My trip in Europe and the 7 and 8 of September in the Old Bailey
Deepl Translation from French
This difficult trip to Europe from September 3 to 11, 2020 was in many ways a feat. I could never have imagined, when a year ago I decided to take a closer look at the English courts where Julian Assange was to appear, that the following year I would be travelling the familiar roads of Europe in an atmosphere of health apocalypse, intense political tension and the destruction of a way of life, values, legal systems, and everything that has made up our culture. I am obliged to place the trial of Julian Assange in the context of this form of collective suicide of our societies that is in reality the « coronavirus crisis » and to link the two phenomena, even if some will think that it is exaggerated, and that the persecution of an innocent man has nothing to do with the deaf atmosphere of fear in which millions of us have been living for the last 6 months. Too bad. This is my vision and my analysis. What little freedom of expression we have left, I use it fully and without masks before they are able to gag us and lock us up for good.
I left France with relief on September 3, feeling, for the first time in my life, that the country I chose to live in 28 years ago has been transformed into an open-air psychiatric hospital. The cynicism of the politicians competed with the price of violence with a hideous police and hygienist dictatorship imposed by illegal decrees by authoritarian prefects in the purest Vichy tradition. The West has already experienced many periods of madness – the last and most destructive was the collective madness of fascism and the war of the 1930s and 40s, but 1914-18 as the collective suicide of European culture was also significant. The Yugoslavs of 1990-98 were accused of « committing suicide of their Nation », but today’s Westerners can no longer serve as a model of democracy and reason for anyone! The date of Julian Assange’s trial struck me, September 7, 2020 being the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the « Blitz » – Operation Seelöwe, Hitler’s planned invasion of Britain, replaced in extremis by 57 days and nights of continuous bombing of British homes and factories by Nazi aviation. This date is also the symbol of the Resistance of the English people to fascism, and the beginning of the end of the victorious march of German Nazism on Europe. If the British elites have decided to cast a veil of oblivion over this date, it has not escaped me thanks to authors like Joshua Levine .
Imposition of the compulsory mask everywhere in the streets, parks, gardens, suburban fields, offices, workshops, transport, stores, the rare cultural and social places still resistant … 22H out of 24 for many proletarians. Wearing a muzzle mask preventing breathing and expression for all children and young people in France, chicanes and punishments for those who ask to have their say. Children excluded from school because of pseudo covid tests, deprived of education due to school closures that are completely illegal under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, not to mention our Constitution and other fundamental texts… Police prohibition of gatherings and demonstrations. Paris city is empty again, because nobody wants to walk around with a muzzle and fear in their stomachs to see the cops coming to fine you for not being physically fit. The bars on the banks of the Seine empty again of young people even though they are the rare places where you can remove for an hour or two our symbol of submission to Macron and the covidian ideology. How to kill economically, socially and politically a city, a nation, a country. I felt the atmosphere heavy with police threats and I was looking forward to airing myself elsewhere. But I hadn’t yet seen the real state of Europe…
Germany Declares Embargo on France
The day before my departure I consult the website of the German embassy in France and I have the unpleasant surprise to read that our powerful neighbor has decreed France a pestiferous zone and imposed a quarantine on travelers coming from the Ile de France, the South of France and the West Indies. How do the Germans intend to check who comes from where, knowing that public transportation (trains and buses) to their homes leave from Paris? The German government site does not provide details. As always in the covid affair, media discourse and real police violence take the place of law, the rule of law has been relegated in our countries to the status of a memory of the « old times » as opposed to the « New World » that the left is still hoping for.
The answer was given to me the next day in the heavy atmosphere of shouting, insults and tension that reigns at the low-cost Bercy station now in the hands of the German monopoly company Flixbus. 25 people are waiting to board the Paris-Berlin, in the dirt of a station that has never been cleaned and suffocating under the obligatory mask obstructing their airways, while the two Polish bus drivers shout directives and threats in bad English. We wait for an hour standing like docile cattle who don’t know what sauce they will be eaten with. The drivers forbid us to put our bags in the bus luggage because of new « measures » from Germany declaring France a « red zone », we have to show our identity papers to the drivers first and fill in a strange « Passenger Locator Card » certificate. This A4 sheet of paper talks about « special rules » (special standards) which now apply to passengers from France declared « high risk area » by the « authorities of Germany » (who?). We have to fill in the form because omitting or hiding information can be punished by a « fine of 25 000 Euros ». The form requires to know where we come from, our names and dates of birth, our nationality, our telephone number, the address where we will stay and the addresses where we will be going in the next 14 days. At the bottom I see a « covid health » questionnaire – do you have fever, cough, loss of taste and smell. The last question asks if you have had the covid test, what was its result and in which country it was done!
People are as if stunned by the violence of the charge, sensing the monstrous illegality of the thing, but not being able to defend themselves as hostages of the Flixbus firm that can refuse them to travel. A man nevertheless protests that he has paid for his ticket and that there is no question of him not getting on the bus. The two Polish drivers, a man and a woman, are visibly terrorized themselves but fulfill their role as kapos by shouting violently at the man, calling private security guards from the station and threatening that the « Polizei » will take care of him in Berlin if he does not fill out the form. I am very worried and upset, especially since a rude Ukrainian woman is pushing me in the back to pass me in front. But I calm things down by speaking softly in Polish to the two drivers. My words bring a little humanity in this madness and the woman ends up doing her job and check in the passengers, their luggage and install them in the bus. She ends up making us fill in the forms and takes them from our hands (I don’t fill in the addresses and the « did you get the covid » part. After all I bought a ticket to Poland, Germany is only a transit). We leave relieved. While Flixbus has condemned the toilets because of « coronavirus », the Polish driver ends up behaving like a real professional: he knows that they are transporting humans and not a load of cattle in a leaded wagon over 1300 km from Paris to Berlin. Once far from Bercy, he opens the door to the toilets so we can use them. He even stops in the night on a highway area for a break forbidden by his employer. All the masks fall off during the night, and I am relieved to see the marked but human face of the woman driver so stressed.
Violations of Rights in Europe
I then review the Flixbus form and any violations of the laws immediately jump out at me. The form does not mention any institution: which institution in Germany has decreed France as a « high risk zone »? On what legal basis? A decree? A law? A circular? One is not allowed to threaten people with punishment or fines just like that on a piece of paper without any in the head of a public institution and to make the employees of the private company, in this case Flixbus, bear the responsibility for the threats. Flixbus as a private company is guilty of many violations of rights by forcing its customers to provide it with information as sensitive as the state of health of its customers (« did you have cough, fever, did you do the covid test and what was the result »?), their residential addresses in several countries, their phone numbers. I suspect that the « Polizei » that serves as a scarecrow is a storytelling designed to scare us, as often in both the Assange and Covid cases. Indeed, we cross the border without any control by the border police, who don’t seem to want to participate in arbitrary measures of « Covidian » madness. She leaves that to the employees of Flixbus…
We are two hours late when we arrive in Berlin the next morning. I have only one hour left for my bus to Poland. But as we arrive at the ZOB « (Zentraler Omnibus Banhof), a disturbing event occurs: the bus enters the station parking lot, turns a little and then goes back out again. The passengers get up from their seats worried: where are we being taken to, locked in this metal box?
The bus bypasses the ZOB and a kind of « camp » appears, made up of white tents behind security barriers guarded by men in uniform. Later I will see that the camp was stamped « Deutsches Rotes Kreuz », German Red Cross. The bus stalled in front of the camp without opening the door and the « policemen » approached. The passengers panic. The Polish driver is afraid. She lets go of « Polizei Polizei », shouts that we are not going to get out if we do not obey and if we do not do the covid test, while handing out the famous forms. In fact, they are private security guards, obviously migrants. I turn to the driver and tell her in Polish that I am not going to Germany but to Poland and that in this case forcing people to take a medical test is illegal. Her colleague then opens the door and everything goes very quickly. I get out first and run to the private security guard. I shout to him in German, my ticket in hand, « I’m not going to Germany but to Poland, my bus is leaving right now! « He looks me in the eyes and he understands that I understood: « Take your luggage and save yourself » he shouts to me. I don’t ask for anything else, I grab my backpack and run with all my strength to put as much distance between me and the bus as possible. I run into the parking lot of the ZOB. A man comes up to me and asks me if I am « from Paris ». I am afraid he is an undercover cop and I say « nein »! At all costs not to be identified with France, the country of the pestiferous!
