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Fri Jun 29, 2012, 07:50 PM

Statement Summarizing Assange's Position

I am posting this because there have been considerable efforts to smear Assange, even by DU'er's, and I am concerned that these smears have had a negative effect on support for him. Whatever you may think of the allegations against him – and if you research them, you find they fall far short of anything considered illegal in the U.S., and that the women making the allegations have never sought to press charges against him – the fact is that Wikileaks would not have existed without him, and without Wikileaks, a great many terrible crimes committed by various governments and corporations around the world might never have been revealed. Neither Wikileaks nor Assange have been charged with any violation of any law in any country, nor has any authority managed to identify anyone actually injured by their revelations. Nonetheless, there's been an unprecedented effort to shut Wikileaks and Assange down.

The statement below, made today in front of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, accurately summarizes some of the matters that have been the subjects of misrepresentation or misunderstanding most recently, including among other things the likelihood of extradition to the US and the dangers he might face here.

(This statement appears to have been delivered as a public statement or press release, so I don't think there's any copyright problem; but if there is, pls let me know.)

Thank you for coming – My name is Susan Benn from the Julian Assange Defense Fund.

I have spoken to Julian today and he is in good spirits. He is grateful for the support shown to him by the people of Ecuador and so many others from around the world.

Yesterday Mr. Assange was served with a letter from the Metropolitan police service requesting that he surrender himself to the Belgravia police station at 11.30 this morning.

Mr Assange has been advised that he should decline to comply with the police request. This should not be considered any sign of disrespect. Under both international and domestic UK law asylum assessments take priority over extradition claims.

The issues faced by Mr. Assange are serious. His life and liberty and the life and liberty of his organization and those associated with it are at stake.

The United States Government has instigated a grand jury investigation against Julian Assange and other “founders or managers” of Wikileaks. Australian diplomats have described this investigation as being of “unprecedented scale and nature”. There is irrefutable evidence in the public record of subpoenas being issued and witnesses being compelled to testify against Mr. Assange. WikiLeaks, the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights and other groups have been fighting these subpeonas and other issues arising from the investigation in multiple US courts. US officials have said in open court that the FBI file about the investigation has now reached 42,135 pages. The US department of justice admitted yesterday that its investigation into WikiLeaks proceeds. It is only a matter of time before US authorities begin extradition proceedings against Julian and other leading members of WikiLeaks on various charges including conspiracy to commit espionage. There are credible reports that a sealed indictment has already been made against Mr. Assange. Under US law a sealed indictment can only be made public once Mr. Assange is in custody. For a US official to otherwise acknowledge the existence of a sealed indictment is a criminal offense. The Independent newspaper’s diplomatic correspondent reported that informal talks between the US and Sweden have been conducted.

It should be made clear what would happen if Julian was extradited to the USA. The United Nations special rapporteur for torture, Juan Mendez has formally found that the United States has subjected Julian Assange’s alleged source in this matter, the young soldier Bradley Manning, to conditions amounting to torture. The UN found that the United States subjected Bradley Manning to “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”. Mr. Manning has been charged by the US government with the capital offense of “aiding the enemy” in relation to his alleged interaction with Mr. Assange. Bradley Manning has been detained without trial for two years and was placed into solitary confinement for 9 months in his cell for 23 hours a day, stripped naked and woken every 5 minutes. His lawyer and support team say these harsh measures were to coerce him into implicating Julian Assange.

So it is clear that there is a legal process in place which will result in taking Julian to the US, which if allowed to succeed would violate his basic rights.

It is accepted by the UK Supreme Court that Julian Assange has not been charged with any criminal offence in Sweden. It is also accepted that he was by told by Swedish authorities that he was free to leave Sweden. And it is also accepted that he has continuously offered to be interviewed by the Swedish authorities here in the UK, should they wish to do so. Although it is normal procedure, Swedish authorities have refused, without reason, to make the 3 hour trip to London and to interview Julian causing him to be trapped in the UK under virtual house arrest for 561 days and an additional 10 days in solitary confinement – all without charge. Instead they have issued an INTERPOL Red notice and extradition requests.

Julian and his legal team have previously sought assurances from both the UK government and the Swedish government that they will guarantee safe passage after the completion of legal interviews with Mr Assange and both have previously refused, although we are hopeful they will look at the matter again. The Swedish executive publicly announced on June 14 that it would detain Mr. Assange in prison without charge.

