[WSMDiscuss] (Fwd) Extradition of Julian Assange? time to protest (e.g. at British High Commissions on May 2) Re: [social-movements] Fwd: Julian Assange's arrest is a direct assault on press freedom and a threat to freedoms everywhere

Patrick Bond pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sat Apr 13 09:46:55 CEST 2019

(At least that's one view <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0IgKGQ7gmM>.

     "/Assange is scheduled to have his first hearing on the extradition 
issue before a judge on May 2/.")

  Arrest of Wikileaks co-founder, Julian Assange

SABC Digital News 
Published on 12 Apr 2019

The arrest of the co-founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, was splashed 
across front pages around the world today. He was arrested at the 
Ecuadorian embassy in London. Assange took refuge in the embassy in 2012 
to avoid extradition to Sweden over a sexual assault case that has now 
been dropped. He now faces US federal conspiracy charges related to one 
of the largest ever leaks of government secrets. To discuss this and 
other international news we're joined by Professor of Political Economy 
at Wits School of Governance, Professor Patrick Bond.


  Assange Arrest a Warning from History

April 12, 2019

/Consortium News/

Real journalism is being criminalized by thugs in plain sight, says John 
Pilger. Dissent has become an indulgence. And the British elite has 
abandoned its last imperial myth: that of fairness and justice.

*By John Pilger <https://consortiumnews.com/tag/john-pilger/>*

*T*he glimpse of Julian Assange being dragged from the Ecuadorean 
embassy in London is an emblem of the times. Might against right. Muscle 
against the law. Indecency against courage. Six policemen manhandled a 
sick journalist, his eyes wincing against his first natural light in 
almost seven years.

That this outrage happened in the heart of London, in the land of Magna 
Carta, ought to shame and anger all who fear for “democratic” societies. 
Assange is a political refugee protected by international law, the 
recipient of asylum under a strict covenant to which Britain is a 
signatory. The United Nations made this clear in the legal ruling of its 
Working Party on Arbitrary Detention.

But to hell with that. Let the thugs go in. Directed by the quasi 
fascists in Trump’s Washington, in league with Ecuador’s Lenin Moreno, a 
Latin American Judas and liar seeking to disguise his rancid regime, the 
British elite abandoned its last imperial myth: that of fairness and 

Imagine Tony Blair dragged from his multi-million pound Georgian home in 
Connaught Square, London, in handcuffs, for onward dispatch to the dock 
in The Hague. By the standard of Nuremberg, Blair’s “paramount crime” is 
the deaths of a million Iraqis. Assange’s crime is journalism: holding 
the rapacious to account, exposing their lies and empowering people all 
over the world with truth.

The shocking arrest of Assange carries a warning for all who, as Oscar 
Wilde wrote, “sew the seeds of discontent [without which] there would be 
no advance towards civilization.” The warning is explicit towards 
journalists. What happened to the founder and editor of WikiLeaks can 
happen to you on a newspaper, you in a TV studio, you on radio, you 
running a podcast.

Assange’s principal media tormentor, /The Guardian,/ a collaborator with 
the secret state, displayed its nervousness this week with an editorial 
that scaled new weasel heights. /The Guardian/ has exploited the work of 
Assange and WikiLeaks in what its previous editor called “the greatest 
scoop of the last 30 years.” The paper creamed off WikiLeaks’ 
revelations and claimed the accolades and riches that came with them.

With not a penny going to Julian Assange or to WikiLeaks, a hyped 
/Guardian/ book led to a lucrative Hollywood movie. The book’s authors, 
Luke Harding and David Leigh, turned on their source, abused him and 
disclosed the secret password Assange had given the paper in confidence, 
which was designed to protect a digital file containing leaked US 
embassy cables.

*Revealing Homicidal Colonial Wars*

When Assange was still trapped in the Ecuadorian embassy, Harding joined 
police outside and gloated on his blog that “Scotland Yard may get the 
last laugh.” /The Guardian/ then published a series of falsehoods about 
Assange, not least a discredited claim that a group of Russians and 
Trump’s man, Paul Manafort, had visited Assange in the embassy. The 
meetings never happened; it was fake.

