Assange expelled from embassy and arrested for both Bail Act offence and US extradition request

Innula Zenovka

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And he has a court date in the new year --


Whatever one thinks of Assange (and I think I've made my views pretty clear ever since he was arrested in connection with the Swedish rape allegations and the initial proceedings began) I think it's important to focus not on Assange and Wikileaks so much as on what the extradition request says is the criminal misconduct for which they want him extradited.

The US request, of course, isn't anything to do with the Swedish allegations and neither is it anything to do with Assange's or Wikileaks supposed role in colluding with the Trump election campaign and Russian Intelligence. It's about his role in allegedly assisting Chelsea Manning in abstracting and distributing classified materials to which she had access as part of her military duties.

From everything I've read, the request seems to suggest that what many people in the US and elsewhere would regard as perfectly legitimate journalistic activities are, in fact, potentially criminal behaviour and possibly espionage, and leaves many people wondering why the grand jury didn't indict the editors of several major US, British and other European newspapers for their role in coordinating the material's world-wide publication.

While I think Assange certainly belongs in a British prison and almost certainly in a Swedish one, I am a lot less happy at the implications of him ending up in a US one, not out of any concerns for him, particularly, but because of what it would mean for other, more legitimate, journalists and editors.
 
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Bartholomew Gallacher

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Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture; Human Rights Chair, Geneva Academy; Professor of International Law, University of Glasgow, has a very clear opinion about Julian Assange in the embassy: it was psychological torture up to Assange's breaking point.


and another piece here: Demasking the Torture of Julian Assange - Nils Melzer - Medium

Quotes:

"My most urgent concern is that, in the United States, Mr. Assange would be exposed to a real risk of serious violations of his human rights, including his freedom of expression, his right to a fair trial and the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

"I am particularly alarmed at the recent announcement by the US Department of Justice of 17 new charges against Mr. Assange under the Espionage Act, which currently carry up to 175 years in prison. This may well result in a life sentence without parole, or possibly even the death penalty, if further charges were to be added in the future."

"Since 2010, when Wikileaks started publishing evidence of war crimes and torture committed by US forces, we have seen a sustained and concerted effort by several States towards getting Mr. Assange extradited to the United States for prosecution, raising serious concern over the criminalisation of investigative journalism in violation of both the US Constitution and international human rights law."

About having access to lawyers: "Although Assange is not held in solitary confinement, the Special Rapporteur said he is gravely concerned that the limited frequency and duration of lawyers’ visits and his lack of access to case files and documents make it impossible for him to adequately prepare his defence in any of the complex legal proceedings piling up against him."

His conclusion: "In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution I have never seen a group of democratic States ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonise and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law,” Melzer said. “The collective persecution of Julian Assange must end here and now!"

And on the rape case in Sweden:

"Surely, I thought, Assange must be a rapist! But what I found is that he has never been charged with a sexual offence. True, soon after the US had encouraged allies to find reasons to prosecute Assange, two women made the headlines in Sweden. One of them claimed he had ripped a condom, and the other that he had failed to wear one, in both cases during consensual intercourse — not exactly scenarios that have the ring of ‘rape’ in any language other than Swedish. Mind you, each woman even submitted a condom as evidence. The first one, supposedly worn and torn by Assange, revealed no DNA whatsoever — neither his, nor hers, nor anybody else’s. Go figure. The second one, used but intact, supposedly proved ‘unprotected’ intercourse. Go figure, again. The women even texted that they never intended to report a crime but were ‘railroaded’ into doing so by zealous Swedish police. Go figure, once more. Ever since, both Sweden and Britain have done everything to prevent Assange from confronting these allegations without simultaneously having to expose himself to US extradition and, thus, to a show-trial followed by life in jail. His last refuge had been the Ecuadorian Embassy."

This is exactly the ugly picture many expected it to be. In a nutshell according to Mielzer the USA want to stage a propaganda trial, like normally only a dictatorship would do, and then let Assange rot somewhere away.
 
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Innula Zenovka

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Oh, for heaven's sake!

