Download PDF FreePressFreeAssangeOpenLettertoJournalists Open Letter to Journalists in the UK On the 11thof April and relation to the arrest of Julian Assange Seamus Dooley, NUJ assistant general secretary said: “The NUJ is shocked and concerned by the actions of … Continue reading →
As the official blog of the Home Office confirmed yesterday, the US extradition request for Julian Assange has been certified by the Home Secretary Sajid Javid. However, focusing only on what reported by the main media outlets is not enough in order to clarify the next steps of the process. A clearer vision is only achievable by considering the updated factsheet published by the Ministry and the Extradition Act 2003.
“Mr Assange was arrested in relation to a provisional extradition request from the United States of America. He is accused of offences including computer misuse and the unauthorized disclosure of national defence information. We have received the full extradition request, which has been certified by the Home Secretary,” Sajid Javid’s spokeman said. He didn’t spent many other words on the question, justifying this by referring to the fact that the case is now in front of the courts and would be inappropriated to comment further.
The signature of Sajid Javid is actually the first formal step after a full extradition request is received. However, the announcement created confusion and anxiety among Assange’s supporters, since from the moment he was arrested it has been repeatedly mentioned the fact that the Home Secretary should have the last word on the extradition. Therefore, the signature to certify the US request has been mistaken for a sort of “final say”.
The news was reported by a number of media, in some cases with relevant errors. The Guardian initially wrote the US charge against Julian Assange would carry a maximum five-year prison sentence. The mistake was corrected a couple of hours later, when the same article specified that “Assange faces an 18-count indictment, issued by the US Justice Department, that includes charges under the Espionage Act.”
The US will list in details all charges against Wikileaks publisher this morning, when the third extradition hearing will take place at Westminster Magistrates Court.
The extradition requests to the UK from outside the EU are governed by the second part of the Extradition Act 2003 and one of the crucial steps is for the judge to check the existence of possible Statutory bars to extradition. These ones also include health and human rights.
On the Home Office side, according to the Extradition Act 2003, there are four issues that the State Secretary may consider.
The first one is the possibility that the person could face the death penalty in the requesting Country. Secondly, the Home secretary should consider if special arrangements are in place (and ensure in this way that the person is prosecuted only for the specific conduct for whom the extradition is requested). Then he may consider if the person has previously been extradited from another country to the UK (verifying if the consent of that country to his onward extradition is required) or transferred to the UK by the International Criminal Court.
The extradition factsheet also clarifies that the Home secretary may not consider human rights issues and health problems which could make the extradition unjust or oppressive. Actually, the Extradiction Act clarifies that the courts are better placed to make decisions on human rights grounds.
The hope for all the activists defending Julian Assange is that the Court could actually consider the human rights questions in the upcoming hearings, embracing the clear opinion expressed by the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, according to whom the Wikileaks founder should be immediately freed, putting to an end also the abusive demonisation campaign carried out by US and UK.
After the news concerning the certification of the extradition request, reactions from individuals and groups protecting Julian Assange appeared on the most popular social media and especially on Twitter and Instagram.
Journalist and BAFTA award-winning documentary film maker John Pilger, staunch advocate of Wikileaks, appeared in a video interview after Sajid Javid signed the extradition order. “Julian Assange has become enemy number one, but he should be hero number one. If we lose Assange and Wikileaks then we lose a whole strata of freedom,” he said. The video was shared and re-tweeted during the day by a huge number of activists.
This morning at 10AM the hearing will confirm which charges have been actually listed in the extradition request. Another extradition hearing will take place at the beginning of July.
Despite the fact that no reassurances have been given by the US regarding the possibility for Assange to face torture in the US prisons and maybe death penalty, the Home Secretary decided to support the US request, as he showed during a BBC Radio interview in the last few days.
Should he order the extradition after the next hearings, Julian Assange would have in any case the right to apply to the High Court for leave to appeal against the decisions of both the District Judge and the Secretary of State. At the moment, this is likely to be the next battle.
A formal request of extradition for Julian Assange has been filed to officials in the UK by the US Justice Department.
According to the United States’ treaty with Britain on this matter, the application has to be submitted within 60 days from the date of the arrest. US officials, who after Assange’s arrest immediately stated they were going to submit the necessary documents for his extradition, waited until the last available day, probably to ensure enough time to elaborate possible further charges to the Wikileaks founder, since all the charges must be indicated in the formal request and it is not possible to add further ones after it is filed.
Julian Assange’s supporters are now waiting for the 14 June extradition hearing, where he will probably appear via videolink. The worst disappointment for the activists is the fact that big media have been almost silent in the last two months.
Unlike what happened in the case of Ivan Golunov, the journalist recently imprisoned in Russia and later freed thanks to the massive outcry of other reporters, in the UK just a few journalists spoke up in defence of Julian Assange and free press. The hope is for the press to finally realise that solidarity should be expressed for all the cases of investigative journalists threatened just for carrying out their job.
This is indeed valid in the case of the Wikileaks founder, object of a “demonisation campaign” pursued against him “by four democratic states” (US, UK, Ecuador and Sweaden), as recently highlighted by the United Nations Rapporteur on torture.
Assange was charged last month with violating the Espionage Act and conspiring in order to hack a US Government computer. It is the first time that a law passed to prosecute spies just before WW1 is being brought against a journalist.
However, the difference between a spy and Mr Assange should be clear to everyone provided with intellectual honesty. A spy sells information to another State. A journalist who reveals war crimes like those ones that Assange discovered is making available facts that help the public understand the foundations of reality. Often at a very high price, like the Wikileaks publisher story shows.
