the UK and the US a decade ago.
Around 100 demonstrators set up outside the court this morning, including fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, who was wearing bright yellow football boots. 
Assange, who has been in high-security Belmarsh Prison for 16 months, is wanted in the US over the publication of hundreds of thousands of classified documents in 2010 and 2011.
Defence solicitors however failed in their attempt to have fresh allegations ruled out at today's hearing.  
Mr Assange's father, John Shipton, and partner Stella Moris, greeted one another outside the court
Mr Assange's father, John Shipton, and partner Stella Moris, greeted one another outside the court
This morning the 49-year-old appeared in court for the first time in months, for the hearing of an extradition application from the United States where he is facing 18 charges - including plotting to hack computers and conspiring to obtain and disclose national defence information. 
Appearing in court clean shaven with spectacles perched in his short cropped hair, Assange spoke to confirm his name and date of birth at the start of the hearing.
He formally said he did not consent to extradition, following a fresh indictment lodged in the US.  
Mark Summers QC, defending, said the 'fresh allegations at the 11th hour' were brought without warning or explanation, giving the defence no time to properly prepare a response before the extradition hearing.
He highlighted the difficulties Assange faced in speaking to his lawyers in the midst of ongoing restrictions.
Julian Assange appeared in court for the first time in months today, after being taken to the Old Bailey from HMP Belmarsh
Julian Assange appeared in court for the first time in months today, after being taken to the Old Bailey from HMP Belmarsh
'It would be an impossible task for the defence to deal with these fresh allegations in any meaningful way in the time that has been afforded to them and that time is a matter of weeks in respect of which we are provided absolutely no explanation for the late arrival of these matters.'
He added: 'What is happening is abnormal, unfair and liable to create injustice if allowed to continue.'
District Judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected the defence bid to 'excise' the allegations, saying: 'These are issues which must take place in the context of considering the extradition request and not before it.'
Mr Summers then saw an attempt to adjourn the hearing denied, after he requested it to 'enable us to gather the evidence necessary to deal with the fresh allegations which have now emerged'. 
Earlier, Assange stood in the dock of Court 10, wearing a smart dark suit, maroon tie and white shirt. 
The allegations include that Assange conspired with army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to crack a scrambled password, known as a 'hash', to a classified US Department of Defence computer.
If convicted, he faces a maximum possible penalty of 175 years in jail.
Mr Shipton spoke to crowds outside the court in London on Monday, before his son's extradition hearing got underway
Mr Shipton spoke to crowds outside the court in London on Monday, before his son's extradition hearing got underway
Assange's legal team has accused the Trump regime of targeting him for 'political' reasons
Assange's legal team has accused the Trump regime of targeting him for 'political' reasons
Mr Summers added: 'This is a very clear case of fundamental unfairness being visited upon the defence by the arrival of fresh allegations at the 11th hour.
Highlighting some of the allegations, he said: 'Stealing data from a bank, asking somebody to intrude and steal information from another country - I think we now know that's Iceland - tracking police vehicles, directing somebody to hack the computers of individuals, some cyber security company.
'In June 2013 - and the dates are going to be important - assisting a whistleblower [Edward Snowden] then in Hong Kong attempting to evade arrest. How that is said to be criminal is anybody's guess.
'How much of this is said to be criminal activity is anybody's guess.
'They are manifestly not criminal.
'How it satisfies dual criminality is even more difficult to ascertain, a non US national living outside the US to engage somebody to intrude into the computers of Iceland, it is with respect difficult to see how it could survive any sensible transition exercise.
'That's all the new conduct that has landed in the past six weeks.'
Mr Summers told the court the defence team only heard about the latest allegations through a press release.  
Lawyers for Assange tried to have new allegations ruled out of the extradition hearing, after arguing they arrived at the '11th hour'
Lawyers for Assange tried to have new allegations ruled out of the extradition hearing, after arguing they arrived at the '11th hour'
Australian campaigner John Pilger joined Mr Shipton as a district judge denied Assange's defence team's attempts to have fresh allegations ruled out
Australian campaigner John Pilger joined Mr Shipton as a district judge denied Assange's defence team's attempts to have fresh allegations ruled out
The defence solicitor said it would be a 'barrier to real justice,' if the allegations were allowed to continue in court.
Assange sat cross legged with clasped hands two rows behind US government lawyer Joel Smith, as he told the judge: 'The defence submission must fail.
'The jurisdiction to excise that which may affect it does not exist in the shape and form the defence claim.
