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Thu Aug 2, 2012, 09:52 AM

Julian Assange is right to fear US prosecution

As the drama unfolds over Julian Assange's bid for political asylum in Ecuador, a troubling irony has emerged: the besieged founder of WikiLeaks is seeking refuge in this small Andean nation because he fears persecution from the United States, a nation whose laws famously grant asylum to people in precisely Assange's situation. Indeed, the US has demonstrated its commitment to be a safe haven for those being persecuted for their political beliefs by recognising that journalists punished for expressing political opinions in places like China meet the criteria for asylum under the US's own laws.

The journalistic function and legacy of WikiLeaks cannot be disputed. The site has published 251,287 leaked US diplomatic cables and military documents that revealed the inner workings – warts and all – of US foreign policy. These publications illuminated state-sponsored human rights abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan, exposed a secret war in Yemen, and revealed the Obama administration's interference with independent efforts to prosecute Bush officials for torture and other war crimes.

So why is Assange so concerned? Are his fears of persecution due to his political beliefs and expression reasonable?

US officials scoff at the idea that the Obama administration even seeks Assange's extradition – "It's not something the US cares about, it's not interested in … there's nothing to it," said Jeffrey Bleich, the US ambassador to Australia. This is a remarkable claim given several unambiguous signs that the US is on track to prosecute Assange for his work as a journalist. A grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, empanelled to investigate violations of the Espionage Act – a statute that by its very nature targets speech – has subpoenaed Twitter feeds regarding Assange and WikiLeaks. An FBI agent, testifying at whistleblower Bradley Manning's trial, said that "founders, owners and managers" of WikiLeaks are being investigated. And then there is Assange's 42,135-page FBI file – a compilation of curious heft if the government is "not interested" in investigating its subject.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/02/julian-assange-right-fear-prosecution?newsfeed=true

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Response to bemildred (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 11:08 AM

1. The Swedes Have Rather Tipped their Hand, Sir

By refusing the offer to question Mr. Assange in the Ecuadorean embassy. It is clear they simply want him where he will be accessible to our 'Justice Department'....

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Response to The Magistrate (Reply #1)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 11:31 AM

2. It seems clear that mere "questioning" is not the object.

Given the nature of the alleged offense, so far, an unseemly quantity of time and effort has been invested in the case too, which seems very much like a "tell" to me. Whatever this is, it is not about some sexual offense in Sweden.

It's not that I think that Assange is not a MCP, or has no personal flaws, or that I approve of screwing "sleeping" girls, but that does not rise to the level requiring this sort of effort from political and criminal justice systems.

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Response to bemildred (Reply #2)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 07:44 AM

6. May I note that its Assange that's been prolonging this far beyond the time it would have required

by doing close to anything he can think up in an effort to try and evade facing the potential consequences for his actions in Sweden.

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Response to Bodhi BloodWave (Reply #6)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 07:53 AM

7. You may note whatever you like.

I don't really see why Assange should cooperate with any of these dishonest weasels that are after him.

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Response to bemildred (Reply #7)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 08:17 AM

8. because what he is doing currently runs counter to the very thing wikileaks stands for?

You have the Swedish courts, you have Interpol acknowledging the Swedish warrant as legit and you have the UK courts considering the warrant as having enough basis to rule that Assange should be handed over to Sweden.

Are you telling me that everybody in the different courts and in Interpol are dishonest weasels and part of an conspiracy going after Assange?

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Response to Bodhi BloodWave (Reply #8)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 11:53 AM

11. I'm pretty sure he decides what Wikileaks stands for.

And yes, the people that are after him are dishonest weasels, and I don't give a rats ass about who they are.

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Response to The Magistrate (Reply #1)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 07:41 AM

5. Or considering he fled the country the day before he were to do a dna sample and be questioned

the Swedish government decided it has no real interest in catering to his whims.

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Response to Bodhi BloodWave (Reply #5)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 11:26 AM

9. This Is Not 'His Whim', Sir, It is An Offer From the Ecuadorean Government

Which in effect holds him in custody. If the answers give to questions indicate criminal culpability, the chances are the Ecuadoreans will turn him over to the London police. It is already in their power to grant him asylum and end the matter. Sweden's refusal to question him under these circumstances is effectively a confession the questions are not the point, getting him to Swedish soil is the point, and there is little doubt that if once in Sweden, he would be turned over the United States.

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Response to The Magistrate (Reply #1)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 11:27 AM

10. True....

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Response to The Magistrate (Reply #1)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 02:47 PM

12. Apt point, sir.

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Response to bemildred (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 11:35 AM

3. Du rec. Nt

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Response to bemildred (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 03:57 PM

4. Is he right to fear a govt that would murder its OWN citizens, w/o trial, proof or charges?

I don't know, it looks like he's really veered off into tin foil hat territory.

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Response to bemildred (Original post)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 03:24 PM

13. "... There was at one stage a suggestion that Mr Assange could be extradited to the USA (possibly to

Guantanamo Bay or to execution as a traitor). The only live evidence on the point came from the defence witness Mr Alhem who said it couldn’t happen. In the absence of any evidence that Mr Assange risks torture or execution Mr Robertson was right not to pursue this point in closing. It may be worth adding that I do not know if Sweden has an extradition treaty with the United States of America. There has been no evidence regarding this. I would expect that there is such a treaty. If Mr Assange is surrendered to Sweden and a request is made to Sweden for his extradition to the United States of America, then article 28 of the framework decision applies. In such an event the consent of the Secretary of State in this country will be required, in accordance with section 58 of the Extradition Act 2003, before Sweden can order Mr Assange’s extradition to a third State. The Secretary of State is required to give notice to Mr Assange unless it is impracticable to do so. Mr Assange would have the protection of the courts in Sweden and, as the Secretary of State’s decision can be reviewed, he would have the protection of the English courts also. But none of this was argued ..."
City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court (Sitting at Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court)
The judicial authority in Sweden -v- Julian Paul Assange
Findings of facts and reasons


So, in the end, Assange did not argue in UK Courts that he could be extradited to the US from Sweden, but instead one of Assange's own witnesses indicated that the extradition to the US was factually impossible. And, in any case, as the UK Magistrate notes clearly, Assange could simultaneously fight any attempt, to extradite him to the US from Sweden, in both the UK and Swedish courts

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