Julian Assange will be locked up in Colorado Supermax prison, ex-warden testifies

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Julian Assange will be locked up in Colorado Supermax prison, ex-warden testifies

LONDON — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would have to be “almost dying” to get out of arguably the most notorious prison in the United States if convicted of espionage charges and sent there, a court at London’s Old Bailey heard Tuesday.

Mustafa, who is also known as Abu Hamza and used to be a cleric at the Finsbury Park Mosque in London, was extradited from the U.K. to the U.S. in 2012. He has had his two arms amputated and is blind in one eye. SAMs were imposed on him soon after extradition and he has for the past five years been housed in a special secure unit of ADX known as H-Unit.

Lindsay Lewis, a New York attorney who has represented Mustafa, told the court in written testimony that Assange would “in all likelihood wind up in this unit as well” if held under SAMs and sent to ADX.

“There is no reason to conclude that SAMs imposed on Mr. Assange would be any less arbitrary, oppressive, or difficult to challenge, should the U.S. government determine, in its apparently unbridled discretion, that they are appropriate,” she said.

Source: The Chicago Tribune

Prosecutors Struggle to Resume Guantánamo Trials

Military prosecutors struggling to restart war crimes tribunals at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in the midst of the pandemic are proposing to transform the crude court compound of tents and trailers into a quarantine zone.

A New York City criminal defense lawyer who this year shared a six-man tent at Camp Justice to observe a session of the case for the American Bar Association likened the prosecution plan to a modification of the way professional sports leagues are resuming games — but on a naval base in Cuba without the testing and medical care, and with greater risk and lawyers in their 60s and 70s.

“In basketball, a guy gets sick they take him out and test everybody twice in 48 hours,” said Joshua L. Dratel, who defended a case at the Guantánamo war court in 2006 and 2007, when lawyers were put up in officers’ quarters. “What if 20 people got sick at Camp Justice? Could the hospital even handle it?”

The proposal for a quarantine starting in September is part of a flurry of efforts by the prosecutors to resume hearings in all four active war crimes cases after a series of setbacks and obstacles — including an adverse court ruling against the prosecution in a rare case of a prisoner who has cooperated with the prosecution.

Source: Pulitzer Center

Rats and raw sewage: Jeffrey Epstein jail blighted by ‘horrible’ conditions

The MCC has held high-profile inmates but it was largely unknown to the public until it became the place where Jeffrey Epstein was found dead last weekend, more than a month after his arrest on federal sex trafficking charges.

Epstein’s death raised questions about how such a high-profile suspect could die under the care of the federal government. Criminal justice advocates argue the focus on problems at the prison is long overdue.

“The plumbing there is horrible,” said Andrew Laufer, a lawyer who has represented clients at the MCC. “You have prisoners going to the bathroom in the shower stalls. You have vermin, you have the rats, you have the roaches, you have a lot of just the day-to-day stuff that’s just horrible.

“[Prisons are] tough places to be, places that you don’t want to be. But they should have a minimum standard that they should live up to.”

Lawyers have found that clients held at MCC receive delayed access to medical care. Joshua Dratel, who has worked with those held in the prison since the 1980s, said one recent client broke a foot but had to wait three weeks to see a specialist doctor.

“There’s a lack of standards of care for inmates,” Dratel said. “It’s a difficult place for inmates, it’s a difficult place for staff, it’s a difficult place for us [lawyers] for us to visit.”

In response to Epstein’s death, Democratic and Republican leaders on the House judiciary committee sent a letter to BOP acting director Hugh Hurwitz, saying the incident “demonstrates severe miscarriages of or deficiencies in inmate protocol and has allowed the deceased to ultimately evade facing justice”.

The DoJ reassigned the MCC warden and placed on leave two guards assigned to watch Epstein. It took the death of a “rich, white person for that to happen, for those measures to be taken,” Dratel said.

“Those of us who operate in this system on a daily basis have been crying in the wilderness about this, that it has not been running properly for a significant period of time.

“It shouldn’t have to come to this.”

Source: The Guardian

Trump officials pushing to strip convicted terrorists of citizenship

John Walker Lindh walked out of prison last month and returned to American life, having served 17 years for providing support to the Taliban.

But another American who pleaded guilty in a high-profile terrorism case after the Sept. 11 attacks is facing a tougher path to freedom.

Critics say the current move to revoke the al-Qaida sleeper agent’s American citizenship highlights the limited progress the U.S. has made in the past two decades in prison-based deradicalization efforts. They also say it could create a dangerous new front in how the legal system treats U.S. citizens convicted of terrorism offenses.

“It’s part and parcel of the rest of the immigration policy which is just to demonize people from other countries,” said Joshua Dratel, a Manhattan defense attorney. “It’s an aggressive move.”

In the absence of a life sentence or capital punishment, native-born Americans like Lindh seem all but certain to walk the streets in the U.S. again after serving their sentences, even if they’re unrepentant. But naturalized citizens like the Pakistani-born Faris are at risk of being deported over their allegiance to al-Qaida.

Source: Politico

Vermont high court permits lawsuit against cop accused of racial profiling

The Vermont Supreme Court ruling says a driver who claims racial profiling may bring suit against the officer, and casts doubt on the scent of marijuana as a valid basis for a search. Defense lawyers and civil rights groups praise the decision as a step to ending racial profiling.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), which submitted a joint amicus brief in 2018 in support of Zullo, lauded the decision: “All people in this country should be able to trust that law enforcement is not targeting them for any improper purpose. And now the Vermont Supreme Court has held that the people of Vermont have a path to vindicate their rights should they be so violated.”

Black drivers are around four times more likely than white drivers to be searched after a stop, and Hispanic drivers are around three times more likely. But research done in the state of Vermont shows that Black and Hispanic drivers “are less likely to be found with contraband that leads to citation or an arrest,” according to the NACDL brief.

New York attorney Lindsay Lewis, who oversaw the NACDL joint amicus brief, said individuals not just in Vermont, but across the country, should be able to trust they are not being improperly targeted by law enforcement.

Source: Injustice Watch