NINE MONTHS IN THE ECUADORIAN EMBASSY
On Tuesday 19th March, to mark 9 months of his asylum within the Ecuadorian Embassy, supporters of Julian Assange decided it was high time to remind the Swedish authorities that the remedy for the intolerable stalemate of Sweden v Assange was firmly in their court, and went to make their point directly to the Swedish Embassy….
….more of which a bit further on, but first
DOING OUR HOMEWORK: ‘EXTRADITING ASSANGE’
After a peculiar and pronounced flurry of hostile press over a weekend (6th Feb) not long before the Ecuadorian elections (17th Feb), during which BOTH the New Statesman AND the Guardian displayed their antipathy towards Julian (2 articles each, no less) and rehashed a few old tales (with the Guardian doing this quite literally by reproducing on Saturday one of the NS articles from Friday in full!), THE comprehensive AV statement about the whole dem business was painstakingly put together, and here you will find anything and everything you ever wanted (or didn’t want but keep being cross questioned about) to know.
Here, then is le grand document: Extraditing Assange!
BRIEF RECAP COURT ETC:
Following a series of court appearances on how/whether the European Arrest Warrant and the Extradition Treaty within Europe could/should/would be applied to Julian’s situation (throughout which time, apart from 9 nights in Wandsworth nick, he remained tagged and under house arrest), we arrived at the Supreme Court on 30th May for the final verdict.
EUROPEAN PRACTICE TRUMPS PARLIAMENT’S INTENTIONS IN JUDGMENT
And even after deciding that the European Arrest Warrant was functioning in a way that was neither envisaged nor intentionally authorised by Parliament, and which Parliament is unlikely to have ever endorsed (!), the Supreme Court nevertheless ruled 5 to 2 against Julian on 30th May last year.
His lawyers had argued (with considerable justification given the above) that because the warrant had been issued, not by an independent judicial authority (as in Judge or Magistrate, which would be the British understanding of the ‘judicial authority’ authorised to issue it) but by the actual prosecutor, who obviously could not be considered independent, it rendered the warrant invalid.
With reference to the court ruling, Gareth Pierce, Julian’s solicitor, said that the court recognised the discrepancy between what Parliament had agreed (or what MPs thought they had agreed) and what was happening in this instance, yet found for European practice over the parliamentary understanding.
REQUEST TO RE-OPEN CASE ON POINT OF LAW: DENIED
To back their ruling, however, the judges cited the Vienna Convention and as this had not been argued in court, Dinah Rose, Julian’s barrister, asked them to reopen the case so that it could be. The judges stayed the judgement to consider this, but on 14th June refused to re-open the proceedings, and Julian was given 14 days to prepare for his extradition.
SWEDISH EMBASSY PROTEST ORIG. PLANNED FOR 28TH JUNE 2012…
Fourteen days later being 28th June, a demo at the Swedish Embassy was then arranged for this date to protest what supporters consider abuse of process and intention on the part of the Swedish authorities.
However, as we all know, circumstances overtook this plan when Julian’s neat move into the Ecuadorian Embassy on 19th June to seek political asylum from the threat of onward extradition to the US and the severe dangers he would face there meant that a vigil was mounted outside the Ecuadorian Embassy and the Swedish Embassy protest was called off.
And the Swedes have got off lightly ever since! With this in view therefore, to mark the 9 month anniversary of Julian’s sojourn in mini Ecuador, the vigilers (usual suspects and others) took themselves off to the Swedish Embassy on Tuesday…..
….FINALLY HAPPENS TUESDAY 19TH MARCH!
On Tuesday 19 March 2013 a group of people concerned about the plight of Wikileaks editor Julian Assange made their way to the Swedish Embassy. We had one demand:
Guarantee no onward extradition to the US for Julian Assange.
On arriving at the embassy Mirjam, a Swedish national, and myself entered the building and requested a meeting with embassy staff to seek assurances from the Swedish state that they will not extradite Julian Assange to the USA.