But the tone has now changed. “The Assange case is a morally tangled 
web,” the paper opined. “He (Assange) believes in publishing things that 
should not be published …. But he has always shone a light on things 
that should never have been hidden.”

These “things” are the truth about the homicidal way America conducts 
its colonial wars, the lies of the British Foreign Office in its denial 
of rights to vulnerable people, such as the Chagos Islanders, the exposé 
of Hillary Clinton as a backer and beneficiary of jihadism in the Middle 
East, the detailed description of American ambassadors of how the 
governments in Syria and Venezuela might be overthrown, and much more. 
It is all available on the WikiLeaks site. <https://wikileaks.org/>

/The Guardian/ is understandably nervous. Secret policemen have already 
visited the newspaper and demanded and got the ritual destruction of a 
hard drive. On this, the paper has form. In 1983, a Foreign Office 
clerk, Sarah Tisdall, leaked British Government documents showing when 
American cruise nuclear weapons would arrive in Europe. /The Guardian/ 
was showered with praise.

When a court order demanded to know the source, instead of the editor 
going to prison on a fundamental principle of protecting a source, 
Tisdall was betrayed, prosecuted and served six months.

If Assange is extradited to America for publishing what /The Guardian/ 
calls truthful “things,” what is to stop the current editor, Katherine 
Viner, following him, or the previous editor, Alan Rusbridger, or the 
prolific propagandist Luke Harding?

What is to stop the editors of /The New York Times/ and /The Washington 
Post/, who also published morsels of the truth that originated with 
WikiLeaks, and the editor of /El Pais/ in Spain, and /Der Spiegel/ in 
Germany and /The Sydney Morning/ Herald in Australia. The list is long.

David McCraw, lead lawyer of /The New York Times/, wrote: “I think the 
prosecution [of Assange] would be a very, very bad precedent for 
publishers … from everything I know, he’s sort of in a classic 
publisher’s position and the law would have a very hard time 
distinguishing between /The New York Times/ and WikiLeaks.”

Even if journalists who published WikiLeaks’ leaks are not summoned by 
an American grand jury, the intimidation of Julian Assange and Chelsea 
Manning will be enough. Real journalism is being criminalized by thugs 
in plain sight. Dissent has become an indulgence.

In Australia, the current America-besotted government is prosecuting two 
whistle-blowers who revealed that Canberra’s spooks bugged the cabinet 
meetings of the new government of East Timor for the express purpose of 
cheating the tiny, impoverished nation out of its proper share of the 
oil and gas resources in the Timor Sea. Their trial will be held in 
secret. The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, is infamous for 
his part in setting up concentration camps for refugees on the Pacific 
islands of Nauru and Manus, where children self harm and suicide. In 
2014, Morrison proposed mass detention camps for 30,000 people.

*Journalism: a Major Threat*

Real journalism is the enemy of these disgraces. A decade ago, the 
Ministry of Defense in London produced a secret document which described 
the “principal threats” to public order as threefold: terrorists, 
Russian spies and investigative journalists. The latter was designated 
the major threat.

The document was duly leaked to WikiLeaks, which published it. “We had 
no choice,” Assange told me. “It’s very simple. People have a right to 
know and a right to question and challenge power. That’s true democracy.”

What if Assange and Manning and others in their wake — if there are 
others — are silenced and “the right to know and question and challenge” 
is taken away?

In the 1970s, I met Leni Reifenstahl, close friend of Adolf Hitler, 
whose films helped cast the Nazi spell over Germany.

She told me that the message in her films, the propaganda, was dependent 
not on “orders from above” but on what she called the “submissive void” 
of the public.

“Did this submissive void include the liberal, educated bourgeoisie?” I 
asked her.

“Of course,” she said, “especially the intelligentsia …. When people no 
longer ask serious questions, they are submissive and malleable. 
Anything can happen.”

And did. The rest, she might have added, is history.