Once in Sweden under such grave restrictions it would be impossible for Mr. Assange to exercise his asylum rights.

Mr. Assange did not feel safe from US extradition in the UK. We are all too aware of the abuses of the US-UK extradition treaty. Although Mr. Assange has been trapped in the UK, under dangerous circumstances, he at least has had the freedom to apply for political asylum.

It is in this context that Julian has made the difficult decision to seek refuge inside the Ecuadorian Embassy to ask for asylum.

Julian will remain in the Embassy under the protection of the Ecuadorian government while evidence for his application is being assembled and processed.

For further accurate information about these issues, please see www.justice4assange.com

Thank you.


The foregoing transcript was found at http://wlcentral.org/asylum .

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Arrow 10 replies Author Time Post
Reply Statement Summarizing Assange's Position (Original post)
snot Jun 2012 OP
Voice for Peace Jun 2012 #1
sabrina 1 Jun 2012 #2
snot Jun 2012 #4
struggle4progress Jun 2012 #3
Junkdrawer Jun 2012 #5
sabrina 1 Jun 2012 #6
snot Jun 2012 #7
Tierra_y_Libertad Jun 2012 #9
SidDithers Jun 2012 #10
Tierra_y_Libertad Jun 2012 #8

Response to snot (Original post)

Fri Jun 29, 2012, 08:13 PM

1. thank you!

I haven't been following Assange's situation for a while but am
a fan, & concerned for his welfare.

I wish more people would read this and try to understand.

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Response to snot (Original post)

Fri Jun 29, 2012, 08:24 PM

2. Thank you. This has Rove written all over it. And the Swedish Government, by hiring a criminal like

Rove as a political adviser to their rightwing PM, have disgraced themselves.

I think a boycott of Sweden is needed. Thousands rallied earlier this week in support of Julian Assange.

He has never been charged with a crime.

He was NEVER accused of rape or assault by the women, in fact they denied it.

This is purely a political persecution of the kind we normally associate with the Soviet Union or China.

And imo, it began AFTER he told an interviewer that approx 50% of the leaks Wikileaks was in possession of, 'had to do with the Private Sector', going on to state that Banks were implicated in the leaks.

He gave that interview in July and by August, as promised in the CIA memo obtained and published by Wikileaks, he was subjected to MEDIA accusations of rape, right at the time when Rove was acting as adviser to Sweden's PM.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #2)

Sat Jun 30, 2012, 01:06 PM

4. +1!

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Response to snot (Original post)

Fri Jun 29, 2012, 11:02 PM

3. Does Ms Susan Benn suffer from hallucinations?

Mr Assange was served requesting his surrender because he exhausted his appeals in both the UK and Sweden, failed to pursue an appeal to the European court at Strasbourg, and recently jumped bail. The UK now is therefore pursuing his extradition pursuant to law.

Mr Assange had already appealed the 18 November 2010 arrest order issued by the Stockholm District Court, and the international and European warrants, to the District Court, which upheld the warrants 30 November 2010, and had appealed the Court of Appeals judgment to Sweden's Supreme Court, which denied his appeal 2 December 2010.

On 7 December 2010, he surrendered to the London police and was remanded to Wandsworth but was released 16 December 2010 with bail and sureties, subject to certain bail conditions. His extradition hearing was held in early February at Belmarsh, and his extradition upheld 24 February 2011. He appealed to the High Court, which heard his appeal and then contemplated the matter for four months before dismissing his appeal on 2 November 2011. He appealed to the Supreme Court, which likewise heard his appeal and then contemplated the matter for four months before dismissing his appeal on 30 May 2012. The Supreme Court refused to reopen his case but granted Assange until 28 June to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Instead, Mr Assange jumped bail.

Ms Benn believes Mr Assange's cries for asylum "take priority over extradition claims." The UK, of course, in a spirit of friendship with Ecuador, will not violate the Ecuadorian embassy. But the UK does not recognize "diplomatic asylum," and Mr Assange's fear of extradition to Sweden on a sex complaint is not based on any internationally cognizable fear of persecution. A few years ago, Mr Assange was contemplating a permanent move to Sweden and applied for permanent residency there. But almost immediately after applying for residency, he suddenly quit the country, complaining he "fell into a hornets' nest of revolutionary feminism."