As anyone who is actually sufficiently interested in Assange's extradition proceedings to have read the transcripts knows -- so not many of the people who write about it, clearly -- the "Assange was never charged with anything" point is a complete and utter red herring, in that the Swedish criminal justice process requires a final interview between the suspect, his legal representative and the Swedish prosecutor at which the prosecutor puts the case to the suspect and, if not satisfied with the replies, then formally charges the suspect and takes him into custody.

It was because Ecuador refused to cooperate with this final stage -- which should have take place after Assange arrived in Sweden, had he not hidden in the Embassy -- and would not agree to the final confrontation (particularly, I would think, the requirement that the Swedish prosecutor would be allowed to arrest Assange should she not find his answers satisfactory) that he couldn't be formally charged.

Believe it or not, Assange had -- and still has -- competent legal representation in the UK, who argued his case all the way up to the Supreme Court. The lawfulness of the Swedish extradition request was examined at length during the appeals process, which provided an opportunity to give a definitive answer to many technical questions about European Arrest Warrants in general, and this particular aspect of the proceedings didn't trouble anyone for long.

The criminal investigation process in Sweden is, at least as far as our Court of Appeal and Supreme Court are concerned, somewhat different from ours in the UK in formal terms but Assange's position was completely analogous to that of a suspect who had been bailed on suspicion, pending further investigation, and then failed to surrender to his bail at the end of the investigation.

As to the UN expert's report, I am really left wondering about his supposed expertise in anything. He makes a number of very valid points about the US extradition request while will doubtless be argued in detail before the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court and, quite possibly, the European Court of Human Rights, along with any complaints Assange and his team have to make about abuse of process by denying him adequate access to legal representation or resources.

If Assange or his team think the expert's views are in the slightest bit relevant to their case, then doubtless they will advance them, and perhaps even call Mr Nils as an expert witness so he can assist both their client and the court.

As to the comments on psychological torture, though, I am still reeling from the leap on logic contained here:
“It was obvious that Mr. Assange’s health has been seriously affected by the extremely hostile and arbitrary environment he has been exposed to for many years,” the expert said. “Most importantly, in addition to physical ailments, Mr. Assange showed all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture, including extreme stress, chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma.

“The evidence is overwhelming and clear,” the expert said. “Mr. Assange has been deliberately exposed, for a period of several years, to progressively severe forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the cumulative effects of which can only be described as psychological torture."
It's obviously based on a huge undistributed middle, equivalent to "X suffers from the following injuries. These could have been caused by Y, so Y must have caused them". Rephrase it slightly, and you end up"Mr Assange presents with 'extreme stress, chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma' not inconsistent with prolonged exposure to an extremely stressful, anxiety-provoking and traumatic set of circumstances, such as being holed up in the Embassy for the last 12 years because he jumped bail".

It tells us nothing about who caused this trauma and is roughly on a par with the dimmer supporters of Brexit who tell us that the EU will be to blame for all the bad consequences of leaving the EU without a deal because they won't back down on enforcing the UK's treaty obligations with the RoI and stubbornly insist on the "Irish backstop."

The matter is now in the hands of the British and European criminal justice systems. Assange has a very strong case against the US extradition request, and doubtless it will be argued in detail before the courts. That's all there is to it.
 
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Romana

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"Deliberately exposed to a hostile and arbitrary environment"? I hadn't heard anything to suggest he was being held prisoner. To my understanding he could have left any time, he would just have to face the Swedes. He'd have been better off with them then with 45's lot.
Of course, the Free Assange cultists swallow the "torture" narrative whole. They're as gullible as the QAnon folks (probably did overlap there too) and the MAGAts.
I'm surprised that Wikileaks hasn't dropped some stuff on 45, or threatened to, in revenge.
 

Kara Spengler

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"Deliberately exposed to a hostile and arbitrary environment"? I hadn't heard anything to suggest he was being held prisoner. To my understanding he could have left any time, he would just have to face the Swedes. He'd have been better off with them then with 45's lot.
Of course, the Free Assange cultists swallow the "torture" narrative whole. They're as gullible as the QAnon folks (probably did overlap there too) and the MAGAts.
I'm surprised that Wikileaks hasn't dropped some stuff on 45, or threatened to, in revenge.
Yeah, if he was sure he would face prison in Sweden or the US it is pretty much a no-brainer.