*John Pilger <http://johnpilger.com/> *is an Australian-British 
journalist and filmmaker based in London.*//*Pilger’s Web site 
is:**www.johnpilger.com* <http://www.johnpilger.com/>*. ***In 2017, the 
British Library announced a John Pilger Archive of all his written and 
filmed work. The British Film Institute includes his 1979 film, “Year 
Zero: the Silent Death of Cambodia,” among the 10 most important 
documentaries of the 20^th century. Some of his previous contributions 
to Consortium News can be found here 


  Extraditing Assange Promises to Be a Long, Difficult Process

/New York Times/

By Richard Pérez-Peña <https://www.nytimes.com/by/richard-perez-pena>

  * April 12, 2019

LONDON — With the arrest in London of the WikiLeaks founder Julian 
Assange, and the news of a criminal case against him in the United 
States, anyone expecting him to appear in an American courtroom should 
be warned: Extraditing him will not be quick, and it will not be easy.

The American authorities made a preliminary extradition request on 
Thursday, soon after Mr. Assange was jailed for jumping bail 
but that was just the first in a long series of legal filings, hearings, 
appeals and administrative decisions. And in the end, experts say, the 
result is far from certain.

The process is mostly up to the courts, but politicians will have a hand 
in it, too, and were already drawing battle lines over Mr. Assange. 
Complicating matters, prosecutors in Sweden could reopen a rape 
investigation involving Mr. Assange and request extradition to that 
country, forcing the British government to decide which case would take 

“It’s not simple, and the defense will argue everything they can,” said 
Rebecca Niblock, a partner at the British law firm Kingsley Napley who 
specializes in extradition law. “I think it is going to be a long one. 
I’d say minimum a year and a half, but if things get complicated, it 
could be much longer.”

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party, wrote on 
Thursday <https://twitter.com/jeremycorbyn/status/1116424423953903616> 
on Twitter, “The extradition of Julian Assange to the U.S. for exposing 
evidence of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan should be opposed by the 
British government.”

    The extradition of Julian Assange to the US for exposing evidence of
    atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan should be opposed by the British
    government.pic.twitter.com/CxTUrOfkHt <https://t.co/CxTUrOfkHt>

    — Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) April 11, 2019

The Conservative Party government has avoided taking a position, while 
signaling that it takes a much less favorable view of Mr. Assange — and 
sees in him a potent political issue.

Sajid Javid, who as home secretary has a role in the process, said in 
Parliament on Thursday that he “won’t be drawn into the request for 
extradition” or discuss “the details of the accusations against Mr. 
Assange, either in the U.K.’s criminal justice system, or in the U.S.”

But, he added, “Whenever someone has a track record of undermining the 
U.K. and our allies, and the values we stand for, you can almost 
guarantee that the leadership of the party opposite will support those 
who intend to do us harm.”

Diane Abbott, Mr. Javid’s Labour counterpart, said, “Julian Assange is 
not being pursued to protect U.S. national security; he’s being pursued 
because he has exposed wrongdoing by U.S. administrations and their 
military forces.”

The partisan divide raises the prospect that a change of government 
could change Mr. Assange’s fortunes, because his case could take years 
to end. Britain’s next scheduled general election would be in 2022, and 
there is widespread speculation that Prime Minister Theresa May might 
call early elections.

For years, Mr. Assange has been simultaneously hailed as a hero for 
transparency, and cursed as a reckless anarchist and publicity-seeker. 
In 2016, WikiLeaks published stolen Democratic Party emails 
damaging the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton.

Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel who investigated Russian 
interference in that election, reported in court documents that Russian 
intelligence was the source of those emails, which Mr. Assange has denied.

But Mr. Assange has been in the sights of American officials since 2010, 
when WikiLeaks published an immense trove of classified material 
primarily about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, taken from military 
computer systems by Chelsea Manning, an analyst in Army intelligence. 
Ms. Manning was convicted of espionage and sentenced to 35 years in 
and spent nearly seven years in prison before her punishment was 
by President Barack Obama.

WikiLeaks and its defenders argue that it was following a standard 
practice of news organizations, publishing information of public 
interest, even if the person who supplied the information obtained it 

The case is about the “publishing of documents, of videos of killing of 
innocent civilians, exposure of war crimes,” Kristinn Hrafnsson, a 
WikiLeaks editor, told a news conference on Thursday. “This is journalism.”

But the indictment unsealed on Thursday 
that Mr. Assange, a native of Australia, went further, conspiring with 
Ms. Manning, then known as Bradley Manning, to help her hack into the 
military network.

Mr. Assange’s defenders, including a number of human rights activists, 
contend that the case against him is not about hacking, but about 
releasing information that embarrassed the United States.

