EXPOSED: How British Intelligence Manipulated Julian Assange Trial

Investigative journalists Matt Kennard and Mark Curtis of Declassified UK have extensively studied numerous aspects of the Julian Assange extradition hearing revealing the legal irregularities and conflicts of interest in the case. The reports expose how British Intelligence manipulated Julian Assange trial.

EXPOSED How British Intelligence Manipulated Julian Assange Trial
EXPOSED How British Intelligence Manipulated Julian Assange Trial

Julian Assange’s judge and her husband’s links to the British intelligence

The husband of Lady Emma Arbuthnot, the Westminster chief magistrate overseeing WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange’s extradition to the US, has financial links to the British military establishment, including institutions and individuals exposed by WikiLeaks.

It can also be revealed that Lady Arbuthnot has received gifts and hospitality in relation to her husband, including from a military and cybersecurity company exposed by WikiLeaks. These activities indicate that the chief magistrate’s activities cannot be considered as entirely separate from her husband’s.

Lord Arbuthnot’s military and intelligence connections

Lord Arbuthnot of Edrom, a former defence minister, is a paid chair of the advisory board of military corporation Thales Group, and was until earlier this year an adviser to arms company Babcock International. Both companies have major contracts with the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD).

Lord James Arbuthnot of Edrom
Lord James Arbuthnot of Edrom is the husband of the chief magistrate presiding over Julian Assange’s US extradition case. A long-standing Conservative Party politician, he has significant links to the British military and intelligence establishment. (Photo: UK Parliament)

Lord Arbuthnot also has connections to former officials in the UK intelligence services which WikiLeaks has exposed in its publications and which have conducted intelligence operations in the UK against WikiLeaks.

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Until December 2017, Lord Arbuthnot was one of three directors of a private security firm, SC Strategy, along with the former director of MI6, Sir John Scarlett, and Lord Carlile. Until June 2019, Arbuthnot remained a “senior consultant” to SC Strategy. Scarlett is mentioned in WikiLeaks releases and has largely remained out of public debates around privacy and surveillance.

Little is known of SC Strategy, which does not have a website, but Companies House lists an address in Watford. Carlile states on his register of interests that SC Strategy was formed by him and Scarlett in 2012 “to provide strategic advice on UK public policy, regulation, and business practice”. It lists one client as the Qatar Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Investment Authority.

Before becoming a peer, Lord Arbuthnot was a member of the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee from 2001-06. He is also currently an officer of the all party parliamentary group on cybersecurity which is administered by the Information Security Group (ISG) at Royal Holloway, University of London. The ISG manages a project worth £775,000 that is part-funded by GCHQ.

Lord Arbuthnot himself appears in documents published by WikiLeaks, including two confidential US diplomatic cables. A December 2009 US confidential cable notes Arbuthnot telling an official in the US embassy in London that he supported President Obama’s speech on US strategy towards Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Son of Julian Assange’s judge linked to anti-data leak company Darktrace created by British intelligence

The son of Julian Assange’s senior judge is linked to an anti-data leak company created by the UK intelligence establishment and staffed by officials recruited from US intelligence agencies behind that country’s prosecution of the WikiLeaks founder.

Dark Trace British Intelligence Julian Assange
Alexander Arbuthnot’s employer, the private equity firm Vitruvian Partners, has a multimillion-pound investment in Darktrace, a cyber-security company which is also staffed by officials recruited directly from the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The son of Lady Emma Arbuthnot, the Westminster chief magistrate overseeing the extradition proceedings of Julian Assange, is the vice-president and cyber-security adviser of a firm heavily invested in a company founded by GCHQ and MI5 which seeks to stop data leaks, it can be revealed.

Alexander Arbuthnot’s employer, the private equity firm Vitruvian Partners, has a multimillion-pound investment in Darktrace, a cyber-security company which is also staffed by officials recruited directly from the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

These intelligence agencies are behind the US government’s prosecution of Julian Assange for publishing secret documents. Darktrace has also had access to two former UK prime ministers and former US President Barack Obama.

Darktrace and UK intelligence

Darktrace, which Alexander Arbuthnot describes as an “AI [artificial intelligence] based cyber-security” company, was established by members of the UK intelligence community in June 2013.

GCHQ, the UK’s major surveillance agency, approached investor Mike Lynch—regarded as Britain’s most established technology entrepreneur – who then brokered a meeting between GCHQ officers and Cambridge mathematicians who co-founded the company.

Company material openly mentions “the UK intelligence officials who founded Darktrace”. It states that its team includes “senior members of the UK’s and US’s intelligence agencies including the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the Security Service (MI5) and the NSA.”

