The State of Play: Joshua Schulte and Julian Assange

Last year, it looked like the Joshua Schulte trial, rescheduled in the fall to start January 13, would be done before the extradition hearing for Julian Assange started. Two things changed since then: Schulte got a delay until February 3, and then last month, Assange convinced Judge Vanessa Baraitser to split his extradition hearing into two, the first part lasting a week starting Monday, and then resuming on May 18 for three more weeks.

As a result, both men are in court during the same week, intersecting in interesting ways.

Thus far, Assange’s argument is threefold:

  1. His prosecution is hopelessly political, merely retaliation by the hated President that Assange helped elect, Donald Trump
  2. The evidence in the case against Assange is so weak as to be abusive
  3. A person cannot be extradited for political crimes like the Espionage Act

The first argument is a load of horseshit covering up the fact that the timing of the treatment of WikiLeaks as a non-state hostile intelligence service, the increased surveillance of Assange, and the initial December 21, 2017 charge all stem from WikiLeaks’ burning the CIA by publishing all its hacking tools. It’s horseshit, but it garners a lot of enthusiasm among WikiLeaks supporters who like to conveniently forget that, whatever Assange’s motivations were in 2010 (when he engaged in the acts he is charged with), he nevertheless helped Russia help Trump get elected. That said, even though the claims about what changed in 2017 are horseshit, it doesn’t change that the existing charges against Assange pose a real danger to journalism.

The second argument is far stronger. For each of the theories of prosecution under which Assange is charged — attempting to help Chelsea Manning crack a password, soliciting certain files via WikiLeaks’ wish list, and publishing a bunch of files in which the names of US and British sources were later revealed — Assange has at least a credible defense. Assange never succeeded, and could not have succeeded, in cracking that password. Manning didn’t leak the precise files that WikiLeaks had on its wish list (though did leak some of the same sets). WikiLeaks originally went to some effort to redact the names of sources, only to have a Guardian journalist release the password revealing them. Mind you, the extradition hearing is not the trial itself, so for these defenses to be relevant, WikiLeaks has to prove that the case against Assange is abusively weak.

The third argument, which is being argued today, is a more interesting legal question. Assange claims that the existing Anglo-US extradition treaty, passed in 2003, still prohibits extradition for political offenses like theEspionage Act. The US argues that Assange’s extradition is governed by the Extradition Act of 2003, which did not include such a bar (and also disagrees that these are political crimes). The lawyers are even arguing about the Magna Carta! Judge Vanessa Baraitser seems inclined to side with the US on this point, but the question will surely be appealed. Mind you, one of the charges against Assange, CFAA, is in no way a political offense, and the UK has not barred its own citizens, much less foreign citizens hanging out in foreign embassies, from being extradited on the charge (though several hackers, most recently Lauri Love, have challenged their extradition to the US for CFAA on other grounds).

Yesterday, Assange’s defense spent a good deal of time making the second argument. The US didn’t respond. Rather, it said it would deal with those issues in the May hearing.

Meanwhile, the Schulte trial is wrapping up, with Schulte doing little to mount a defense, but instead preparing an appeal. Yesterday, Schulte asked that an instruction on the defendant not testifying be added to the jury instructions (normally, these are included from the start, but Schulte has been claiming he would testify all this time). Today, Schulte told the court that Steve Bellovin won’t testify because he never got access to all the data Judge Paul Crotty ruled he couldn’t have access to (not mentioning, however, that the restrictions stemmed from Crotty’s own CIPA judgment).

I’m still unclear on the status of the witness, Michael. Schulte is trying to submit his CIA investigative report in lieu of finishing cross-examination (which is where things had left off). But it still seems possible that Crotty would require his testimony to be resumed, giving the government another opportunity to redirect his testimony. This is all likely happening today, but given that there’s so little coverage of the trial, we won’t know until Thursday.

Before all this happened, however, the jailhouse informant provided very damning testimony against Schulte, not only describing how Schulte obtained a phone (swapping an iPhone for a Samsung that he could load all the apps he wanted on it), but also claiming that Schulte said, “Russia had to help him with what he was doing,” launching an information war.” I had learned of similar allegations of ties or willingness to forge them with Russia via several sources in the past. And Schulte’s own jailroom notebooks include hints of the same, such as a bullet point describing how Russia could help the US “destroy itself.”