For extradition to proceed under British law, the United States must 
submit a full extradition request, and Britain’s home secretary must 
certify that it is legally valid and send it to the courts — all by 
mid-June, Mr. Javid said. Then the matter goes to an extradition hearing 
before a judge, whose rulings can be appealed all the way up to 
Britain’s Supreme Court.

Two recent, high-profile cases could point the way for Mr. Assange’s 
defense. The American authorities sought the extradition of Lauri Love 
<https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-42946540>, a British man charged 
with hacking into dozens of United States government computer systems, 
and Stuart Scott 
a banker charged with currency manipulation.

In each case, a judge ruled against the defendant but the decision was 
overturned on appeal, partly on the grounds that the alleged illegal 
acts occurred in Britain, which meant any prosecution should take place 
in Britain.

If the courts uphold extradition, it is up to the home secretary to 
actually order it. The law gives the home secretary some leeway to defy 
the ruling and refuse extradition, though not much.

In another hacking case, the United States sought to prosecute Gary 
who was accused of gaining unauthorized access to dozens of government 
computers, in search, he said, of information about U.F.O.s.

After a decade of legal battles, the British courts ultimately decided 
against him. But in 2012, the home secretary at the time, Mrs. May, 
refused to order extradition 
based on Mr. McKinnon’s mental health and the risk that he might commit 

Since then, court decisions have narrowed the range of discretion 
available, but the courts could take Mr. Assange’s condition into 
account, said Ms. Niblock, the extradition lawyer.

“His physical and mental health have undoubtedly deteriorated over the 
past seven years,” she added.

In 2010, Swedish prosecutors ordered the arrest of Mr. Assange, who was 
living in Britain, to be questioned about allegations of sexual 
misconduct and rape in Sweden. While free on bail, he fought extradition 
to Sweden — which he said would turn him over to the United States — 
until he exhausted his appeals in 2012. Mr. Assange has denied the 
against him.

Rather than submit to extradition, he took refuge in the Ecuadorean 
Embassy in London, and the country granted him asylum 
British prosecutors charged him with violating the terms of his bail.

In 2017, Swedish prosecutors set aside the rape case and the extradition 
request, saying that the effort was moot with Mr. Assange in the embassy.

On Thursday, Ecuador’s government withdrew his asylum status after 
almost seven years, and allowed British police to enter the embassy and 
arrest him. He was swiftly convicted on the bail charge, for which he 
could be sentenced to up to a year in prison.

The next day, the Swedish Prosecution Authority said it was looking into 
the possibility of reopening its case against him.

-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: 	Block Extradition of Julian Assange for 1st 
Amendment-Protected Journalism
Date: 	Fri, 12 Apr 2019 15:16:06 -0400 (EDT)
From: 	Robert Reuel Naiman, Just Foreign Policy 
<info at justforeignpolicy.org>



Just Foreign Policy 

Urge Congress to block the extradition & prosecution of Julian Assange 
for actions protected in the U.S. by the First Amendment.**

Sign the petition 


WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested in London and 
threatened with extradition to the United States to stand trial on 
charges related to publishing U.S. government documents that exposed 
U.S. government war crimes.

In response to the arrest, the *ACLU* said 

“*Any prosecution by the United States of Mr. Assange for Wikileaks’ 
publishing operations would be unprecedented and unconstitutional*, and 
would open the door to *criminal investigations of other news 
organizations*. Moreover, prosecuting a foreign publisher for violating 
U.S. secrecy laws would set an *especially dangerous precedent for U.S. 
journalists*, who *routinely violate foreign secrecy laws to deliver 
information vital to the public's interest*.

In response to the unsealed indictment, the *ACLU* said 

"*Criminally prosecuting a publisher for the publication of truthful 
information would be a first in American history, and 
unconstitutional.* The government did not cross that Rubicon with 
today’s indictment, but the worst case scenario cannot yet be ruled out. 
*We have no assurance that these are the only charges the government 
plans to bring against Mr. Assange. *Further, while there is no First 
Amendment right to crack a government password, *this indictment 
characterizes as ‘part of’ a criminal conspiracy the routine and 
protected activities journalists often engage in as part of their daily 
jobs, such as encouraging a source to provide more information*. Given 
President Trump’s and his administration’s well-documented attacks on 
the freedom of the press, such characterizations are especially worrisome.”