I can only rest when I see that life is going more or less normally in this big train station in the capital of Germany. Almost no masks, except on the buses when getting on, a pizzeria that works, travelers who behave normally, far from the madness in which we have been living for the last 6 months in France. The bus to Poland is almost empty, the driver is relaxed. A 70-year-old Polish co-traveller tells me about her life in the town of Police, a large industrial city on the outskirts of Szczecin, a mecca for the chemical industry built by Popular Poland and privatized for the benefit of the German oligarchs. She tells me that her family from the « East », the Ukrainian territories, rebuilt the city from ruins, but also used the houses and objects of the former German inhabitants driven out of Potsdam by the Allied decisions. In one hour I am entitled to a beautiful humanistic reflection on the madness of the war, those who suffered from it on both sides of the German-Polish border now on the Oder and on reconciliation between peoples. She is proud to tell me her story as a Polish worker and also to call herself « anticlerical » by announcing the non-religious marriage of her daughter, which for a Polish woman is an important mark of left-wing convictions. Poland as this woman presents it to me fills me with happiness and love. It is this Poland that I would like to see revived in freedom and dignity.
We are in an acute phase of the struggle – the dictatorship that is descending on everyone’s personal life makes it no longer possible to close our eyes to this hideous face of capitalism. The Polish Facebook groups « Stop the Health Dictatorship » and « Commission of Inquiry into the Abuses of the Health Dictatorship » have tens of thousands of Poles who suddenly awaken to civic life when they discover that the remnants of their personal freedoms are being abolished, that people die in front of the doors of public hospitals because doctors refuse to treat them « without covid test nothing is possible », that children are mistreated and even tortured by school directors when they can no longer stand the mask 8 hours a day. Children are also already excluded from school immediately for not wearing the mask. Polish parents must accept that their children are taken away from them and placed in « institutions » if they have a fever or a cold… or are deprived of school, a serious violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Suddenly the citizens, deprived of citizen’s rights, find themselves confronted with the need to fight for this citizenship and the European revolt in Berlin on August 29th was the starting point of this insurrection.
Precisely the formular of Flixbus violates several rights guaranteed by the European Charter of Fundamental Rights: Article 3 which guarantees the right to integrity and in particular the « free and informed consent » of the person « in the field of medicine and biology », Article 6 guaranteeing « liberty » – (what about the practice of bringing captive persons in a metal box for a forced test other than a deprivation of liberty?). Then there is Article 45 guaranteeing « the right to move and reside freely within the Union space » and finally, the important Article 8 on « protection of personal data » stipulating that personal data may only be collected within the framework of the Law and on the basis of the person’s consent and with a guarantee of access to this data. Flixbus has absolutely NO right to collect as a private company these personal data on the health and location of citizens traveling in the EU. But there are so many Fundamental Human Rights violated since the deprivation of liberty of 400 million Europeans called « confinement » by the Covidian propaganda that all the levees between democracy and dictatorship are easily breached… Also these arbitrary practices violate articles 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (right to liberty), article 13 (right to freedom of movement), article 12 (protection of privacy) . Even the Lisbon Treaty that we on the left have criticized so much is blithely violated, especially Article 2 ensuring « the free movement of persons »! The UN Covention Political and Civil Rights has also been violated by the policy of pseudo-sanitary confinement of the population (Article 12 guaranteeing freedom of movement within the framework of one’s country) while mandatory covid tests violate Article 7 of the Covention « In particular, it is prohibited to subject a person without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation ». Moreover, while the Convention allows exceptional derogations in case of « serious threat to the life of the Nation », they can only be limited in time and above all do not concern articles as fundamental as the prohibition of medical experiments .
It is also necessary to underline how much the embargo policy to which Germany subjects France with the pseudo health argument is also a violation of the equality between the States supposed to be guaranteed by the European Treaties… The French people are presented by the propaganda of powerful States such as Germany as dangerous for the « health » of Europe as if they were carriers of the contagious disease of revolt! In September 2020, the spectre of the Vienna system of 1815, when the reactionary kingdoms united for 100 years to isolate France guilty of Revolution, looms over Europe! In this atmosphere of madness it is not surprising that the city of Szczecin, formerly a large industrial port, now landlocked and decrepit, seemed to me on September 4, 2020 a haven of peace. I hadn’t forgotten, however, that the only protests during the closure of the whole of Europe in March and April took place right here: in the cities on the German-Polish border, desperate citizens braved the police in forbidden demonstrations because the closure of the border had deprived these cross-border workers of their livelihood. Depriving people of a livelihood: another violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose articles 23 and 25 guarantee the right to work and the right to a decent income!
The End of the Rule of Law in Europe?
Faced with so much arbitrariness I was not at all sure I would be able to cross back through Northern Europe and arrive in England for the trial of Julian Assange as I left Szczecin accompanied by the Polish left-wing activist Basia W. The familiar Poland-Germany-Belgium-Belgium-France route that I have known by heart since I was born seemed to me to be suddenly full of pitfalls and dangers. Before leaving we fill in the obligatory form to return to Great Britain with our telephone numbers, our residence and stay addresses and the numbers of relatives « to be contacted if you have infected someone with the coronavirus » even though we are not as Poles subject to quarantine.
If the journey from Szczecin to Berlin was without problems, Berlin without tourists, empty restaurants on a Saturday evening of the first weekend of September seemed strange and sinister to me. The inhabitants, even in revolt, even unmasked in the streets, even without the alarmist announcements in the transport system (« against the coronavirus together let’s stay mobilized » in the Parisian subway strangely echoing the terrorist attacks of 1995), remained calm at home. The Berlin-Rotterdam bus was therefore almost empty too. Driven by a Polish driver who was as scared as those on the Paris-Berlin route, our bus was stopped in the middle of the night by an unmarked car in the middle of the countryside. We were ordered to get out and lined up in a row by two tall blond men in civilian clothes and armed like the French « baqueux » (violent special police). In this agonizing atmosphere we didn’t even know where we were, in Germany or the Netherlands.
The men, without any police insignia, (they could very well have been highway robbers or mafia guys) were questioning the travelers about their destination in Rotterdam and the reasons for their trip and stay. Arbitrary and totally illegal, especially since they are not Border Police. A mother who had left her three small children on the bus was ordered to extract them in order to present them to the « cops » outside. Before my turn, I ask the Polish driver how he knew that those who order him to stop in the middle of the night are indeed policemen, because « it’s scary to see them stop like that on the road ». The driver pointed to the light panel on the back of the car « police follow me », which seemed to me to be a very light sign of recognition. He added: « And again, you haven’t seen what they are capable of doing! During my previous trip they lined us up with the luggage as if they were going to shoot us »! The word is pronounced, anxiety rises. Having perhaps heard this exchange, the Dutch « baqueux » opens his jacket and a logo appears, supposedly representing his police force, but still without any identification number. When it was my turn, the man checks my Polish identity card, asks me where I live and where I’m going and what I’m going to do in Rotterdam. Nothing, I go to London to look for work, like so many Polish migrants. And how long are you going to stay in Great Britain? Migrant answer: as long as the work lasts. With such a questioning, freedom of movement has indeed ceased to exist in Europe.
On Sunday morning, the Rotterdam train station, so close to the big port that you can hear the seagulls screaming, looks like a capitalist glass monster. It looks like the hideous district of Brussels where the institutions of the European Union are concentrated. Yet we are happy to discover a cafe without masks and without hygienic madness: if the Dutch police protect their country from intruders, it is because the very globalist elites of this country have the ability to protect their own citizens from the madness reigning elsewhere. So people are living normally in the Netherlands and on the Flixbus that arrives two hours later to take us to London via Lille and Calais the heavy and violent atmosphere of France and a little bit of Germany has faded away. Only a few young people look like they are masked but it must be said that precisely, being in full health, they do not yet realize to what extent they subject their lungs to the strain of breathing under the synthetic fiber product.