And his final plan — which the informant alerted his handlers to just before Schulte launched it — included some “Russia pieces.”

As part of the same plan to get fellow SysAdmins to leak all their secrets to WikiLeaks, then, Joshua Schulte was also hoping to encourage Russia to attack the US.

I’ve long said the Vault 7 case, if it were ever added to Julian Assange’s charges (including an extortion charge, which would also not be a political crime), would be far more damning and defensible than the ones currently charged. Filings from November suggested that the government had come to think of Schulte’s leaks to WikiLeaks as the last overt act in an ongoing conspiracy against the United States.

And by 2018, Schulte had come to see leaking to WikiLeaks as part of the same plan encouraging Russian attacks on the US, precisely the allegation WikiLeaks has spent years trying to deny, especially in the wake of Assange’s cooperation in Russia’s election year operation.

It’s not clear whether the US will add any evidence to the original 2010 charges against Assange before May (though Alexa O’Brien has pointed to where additional evidence might be), but the statement they’re waiting until then to rebut the solid defense that WikiLeaks is now offering suggests they might. That might reflect a hope that more coercion against Chelsea Manning will produce that additional evidence (she has renewed her bid to be released, arguing that such coercion has obviously failed). Or it might suggest they’ve got plans to lay out a broader conspiracy if and when Schulte is convicted.

Assange’s lawyers pushed for the delay to May in the first place. If the US government uses the extra time to add charges related to Vault 7, though, the delay may make a significant difference in the posture of the case.

39 replies
  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Both the presiding magistrate and the prosecution claimed that the UK implementing legislation does not prohibit extradition for “political offenses.” These are excluded by the 2003 US-UK treaty, but only the implementing legislation provides rights enforceable by a private person.

    The argument seems to be more Jesuitical than well-founded. The treaty prohibits extradition for “political offenses.” The implementing legislation, meanwhile, chooses a different phrase. It prohibits extradition for, among other things, “extraneous matters.” These are defined in a separate section to include “political opinions.” Which limits the argument to parsing the difference between “offenses” and “opinions.”

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The 2003 US-UK Extradition Treaty can be found here: Article 4 deals with “Political and Military Offenses.”

      The UK implementing legislation is the Extradition Act 2003, which came into force January 1, 2004.

      Part 2 of the Act covers extradition to various “category 2” non-EU countries, including the United States. Part 2, section 79 addresses “Bars to extradition,” which include, “extraneous considerations.” Section 81 defines these in a grudging, reluctant manner:

      “A person’s extradition to a category 2 territory is barred by reason of extraneous considerations if (and only if) it appears that – (a) the request…is…made for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing him on account of his…political opinions.” [Or, section (b), if he,] “might be prejudiced at his trial or punished, detained or restricted in his personal liberty by reason of his…political opinions.”

    • bmaz says:

      We shall see what the court says, but by my understanding, and I went through this deeply with experts in the UK and EU back during the initial round of hearings as to Sweden, the local UK enabling cannot supersede the mutually adopted and ratified extradition Agreement Treaty.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The principles should be identical, even though the treaties are not identical. My point is similar. I think the distinction the magistrate and prosecution are selling is spurious, even if the words in the treaty and legislation are not identical.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        If there are material distinctions between a treaty and implementing legislation – I don’t think the one the prosecution is selling here is – that creates a standing issue. In domestic law, the disparity would not normally create a private right of action. It would be left to the affected states to sort out a remedy.

        One reason I think that Johnson and the neocons wanted so badly for the UK to leave the EU is that it has a fix for that. EU courts can deem that private rights of action do exist where a state has failed properly to implement, through domestic legislation, certain forms of EU laws, such as directives.

        • Chetnolian says:

          If you really think Boris would trouble himself with finer details of legality you have not been concentrating

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Oh, my, why would I think Boris cares any more than Trump for the niceties of the law or legal process, any more than he cares how many children he has?