The receptionist claimed that there was no one in the building for us to speak with but that we should come back at 1400 hrs. A group of embassy staff entering the building overheard us and looked highly unimpressed by our presence. We decided to head across the road to the rest of the group and wait.
Whilst stood outside we had a lot of positive feedback from pedestrians and drivers, although most of the people entering the embassy pretended that we weren’t there.
It is nine months since Julian Assange, having lost his appeal against extradition to Sweden, sought asylum in the Embassy of Ecuador.
Julian Assange has not been charged with anything.
The Swedish prosecutor has refused numerous offers for Julian Assange to be interviewed in London.
There is an ongoing Grand Jury investigation in the USA into Wikileaks and Julian Assange, and the Swedish Government has refused to guarantee that Julian will not be extradited to the USA if he ends up in Sweden.
Why was it that within a week of the supreme court ruling then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the first state visit to Sweden in over 35 years?
After waiting for over an hour we were approached by a member of the Swedish embassy staff who claimed to be the Press Officer. We asked him directly if the Swedish Government would guarantee no onward extradition for Julian Assange to the USA.
*He claimed that it was not for the Swedish Government to make such assurances and that it was the responsibility of the prosecutor.*
We challenged him on this statement; it is ridiculous to suggest that a mere prosecutor makes decisions on whether a person can be extradited from one state to another and that elected politicians and government ministers have no say in the matter.
*He then changed tack and said that the Swedish Government could not give assurances for hypothetical situations.*
The interaction was predictable, and left me with one overriding compulsion:
Don’t Trust Sweden!
Ben Griffin http://veteransforpeace.org.uk/
ON *THAT* POINT AMNESTY APPARENTLY DISAGREES WITH SWEDEN…
Reports here on various significant date marks of Julian’s asylum are 16th August, when Ecuador officially granted asylum (and a summary of all the diplomaticstorming hooha just beforehand!), 2 months when Julian made his first balcony speech, 3 months on, at 100 days (when he gave a speech by video link to the UN and when Amnesty International also issued a statement calling for guarantees from the Swedes on no onward extradition), and 6 months, again marked by a speech, this time the ‘Christmas’ one, and by the launching of the WikiLeaks Party with Julian’s stated intention to run for office.
But, to return to the Amnesty statement; this would seem to be fairly powerful evidence that the reply of the Swedish Press Officer to Ben and Mirjam when asked to guarantee that Julian would not be sent on to the US is total tosh.
Amnesty think that this guarantee is just the ticket to break the deadlock and I’m sure they wouldn’t be proposing it if it was impossible….
Here it is in full, to finish up this post with:
SWEDEN: Amnesty calls on Swedish authorities to issue assurance it won’t extradite Assange to USA
Posted: 27 September 2012
The Swedish authorities should issue assurances to the UK and to Julian Assange that if he leaves Ecuador’s London embassy and agrees to go to Sweden to face sexual assault claims, he will not be extradited to the USA in connection with Wikileaks, Amnesty International said.
In the wake of the Wikileaks co-founder addressing the United Nations and with talks due between the British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Ecuadorian officials, Amnesty International added that it was time to break the impasse.
Nicola Duckworth, Senior Director for Research at Amnesty International, said:
“If the Swedish authorities are able to confirm publicly that Assange will not eventually find himself on a plane to the USA if he submits himself to the authority of the Swedish courts then this will hopefully achieve two things.
First, it will break the current impasse and second it will mean the women who have levelled accusations of sexual assault are not denied justice.
It is vital that states show they are serious about dealing with allegations of sexual violence and that they respect both the rights of the women who made the complaints and the person accused.”
While Amnesty International has no evidence that Sweden plans to extradite Assange to the USA it seems evident that fears about such an outcome have played no small part in the current stand-off.
Amnesty International believes that the forced transfer of Julian Assange to the USA in the present circumstances would expose him to a real risk of serious human rights violations, possibly including violation of his right to freedom of expression and the risk that he may be held in detention in conditions which violate the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.