In Lille many French travelers get on the bus and we are now on the last stage of the journey which seems to me the most difficult: the passage in Calais in front of the British and French police before the Eurostar tunnel. Since my 14 trips for the trial of Julian Assange I know the places, yet everything seems strange to me since the authoritarian hysteria of the « coronaguerre ». Fortunately, the French policemen don’t overdo it. While they are young, they are tired under their masks 8 hours a day behind their glass guardhouse and take off their get-up as soon as an opportunity arises. We take off ours to show them our faces. We are like the Saudi women who keep the black abaya permanently but have to lift a piece of the « secret » to show their faces to the border control. We’re tired of dragging our luggage through the checkpoint scanner. Then we get back on the bus and go back down for the English control. Surprise. The passage that I dreaded so much goes smoothly: the British police officers do not check the famous attestations at all! Even French travelers theoretically subject to quarantine are not worried! So the famous quarantine turns out to be one more storytelling! The British police tell my Polish colleague something about quarantine that she doesn’t understand well but the paper she gives her refers to the website https://visas-immigration.service.gov.uk/public-health-passenger-locator-form with the form we already filled in. So we are in order with the British administration. The rest of the trip goes smoothly, we cross the channel, drive on the Kent freeway in the afternoon and arrive at Victoria Coach Station in the evening of Sunday September 6th.
The City of London Corporation is neither the City of London nor Great Britain.
In the evening we move into the rented apartment in central London, not far from the Old Bailey, the court where the trial is to take place and we decide to see what the place looks like. It is over 9 pm when we walk around the Old Bailey: a huge complex of several buildings surrounded by no less imposing office buildings of banks and other businesses under which there are deep underground passages visible at the huge truck gates. The Old Bailey consists of a 19th century building next to an austere bunker from the 1960s. There are already two entrance doors on the façade – the Central Criminal Court door looks as if it receives visitors, as barriers mark the entrance and a window displays the hearings of Friday, September 4. A closed carriage entrance bars the carriage entrance to the Warwick Passage, which leads to the back of the Old Bailey.
We walk around the block, photographing a 17th century church and the « Amen Court », a small neighbourhood of 17th century houses that survived the Nazi bombing of the rear of the Court that seriously damaged this central area. We also find ourselves at the rear of the complex, at the exit of the « Warwick Passage » – the Old Bailey complex is a huge complex with wide and high windows, some of which may be apartments and not offices. Surprisingly, on Sunday night there is light in the court rooms. The top two floors, 4th and 5th, are even illuminated with a strange bluish light. Behind the building is a small square with a bench, a parking lot and the main entrance for the court employees. Leaving the parking lot we can walk around the complex on our left and return to the historic 19th century « Old Bailey » with its high tower and statue of Justice at the top. We then walk along the 17th century « Maison de la guilde des Couteliers » with its French inscriptions which is part of the complex and a modern building where the Axa offices were still located in July. Everywhere, in every corner of the complex, no less than 4 large carriage gates lead to underground passages. By which way will Julian Assange be brought to trial? We cannot know and the lawyers have obviously given no indication. We are therefore photographing the premises to better prepare ourselves.
Above all the doors is the coat of arms of the « City of London Corporation » – the two winged lions wearing helmets above the red cross of St. George on a white background. Indeed, the City of London Corporation is not the City of London, it is the historic enclave of bankers and merchants, their fiefdom older than England and older than the United Kingdom. Julian Assange does not appear here before a court under the British Ministry of Justice, but he is brought to a place, a building belonging to the City of London, the famous stronghold of the bankers. For even if the Central Criminal Court is indeed a British court that sits in this place, Julian Assange is not going to be judged by the official judges of the Central Criminal Court. In fact, in the rented hall of the Old Bailey, we are no longer on British territory. We are in the City.
Indeed, the Old Bailey Criminal Court is owned and operated by the City of London Corporation. The City of London Corporation has been the historic heart of London since its foundation by the Romans and then during the reign of the Anglo-Saxons. It is a private association of merchants and bankers. William the Conqueror gave a series of privileges to this association called the City of London, including the right to be self-administered by the Council of Elders « The Court of Aldermen ». His successor chose to build his capital in the town of Westminster, which thus became the new capital, now the City of London. The City of London, which is a business association administering a territory, won in 1186 the privilege of choosing its mayor, the Lord Mayor of London.
Today the Lord Major of London is one of the oldest elective offices in the world. He represents the interests of the banking sector established in the territory of the City of London and the few residents. He is therefore automatically Rector of the University of London and Admiral of the Port of London, which gives him a great deal of power independent of the government of Great Britain. The Corporation is the supreme power of the City including the richest of the City (Court Aldermen) and the Mayor himself. Despite the fact that he is supposed to pledge allegiance to the Crown of Great Britain, the annual Tempel Bar ceremony where the King or Queen has to wait for the Mayor to give him the right to enter the City shows the extent of his power and proves that the suzerainty of the Queen of England is purely symbolic. The Government of Great Britain as well as the Parliament of the country have no real or symbolic power over the territory of the City of London Corporation.
The Old Bailey Court is administered by two sheriffs representing the banking guilds of the City. The Major of the City of London is the head of the administration of the Court and has the prerogative to sit on it as a matter of right as well. The Administrator of Mansion House, the seat of the Mayor of the City of London, is also the head of the Central Criminal Court. Since 2017 the Executive Director of Mansion House and the Central Criminal Court is financier Vic Annells. The Mayor of the City of London is currently Alderman William Russell, a banker with the American bank Meryll Linch. The two sheriffs elected in 2019 by their peers are banker Alderman Michael Mainelli has been a manager for the City’s Anglo-American investment funds, for agencies of the Ministry of Defence and for Deutsche Morgan Grefell, and sheriff Christopher Hayward is linked to China’s interests as head of the board of the Sichuan Business Association. Both sheriffs administer the Criminal Court Old Bailey owned by the City of London and are required to reside there for the duration of their tenure.
I knew this information before I saw the place, but I was not surprised to read on the notice board at the entrance to the « bunker » part of the Old Bailey that this place was the producer of the famous British « Maritime Law » – the law established in this court managed all the ships of the English and British navy during its conquest of the world from the Middle Ages until today as well as the territories of the British colonies. The maritime law dependent on the Old Bailey also extended to the territories established and managed by the Virginia Company of London, in other words to the 13 founding states of the United States. The Constitution of the United States of the Americas and their Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776 does not define the territory of the United States, nor their languages, nor their customs, in short, everything that makes a nation … some Anglo-Saxon thinkers believe that the United States remains de iure (and de facto?) a colony of the City of London Corporation and are therefore not a true state. Certainly independent of the « English King » as their Declaration proclaims it, but still dependent on the bankers of the City of London Corporation?
Julian Assange had braved both, the royal power of the Queen of England and that of the United States of America (former?) colonies of the City of London.
The City of London Corporation’s muscular welcome
Our ballade carried out, we enter a Pakistani grocery store to buy what to dine. It is then that the heaviest and most muscular police attack of all our stay occurs. Two policemen in uniforms enter the store as we approach the cash register. I am surprised, they are not there for a robbery, we are just going to pay our purchases. What’s going on? One of the policemen summons my French colleague to abandon her shopping and go out. We don’t understand what’s going on but we obey, because we are so used to obeying the police even when what they do is illegal. I think it’s a mistake, especially since the man, tall, white, young, muscular and redheaded, dressed in black, carrying a weapon (taser?) and various paraphernalia tells us to go out « for information ». But once out in front of the store, the three of us are surrounded by no less than six policemen, three men and three women, who obey the orders of a small redheaded man dressed in civilian clothes and equipped with an earpiece and a walkie-talkie who is standing next to a car that we hadn’t even noticed. We are quite shocked, especially since they demand to separate us and talk to each cop separately. We are foreigners, my Polish colleague has just set foot in England the first time, I am worried about her. The situation is very tense and shocking.
What do they blame us for? For having taken pictures of the Old Bailey during our walk! I answer that it is not forbidden to take pictures of the Court, there is no sign and besides I had already taken pictures of the whole building last July without any problem. I knew that there were cameras everywhere, but as it is not forbidden, I didn’t think that the private security guards who watch the banks would immediately call the police when they saw three women walking in front of the Old Bailey and reading the billboard in front of the door! They are not London policemen, by the way. They are City of London Corporation police. They are wearing white and red checkered caps and the City logo is on their uniforms. That said, they are young and their clothes look strangely new. Emotionally we don’t notice it right away, but the three young women who take us aside, have very studied hairstyles as if they had just come out of a hairdressing studio for a film shoot. The one who searches me wears small braids that are very complicated to do yourself and to maintain – in security jobs, women are most often wearing a ponytail that is easy and quick to do.