      • Peterr says:

        The EU part of that equation is probably getting very muddy right now during this transitional Brexit year.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          It’s an analogy and a systemic restraint the British neocons wanted to destroy. I don’t think its rules would affect Assange’s case.

  2. Lauri Love says:

    Given that you seem to be (depressingly and heart-wrenchingly) on the side of the war-criminals who want to lock up a journalist for 175 years for reporting on their atrocities.

    Can I ask if you also support the indefinite coercive detention of Chelsea Manning and Jeremy Hammond to attempt to force them to facilitate this act of vindictive destruction of a human being in the service of exerting chilling effects on the free press?

    What the hell happened to you?

    Do you think Julian will get a fair trial in the USA? Do you simply choose not to care because you’ve gotten so turned around morally as a consequence of Donald Trump being elected?

    You’re breaking my heart with this callousness and inhumanity.

    Kindest regards,

    Lauri Love

    • P J Evans says:

      Hi there, obviously-new-reader! Use the tags to find PREVIOUS diaries, where you can get a much better picture of what the proprietors think.

      • Peterr says:

        Also, this post describes where things stand in the two cases at present — not what Marcy would like them to be, or what she thinks would be just.

        Hence, the title of the post.

      • bmaz says:

        No no folks, please do not go there.

        Lauri is the actual individual in the case I was referring too. His skin has been in this very game, and seriously so. Respect his position. Even though the “siding with war criminals” and “locking up journalists” is ridiculous hyperbole.

        • Peterr says:

          OK, that’s fair.

          But I’m going to disagree quite strongly with Lauri’s given assumption that Marcy is on the side of war criminals locking up journalists and the rhetorical assumption that Marcy does not care about due process and that Marcy’s morals have been turned around by the election of Donald Trump, as well as the language of “callousness and inhumanity” used to describe either Marcy or this post.

          • P J Evans says:

            Also. Because it comes across as someone who hasn’t been here for long and is trying to start an argument.

    • emptywheel says:


      As others have noted, this post attempts to explain what, given the record, I believe to be happening. Whether or not you agree, I think far too many Assange supporters are kidding themselves about what happened and why. I’m unwilling to be the part of disinformation, regardless of who it benefits.

      That said, I’m grateful you’ve joined us, and I hear your comments and take them seriously. I’ll probably write at more length later (I’m in transit), but do know that I’m grateful you commented.

      • Lauri Love says:

        You could perhaps respond substantively to the question of whether you look as gleefully upon the coercive indefinite detention of Chelsea and Jeremy as you do upon the prospects of Julian being put into special administrative measures (solitary confinement, torture) in advance of a show-trial in EDVA, where he will face several lifetimes imprisonment under extra-territorial charges, the most severe of which affords no public interest defence, and all of which are consequent to the revelation of truths through the publication of authenticated primary source materials.

        I would like to see some evidence that you are capable yet of examining your conscience in this matter and willing to demonstrate that you have done and will continue so to do.

        You do not get to sit on the fence or the sidelines draped in ethical aloofness when violent oppression is the subject of contention. You are either on the side of the oppressed or the side of the oppressor. Perhaps you’d like to take a few moments to reflect on your positions.

        I do not judge people lightly, especially those whom I have held in great esteem. I would not be speaking like this had I not observed your coverage enough to infer with confidence the sentiments you nurture in your heart.

        This is not a trifling matter. This is not ‘inside baseball’. This is not part of the remediation of some black swan aberration of your otherwise-functional justice system or nation-state. This goes to the very crux of all that is broken and toxic and poisonous about the both. Willingness to acknowledge this in its full context is not an optional extra-credit assignment.

        Unless you are capable and willing to appraise these events in the full tapestry of thes relationship between power in the United States, its role as global military hegemon, and the counterweight of transparency in any ostensible free society, then you are surely complicit as any deputy or lieutenant.

        Kindest regards,


        p.s. I’m talking to Marcy, and to a lesser extent bmaz. Other forum participants are politely invited to stfu.

        • bmaz says:

          With all due respect, you do not get to tell anybody here to shut the fuck up. Ever. You post a comment, anybody can respond. That’s the way it works.