A request has been submitted to Facebook in order for the Julian Assange Defence Commitee to obtain the possibility to change the name of its official page in the popular social media into a new one, able to be easily found by the users who search for our organisation online.
The current Facebook page, WL Solidarity Action London (where WL stands for Wikileaks) was created years ago as a platform where we could share the contents produced by our news website http://www.wiseupaction.info. However, through the years our community has publicly defined itself as “Julian Assange Defence Commitee”, and this is the name people look for when they search for our official pages on Facebook and other social media.
Consequently, as soon as Facebook will approve the request, the name of our official page will be “Julian Assange Defence Commitee” and finding us will be much more easier for our readers and supporters. In particular, they won’t risk to end up in other pages that use similar key words in their names.
Therefore, our “re-branding” will concern only the social media pages, because that’s the sector where we need to make it easier for our supporters to find us and associate to the Facebook and Twitter pages the official name of our Commitee.
On a beautiful Saturday 1st of June we answered the call of WL supporter Truman human and gathered at Trafalgar Square to protest Julian Assange’s incarceration at Belmarsh prison and raise our voices against US Extradition. Here are some videos … Continue reading →
A prosecutor’s request to detain Julian Assange in absentia has been rejected by the Uppsala Court in Sweaden.
The Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Eva-Marie Persson had submitted an application for a detention order regarding a suspected rape case. However, Assange’s Swedish lawyer Per E Samuelson highlighted that a detention order was “meaningless” since Assange is imprisoned in Britain at the moment and should not be considered a flight risk. He said it was not proportionate to ask for someone’s detention merely to conduct a questioning session.
As he explained last week to Reuters’ reporters, Samuelson requested the hearing to be postponed because Julian Assange was so ill that he didn’t manage to have a normal conversation with him. The request was denied, but today the judge agreed with the defence that it would not be proportionate to formally detain Wikileaks funder, since the prosecutor would be anyway able to carry out the investigation.
Julian Assange remains a suspect, however the Swedish investigation still includes a number of unclear questions regarding the relation between Sweaden and the Crown Prosecution Service in the United Kingdom, including the cancellation of a number of crucial email messages between the them, as highlighted by the FOIA documents obtained by the Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi.
Open Letter to Journalists in the UK On the 11th of April and relation to the arrest of Julian Assange Seamus Dooley, NUJ assistant general secretary said: “The NUJ is shocked and concerned by the actions of the authorities today … Continue reading →
Julian Assange hasn’t been left behind by the Londoners. This was clearly visible today in Trafalgar Square, where human rights activists and supporters from the public met to reaffirm their “no” to the extradition of the Wikileaks publisher to the US.
Despite the fact that a group of democratic States, as highlighted yesterday by the UN Special Rapporteur on torture are ganging up to isolate, demonise and abuse Julian Assange, the public opinion is not showing support to what the UN expert defined “a collective persecution” and not even to the declarations of Jeremy Hunt or other politicians claiming that the UN experts are wrong.
On the contrary, Assange’s supporters are growing in number, as confirmed by the curiosity and interest of the public in Trafalgar Square, where also random passers-by stopped to talk to the activists and ask for information, take videos and in many cases express support to the Julian Assange Defence Commitee.
The lower interest registered before April and May’s events appears more likely to be connected to the aggressive campaign led against Assange in the last years than to some kind of indifference from the public. New supporters have been definitely stimulated to participate by the US decision to bring against Wikileaks founder the Espionage Act and by the mentioned statements of the UN Special Rapporteur, who urged “the collective persecution of Julian Assange must end here and now!”.
The UN expert Nils Melzer has no doubts. “Julian Assange’s health has been seriously affected by the extremely hostile and arbitrary environment he has been exposed to for many years”, he says.
Mr Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment, is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, the fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address specific country situations and thematic issues all around the world by means of a number of experts in the field of UN human rights system, independent from any government or organization.
He visited Julian Assange on 9 May, together with two medical experts specialised in examining potential victims of torture or different ill-treatment. The Wikileaks founder spoke with them and went through an accurate medical assessment. “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”, they said.
The connection between these symptoms and what Assange has been through in the last nine years has been clearly highlighted by the UN Special Rapporteur. “Mr. Assange has been exposed to persistent, progressively severe abuse ranging from systematic judicial persecution and arbitrary confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy, to his oppressive isolation, harassment and surveillance inside the embassy, and from deliberate collective ridicule, insults and humiliation, to open instigation of violence and even repeated calls for his assassination.”
All this began in 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,” Melzer stated.
The degrading and inhuman treatment Julian Assange was subjected to has been openly reported. “I condemn, in the strongest terms, the deliberate, concerted and sustained nature of the abuse inflicted on Mr. Assange and seriously deplore the consistent failure of all involved governments to take measures for the protection of his most fundamental human rights and dignity,” the expert said. “By displaying an attitude of complacency at best, and of complicity at worst, these governments have created an atmosphere of impunity encouraging Mr. Assange’s uninhibited vilification and abuse.”
Later, Jeremy Hunt, on Twitter, said Mr Melzer’s declarations were wrong, claiming Assange was free to leave Ecuadorian Embass and suggesting the UN expert to “allow British Courts to make their judgements”.
The reply of Mr Melzer on Twitter came soon,”With all due respect, Mr Assange was as “free to leave” as someone sitting on a rubberboat in a sharkpool. As detailed in my formal letter to you, so far, UK Courts have not shown the impartiality and objectivity required by the rule of law”.
A number of great voices were raised outside Westminster Magistrates Court yesterday in defence of Julian Assange the WikiLeaks publisher. Listen to what Gordon Dimmack, Chris Marsden and Maxine Walker had to say. And here is Maxine Walker’s Speech You … Continue reading →