They demand to see our ID, two of us don’t carry it with us, after all we’re just out for a walk in the neighborhood. They tell us that the credit card is enough and copy our names from these documents. Then they demand to see our photos. We have to open the two cameras that my Polish colleague had used. « What’s this? »? -asked one of the men pointing to the only photo on my camera, two lighted windows of the Old Bailey but which could come from any building. I simply answer « I don’t know, a building with lit windows ». Another questioned my French colleague about the photo of the 17th century Guilde Church of St. Martin on Lutgate Hill. Her answer is « it’s a church. Polish women are necessarily interested in churches! It’s starting to feel very strange to be questioned like that. The cops quickly quoted something that looks like an article of law but they did it so quickly that we didn’t understand anything. One starts to speak to them. We are foreign tourists who have just arrived in London. We hardly put the foot in the apartment of hiring and made our first ballade in the center of London. We made photographs of a building certainly official, but historical that it is not forbidden to photograph. So What?
So the strange policemen of the City of London tell us that what counts is « intention! And the intention is to commit a terrorist act »! Indeed, under the « Terrorism Act » it is forbidden to photograph a building where a « very sensitive trial » will take place the next day! Here we are… the City of London Corporation cops are hunting for Julian Assange’s supporters who would come near the Court! This is starting to make me anxious. I’m not going to start again with the illegal repression like the one I suffered in Greece from 2009 to 2013. We have to get out of this situation! We explain that we only took tourist photos of historical buildings. It’s at night, we are three foreign women surrounded by 6 weird cops who don’t behave like real professionals but like a private militia – yes the City of London police is not a state police since the City of London Corporation is not a state or even a city but a curious hybrid territory belonging to private companies to which the Queen of England confers the privilege to have their own police. We are no longer in Great Britain, we are in a territory managed by a private association, some would say a mafia. What about our rights, when this territory has not signed a bilateral agreement with our countries? Can our consuls help us?
When the young interrogator asks me why I photograph these modern buildings, I give him a history lesson on the anniversary of the Blitz and the suffering that the people of London endured under the Nazi bombings. I am sensitive as a Pole whose country was completely destroyed by the Nazis to this terrible story of the destruction of the historic heart of London and its reconstruction after the war. I wanted to show my young Polish friend the contrast between the remains of 17th century architecture and the buildings rebuilt in the 1950s and 1960s. The man seemed a little impressed by my lecture and gave me a similar speech about his family during the Blitz. In fact, I don’t listen to him, I’m stressed at the thought of what might happen now. Indeed, it’s not over yet.
They are looking for something and they reveal themselves quickly. Each of us is separately summoned to say whether we know Julian Assange and what we think of him. And if she comes for the trial. No way. We answer all the same thing, we came as Poles looking for work and as we are in the city center we take a tourist tour. The cop who questions me is mocking. She asks me where we live, I give the street. The apartment is obviously too expensive for migrant women. I answer her « it’s an opportunity », adding that at my age I have more money than my young colleague. She asks me questions about the job I’m going to do, and when I’m going to come back. She insists on Julian Assange, I can see that she doesn’t believe me, I’m tempted to tell the truth, after all we’re not doing anything wrong. We are not violating any Law as a Human Rights Association. It is they who violate the Laws by holding a man hostage for years and having him tried by a pseudo-court of private companies.
In the end all three of us end up saying « since you tell us that this trial is sensitive and that it is so important and that it is not forbidden to attend it, then yes, we want to go »!
It’s not over yet. The bullying continues. While the young cops seemed to have finished their exercise of control over us, the plainclothes chief standing further away gives them an order to continue. Now the policewoman with the neatly arranged mats grabs my bag and starts to pull a tirade on the anti-terrorist law articles that she will search me. She doesn’t show up and doesn’t have an identification number on her, contrary to what the law that she claims to be acting requires (as their own attestation shows here). A body search here on the street seems odd and inappropriate to me. I grab my phone and start dialing the number of the Polish Consulate. I tell her, « since you are accusing me of terrorism, this is starting to get serious. I don’t understand what you are saying. I am entitled to the assistance of an interpreter and a lawyer. So I call my consul so that the Polish consulate can assist us. The young woman stammers and backtracked: « No, you are not accused of terrorism, but under the Terrorism Act we can check your bag and search you in the street »!
I am thinking. After all we really have nothing in our bags. I decide to let it happen. The woman puts on gloves and makes a clumsy and unprofessional security palpation. The woman who searches my French colleague does her job so badly that her palpation is akin to a sexual assault. I’m worried about my Polish friend who has undergone 2 muscular checks by cops in 24 hours just after arriving in the country for 2 hours! The redhead with braids opens my bag and takes out all the objects. She looks at my diary for the 5th and 6th of September, inspects the erotic novel in French I have with me as a good luck charm (« what is this ? » ? « an erotic novel »). If they were expecting posters or leaflets for Assange, they are disappointed, there is absolutely nothing in my bag and fortunately. That said, professional policemen look for weapons or drugs, and don’t spend their shift inspecting personal diaries and books as if they had already become a political police.
Finally, the red cop puts my things back in my bag, but one of the men, one of the ones who decide, comes out and shows my Yellow Vest still in my bag pocket. « What’s that? It is ironic. He is trying to get me to admit that I am part of the Yellow Vest movement. In the West, the political police began. I quietly tell him « a yellow vest for the bike ». I’m ready to call the consulate if things get out of hand.
Finally, it’s over, the cop students have found nothing. They ask us if we want attestations of the search. Oh yes we do! To have proof that you didn’t find anything! While the cops are busy filling out a very short form that doesn’t in any way tell about the psychological brutality of their intervention on us, the plainclothes man in decision making pretends to talk about searching our home. There I get angry and I say « No. » The man decision-maker, pretends to talk about searching our house. For that you have to present a written order ». He does not insist. Obviously, all this is bluffing and storytelling intended to impress us. He has no documents incriminating us for any crime. Photographing the Old Bailey is not forbidden and if it was, it must be visible in writing. Photographing a building is not synonymous with preparing a terrorist attack. They go a long way, however, in intimidating the private police of the Lord Mayor of the City of London.
The policewoman who inspects our French colleague ends up telling him, as we itch to ask them the crucial question « but who are you »? « We are not the British police but the City of London police. The City of London is something special. You see the Vatican? We are like the Vatican. Independent from Britain. I also ask the question that targets power to my redheaded inspector. She confirms: the militia of the City of London Corporation is independent of the British government. We are in hostile territory, but a territory that is not a subject of international law, not a state, but a private company.
They are releasing us. We are stunned and return to the apartment. The paper that these « policemen » send us does not mention what the result of their search is in our bags and on our bodies. It only says « some women photographed the Old Bailey the day before a sensitive trial ». By the next morning the Old Bailey will be photographed tens of thousands of times and none of Julian Assange’s supporters will be worried.
It was that night that we were not supposed to see what was going on at the Old Bailey. What was so special about the night before the trial?
The police paper that we retrieve from our mailbox does not give any result of their search, which is worrying. On the other hand it does state that although the police are only allowed to search if they « have reason to suspect that you have stolen something or are carrying offensive weapons, drugs or anything that can be used for theft, burglary or to commit criminal damage ». Clearly the object that the City militia consider as a possible weapon is a camera! What a fine example of the establishment of a dictatorship to penalize image takers on the eve of a trial for journalism! The dictatorship of private militias on the march in Europe, there is no doubt!
www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
 Joshua Levine « The secret story of the Blitz », Simon and Shuster, 2015, London
Monday, September 7, 2020 – first day at the Old Bailey
We are stressed out by the police incident and I can’t get up early. We arrive at the Old Bailey only a little after 6 a.m. 4 people are already up with two signs in front of the curtain drawn on Warwick Passage. We do not know if it is well here that the public will enter but we have no choice but to follow them. We greet them and we remain polite but the tension will go up quickly and will remain lively all day long. Jamie, Sandra, the German journalist Moritz Müller and two other men act as « place warmers » – they queue for others and will give up their places at the last minute. These are obviously not fair rules on a first come, first served basis, I don’t think one person is more important than another and no one should be a stooge for anyone, but that’s not the most acute problem. The hardest part is that even if we stay calm, the « supporters » feel they are allowed to free ride and pass us by, so that after 3 long hours of waiting while a security guard opens the gate and we can get into the narrow gut of the passage, we will find ourselves tenths in line when we were fifth in the morning.