All American journalists, publishers and editors need the protections of 
the First Amendment to be strong in order to do their jobs. *All 
Americans need the protections of the First Amendment to be strong*, not 
only to protect our rights to speak and write, but to *protect our right 
to know*, particularly to know about actions of U.S. government 
officials that U.S. government officials might be hiding. Some secret 
U.S. government actions might be against the interests of the majority 
of Americans. *Some secret U.S. government actions might be 
unconstitutional or otherwise illegal.* This is especially important 
with respect to *ending and preventing unconstitutional wars*. There’s 
*no way* Americans can fulfill our responsibilities to hold U.S. 
government officials accountable for what they are doing in other 
people’s countries *if we can’t find out what the U.S. government is 

*The Pentagon lied for years to Congress and the American people about 
its unconstitutional role in the Saudi war in Yemen.* It took opponents 
of the war *three years* just to prove to the satisfaction of the 
majority of Congress that *the Pentagon was lying* about its 
participation in the war. *If we could have exposed the U.S. role in the 
war sooner, we could have ended the war sooner.*

*This is why protecting the First Amendment is so important to opponents 
of unconstitutional war*- and why the apologists for unconstitutional 
war have the First Amendment in their crosshairs. They want to chill 
national security reporting,*because they don’t want the American people 
to know what they are doing.*

This is why the Congress that just voted to end unconstitutional U.S. 
participation in the Saudi war in Yemen should vote to *prohibit the 
Department of Justice from spending any of our tax dollars to extradite 
or prosecute Julian Assange for alleged actions which would be protected 
by the First Amendment if Julian Assange had been a U.S. journalist 
standing on U.S. soil* when he performed the alleged action.

For example, the Department of Justice authorization or appropriation 
could be amended thus:

/*"No money in this bill shall be used for the extradition of Julian 
Assange or any WikiLeaks employee or volunteer to the United States, nor 
for the prosecution of Julian Assange or any WikiLeaks employee or 
volunteer in the United States, for any alleged action which would be 
protected by the First Amendment if performed by a U.S. citizen 
journalist, publisher, or editor while standing on U.S. soil." */

*Urge Congress to block the Trump Administration’s attempts to leverage 
the Assange case to undermine First Amendment protections for 
journalists, publishers, editors, and the American people's right to 
know by signing our petition 

Thanks for all you do to help U.S. foreign policy become a bit more just,

Hassan El-Tayyab, Sarah Burns, and Robert Reuel Naiman
Just Foreign Policy


  It Could Be Years Before Julian Assange Steps Foot In The United States

Extradition cases between the UK and the US can take years to sort out.

Zoe Tillman BuzzFeed News Reporter 

April 12, 2019, at 4:09 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON — Julian Assange’s dramatic arrest this week by United 
Kingdom authorities at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and the 
unsealing of an indictment in federal court in Virginia ended years of 
speculation about whether the WikiLeaks founder would face criminal 
charges in the United States.

But Thursday’s flurry of activity was just the first step in what could 
be a yearslong legal battle to bring him to the US.

The UK is pursuing Assange’s extradition on behalf of the US government, 
but extradition cases between the two countries are complex affairs. 
Assuming the defendant doesn’t agree to surrender and contests the 
removal, there are not only multiple levels for appeals, but multiple 
forums, too. Defendants have spent years in custody as they fought 
extradition — one terrorism suspect, Babar Ahmad, who eventually pleaded 
was arrested in the UK in 2004 and held for eight years before he was 
extradited to the US in 2012.

There’s a good chance that however long it takes, Assange will remain 
behind bars. He was arrested this week not only on the US indictment, 
but also on a charge in the UK that he violated bail in 2012 to avoid 
extradition to Sweden, where he faced sexual assault allegations. Amy 
Jeffress, a lawyer who previously oversaw cooperation between US and UK 
authorities for the Justice Department, said Assange’s past bail 
violation would undermine any argument he made for release now.

“He’s already shown he's noncompliant with conditions and I think it’s 
unlikely a judge would release him given that history,” Jeffress said.

