John Shipton, Julian Assange's father, attended his son's latest extradition hearing on 27 April 2020 where Judge Vanessa Baraitser agreed that it would not be feasible to continue with the second part of the case as originally planned. Baratiser, reading almost immediately from her computer screen after the application for adjournment was made by the defence, explained that, "remote attendance by the parties will not be appropriate". The judge cited the UK government's decision to extend the COVID-19 lockdown to 7 May as being decisive in her decision.
She instructed both parties to decide whether a time in July or in November would be most appropriate for proceedings to restart.
Mr Shipton discussed his thoughts about the hearing outside of Westminster Magistrates' Court and explained why he considered the process to be somewhat farcical.
Sputnik: What do you think about the Judge's decision today?
John Shipton: I think it's very wise for the judge to... accede to the facts and move the case to a time in November, when everybody can attend, the public can attend, Julian can be in the court.
Sputnik: How did you find the court proceedings themselves?
John Shipton: A bit farcical. You couldn't hear anything. And the clerk of the court had to translate Edward Fitzgerald QC - acting for Julian - had to translate his words because we couldn't understand from the speaker - was very muffled. .
Sputnik: And do you have any concerns that what we experienced today would repeat itself for the second part?
John Shipton: So the judge would be the only person in the room. Everybody else would be watching on TV. It would be very silly I imagine.
Sputnik: What did you think about the part of the judge's decision where she said that the fact that the video conferencing room would not be safe for Julian was a matter for the prison to decide and if the prison authorities determine it was safe then that would not be a reason for the hearing to be adjourned?
John Shipton: Oh, I don't know, you know, what the law is in that case, but it's just unwise for all those prisoners in these times to be using an infected room. So that's just wrong, it can't be done. That's full stop. The doctor advised not to do it and so it won't be done.
Sputnik: How will things move forward from today?
John Shipton: There's an adjournment for a week, their consulting with Julian on whether the date after the second of November is acceptable and the court will reassemble in seven days time to hear that decision.
Sputnik: When was the last time you saw Julian?
John Shipton: About six weeks ago now.
Sputnik: Was that via video link or in person?
John Shipton: In Person. Nothing since the lockdown.
Sputnik: Finally, do you have a message for Assange's supporters?
John Shipton: Yes. Just thank you. And I'm sure we'll win. I'm certain we'll win.