A woman with a straw hat, a man come and stand in front of us and push us elbows to make us leave. Then they attack us in various ways, first by shouting that we are attacking them (the famous inversion of the executioner who shouts to be a victim…), by playing the kapo of « social distancing » or by calling us nasty about the forty-something the French are forced to do. I answer that they only have to take 3 steps backwards to have their « social distancing », while putting on the muzzle mask which here becomes a useful accessory to demonstrate our good will to respect social codes. I also say that I am Polish and therefore exempt from quarantine, but the atmosphere is unbreathable because the violence of the « supporters » increases as the hour goes by.
As early as 8:30 am when the City of London police is on the spot and the demonstration in favor of Julian Assange is growing in front of the main entrance, we already know that there are only TWO seats in the public gallery! The pretexts are fallacious and the covid is playing a key role in the cancellation of the publicity of the trial, another violation of the rights we suffer all over our continent. All of us, with Julian Assange.
But I persevere, all the more so because one of the policewomen, a lady in her sixties, tall, blonde, masked, dressed in the white and red checkered uniform of the City of London Corporation, who seems to be directing the operations, approaches us around 8:00 a.m. and allows us to stay in line to ask the Court if our human rights association could receive accreditation for the next day. She is polite and has nothing to do with the weird people we had to deal with the day before. The « real » policemen do not seem to be the same at all, none of yesterday’s policemen are present. The nickels uniforms and the dressed-up hairstyles of the women of the famous night patrol seem more and more like movie sets. The City of London policemen’s car is black, while the British policemen’s car is blue and yellow. Some policemen from Great Britain will be present on Tuesday and Wednesday but just like in front of the Westminster they will remain polite and discreet.
At 9:30 a.m. the tension is at its peak. The organized demonstration is in full swing in front of the historic building. Certain aspects make one think of a ridiculous and offbeat spectacle: a man walks barefoot wearing a skirt in the colors of Ireland, a woman wears a kangaroo costume supposed to represent the « kangaroo court ». Another distributes leaflets for the « coming of Jesus » while grim actors walk around with a simulated cross. I don’t think this staging highlights Julian Assange’s political commitment. I would have preferred to see real political activists, trade unionists, members of the Communist Party, left-wing Labour, English human rights associations… But these representatives of the real English civil society do not want to touch the Assange affair as if the complexity of the question were confusing them. It is true that they would then need to thoroughly clean up their society, the contradictions of their feudal political system (the City of London as the feudal fiefdom of the suzerain of the Crown of England) and they seem to be backing away from this Herculean task.
As a foreigner fighting for the freedom of a man hostage we do not have these hesitations and we must move forward because our freedom is linked to his.
At 10:00 a.m. an elderly private security guard opens the public gallery door in Warwick Passage. He brings in the families of the few other « cases » – Maurice Robinson and Christopher Kennedy, two young English truck drivers accused of murdering 14 Vietnamese migrants by leaving them to die in their refrigerated truck in November 2019, and the family of a man who killed his wife. The 10 or so people climb the stairs as we stand in front of the door.
Confusion then sets in and the physical pressure of the people « heating the place » increases on us. We are accused of all the evils of which these people, who are supposed to be our allies in the defense of Julian Assange, are actually guilty. It sounds like a well-oiled scenario to keep us out by making us lose our cool. Since I’ve known the scenario for a year and 14 hearings, I’m not dismantling myself.
Places and protagonists of the show
Then suddenly the situation is unblocked: a young security guard comes to help the older one. The entrance door to the « public gallery » opens. The agents announce that Julian Assange’s « family » has priority. I see John Shipton arriving and then, with surprise, the February trio consisting of John Shipton’s brother, his wife and the brother’s son. I obviously did not see them at any intermediate hearing in Westminster Court. Stella Moris is also absent, she will NEVER be present in the premises with the family. However, Craig Murray is following. I am tired of this opacity – who decides who the family is? – but there is nothing I can do about it. Worse, once the five from Woolwich Court enter the narrow staircase leading to the upper floors, concussions between Deepa River and the security guards begin as the « seat warmer » activists have cleared the square. These opaque negotiations result in Kristinn Hrafnsson, Fidel Narvaez and John Pilger entering the staircase. Pilger, of course, never stood in line, unlike Fidel Narvaez, whom I have seen since the morning, but who was able to move freely without being forced to hold the door like us so as not to be fired. I am then angry, especially when I think of the immense efforts we had to make to get there? But I remain stoic, however, trying to discuss with the security guard an « accreditation for human rights association ». The man looks at me and says that there is no room in room 10 « because of the coronavirus » but at his attitude I understand that we must persevere.
We are now the two Poles in front of the door. Between the main entrance in the street and our door is G. the mysterious activist I have always seen, every time at every hearing for the past year. G. was at first hostile towards me, then friendly when we made common cause against Greekemmy’s lists. She attended the 4 days at the Woolwich Court and I saw her again in July and August at the Westminster. G. speaks very high level Oxford English and we know nothing about her and how she always gets in. I was saddened this morning when she attacked me hard in the queue while she came in after me and finally I see her pass me in front of me. She seems to have some power as she negotiates with security guards and court officials for the entry of two other protagonists of the game I know from Woolwich, Rebecca Vincent of Reporter Sans Frontieres UK and Christian Mihr of Reporters Without Borders Germany. However, I can’t understand the tenor of the exchanges because I can’t leave my post in the dark gut of the Warwick Passage to go to the main entrance in the street.
When she pushes me to stand in front of me in front of the door, I react. In a kind, almost begging tone I say to her, « Why are you doing this to me? I have always been loyal to you. She continues accusing me of pushing her and telling me about the famous « social distancing ». So I simply say to her, « Who are you? How come you always come in? You said you were a researcher, but I’ve never read anything you’ve written. So the woman represses a smile. Then she says »I’m doing this for my country, ». « Didn’t you notice that there are no British people in this business?
Yes, I have. Only Australians and Germans. And this is the international place of the World Bankers’ City par excellence.
So everything is going very fast. The door opens. Kristinn Hrafnsson appears, followed by John Pilger. The two men leave the place after only one hour. The security guard announces that he can let us in. G. first, then me, then the two from RSF. I give my cell phone to my Polish collegue and I should also throw away my water bottle and cookies, as all food is forbidden. The passage to the public gallery is a narrow gut made of dark wood and tired linoleum that reminds me of the Stalinist architecture of the Warsaw court in the years 90-93. In a tiny mezzanine is the agent’s PC, as well as a metal case – a model metal detector from the 80s. Once our bags pass through the crate and the agent has found nothing forbidden, we pass through a security gate. It’s quite sensitive because my shoes ring every time. As soon as I’m released from the search, I start running so I don’t lose my place. Three large floors to climb up a bunkered staircase without windows, a dirty linoleum floor, toilets in the mezzanine behind heavy dark wooden doors (the women’s toilets are condemned because of corona, we will have to go to the men’s toilets, furnished with sinks and pissoir model of the 1960s. No one has ever renovated or modernized these places, which do not seem to be very busy).
On the 1st, 2nd and 3rd floor, I meet the families of the other defendants who are waiting in a small vestibule on the landing. I have to run all the way up, to the 4th floor of this staircase, the 5th and last floor of the building and I arrive breathless. On the landing an elderly white woman in a black and white masked uniform tells me to wait. She is conferring with another agent sitting in the corridor in a recess in front of a camera screen. The surveillance cameras show the stairs and she has to watch the corridor as well. No security PC, I reflect on the lamentable working conditions of the so obedient English proletarians. The two women tell me to follow them. In the narrow and dark corridor we walk along Court Room 10 and they open the next door, Court Room 9.
I go down into the public gallery, I sit down on one of the many empty chairs. G. is behind me far away from me, to my left in the back I find Fidel Narvaez but Rebecca Vincent and Christian Mihr don’t mind the « social distancing » (and I don’t blame them) and place themselves in the row just behind me a little higher up. I am not in the « Saint of the Saints », this place is Courtroom 10. I’m in an adjoining room that welcomes journalists and the public who are summoned to follow the debates in Courtroom 10 on two video screens placed on either side of the room.