        • bmaz says:

          As a substantive answer to your question, I have no problem whatsoever with Manning and Hammond detention, none. They have no legal right whatsoever to refuse to testify pursuant to a facially valid subpoena. If citizens can blithely refuse compulsory court process to testify, the entire justice system collapses. They are being petulant jerks claiming rights they clearly do not have. So, until they decide to do the right thing, they can sit and rot, and quit whining in the meantime. My clients have an absolute 6th Amendment right to subpoena and compel witnesses, that do not wish to appear otherwise, for their defense. Under the fucked up idiocy of Manning and Hammond, such witnesses could just say “Lol, no, not going to do that because it would hurt my little fee fees”. That is unacceptable.

          Secondly, “several lifetimes imprisonment” is hyperbole to a geometric degree. Whoever peddled that bullshit to you is gaslighting you. And, no, not all of Assange’s potential charges are related to “revelation of truths”, and that is before you get to the conduct not yet charged.

          Third, I have no need whatsoever to “examine my conscience” nor to “take a moment to reflect on my positions”. I am quite well informed on all of these matters, and have been from the start, and I am quite comfortable with my positions.


          “Unless you are capable and willing to appraise these events in the full tapestry of thes relationship between power in the United States, its role as global military hegemon, and the counterweight of transparency in any ostensible free society, then you are surely complicit as any deputy or lieutenant.”

          What a load of crap.

        • emptywheel says:

          I will do that–later today.
          I’m curious though: What do you make of Assange’s willingness to participate in a secret hearing for an investigation by a nation-state into suspected third-party spying? He did precisely what Chelsea is refusing to.

        • Gigi says:


          it seems you love transparency and accountability, so do tell, why exactly did Wikileaks become FSB front?:
          (1) It hasn’t released any Russian cables since 2010s,
          (2) it tried to discredit Panama papers by invoking USAID and (OMG! could it “””be”””) Soros (very fitting, what with Assange&Co antisemitism) [],
          (3) it REFUSED to publish leak from Russian Interior Ministry []. Not even mentioning Assange’s extortion campaign.

          Is it possible that the organisation that you have such a hard-on isn’t what it says it is? That its mission of transparency is actually one certain political agenda?

    • tvor_22 says:

      Welcome to the comments section, Lauri:

      While you’re here, I’ve been meaning to ask about your position on Bill Binney’s VIPS involvement (seeing as how you were cited a source in a journalistic investigation by Duncan Campbell concerning ‘Adam Carter’, ‘The Forensicator’, and Binney).

      The main question is this:

      Binney claims that because the NGP-VAN archive (released by Guccifer2.0 via natsecgeek) was transferred to a filesystem consistent with a USB, that this somehow constitutes evidence of a hack rather than a leak. This claim contradicts evidence the FBI found concerning Guccifer2.0 as laid out in the GRU hackers indictment.

      1. What is your stance on the hack vs leak evidence (Binney’s view VS IC, LE, and private investigations*)
      *the FBI investigation and subpoenas on bitcoin/facebook/AWS/Azure/url shortening accounts + /Dutch surveylance/GCHQ+NSA search term intercepts/Threatconnect et al public G2 analysis, all of which demonstrated GRU involvement in DNC, DCCC, and Podesta hacks.

      2. What is your opinion in WL’s use of Seth Rich to fill in the vacuum created by the Binney/VIPS/Forensicator/AdamCarter worldview.

      Full disclosure, my own involvement with the Carter crew is described here:

      • bmaz says:

        Hi there “TVOR”. It is swell that you are now issuing welcomes to our comment section since I see no evidence of you having ever participated previously (unless you are sock puppeting). And you damn sure are not a contributor here. So, where do you get off??

        And do not bring your self serving link bait bullshit onto this blog ever again. This is the wrong place for you to pull that bunk.

        • tvor_22 says:

          You’re mistaken. I have posted here before with this username (google “tvor_22” I changed my email address if that’s what you’re talking about? Marcy knows who I am.

