WikiLeaks founder, serial whistleblower and political pariah Julian Assange would most likely receive an open trial, according to the military lawyer for David Hicks Lieutenant Colonel, Michael Mori.
Speaking at a panel at NSW Parliament House last Wednesday, Mr Mori said if Mr Assange went to trial in the United States he would probably get a lot of representation, and it would receive heavy media scrutiny.
“I don’t think he’d be sent off to Guantanamo Bay or anything like that,” he said.
Mr Mori said the most concerning procedures Mr Assange could face are the use of special administrative measures limiting his access to third parties during pretrial detention and monitoring conversations with his council.
Mr Assange is currently hiding in the Ecuadorian Embassy in Great Britain and avoiding impending extradition to Sweden, which Mr Assange’s supporters say is just a pit stop before further extradition to the US.
It is widely suspected a secret Grand Jury has been empanelled in the State of Virginia to decide on Mr Assange’s fate.
A Grand Jury is a collection of citizens who are supposed to act as a check on the prosecutal authority. It is not an adversarial system where defense lawyers make counter arguments and it does not strictly follow the formal rules of evidence.
This is different to the military system, where the prosecutor draws up the charges, but before they can go to trial they call an article 32 hearing where the defense is present. Their council can put forward evidence to convince the officer in charge not to recommend a trial.
In the military it is just a recommendation that can be overridden, while in the Grand Jury system the prosecutor is tied to the decision of the empanelled citizenry.
Mr Mori said the fact Bradley Manning is not charged with conspiracy is a reflection of his connection with Mr Assange.
“Where as if there was some sort of inclination that Julian Assange was somehow involved in inciting or encouraging Bradley Manning to release these documents, you might have seen him charged with conspiracy,” he said.
Mr Mori said as Mr Manning is charged with order violations not reliant on his intentions, he would probably have a much harder time arguing his innocence than Mr Assange, as his charges are seen in the USA as somewhat more controversial.
By Jason Marshall and Amelia Lezes