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Thu Jun 21, 2012, 11:24 AM

Assange's asylum bid and Washington's WikiLeaks response: matching hysteria

The embassy cables did not harm national security and US laws shield publication of state secrets. Assange will not be extradited
Peter Galbraith
Thursday 21 June 2012 05.30 EDT

... UK authorities are unlikely to allow Assange leave the Ecuadorean Embassy, lest the London embassies become a magnet for would-be fugitives. Scandinavian prisons have a reputation for humaneness no bars, nice rooms, furloughs and conjugal visits and Assange might find a short incarceration there preferable to an indefinite stay in what I presume is a relatively cramped Ecuadorian embassy.

Julian Assange's lawyer has said his client is concerned not by the sex offense charges in Sweden, but that Sweden might extradite him to the United States. There, his lawyer says, he could face the death penalty for espionage and treason. While I am no expert on Swedish and British extradition law, I have never understood why Sweden a neutral country with a long tradition of harboring American draft dodgers and deserters would be more likely to extradite Assange than the United Kingdom, a staunch US ally whose laws authorize prosecution of journalists for official secrets violations in a way that is not possible in either the US or Sweden.

In the United States, constitutional protections of freedom of the press are nearly absolute and this makes it almost impossible to prosecute the publisher of classified information. Earlier this month, the New York Times ran articles detailing ongoing US covert operations, including cyber attacks on Iran's nuclear program and targeted killing of al-Qaida operatives. These revelations clearly compromised US national security presumably, both Iran and al-Qaida will now take defensive measures but no one is calling for the prosecution of the reporter, David Sanger, or the newspaper. Indeed, Sanger is now feted on national television and his book, based on what he learned of US intelligence activities, is certain to be a bestseller ...

Julian Assange may stay in the Ecuadorian embassy or go to Sweden to answer the charges there. He will not end up in the United States. Much as US officials might want him in jail, the legal and constitutional barriers to a successful prosecution are insurmountable. There is no basis for extradition ...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/21/julian-assange-asylum-wikileaks

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