          What are you talking about link baiting? What is nefarious about posting links to views which back up and support what has been written on this blog?

          • bmaz says:

            Aye. I now see that you posted previously under completely different electronic characteristics. Apologies. But we are very cautious in this regard.

            • tvor_22 says:

              I also moved house since those posts. That would explain the different IP. I’ve never attempted to hide my IP on this website while posting (may have accidentally visited here using Tor, but can’t remember ever using Tor to post). I always made sure to do this from early on as a show of good faith. I’ll go back to using the old email address if it please.

  3. Savage Librarian says:

    The Schulte “info wars” comment is interesting (although Betances Luna indicated it in Spanish, “guerra de informacion,”) especially with respect to the government’s focus on the August 4th date, since we know Roger Stone was on Alex Jones’ InfoWars show on August 4,2016. During that time, Stone claimed there would be WikiLeaks disclosures and that he had spoken with Trump the day before. Stone also told Nunberg that he dined with Assange on 8/3.

    The Nader/Zamel meeting took place at TT on 8/3 in Don Jr.’s office. IIRC, Kushner and Stephen Miller were also present. Erik Prince and Steve Bannon may also have been in the building and may have been at the meeting.

    And the Manafort/Gates/Kilimnik meeting took place at the cigar bar 8/2/16.

    So, that was an eventful week.

    According to the Inner City Press twitter link ew provided, Schulte’s jailhouse informant (Betances Luna) mentioned a concern about something at the library. I’ve been waiting quite a while to see if a library would factor in somewhere. I always suspected it would, if only in a minor way. Obviously, libraries provide many beneficial materials and services. But, like the internet, they also are vulnerable to the actions of bad actors.

    Because Betances Luna said “guerra de informacion,” in reference to Schulte mentioning info wars, it brought to mind the previous post ew had on February 23, 2020 (“The Inconsistencies of the UC Global Julian Assange Spying Story”) and the Spanish company employed to ensure security in the Ecuadorian Embassy.

    Was Schulte speaking Spanish to someone or was the jailhouse informant translating? If Schulte was speaking Spanish, might he have been speaking to someone at the Ecuadorian Embassy, or someone at UC Global?

  4. Savage Librarian says:

    I came across this article recently and thought others might appreciate seeing it. It gives an analysis of the variety of reasons why we believe misinformation and disinformation. If con artists know this stuff, it’s probably a good idea if the rest of us take it into consideration.

    “Why do people believe con artists?”

    * “Unpleasant reality
    * Envy and opportunism sideline doubt
    * Greed is blinding
    * Ignorance of customs and business practices
    * Misery generates a desperate belief
    * Sometimes it’s just about trust
    * Claims are difficult or costly to disprove
    * People want dreams to be true
    * Repetition – the hallmark of social media – creates belief
    * Independent matching claims are seen as credible
    * People believe what others appear to believe”

  5. JonKnowsNothing says:

    @LLove @All

    re:bmaz His style of posting and reporting is confrontational. He primarily posts opinions and does not hold back from vigorous challenges to other posters. He doesn’t hold back on his ideas about how things are or should be. He maybe one of many watchers for MW because she is well known for her independence and reliable analysis and therefore a target for any person or group who disagrees with her analysis. I don’t know what horrible thing happened to make his views rather difficult to read in comparison but surely he has some experience or reasons. I don’t come to this site to imbibe on his attitude but it is here anyway.

    re: MW She has a long standing reputation for even analysis and an absolutely unmatched ability to dissect timelines and threads of timelines for many important legal proceedings. She has been recently assisting in some timeline analysis that are of great importance. There is a bit of schadenfreude recently but this is understandable because, as you noted, people take opposing positions even in sports. It’s hard not too, when your analysis proves something is other than the expected promoted version.

    I will share a personal experience that might be of assistance to many outside of the USA. Where I live in California, participation in jury selection is mandatory. In past years, people have been able to avoid “Jury Duty” but now with cross referencing between many databases (DMV and Social Security among others), folks can’t really avoid it. I received a notice not long ago and went to fulfill my civic duty. I had not been called for a long time, so I was uncertain as to what I would encounter. Where I live is more conservative and I expect the court to be the same because our Judges are Elected and nothing goes down better in this area than a “lock em up” political flyer. I was selected along with 60 others for a criminal case pool. What is important about my experience is what I observed as a pool member and the behavior of the court.