'The defence is contrary to what this court is mandated to do.
'The defence want you to take a knife to the request.
'The statue mandates you to consider that.
'If needed the defendant can seek more time.' 
Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood joined protesters outside the Old Bailey demonstrating against the potential extradition of Julian Assange
Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood joined protesters outside the Old Bailey demonstrating against the potential extradition of Julian Assange
Assange's legal team has accused the Trump regime of targeting him for 'political' reasons after WikiLeaks exposed alleged war crimes and human rights abuses.
Dozens of supporters, including his father John Shipton and fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood, protested outside court before the hearing began. 
Mr Shipton described the extradition hearing as an 'abuse trial', adding: 'The insistence, the malice that constantly falls like a Niagara upon Julian is just appalling, and indicates to us that the administration of justice here is enfeebled.'
A mobile billboard van drove past featuring a 'Don't extradite Assange. Journalism is not a crime' slogan and a picture of his face.
Assange's partner Stella Moris, who has two children with him, was in court after visiting Downing Street in a bid to deliver a Reporters Without Borders petition against the extradition, which has been signed by around 80,000 people.
The extradition case was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic in May.
Demonstrators held up signs outside the Old Bailey, while inside, Julian Assange told a judge he did not consent to extradition
Demonstrators held up signs outside the Old Bailey, while inside, Julian Assange told a judge he did not consent to extradition
Dozens of witnesses are expected to be called to give evidence over four weeks, with the judgment likely to be delivered at a later date.
Assange has been held on remand in Belmarsh Prison since last September after serving a 50-week jail sentence for breaching his bail conditions while he was in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for almost seven years. 
Inside the court District Judge Vanessa Baraitser said Edward Fitzgerald QC, for Assange, and James Lewis QC, for the US government, are not to repeat their earlier submissions to the court but they are 'to be tested and challenged in what they have said.'
Mr Fitzgerald has argued extradition should not be granted because it is essentially a political crime which would not be covered by the UK/US extradition treaty. 
As protesters gathered outside the Old Bailey, defence solicitors for Assange argued against fresh allegations made against the WikiLeaks founder in June
As protesters gathered outside the Old Bailey, defence solicitors for Assange argued against fresh allegations made against the WikiLeaks founder in June
Mark Summers, defending, said allegations made in an indictment in June are 'manifestly not criminal'
Mark Summers, defending, said allegations made in an indictment in June are 'manifestly not criminal'
Assange's partner Stella Moris and human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson arrived at the Old Bailey today. Ms Moris has handed in a Reporters Without Borders petition with 80,000 signatures against the extradition
Assange's partner Stella Moris and human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson arrived at the Old Bailey today. Ms Moris has handed in a Reporters Without Borders petition with 80,000 signatures against the extradition
Assange is also fighting the extradition on the basis he would likely receive a life sentence on conviction which would be 'inhuman and degrading' for someone 'with his mental vulnerabilities'.
His team stated there was a risk Assange would take his own life if extradited.
Defence solicitors say Assange would be denied the right to a fair trial in the US and claim a trial would be a 'flagrant violation' of his right to protect journalistic sources.
Mr Lewis' skeleton argument stressed the issues raised by Assange's team should be dealt with at his eventual trial and not by an extradition court.
He said in the document: 'It is not a trial of the facts or issues, which the defence are endeavouring to make it. The sole questions are whether the statutory requirements of the Extradition Act 2003 are satisfied.
'No issue of abuse arises.
'The defence cannot run a political motivation argument whilst simultaneously running the same argument as an abuse of process.
'It is clear beyond argument that there is an overwhelming case of computer misuse and disclosure of classified sources. These are serious crimes and the prosecution is undertaken by independent prosecutors in the United States of America.' 
Vivienne Westwood joined Assange supporters outside the Old Bailey wearing yellow football boots
Vivienne Westwood joined Assange supporters outside the Old Bailey wearing yellow football boots 
Addressing crowds outside the court, Mr Shipton said: 'Julian has two young children, what concerns me today is the rights of those children.'
As he showed crowds a picture of Assange and his partner Stella Moris, Mr Shipton said: 'Julian hasn't seen those children for six months.
'They weren't allowed to embrace their father under the regulation that if they touched each other Julian would have to spend two weeks in self-isolation, in quarantine, in jail, as if circumstances are not dire enough.'