A federal grand jury in Virginia indicted Assange in March 2018 on one 
count of conspiring to commit computer intrusion by allegedly working 
with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to leak classified 
military documents in 2010; prosecutors say Assange agreed to try to 
break a password that would enable Manning to access US Department of 
Defense computers to obtain documents she couldn’t otherwise get. 
Assange faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson told reporters on Wednesday that 
Assange planned to fight extradition, saying it would set a “dangerous 
precedent” for journalists “having published truthful information about 
the United States.”

Assange is scheduled to have his first hearing on the extradition issue 
before a judge on May 2. The Justice Department won’t participate in the 
UK legal proceedings, but will coordinate with their UK counterparts as 
the case proceeds.

Extradition between the US and the UK is governed by a treaty signed in 
2003 <https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/187784.pdf>. In order 
to extradite someone, the US government has to provide not only the 
charging documents, but also information that would show a “reasonable 
basis to believe” that the person committed the crime at issue.

The Justice Department hasn’t submitted its final package of extradition 
materials to UK authorities yet, though. Instead, they asked for a 
“provisional arrest,” which requires less information at the start about 
the underlying evidence. The Justice Department has 60 days to make the 
formal extradition request. Until they do, they can bring more charges 
against Assange; but once the package is in, they can’t add any more.

If the Justice Department brought a charge that had the potential for 
the death penalty, that would complicate the extradition proceedings — 
the 2003 extradition treaty states that the UK can refuse extradition 
for a crime that doesn’t carry the death penalty in the UK unless the US 
promises that capital punishment is off the table. Ecuadorian President 
Lenín Moreno also announced this week that the UK had confirmed it would 
not send Assange to a country where he faced the death penalty.

Assange made his first court appearance this week before the Westminster 
Magistrates' Court in central London; criminal cases begin in the 
magistrates’ court. A judge found him guilty of breaching his bail 
conditions when he failed to surrender in 2012 and took refuge in the 
Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden.

Assange’s bail breach case will move next to the Crown Court, which 
handles more serious criminal offenses, where he’ll be sentenced on the 
bail breach issue. But the extradition case will stay in the Magistrates 
Court — the two cases can proceed at the same time.

In many cases, the home secretary in the UK, and not a judge, is the 
final decision-maker on extradition. At each level, judges decide 
whether to send the case to the secretary to approve or deny an 
extradition request. If the judge handling his case now rules in favor 
of sending his case to the secretary, Assange can still appeal to the 
High Court, the equivalent of an intermediate appeals court in the US.

If the secretary decides to approve extradition, Assange could then try 
to appeal to the High Court. A ruling by the High Court can be appealed 
up to the UK Supreme Court, the equivalent of the US Supreme Court.

Assange can raise a host of defenses against extradition, including 
arguing that he should be protected as a journalist and that the 
prosecution is politically motivated. Given the prominent role of the 
home secretary in the process, Assange could pursue a public relations 
campaign to place pressure on Home Secretary Sajid Javid. In 2012, 
then–home secretary Theresa May — the current prime minister — blocked 
the extradition <https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-19957138> of Gary McKinnon, 
who was wanted in the US on computer hacking allegations. May said at 
the time that McKinnon was “seriously ill” and that extradition would 
violate his human rights.

Javid released a statement 
Thursday saying he was “pleased” that Assange’s case would go before a 
court, but he declined to comment on the details of the allegations 
against Assange.

Even if Assange loses at every level of the UK court system, he still 
has options. He could petition the European Court of Human Rights to 
intervene. That court, established in 1959, considers cases claiming 
violations of the European Convention on Human Rights. The UK is a 
member of the court, which is separate from the European Union, so even 
if the UK goes ahead with its exit from the EU, Assange could still 
appeal to that court.

There’s also a question of what happens if Swedish authorities reopen a 
sexual assault case against Assange. That case was dismissed in 2017 
after prosecutors decided there was no way for them to pursue it while 
Assange was protected in the Ecuadorian Embassy, but left open the 
possibility of resuming the investigation if Assange became “available” 
to the Swedish courts. A lawyer for the woman who said Assange sexually 
assaulted her released a statement on Thursday calling for the case to 
be revived.

If Sweden were to reopen the case and file an extradition request, a UK 
judge would have to decide if the Swedish request gets priority because 
of its earlier request, or if Sweden now has to get in line behind the US.