I get angry when I count the number of empty chairs: 40 seats in the public gallery divided into 4 rows and there are only 5 of us! The Coronavirus allows to abolish any rule of law while there is plenty of space to let 20 people in! At the bottom of the balcony of the gallery, I count in the room itself 50 chairs occupied by only 15 people! And there is also on the right side of the room the box of the accused or not less than 10 places remain empty! In all 100 places of which 80 are empty!
The public of the journalists is thus very sparse. The room is a courtroom with a large stage with a high leather armchair for the judge (some law books lie on this desk) on the right of the room. Below the stage is the no less comfortable clerk’s chair in front of the participants in the ritual. Here the seat is occupied by… Rosie Sylvester, the manager we know so well from Westminster! She is dressed in a cheap suit and is typing on a computer while vaguely looking at the screen of the audience. She is entitled to water, a kettle for coffee and personal items that attest to the fact that this is her current place of work. So she does not work for the Westminster Court but for « the Assange case »… There are no specific Criminal Court Old Bailey staff in the room because it is not this Court that judges Assange. This Court is the place where it happens, as if a room had been rented for a meeting that cannot be held anywhere else. However, it is possible that Rosie Sylvester and Vanessa Baraitser work for the private company Prudential which actually owns the central building at 179-185 Marylebone Road and rents it from the Westminster Court, as evidenced by land registry document No. NGL900525. Court buildings have been privatized in Great Britain and the owner Prudential can very well rent meeting rooms for other purposes to other legal and private persons and hire employees directly or by subcontracting. The « Assange Trial » may in fact be a show run by a private company that employs the protagonists as employees. A building like the Old Bailey in a quasi extraterritorial location guarantees this organizing private company total impunity.
We will pass Rosie Sylvester on her way to her office early in the morning at around 8 a.m. walking through the Warwick Passage to the staff entrance at the back of the building. Security guards and young interns also pass through this entrance.
Here in Room 9 Rosie Sylvester is sitting in the axis of the room as if she is facing Vanessa Baraitser behind the wall on the right. In front of me, perpendicular to Rosie Sylvester are 3 rows of 25 seats, half of which are condemned with rubbings on the right, while on the left only 4 seats are occupied by people writing on computers (journalists?), men with physics pass everywhere. One man stands out from the crowd, however: he is stronger, with red hair and a round face. He has a notebook but also a cell phone that is not switched off and makes noise when messages arrive. He looks like he’s smiling as he looks at the screen right in front of him. He follows the unfolding of the film very closely, like a director following the script of his film, while making many gestures punctuating his observation. From time to time he notes on his phone (privilege because we are not allowed any tools, not even a notepad and pen!). The next day someone will tell me that it’s probably movie and show producer Hamish Hamilton.
Germany in the Old Bailey
The other people are not journalists either: I discover with amazement the member of the Bundestag of Die Linke Heike Hänsel sitting right in front of Rosie Sylvester in the front row. Behind her are two young men. The one on the left, a young redhead with glasses, turns out to be a representative of the German Embassy! I learn this because Rebecca Vincent has specified to the security agent that she is being tracked by the German Embassy in the area. As soon as Vincent and Mihr arrive, they are greeted by Heike Hänsel, who designates the young man as their embassy contact. I don’t hear his name but it is clear that he is a political staff member of the diplomatic mission.
Behind them a brown woman in a dark green jacket seems to me to have been among the journalists who had been attending the trial for a year. To her left sit three red-haired or blond men who look very « baba cool ». All these people will speak German to each other the next day and the day after. There are almost no British people here, yes. On the other hand, Germany as a state is very present through its deputy and its diplomats.
Germany is very present in the Assange case in particular, but the real leaders of the 04 Wikileaks « Freedom of Expression » project of the Wau Holland Siftung, located at 25 Marienstrasse in Berlin, Andy Müller Maguhn, Bernd Fix, Klaus Schleisiek, do not have the courage to openly assume their responsibility and take the place of their former friend and employee Julian Assange in the box of the accused. Yet they are the real leaders of the Wau Holland project, which is still going on today and is headed by Müller Maguhn. Assange was just the pretty face, the showcase of Wikileaks, for which the public gave money, seduced by his physique and apparent honesty. Müller Maguhn, Fix, Schleisieck and the other Wau leaders have always remained in the shadows and are therefore not bothered by American justice while their puppet Assange is being fed to the Grand Inquisitor. It is necessary to say things brutally because they are like that, proof in the activity reports of Wau Holland that I studied carefully.
The German State seems to want to protect its foundation and its citizens, failing to support Assange. Germany is at home here in this matter. It is unthinkable in law that a trial should take place in the presence of a foreign state, but it should not be forgotten that here we are not in Great Britain but at the City of London Corporation, the Merchants’ Guild of London. If the Sheriffs who govern the Court building and the Lord Mayor of the City accept Germany’s influence on their institutions, I wonder if the British government has any say in what happens in this place – an enclave like the Vatican on its territory?
Then I look at the screen hanging on the wall opposite the gallery. And unfortunately I don’t see much because it’s 20 meters away from me and the image is blurred. The sound is also not very audible. Nevertheless, I can make out Room 10, with Baraitser on the left on a platform, Fitzgerald and Summers in white shirts in front of it in front of tables, Lewis and Clair Dobbin to their right. In the background I can make out heads vaguely. When the lawyers are talking, the camera does not show Julian Assange. It is only when the prosecutor speaks that the camera turns to the left and I can make out the box of the defendants from a distance … and a white spot with a white face dressed in a vaguely brown suit between two guards in white shirts. Julian Assange is there, yes, but how can we be sure it is him when we see nothing of his face but a white spot! Another white spot is sitting in front of him, a woman with black hair. Gareth Peirce is also present behind Fitzgerald, all in black, although she hadn’t appeared since February. At the back of the room, to the left of Assange, indistinct heads. How can we call this a fair trial? A secret trial worthy of feudal times, yes. But the City of London Corporation is still governed by Laws dating from feudal times which are still valid, and Great Britain still has elements of feudalism in its political system, such as the Queen’s power over certain social, political, legal and scientific institutions. The City of London Corporation is supposed to have pledged allegiance to the Queen who is her direct suzerain according to customs dating back to 1186!
In such a space we cannot hope for the respect of Human Rights because the Enlightenment has never succeeded in penetrating this fenced, muffled, violent and powerful place.
As I am not allowed to take notes, I did not take Summers’ plea and the prosecutor’s answer. All I know is that for an hour the Wikileaks lawyer tried to plead the impossibility of accepting the new US charges with the argument of sending the documents too late. So he does not contest the merits and remains in the framework of a « case management hearing », an organizational hearing.
After one hour, there is a lunch break. The security guards come to fire us. I have no choice but to leave. I look so tired that the women tell me to take off my mask to breathe. I look at the door of room 10, the Family has already left the premises, I won’t see Julian Assange or anyone through a door that is ajar.
We must eat and rest, having reached the limits of what a human being can endure without rest and sleep. We come back too late, at 3 p.m. The activists are there to « warm up the place », they laugh at us. I stay a little bit in front of the door until someone rings the bell and the security guard sees me. He politely tells me that for today it’s impossible but that I can come back tomorrow.
I join the few friends participating in the carnaval demonstration in front of the main gate of the Old Bailey. Then at 4 p.m. we find ourselves with them waiting in front of the carriage entrance on Newgate Street (the name of the prison that served the Criminal Court throughout the history of the City and London). This huge door commands the entrance to the passage between the 19th century Old Bailey building and the Axa offices on the left with the Maison des Couteliers at the back. The passage arrives in the small inner courtyard of the Old Bailey which is also the entrance of the employees (see on the Google map) . The photo hunt of Julian Assange in his van is organized by the pack of photographers, present in number the first day, much less assiduous the following days.
As in December 2019 and last January the photographers rush on the 4 outgoing vans and a large black sedan with tinted windows. They flash the interior and then look at their photo to recognize Assange. It is never him, so they persevere. We understand that we must follow them, since their goal is to sell the photo and they will stop once they have caught their loot and sent it to their editors. However, the poor guys who went out the door in the vans seem to be the other Criminal Court defendants who are considered uninteresting by the media. At some point we ask the photographers if they got the picture. They deny it, we are not sure they are telling the truth. Maybe they do, since no photo of Assange is finally published. As soon as the last car is gone, the police leave the camp immediately. Strange trial where we were so intimidated and finally saw with our own eyes that he is not so « sensitive » in the eyes of the « real » authorities.
