In Extradition cases there are no term limits for detention. The Extradition process may last for years. The Courts decide whether to grant bail to the person under detention. Julian Assange’s application for bail was rejected in March 2020. Yet there is a mechanism in place that any prisoner on remand (in detention pre-trial or in this case pre-extradition decision) is presented to court every 28 days so that a judge extends or terminates his or hers detention. These are called Administrative Court Hearing. The next Administrative Hearing in Westminster Magistrates Court is on the 26th of November 2020 at 11:45 in the morning at Court No 3, one of the smallest court rooms in the building. Once again Julian Assange will be presented to Court via video link from Belmarsh prison. Under normal conditions only 13 spaces are available in the public gallery but under covid regulations of social distancing the number of available seats has been reduced to 6 seats. Additionally, in October the resident policeman advised me that only 3 seats were available inside the court for journalists.
Readers may well think how preposterous the situation is when all around the world as well as the UK civil society is demanding freedom for Julian Assange, when the United Nations legal authorities ask for his release, and the public interest in the case is huge why is it that only 9 people are able to visit in person the place where UK judicial authority is exercised upon Julian Assange!
Last Month I enquired directly with the court on Tuesday 22/10/20 and was advised that the administrative hearing would take place 22/10/20 at 10am but the Administrative hearing was suddenly re-scheduled by the Court from 10 am to 2pm. The hearing did not appear at Court lists at all and I only found out late the day before about the change from the official DEA campaign who explained the change was very much last minute. It is wise for people who intend to attend the hearing at the public gallery to ring 0300 303 0645 the afternoon before the hearing to confirm time.
It is important to be aware that MetPol will be monitoring any gathering outside the court. With the new covid legislation powers bestowed on them by parliament they may, under the threat of Fixed Penalty Notices (fines), request any people gathered be dispersed. Refusal to disperse and provide personal details (name/address) in order to be sent a fine, may lead to arrest. Also be aware that there is a resident policeman inside the court who regularly checks whether protestors are outside the building. Please take extra care if you plan to individually stand4JA outside the court.