/The Guardian/

  Whatever you think of Julian Assange, his extradition to the US must
  be opposed

Owen Jones <https://www.theguardian.com/profile/owen-jones>
Extraditing the founder of WikiLeaks is an attempt by the US to 
intimidate anyone who exposes its crimes

Fri 12 Apr 2019

States that commit crimes in foreign lands depend on at least passive 
acquiescence. This is achieved in a number of ways. One is the 
“othering” of the victims: the stripping away of their humanity, because 
if you imagined them to be people like your own children or your 
neighbours, their suffering and deaths would be intolerable. Another 
approach is to portray opponents of foreign aggression as traitors, or 
in league with hostile powers. And another strategy is to cover up the 
consequences of foreign wars, to ensure that the populace is kept 
intentionally unaware of the acts committed in their name.

This is what the attempted extradition of Julian Assange 
to the US is about. Back in 2010, the then US soldier Chelsea Manning 
<https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/chelsea-manning> downloaded 
hundreds of thousands of classified documents relating to US-led wars in 
Iraq and Afghanistan, US state department cables 
and inmates imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay. Assange’s alleged role 
of helping Manning crack an encrypted password to gain access to the US 
defense department computer network.

It is Manning who is the true hero of this story: last month, she was 
arrested for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating 
WikiLeaks, placed in solitary confinement for four weeks, and now 
remains imprisoned. We must demand her freedom 

These leaks revealed some of the horrors of the post-9/11 wars. One 
showed a US aircrew laughing 
after slaughtering a dozen innocent people, including two Iraqi 
employees of Reuters, after dishonestly alleging to have encountered a 
firefight. Other files revealed how US-led forces killed 
hundreds of civilians in Afghanistan, their deaths otherwise airbrushed 
out of existence. Another cable, which exposed corruption and scandals 
in the court of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, the western-backed 
then-dictator of Tunisia, helped fuel protests, which toppled him 

Assange does have a case to answer: but it is not this. It is widely 
circulating around the internet that the case of a Swedish woman who 
alleged rape has been kicked out by authorities. This is profoundly 
misleading: in 2017, prosecutors concluded that “at this point, all 
possibilities to conduct the investigation are exhausted”, that because 
Assange was holed up in Ecuador’s embassy, and Ecuador would not 
cooperate, the investigation had to be discontinued 
but could be resumed if Assange “makes himself available”.

Separate allegations of sexual assault, made by a second Swedish woman, 
were dropped by Swedish authorities in 2015 after expiring under the 
statute of limitations. You cannot be a progressive if your response to 
someone making an accusation of rape is to dismiss her simply because 
you admire the man who is accused – worse, to portray a woman as a 
lying, Machiavellian schemer trying to bring down a great man is 
misogyny. If the case is resumed, Assange must answer the accusation in 
Sweden <https://www.theguardian.com/world/sweden> without the threat of 
extradition to the US.

That Swedish case must be entirely disentangled from the US extradition 
attempt. And while opposing Assange’s rightwing libertarian politics 
is perfectly reasonable, it is utterly irrelevant to the basic issue 
here of justice. There remain elite supporters of Hillary Clinton who, 
unable to accept the failure of their “centrist” ideology in an age of 
political unrest, still look for scapegoats for the defeat of 2016, and 
will happily watch Assange festering in a jail in Donald Trump’s US as a 

But Assange’s extradition to the US must be passionately opposed. It is 
notable that Obama’s administration itself concluded 
that to prosecute Assange for publishing documents would gravely imperil 
press freedom. Yes, this is a defence of journalism and media freedom. 
But it is also about the attempt to intimidate those who expose crimes 
committed by the world’s last remaining superpower. The US wishes to 
hide its crimes so it can continue to commit them with impunity: that’s 
why, last month, Trump signed an executive order to cover up civilian 
deaths from drones 
the use of which has hugely escalated in Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen and 

Silence kills, because a public that is uninformed about the slaughter 
of innocent people by their own government will not exert pressure to 
stop the killing. For the sake of stopping crimes yet to be committed, 
this extradition – and the intentionally chilling precedent it sets – 
must be defeated.

• Owen Jones is a Guardian columnist

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