Julian Assange remains visibly trapped in captivity inside the Old Bailey. After all, in the Old Bailey there is everything it takes to hold a seat: vast underground passages visible when delivery trucks bring in the food trays and filming and recording equipment, a canteen, a kitchen whose noises could be heard in the Warwick Passage… And certainly apartments upstairs and cells downstairs. At night, the 4 and 5 th floors corresponding to rooms 9 and 10 and their corridors and galleries will be illuminated with their bluish light. Someone sleeps and works here at night, no doubt about it.
Tuesday, September 8, 2020
The next day after a good night’s rest we arrive much earlier, at 5:30 am. The Warwick passage is open and deserted. Jamie arrives around 6 am, followed by Sandra and Deepa. He is disappointed to see us before him and remarks « this time you were faster »! I do not blame him but I am annoyed. For us it’s not a « who gets there first » game. We are not like these Ukrainian or Belarusian « Titushki », these people paid by the Western foundations 100 Euros a day to participate in the false demonstrations of « color revolution » against Janukovitsch or Lukashenko. Nobody pays us, on the contrary, we give our strength and resources for the common struggle. I have nothing against Jamie, but it is certain that he will never write any report since he will never attend any hearing of his own.
As yesterday our wait lasts a long time, it starts to get cold on this morning of September in London. I brought my sleeping bag that I use as a blanket. Around 8 o’clock people start to gather in front of the Old Bailey. There are much less than the old one. The storytelling done, our dear journalists move on to another news. The employees cross the passageway to go to the employees’ entrance in the courtyard. Rosie Sylvester passes by around 8 o’clock but does not answer our greeting. That day there are far fewer « normal » hearings and no more families queuing at the Warwick Passage. The real Criminal Court works on floors 1, 2 and 3, with the public queuing in front of the main entrance. The entrance to Warwick Passage and the staircase leading up to it is only for the « Julian Assange case » as if it were a meeting of an association or private company that would have rented unoccupied rooms on the top two floors.
At 8:30 a.m. the young security guard shows up and announces that there will only be two seats for the public because three are « reserved for VIPs ». Deepa tries to parley and I add « can you tell us who decides who is « Very Important Person »? This kind of pass granted to singers as much as modern nobility titles annoys me deeply. Deepa supports my request for transparency. The man is embarrassed and tells us that he is going to find out. He never comes back. One of the supporter friends ironically says to me « come on – the VIPs, Pamela Anderson, Maria Carey, Mia, plus they’re not even there ». Surely rich people like these ladies don’t freeze their asses off queuing up in the filthy, filthy gut of the passage. This is a feudal and capitalist society.
At 9:30 a.m. John Shipton and Craig Murray arrive in the gut and exchange with the activists. Around 10:00 a.m. the young security guard opens the front door and calls « the Family » and then points to « two people. First come, first served ». We give our phones to our colleague. I’ve emptied my bag of everything, except for an electronic charger that won’t fit through the gate. Fortunately, one of the activists will kindly keep it for me. John Shipton, his brother, the brother’s wife and their son are there and enter the stairs followed by Craig Murray. Then I return with Basia the Pole. I am the last one to pass the antique metal detector and to climb the 4 floors at full speed on foot so as not to lose a crumb of the trial. But when I get to the top I see Barbara waiting in the small vestibule in front of the glass door separating the staircase from the corridor. She is standing in front of Julian Assange’s « familiars » sitting on wooden seats from the 60s while the young man is sitting on the steps. A security guard dressed in a navy blue uniform (there are two different security companies working for Assange’s trial? Why are the uniforms of Assange’s guards so disparate?) comes to tell us that the hearing has been delayed. She disappears into the hallway and we stay to watch each other a little bit like dogs. Craig Murray talks about Uzbekistan to his friend John Shipton. The latter compares his big, calloused hands to those of his brother. « It’s genetic, » he says. He laughs, relaxed. His hands don’t look like Julian Assange’s long, thin hands, but I’ll be told, ‘how can you be sure you still look like your father?
After 20 minutes the security guard opens the door and says « I need to know the names of the family members. The group sitting in front of us is not very happy to reveal their identity. I hear John Shipton’s brother is named Sullivan Shipton, his son Elliot Shipton and Sullivan’s wife Esther Bronfman or Kaufman, she says it so low that the security guard has to lean over to her to understand. A few minutes later the employee comes back and signals us to follow her. We enter the creepy, windowless hallway, leave the recess with her table and surveillance cameras on our left and find ourselves following the family group in front of the door marked « court room 10 » with red paint. She opens this door and lets « the family » in. I try to make out something – the room looks dark, the walls are green and the chairs are made of wood and red leather. But unfortunately I cannot see Julian Assange. The officer blocks our entrance and says, « You’re going to Room 9. Then « But maybe you can go to room 10 in the afternoon. There is hope!
Room 9 we find ourselves alone among the 40 empty seats on the balcony. We sit down so that we can communicate. We take out our notebooks and pens to write down. Surprise, the rules have changed, today it is allowed to write. In front of me the same configuration as yesterday and there are only 8 people in the room: Rosie Sylvester in place of the clerk, Heike Hänsel in front of her, the young man from the German embassy behind her, the two German « baba cool » and the brown woman in the green sweater in the last row. In the armchairs opposite, the one identified as Hamish Hamilton and another man in the back row on the right. That’s all there is to it. Where are the reporters who are supposed to be reporting on the trial? Couldn’t or didn’t WANT to come in?
On the screen showing Room 10 I see Baraitser on the right, Summers and Fitzgerald, the clerk, the accuser Lewis and three silhouettes far away in the rows perpendicular to the lawyers’ and accusers’ tables. In the bottom right corner of the screen a man is standing at the witness stand: it is lawyer Smith, whom Summers immediately presents as « specializing in extraordinary rendition, kidnapping, torture, enforced disappearance. It’s a pity I can’t see his face because standing in the witness box he turns his back to the camera. On the other hand, we can hear much better than yesterday. Mark Summers is in his closing argument, after the presentation of the witness’ CV (which unfortunately I can’t hear very well) he asks him if he had any contact with Wikileaks and if the classified documents published by Wikileaks were used as evidence in his work. It is mainly about the assassinations carried out in 1993 by the US army in Afghanistan. No, lawyer Smith had no relations with Wikileaks, yes he used the « cables » (diplomatic telegrams).
While I try to understand everything and note everything down suddenly, for 10 seconds the camera zooms in on the defendants’ box! And I see Julian Assange, much more clearly than the day before! I see him sitting surrounded by two guards in white. He has short hair and no beard. He is wearing a white shirt and a navy blue jacket. Alas, too far away for me to see the expression on his face. He is motionless, sitting upright like an I… The organizers of the sacrifice are not giving us or him any gifts. Immediately the camera leaves Assange and we will never see him again!
While remaining attentive to the camera, I follow Summers’ approach, referring to the paragraphs of the witness’s testimony and giving him the floor on the points mentioned. Witness Smith, who is American, explains that « the reputation of my country has been seriously tarnished by war crimes », describes the Wikileaks revelations as « powerfull » and refers to trials conducted by Pakistani justice against « rendition » and assassinations. Did the United States want to block the investigations into the renditions? Summers asked. Yes, the witness answered. The most important document he used in his work was the list of 69 names of people « targeted » for assassination by « American agencies ». This list was published in the Pakistani and Afghan press and constitutes a « fascinating document. Wikileaks’ lawyer asked the US government’s victims’ lawyer about his « assassination program » and asked him for details on how he worked with these « sources of evidence ». Smith is cautious and speaks in a detached and calm voice.
He does not mention having read the Wikileaks page himself, but always talks about the Afghan or Pakistani press or the New York Times. Then Summers questions him about the « Guantanamo II » documents published by Wikileaks, the debate moves on to « secret prisons ». (I can’t help but think of my country, Poland, which still serves and will serve as a secret prison for the American rogue state). Smith expresses his sadness and says that he never thought his government would be involved in such practices: torture, kidnapping, rendition, secret prisons… Summers underlines and repeats « Rendition, torture, detention ». According to Smith « psychological torture is the worst » and he quotes the UN Convention against Torture which effectively obliges states to cooperate in criminal investigations of torture. Summers asserts that « Wikileaks has helped to prove torture, rendition, disappearance ». At this point one gets nauseous from hearing the words « torture, disappearance, rendition, kidnapping, assassination, target ». The timbre of Summers’ voice being devoid of the slightest emotion, the impression that emerges from his speech is that yes, Wikileaks is a good thing, but American power is such and so violent that nothing can be done about it. It is an invincible monster that cannot be defeated and that only a few brave people can challenge at the margins.