Ms Susan Benn would have us think Mr Assange's "life and liberty ... are at stake." With respect to the charges in Sweden this claim seems manifestly untrue, since the obvious charges Mr Assange faces there are punished only by a fine, although Mr Assange could possibly be subject to detention as a flight risk while the Swedish authorities sorted matters -- an outcome unfortunately made more probable by Mr Assange's own behavior in jumping bail with the hope of asylum in Ecuador.

It would, of course, not be all surprising if there were a US investigation into Mr Assange and other members of his organization, insofar as these people seem to have obtained, through a contact in the US military, an unprecedented trove of documents. US intelligence and counter-intelligence experts have no doubt been wracking their brains over the question of whether the entire affair is as simple as the popular public versions of it, or whether the whole show is a coordinated sideshow to distract attention from another piece of more substantial espionage. Mr Assange's love of personal secrecy, and his flair for stunts like the alleged encrypted "nuclear file," probably have not set at ease the minds of the US intelligence and counter-intelligence establishment -- not least because Assange has the gigantic ego and love of games that one might expect from a successful double or triple agent.

But whether various other countries would, or would not, extradite Mr Assange to the US on espionage charges is, of course, moot at present, as there is no actual evidence that any espionage charges have been filed against Mr Assange anywhere. The alleged "credible reports that a sealed indictment has already been made against Mr Assange" presumably refers to the supposed Stratfor email, apparently obtained in an FBI sting operation against a small group amateur hackers and released by Mr Assange's Wikileaks (not an uninterested party) -- a document whose provenance thus deserves great skepticism.

Even if there were a sealed indictment, awaiting unsealing at a convenient time, Sweden cannot extradite a person to the US, after that person has been extradited to Sweden from another EU country, without first obtaining the consent of that EU country, as discussed on the Prosecuting Authority's webpage:

Facts about extradition and surrender
... if the extradition concerns a country outside the European Union the authorities in the executing country (the country that surrendered the person) must consent such extradition. Sweden cannot, without such consent, extradite a person, for example to the USA ... The Principle of Speciality applies here, i.e. the person surrendered to Sweden may not be tried for any crimes other than those stated in the arrest warrant and may not be surrendered to another state, unless the original surrendering country grants its permission. In addition, the conditions imposed by the surrendering country also apply.
http://www.aklagare.se/In-English/About-us/International-prosecution-operations/Facts-about-extradition-of-a-person-who-has-been-surrendered/


Apparently, none of this matters to Ms Benn, who foresees torture and execution in her crystal ball. Ms Benn apparently reaches these conclusions based on her view of the Bradley Manning case: "The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Torture .. has formally found that the United States has subjected .. Bradley Manning, to conditions amounting to torture." This is inaccurate: the document to examine is A/HRC/19/61/Add.4, dated 29 February 2012:

... In his report, the Special Rapporteur stressed that “solitary confinement is a harsh measure which may cause serious psychological and physiological adverse effects on individuals regardless of their specific conditions.” Moreover, “<d>epending on the specific reason for its application, conditions, length, effects and other circumstances, solitary confinement can amount to a breach of article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and to an act defined in article 1 or article 16 of the Convention against Torture” ... In response to the Special Rapporteur’s request for the reason to hold an unindicted detainee in solitary confinement, the government responded that his regimen was not “solitary confinement” but “prevention of harm watch” ... http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Guardian/documents/2012/03/12/A_HRC_19_61_Add.4_EFSonly-2.pdf


In actual fact, the Special Rapporteur has declined to interview Manning because: "The US Government authorized the visit but ascertained that it could not ensure that the conversation would not be monitored." It is a good principle that persons, who are allegedly being tortured, should have some access to private unmonitored interviews, and no doubt the Special Rapporteur is right to stand on this principle. But absent specific evidence, all the Special Rapporteur can do is stand on principle, and that is all he does: "The Special Rapporteur concludes that imposing seriously punitive conditions of detention on someone who has not been found guilty of any crime is a violation of his right to physical and psychological integrity as well as of his presumption of innocence. We shall all, of course, agree with that principle, although the principle itself does not tell us anything whatsoever about the conditions of Manning's detention.

