Assange's Case

jim bell jdb10987 at
Sun Aug 22 01:51:16 PDT 2021

 On Wednesday, August 11, 2021, 06:41:37 AM PDT, Peter Fairbrother <peter at> wrote:
 On 11/08/2021 04:31, jim bell wrote:
>> To:   Stephan Simanowit     Amnesty International  press at
>> From:  Jim Bell
>> I am an American with great interest in Julian Assange's case, and 
>> probably engaged in discussions with him about 1995 (although at the 
>>>> time he was under a pseudonyn) on the Cypherpunks email list.
>> However, I happen to have learned Federal law, although I have never 
>> been a lawyer or paralegal:  I spent probably 15,000 hours in various 
>> law libraries learning many areas of American Federal law.
>> Over the last few years, I realized that Assange has some 
>> issues(defenses) that I am not aware were being discussed in the news 
>> media.   However, I haven't read the actual legal filings from the UK 
>> case, so I didn't learn if they have been used.   However, I did send 
>> some of this material to Barrister Jennifer Robinson, who is Assange's 
>> barrister.   I didn't get an answer, although I didn't expect to receive 
>> one.
> A very brief description, gone into much greater detail below.
> 1.    In virtually every issue against Assange, there appears to be no 
> "extraterritoriality jurisdiction" present in American Federal law.  
> This means that American courts have ruled that in order to apply 
> American law to crimes committed in areas physically outside America, 

>However if the effect of a crime committed by person who is outside 
>america is against eg a computer or other thing or person inside 
>america, then in american law that crime was committed within the bounds 
>of the unitedstates, notwithstanding that the criminal was not in 
>america. So issues of extraterritoriality do not apply.

Yes, that's an ARGUMENT,   but it isn't clear to me that it's a VALID argument.  I haven't had access to the LEXIS law library computer system for nearly a decade.  
Today, and even 2009, generally Internet users don't know where the computer their inquiries are accessing resides.   It would be somewhat grotesque if people automatically became subject to foreign law if they had no idea they were accessing a foreign-located computer.  
Keep in mind that most American laws involving computers or crimes were written prior to the time when the Internet 'turned on' for most people; I think of the year 1995 as being that approximate point in time.   

>Applies also to some US forces when they are abroad, their bases andassets are sometimes regarded as being inside the unitedstates.
>As an aside, for the purposes of the UK extradition hearing, whether the 
US courts have jurisdiction is a question of UK law, not US law.

Well, I think that UK courts could look to American law to determine if American courts are purported to have jurisdiction.  I cited a lot of American court decisions, some indicating that unless the statute itself claimed "extraterritorial jurisdiction" (not necessarily in those literal words), American law has no jurisdiction.  I believe most American criminal computer law was and remains old, written long before people thought of accessing foreign computers remotely.  That suggests that Congress did not even consider extraterritoriality in writing those laws.  
"It is just possible (though unlikely) that assange might be correctly 
extradited under UK law then a US court might decide not to continue on 
US law extraterritoriality grounds."

There is also the issue of "dual criminality", the idea that if an extradition is to occur, a given act must be considered a crime by both the sending nation and the receiving nation.  
One more issue is that if there is indeed 'dual criminality', then logically some kind of prosecution is appropriate for UK, but we haven't seen that, or even heard about it.  
Also, remember that I described an argument based on the limitation period ("statute of limitations"), pointing out that if there is indeed extraterritorial jurisdiction, then Assange should have been considered 'within US jurisdiction' from 2009 through 2015, and so the likely 5-year limitations period should have expired 5-6 years ago.  I certainly believe a valid argument against extradition is that there is no limitation period valid excluding the time the American government attempted to begin extradition.   One of the reasons that I forwarded a copy of my arguments to Jennifer Robinson, Assange's barrister, is to ensure that she was at least exposed to the arguments.  
I'd certainly be willing to read arguments made, both by American government lawyers, and Assange's lawyers, as well as UK lawyers, to determine if they are considering the matters I see as being valid.  
    Jim Bell

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