Protesters gathered outside the Old Bailey and listened to speeches ahead of the WikiLeaks founder's extradition hearing
Protesters gathered outside the Old Bailey and listened to speeches ahead of the WikiLeaks founder's extradition hearing 
Demonstrators roared in applause as speeches demanded the Government free Assange, while some banged drums and carried banners
Demonstrators roared in applause as speeches demanded the Government free Assange, while some banged drums and carried banners


Demonstrators roared in applause as speeches demanded the Government free Assange, while some banged drums and carried banners.  
Dame Vivienne Westwood told the PA news agency: 'I'm an activist, I am very frightened, I've lost days and years of sleep worrying about Julian Assange.
'Julian Assange is the trigger, he is shining the light on all the corruption in the world.'
She added: 'We've got to protect human rights, the establishment is corrupt, they will not listen to Julian.' 
Supporter Lise Brand, 56, from Surrey, said: 'He is looking at 175 years in American prison, I don't hold any hope.
'The UK government and justice system has treated him so badly.' 
Stella Moris brought her partner's press card with her as she arrived at Downing Street to deliver a petition earlier on Monday. Last month she launched a Crowdjustice campaign to help raise money for his defence
Stella Moris brought her partner's press card with her as she arrived at Downing Street to deliver a petition earlier on Monday. Last month she launched a Crowdjustice campaign to help raise money for his defence
Last month, Assange's partner Stella Moris launched a Crowdjustice campaign to help fund his defence which has now topped £100,000.
Speaking on Sunday, Ms Moris, who has two young sons with Assange, described the possible impact on their family.
She said: 'To the boys, Julian has become a voice on the telephone, not their father whom they can see and hug.
'It is heartbreaking to think that if Julian is extradited and put in a US super-max prison, the boys will never get to know their father and he will never see them grow up.
Westwood donned a white hood with 'justice' written across the front as part of today's protest
Westwood donned a white hood with 'justice' written across the front as part of today's protest
Demonstrators protesting the potential extradition of Julian Assange have gathered outside the Old Bailey this morning
Demonstrators protesting the potential extradition of Julian Assange have gathered outside the Old Bailey this morning
The Socialist Equality Party set up among the crowd outside the Old Bailey on Monday morning
The Socialist Equality Party set up among the crowd outside the Old Bailey on Monday morning
'That is what is at stake for us as a family. But there are also much bigger issues that we are fighting for.
'Julian's case has huge repercussions for freedom of expression and freedom of the press. This is an attack on journalism.
'If he is extradited to the US for publishing inconvenient truths about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan then it will set a precedent and any British journalist or publisher could also be extradited in the future.'
The extradition case, which was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, is being heard by District Judge Vanessa Baraitser at the Old Bailey.
It is expected that dozens of witnesses will be called to give evidence over four weeks, with the judgment likely to be delivered at a later date.
Protesters wearing Anonymous masks held up placards calling for Julian Assange's freedom
Protesters wearing Anonymous masks held up placards calling for Julian Assange's freedom
Activist and writer John Rees spoke outside the court building in London, ahead of the extradition hearing
Activist and writer John Rees spoke outside the court building in London, ahead of the extradition hearing
Assange's legal team is being spearheaded by Edward Fitzgerald QC, with James Lewis QC acting for the US authorities.
No journalists are allowed in court for the hearing because of Covid-19 restrictions, with some observing by videolink from another room in the building and others provided with a remote link.
District Judge Vanessa Baraitser warned against a repeat of an incident at an earlier hearing in Woolwich Court Court in which a photograph of Assange in the dock was taken and posted on social media, against strict court rules.
The judge added that she had revoked access to the remote video link to some individuals who had been sent it 'in error'.
Assange has been held on remand in Belmarsh prison since last September after serving a 50-week jail sentence for breaching his bail conditions while he was in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for almost seven years.
Westwood arrived in a striped jumper and bright yellow football boots, carrying a ball with 'justice' written in red
Westwood arrived in a striped jumper and bright yellow football boots, carrying a ball with 'justice' written in red 
Wikileaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said he was 'hesitant to be hopeful' as Julian Assange's fight against extradition began at the Old Bailey.
Addressing supporters outside court, he said: 'But hope is not enough, we need to fight for the justice.
'We need to show our determination to have this extradition hearing dismissed because the future of journalism is at stake.'
He described a video of a Baghdad airstrike that was leaked by Wikileaks, in which two Reuters journalists were killed, adding: 'It is the most important fight, it's the most important fight of the century when it comes to journalism.
'Let's keep up the fight, let's stay strong, let's not rely on hope, let's fight for justice.'
The hearing continues. 

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