With a similar carelessness, Ms Benn would have us know that "Mr. Manning has been charged by the US government with the capital offense of 'aiding the enemy'" -- whereas in fact

... the prosecution formally declined to categorize the charge of “aiding the enemy” as a capital offense, when Manning’s charges were officially referred on Feb. 3 ... http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/foreign-affairs-defense/wikisecrets/live-blog-bradley-mannings-arraignment/


Ms Benn deduces from this very thin soup: "So it is clear that there is a legal process in place which will result in taking Julian to the US, which if allowed to succeed would violate his basic rights. And then she throws out what she apparently regards as devastating argument:

Swedish authorities have refused, without reason, to make the 3 hour trip to London and to interview Julian causing him to be trapped in the UK under virtual house arrest for 561 days and an additional 10 days in solitary confinement – all without charge. Instead they have issued an INTERPOL Red notice and extradition requests.


Beyond this, Ms Benn adds: Julian and his legal team have previously sought assurances from both the UK government and the Swedish government that they will guarantee safe passage after the completion of legal interviews with Mr Assange and both have previously refused.

So the situation at present seems to be that Mr Assange, having skipped bail and trotted into the Ecuadorian embassy, is waggling his tongue at the Swedes: Neener! neener! neener! You should have come to get me! And he is adding conditions for his cooperation: Well, I don't know! Why can't you guarantee nobody else will ever prosecute me?

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Response to struggle4progress (Reply #3)

Sat Jun 30, 2012, 01:17 PM

5. Wow...

I would never expect a post this blatantly pro-MIC on DU.

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Response to struggle4progress (Reply #3)

Sat Jun 30, 2012, 01:25 PM

6. Why is someone, who has not been charged with a crime, being pursued this way

do you know?

Why won't Sweden file charges?

Why did the Swedish authorities tell Assange when he was there, making himself available to the police, that he was free to go?

What was Karl Rove doing in his political advisory capacity to the Right Wing Swedish PM?

Why would the US have a GJ seated to try to get an indictment of a multi-award-winning Editor and Publisher of an International News Organization?

And why would anyone NOT worry about being kidnapped by the US, held and tortured indefinitely when the world knows that this is standard procedure for this country with hundreds of victims around the world trying to get some justice for what happened to them?

But most of all, why will Sweden not produce its evidence even to Assange's attorneys that justifies an innocent person being persecuted like this?

I think we all know why, at least those of us who have followed this from the beginning.

He is absolutely correct to do what he is doing. When elected officials of a Super Power call for your death publicly, especially a Super Power with a very bad reputation for human rights abuses, I think that's a hint that you need to look out for your own safety.



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Response to struggle4progress (Reply #3)

Sat Jun 30, 2012, 01:28 PM

7. Struggle, I was expecting you. As usual,

you supply a mountain of partially inaccurate info that still manages to leave out the big picture. E.g., just because Manning's prosecutors declined to "categorize" aiding the enemy as a capital offense doesn't mean that whoever prosecutes Assange couldn't seek capital punishment against Assange under the Espionage Act; and they have every incentive to hide their intentions at this point.

But far more importantly (again, the big picture), those who wish to neutralize Assange would do better to simply incarcerate him for as long as possible (rather than making him a martyr), out of public scrutiny – which they certainly have the power to do – while the media they largely control ignore him; meanwhile perhaps while doing whatever they feel they can get away with doing to Assange to psychologically break him, as they have already done to Manning, which must certainly take a toll. Or maybe they just let Assange get assassinated or suicided.

The bottom line is, those who wish to neutralize him have already shown they will spare no cost or effort to do so, and they have the means, and Assange would be a fool to allow himself to fall into their hands.

I could point out other inaccuracies and omissions in your account, but I don't believe that would help anyone. I'll simply say that I think I've followed this story as closely as you, and Assange may not be perfect, but his actions have done a great deal of good in the world, and he is being unjustly persecuted. I hope others who read this thread will not be deterred by mountains you post, which it appears to me are mainly intended to obscure the view.

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Response to struggle4progress (Reply #3)

Sat Jun 30, 2012, 01:29 PM

9. I'll bet Maryland would have loved extraditing Harriet Tubman

I wonder why she didn't just turn herself in for a fair trial.

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Response to struggle4progress (Reply #3)

Sat Jun 30, 2012, 01:53 PM

10. Stop "smearing" Assange with the facts...nt

Sid

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