Another co-founder was Stephen Huxter, a senior figure in MI5’s “cyber defence team” who became Darktrace’s managing director. Soon after the company launched in September 2013, Darktrace announced that former MI5 director-general Sir Jonathan Evans had been appointed to its advisory board. Huxter welcomed Evans’ “unparalleled stature in the field of cyber operations”.

Chief magistrate in Assange case received financial benefits from UK Foreign Office

The senior judge overseeing the extradition proceedings of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange received financial benefits from two partner organisations of the British Foreign Office before her appointment, it can be revealed.

It can further be revealed that Lady Emma Arbuthnot was appointed Chief Magistrate in Westminster on the advice of a Conservative government minister with whom she had attended a secretive meeting organised by one of these Foreign Office partner organisations two years before.

Liz Truss, then Justice Secretary, “advised” the Queen to appoint Lady Arbuthnot in October 2016. Two years before, Truss — who is now Trade Secretary — and Lady Arbuthnot both attended an off-the-record two-day meeting in Bilbao, Spain.

Tertulias

The expenses were covered by an organisation called Tertulias, chaired by Lady Arbuthnot’s husband — Lord Arbuthnot of Edrom, a former Conservative defence minister with extensive links to the British military and intelligence community exposed by WikiLeaks.

Tertulias British Intelligence Julian Assange
Liz Truss, then minister for DEFRA, speaks in the Guggenheim museum at the secretive Tertulias meeting in Bilbao, Spain, 18 October 2014. Standing to her right is Tertulias’ chairman, Lord Arbuthnot. Foreign Office partner organisation Tertulias also paid for Lady Arbuthnot — Julian Assange’s senior judge — to attend this event.

Tertulias, an annual forum held for political and corporate leaders in the UK and Spain, is regarded by the UK Foreign Office as one of its “partnerships”. The 2014 event in Bilbao was attended by David Lidington, the Minister for Europe, while the Foreign Office has in the past funded Lord Arbuthnot’s attendance at the forum.

The Foreign Office has long taken a strong anti-Assange position, rejecting UN findings in his favour, refusing to recognise the political asylum given to him by Ecuador, and even labelling Assange a “miserable little worm”.

Key Assange prosecution witness links to UK military

One of the US prosecution’s key medical witnesses in the Julian Assange hearing, who claimed that Assange’s risk of suicide is ‘manageable’ if extradited to the US, works for an academic institute that is funded by the UK Ministry of Defence and linked to the US Department of Defence, it can be revealed.

  • US prosecution witness works at Institute of Psychiatry funded by UK military, although is not personally funded by it.
  • Witness leads research group which works “in collaboration” with centre set up with US Department of Defence funding.
  • He co-leads the group with academic whose work is often funded by UK military.
  • Institute’s partner department is closely linked to the Anglo-American military and intelligence communities, and created a course for British intelligence officers on behalf of the UK government.
  • Responding to Declassified, witness says: “I had no conflicts [of interest] to declare.”
  • Revelations come following end of Old Bailey hearing on Assange’s US extradition.

Dr Nigel Blackwood, a reader in forensic psychiatry at King’s College London (KCL), told the extradition hearing in London that Julian Assange was suffering only “moderate” depression.

Nigel Blackwood, a Reader in forensic psychiatry at King’s College London
Nigel Blackwood, a Reader in forensic psychiatry at King’s College London, who was a US prosecution medical witness in the Julian Assange extradition hearing. (Photo: King’s College London)

Declassified has discovered that Dr Blackwood’s professional work at KCL is linked to a cluster of academic groups which are funded by or associated with the British and American militaries.

Declassified has seen a contract showing that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) provided more than £2-million to KCL’s Institute of Psychiatry for the years 2013-16 for a project which KCL is forbidden to mention in public without MOD approval. It is likely the contract has been renewed and is still active.

The project is managed “on behalf of the Secretary of State for Defence” and is for Phase 4 of a “wellbeing” study of veterans of Britain’s recent military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. Seeking to “inform MOD decision-making”, the project began in 2003.

Dr Blackwood told Declassified his FRG at King’s College had never received funding, directly or indirectly, from the MOD.

The group does, however, receive funds from organisations associated with the British military. One of its six listed funders is Help for Heroes, which supports wounded military personnel. The organisation receives funds from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust, an MOD-funded charity that was until 2018 based inside the ministry.

References

  • Julian Assange’s judge and her husband’s links to the British military establishment exposed by WikiLeaks (link), 14 November 2019
  • The son of Julian Assange’s judge is linked to an anti-data leak company created by the UK intelligence establishment (link), 15 November 2019
  • REVEALED: Chief magistrate in Assange case received financial benefits from secretive partner organisations of UK Foreign Office (link), 21 February 2020
  • Revealed: Key Assange prosecution witness is part of academic cluster which has received millions of pounds from UK and US militaries (link), 2 October 2020

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