FBI collusion with discredited witness may undermine entire Assange extradition case

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A star prosecution witness in the US extradition case brought against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has admitted he lied in his testimony to US authorities. But there’s another dimension too, as previously leaked emails clearly show that the witness was groomed by the FBI.

Altogether, this may provide an opportunity for a legal challenge to the prosecution’s case.

Lied

Stundin exclusively published details of how the witness, Sigurdur Ingi Thordarson, lied to US authorities.

WikiLeaks tweeted that the fabrication of evidence was in exchange for a deal with the FBI:

Icelandic MP and WikiLeaks volunteer Birgitta Jonsdottir said she was suspicious about Thordarson from the beginning:

I warned Julian from day one, there’s something not right about this guy… I asked not to have him as part of the Collateral Murder team

As reported by The Canary, Thordarson is a convicted felon in relation to several offences, including paedophilia. He pleaded guilty to these offences. Also, in December 2014, Thordarson was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison on 18 charges of embezzlement, theft, and fraud.

Groomed

These two extracts from emails understood to be between Thordarson and FBI agents provide an insight into their relationship:

Alleged FBI emails

Alleged FBI email

But as Wired pointed out, Thordarson was not just groomed by email. Rather, “The FBI flew [Thordarson] internationally four times for debriefings, including one trip to Washington D.C.”. And as part of their ongoing communications with Thordarson, the FBI paid him $5k.

Forewarned

In June 2019, WikiLeaks published a press statement claiming the US department of justice (DoJ) would be using Thordarson in its prosecution case as part of an “FBI entrapment operation”:

Significantly, the press release added:

While the case would collapse in the U.S. due to the prosecution’s reliance on testimony by Thordarson and [Hector] Monsegur, who are not credible witnesses, the United States can conceal their witnesses’ identities during UK extradition proceedings in order to boost their chances of winning.

And this is what happened in the superseding indictment, with Thordarson referred to as “Teenager” and Monsegur, who was widely known as “Sabu”.

Legal challenge?

Under English law, where a law enforcement agency is shown to have directly fabricated or colluded in the fabrication of evidence, there are grounds to seek dismissal of convictions or the prosecution case.

A famous example of this was the Guildford Four case. Alastair Logan, one of the solicitors who represented the defendants, summed up:

The case against the Guildford Four involved massive failure to disclose evidence, the disappearance of material evidence, perjury, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and perversion of the course of justice, forgery, criminal behaviour towards people in detention, withholding and concealment of the alibi evidence in relation to Gerard Conlon [one of the four], witness tampering, concealment of evidence, misuse of the powers under the Prevention of Terrorism Act to intimidate alibi witnesses and destroy their credibility, threatening and interfering with witnesses, fabrication of evidence and conspiracy.

In 1989 at the Old Bailey, police evidence against the Guildford Four was shown to have been fabricated. Consequently, the Guildford Four had their convictions quashed and were freed.

The end?

As for Thordarson’s alleged admissions, they may provide a further opportunity for the defence to challenge the veracity of the prosecution case as a whole.

Indeed, barrister Greg Barns SC, adviser to the Australian Assange campaign, told The Canary:

The admission by a key witness that he was not a witness of the truth is a blow to the extradition case. No doubt US department of justice lawyers will have to assess if there is a case at all which can be brought against Assange. More broadly this development points again to the fact that the Assange case is pure politics.

Moreover, on hearing of the alleged admissions by Thordarson, exiled NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden tweeted:

There are many other alleged flaws and errors in the US case, as well as UK procedural irregularities.

Meanwhile, Assange continues to be held in arbitrary detention, a practice condemned by UN rapporteur Nils Melzer. This farce must end.

Featured image via YouTube

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