The following is a first hand account of Julian Assange’s hearing on January 23rd by Monika Karbowska of Wikijustice from France. It was translated from French using the program Deepl so there are a few minor errors.
My ninth trip for an audience of Julian Assange at the Westminster Magistrates' Court takes place on January 22nd as always on the Flixbus with poor migrants but this time under the sign of increasingly violent emotions: anger, exasperation and psychological fatigue. I am an activist, and my emotions open the way for me to reflect on the ethical appropriateness of my actions. Emotions are the sign of our humanity, but also the compass that keeps our citizen indignation intact and subtly directs our intuition towards solutions for analysis or action. This time my emotions show me that we have reached a point of no return, a tipping point, a change of cycle. Today, to shed light and win the battle, to really free Julian Assange, we need to reverse the virtual storytelling that Wikijustice does, but also understand the symbolic nature of reality in order to wrest from it the signs of real power.
I am exasperated because moving the hearing from January 14 to January 13 at the last minute required a great deal of physical and organizational effort on our part. But it also upset the schedule set on 19 December for this last “case management hearing” scheduled for 23 January. While we had hoped that Julian Assange would appear physically to participate fully in the organization of his trial, we must accept that it is possible that the rumors that he will only appear on video are true. But precisely, I no longer believe in explanations that are never official, rational and justified. Justice by “videolink” is for me an aberration and a serious violation of the ECHR, which defines a fair trial as a physical trial. But as human rights texts are only respected in the capitalist system if citizens use them, it is unfortunately not the East European migrants extradited en masse by the Westminster Court who will be able to assert these rights in the total absence of British organisations. In the case of Julian Assange every hearing marks a step in the recomposition of power in this case. Each element gives us clues as to the real power and that is why I am obliged to note all the details while remaining open to all solutions. Including the good news of the immediate release of Julian Assange, which, let us remember, is legally possible with a lawyer who would apply for release and a judge who would want to show that he or she is independent of political power.
So I imagine Julian Assange just walking out the court door as a free man. I imagine shaking his hands and telling him all about what happened here. I also imagine everything that will be required to immediately deal with his new situation as a Commonwealth undocumented migrant released after 10 years of actual detention.
Julian Assange after the hearing of 13 January
Power and hierarchy in a queue
In this state of mind, between anger and hope, I get up at 5:00 a.m. and arrive at 5:30 a.m. in front of the courthouse door. I now know that the “Greekemmies” arrive even earlier and that places are more and more expensive in this audience. Indeed, our team is in place at 5.40 am, but there are already 3 people in front of us: an Australian journalist, an elderly lady who turns out to be a psychiatrist who signed the “Doctors for Assange” list and Paul, who more than ever, this morning, looks like an understudy for Julian Assange. He’s sitting in a folding chair, a clever idea after his malaise the week before. Everyone turns out to be French-speaking, and in a later conversation with Paul I learn that he spent his last summer in France with his bicycle. So we talk, we have to keep politeness despite the tension and fatigue, because we are, alas in theory, allies for a cause but in reality at odds because of our differences in strategy.
This is what Dr. Felicity De Zulueta talks to me about for several hours, introducing me to her collaboration 20 years ago with the lawyer Gareth Peirce, and to her own work as an expert with political refugees, even if later I find on the internet only the trace of her real specialty – the trauma of abused children. I tell her that she will be shocked, that one does not come out of such confrontations unscathed, even a non-physician like me sees the symptoms of torture that Julian Assange suffered. Dr. De Zulueta nods. She knows that the situation is bad, she has read the report of the doctor from Wikijustice. She appreciates the quality of his work. I explain to her that Wikijustice has always wanted to collaborate with the relatives of Julian Assange and had proposed, as early as July 2019, to the lawyers to discuss the best strategic coordination to be implemented for optimal support of the political prisoner Julian Assange. It is the lack of response and the violence that characters such as Greekemmy inflict on us under the impassive eye of the lawyers that made us take a more radical direction. Without forgetting the SOS letter we received from Julian Assange on 17 August 2019, which gives us the DUTY and not just the right to do everything possible to save him.