Precisely, how could Smith have sued the United States in the International Criminal Court? He couldn’t, because even with regard to the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, the CIA and other agencies do not cooperate with justice. The nausea overwhelms us. Men like Summers are decidedly lacking in combativeness and persuasion if, at the end of their just plea, public opinion will only retain its passivity in the face of the unspeakable violence of a Superpower.
But how could public opinion even be informed of this? This « trial » is a meeting behind closed doors like a sacrificial ceremony of the Inquisition in the 17th century. The few « journalists » in the room are clearly watching their cell phones without listening. The German representative is even looking at Facebook, I can see him from the balcony!
The prosecutor passes the witness « to the question ». First he asks him if he believes that Wikileaks is « public interest » and then asks him the definition of this « public interest ». Then he asks whether revealing « state secrets » can be in the public interest if it is published in the New York Times and the Washington Post. The impression that emerges from the discussion between the two « Americans » (who is prosecutor Lewis, we don’t really know) is that it is a debate … American. Two Americans are discussing what is right and wrong to do in Europe and it is happening on our continent. At no time are European laws, the European Convention for the Protection of Fundamental Rights, the European Charter of Fundamental Rights that Great Britain has signed and promoted, cited. Forgotten Fundamental Rights. The ceremony of Assange’s sacrifice has taken away our political rights, while the coronavirus is in charge of liquidating the rest of our personal rights, such as the right to physical integrity, health, freedom of movement, non-violability of the home…
The prosecutor, however, claims that Julian Assange is not being prosecuted for publishing secret documents but for having « outed » American collaborators. Unfortunately, I don’t hear his exchange with Smith very well. I estimate that it must be about 11 o’clock (we are not entitled to a watch) when suddenly I hear Julian Assange’s voice clearly on the screen! He speaks! And with a decided voice, the tone rises towards an interrogation! Unfortunately, I can’t hear what he is saying and what’s more, the camera doesn’t show him! I tell my colleague that Julian Assange has spoken! Baraitser forbids him to speak! I send him back to his lawyers! Then we see on the screen that she suspends the session. Everyone moves, the sound is muted. I stare at the screen in the hope of seeing Julian, but no way, the torturers are not going to show what they are doing with him. We don’t know if he’s there or if they’ve taken him out. What we understand is that he rebelled again and again!
In our room a man enters by the back door on the left and comes to speak to Rosie Sylvester. Through this door I can see the light of day: behind it is a corridor with windows overlooking the street. The technician goes out and a few seconds later appears on the screen in room 10. In this room we don’t feel any tension, while we, the audience, remain stunned. We see the lawyers and prosecutors talking to each other, everyone looks relaxed. Assange is absent from the screen. Baraitser comes in, takes his place, admonishes Assange as if she were talking to a child at fault (nowadays many of us are infantilized by the dominant system…). She tells him that even if he thinks he has the right to speak himself, he must not interrupt the witness. And no, he doesn’t have to speak or he will be fired from this court. In his place, I would have gone on strike to stay in my jail, rather than to support an iniquitous ceremony worthy of the Middle Ages!
In fact, here in the City of London we ARE in the Middle Ages, governed by customs and arbitrariness directly coming from the 11th century and one wonders by virtue of which International Laws this man is kept in captivity in this place! Besides, Baraitser’s threats may already have been carried out: we have no proof that Julian Assange is still in room 10. They may have taken him out and locked him up somewhere and they continue to debate about the rightness of « Wikileaks », this internet page whose owner of the domain name is not Julian Assange but a certain John Shipton, the father sitting quietly on his chair in the public gallery, never worried by any authority! The father is safe and the son is sacrificed: one would believe in the most patriarchal of myths, that of Abraham sacrificing his son out of obedience to an exterminating God. The death of the son to save the father has always seemed to me the height of the perversity of the system!
I can no longer bear to see Julian Assange in the position of the sacrificed lamb, guilt-ridden and humiliated. I’d like to go down into the arena, open all those damn doors, which in reality no police officer is guarding, climb over that balcony, walk towards the stall, enter it (the stall is not closed either), take Julian Assange by the hand and tell him « come on, let’s get out of here, let’s leave all these freaks to their absurd circus »! And we leave together, the doors open by themselves, the security guards who are just proletarian employees make us a hedge of honor because they no longer have an employer to obey and with our friends we leave this place and this country as soon as possible!
But in reality the circus continues: the accuser demands that the witness reflect on whether it is right to reveal secrets that endanger « national security ». National security has no meaning in French. The Nation is an entity that cannot be endangered, the Nation is a community of humans who create a State to ensure its security. The State does not have an ontological existence, it is a tool… But here we are in an esoteric American-American debate. We are not, not in Europe anymore. None of the philosophical concepts of our history has its place. I stand helplessly in the American-American discussion if it is permitted to torture in order to ensure « national security« . Simply stating the terms of the debate is a justification for torture and normally it should be forbidden here on our continent which has suffered Nazism and two world wars to THINK even in these terms! Torture is a crime, stop !
But here in the City of Bankers, which is not the same legal entity as the state Great Britain which so courageously fought against Nazism, there is a debate whether torture can still be justified. Lawyer Smith tries to minimize Julian Assange’s « fault » by arguing that only a very small number of names of collaborators were published by Wikileaks. In room 9 a very old air-conditioning system pushed to full blast spits a cold and possibly germ-ridden air on us. I cover myself with my sleeping bag. Even the journalists below the balcony are cold.
Baraitser interrupts the prosecutor and there is a 5 minute break. It is recognizable by the fact that the witness leaves his desk, and the break ends when he resumes his place. Mark Summers takes the floor again. He speaks again about « dark prison, murder, rendition » and asks if the revelation of this is a « public interest ». Yes, » the witness answered, « it is evidence of my government’s criminal activities! Then the debate refocuses on what Julian Assange is really accused of, « conspiracy to obtain secret documents, » to which Summers adds the euphemistic « rules of engagement » of the American military to designate the permits to kill civilians that they grant to their soldiers in all circumstances. Did Assange just receive or seek to obtain the diplomatic documents? This is the « accusatory » problem, when no one is trying to define what is a « conspiracy, » a « conspiracy, » a term existing in European criminal law for blood crimes or attacks. We have not yet seen in Europe a conspiracy to publish texts… But this joint American-City of London ceremony is setting a dangerous precedent on our continent!
The prosecutor summoned the witness to present his CV, but Baraitser interrupted them and decided to pause. We have to resume at 2 p.m. I’m waiting for the screen to turn off. I listen to the participants at the « bottom » discuss in German. They don’t have to leave the premises. The security guard takes us out. We pass in front of room 10 again. I would love to go in there! As we leave the security guard at the gate assures us that we will be the first to enter again.
We leave the premises for a lunch in our apartment. The decision is made to continue, even if it seems fair that we give at least one place to those who were waiting after us. The famous VIPs obviously did not come but contrary to the day before the agents did not want to accept 3 more people despite the 38 empty seats in the gallery! We are back before 2 p.m. Deepa is already in front of the door. We decide to let in my Polish colleague. She will stay until the end and I will wait for her outside in the demonstration. Before 2 p.m. the Shipton family arrives in front of the door. I take this opportunity to politely ask John Shipton what Julian Assange said when he protested, since we were not hearing anything he said. Shipton looks at me in amazement as if he hadn’t been there. I insist! Assange said a sentence, Baraitser admonished him, he must have heard, he had a front row seat in room 10! The man still looks at me with a bewildered look and asks me who I am. I introduce myself, I remind him that I was present at all the hearings since October 2019, except during the lockdown. I remind him that we discussed on August 14 at the Westminster. I introduce him to my Polish collaborator. I won’t get anything out of it about Assange’s sentence or any other subject. Either he slept or he was not the one in Room 10, because I don’t see why he should keep Julian Assange’s protestant sentence a secret!
Our friends are gathered
at the foot of the glass building facing the Old Bailey. They are very lucky
not to be kicked out of this private place. The City of London police officers
are in front of the building. No photo will be taken. The neighborhood quickly
becomes deserted again and we leave to rest.