    In the USA we have a presumption of innocence. No one is guilty until the court and jury say so. The judge in this case spent a lot of time going over this fact. No matter how heinous the crime, nor the effects, the person on trial is INNOCENT until the jury says otherwise. Over the days of selecting a jury this admonition was presented many many times. I was not selected for the final jury but I came a way with a profound appreciation for that judge and for the insistence on this principle. Not everyone who was questioned by the judge was able to do so and those folks were politely excused.

    In other countries, presumption of innocence is not the case.

    I do not know what will happen to Mr Assange and there are some aspects of the legal system in the USA where presumption of innocence does not happen (Grand Jury) but in a regular trial it does. Our Grand Jury system is totally different. You have limited options on what you are allowed to do or not do. Your legal advise is limited to outside the courtroom. It is a tool for prosecutors to hone or practice their case. The Grand Jury gets a lot of public reporting and it may seem that this is what happens inside other courts.

    We also have aberrations to our system, which are explained by others and are written about extensively.

    Should Mr Assange come to the USA and I hope he will have a judge like the one I observed and people on the jury that will abide by that principle.

    ht tps://
    (url fractured to prevent autorun)

    • bmaz says:

      Hi John. Not to be “confrontational” or anything, but I do not post primarily opinions. I utilize known and extant facts, as well as over three decades of personal experience as a lawyer. Regarding Mr. Love, it is not my “opinion” that the necessary remedy for contempt is civil detention until the contempt is remedied or the particular grand jury is terminated. How do I know that? Because I have been involved in such cases, and was even found in contempt and threatened with such detention when I refused to give up one of my clients to a grand jury. The difference is that I had an ethical duty that was paramount, and the court of appeals set it aside. Manning and Hammond have nothing, and their detention is completely appropriate. That is not an opinion, it is a fact of law. So is the necessity of adherence to compulsory process. That too is a fact, not an opinion.

      No, nothing traumatic has happened to me in life, and I really do not give a damn about your comfort level in reading what I have to say. Thanks for the input.

  6. Savage Librarian says:

    Apologies for this OT, but it has some encouraging legal analysis about a potential Stone pardon. Here are some excerpts with the full text in the link below:

    “Opinion | Why President Trump Can’t Pardon Roger Stone” – POLITICO,
    02/27/2020 04:30 AM EST

    “Many scholars agree that once a president has been impeached, he or she loses the power to pardon anyone for criminal offenses connected to the articles of impeachment. Less noticed is that even after the Senate’s failure to convict the president, he or she does not regain this power.”
    “Inevitably, some will argue that an impeached president should regain the power to grant clemency to his alleged co-conspirators in cases of acquittal by the Senate. That ignores not only the framers’ clear intent, but also the plain text of the Constitution.”

    “The framers deliberately used the phrase “cases of impeachment,” not “conviction.” One reason why is simple: A president convicted by the Senate would be removed from office, and thus unable to pardon anyone. As such, there would be no reason for the Constitution to curb a convicted president’s pardon power. No exception to the pardon power needs to be granted, because no such power exists.”

    • Molly Pitcher says:

      So if this is the case, all of Trump’s recent pardons would be negated ? Given the packed Supreme Court and the sycophantic DOJ, I don’t see the reversal of thosepardons happening any time soon.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        From the article:

        “The limit on pardons for co-conspirators wouldn’t affect many of the president’s pardons. Pardoning convicted criminals like former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich might be ill-advised, but it is still permitted. By contrast, pardoning longtime adviser Roger Stone would not be permitted, as his crimes relate directly to the impeachment case.”

          • Savage Librarian says:

            OK, thanks bmaz. It seemed to have a logic to me. Are you saying it could not be argued in court? Does this mean Trump’s pardon power is fully in tact and could not be challenged? Is this because there is not the supporting case law? Might there ever be a strategy to challenge his pardon power?

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