by greekemmy and wiseupwest :-)
Solidarity with Assange as critical UN ruling announced
There will be a demonstration of respect for and solidarity with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks outside the Ecuadorian Embassy on Friday 5th Feb, the day a critical ruling by the UN group on arbitrary detention (UN WGAD) will be officially announced. Please join us!
When: Friday 5th of February 2016 between 13:00 and 15:30 pm
Where: Outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London’s Knightsbridge, No 3 Hans Crescent Nearest Tube station: Knightsbridge (Metropolitan Line)
Action: Stand in solidarity with Assange, whatever the decision, whatever the outcome
Whatever the outcome, things will be changing
If it has found that the detention of Assange is unlawful, the UN WGAD will direct that Julian Assange should be released immediately and compensated and, as he himself tweeted early on Thursday, Assange will then expect his passport to be returned forthwith and an end to the harassment:
…should I prevail and state parties be found to have acted unlawfully, I expect the immediate return of my passport and the termination of further attempts to arrest me.
If the ruling goes against him…well, see below…
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) February 4, 2016
…a suspense-evoking tweet from @WikiLeaks sent out in the early hours of Thursday…
And so we call on all WikiLeaks supporters to stand in solidarity with Julian Assange at this historic moment in his struggle for freedom and justice, in which he represents us all.
We stand as witness to how the UK and Sweden have wilfully violated Julian Assange’s Human Rights over five years of detention in the UK without charge, denying him the right to benefit from the asylum given to him by Ecuador as a safeguard from the serious recriminations threatened by the US for his groundbreaking work with WikiLeaks.
And indeed, as Human Rights Watch asked in a dispatches post – ‘Stop the Foot Dragging on Assange’ – on 19th June 2015, who is it that actually benefits from the ongoing detention?
Sweden deserves censure for foot-dragging, which serves neither the interests of the two women alleged to be his victims nor of Assange. So whose interests does it serve?
The US government, which would be only too happy to see Julian Assange caged, is accomplishing through a protracted and secret grand jury investigation what it should not accomplish through law.
In the first two years of Assange’s legal (maybe better termed ‘illegal’) detention we saw him arrested, imprisoned, and placed under house arrest.
Dragged through an extradition process stacked against him by the now discredited European Arrest Warrant system, justice for Julian Assange – not even an official defendant in Sweden – was comprehensively denied. Amongst other serious flaws, the EAW excluded prima facie evidence and has since been overhauled so that, had the changes been retrospectively applied to him, Assange would not have remained under threat of extradition.
The process gave the appearance of a trial (though it was nothing of the kind) complete with wigs, robes, gothic buildings and a barrage of ambitious legal writers and media in love with themselves, all applauding this theatre of the absurd. Eager to play the role of establishment jester, they took smearing him to extraordinary lengths, congratulating each other with a mythical notion that the Promethean Assange was, after all, just another Icarus.
The UK Crown Prosecution Service, we now know, was, apparently, conspiring to sabotage justice by being careful to insist that Marianne Ny, the Swedish Prosecutor, should not interview Julian Assange (as standard) through Mutual Legal Assistance, in the UK.
Without an interview, without a conclusion of the preliminary investigation, without charges being raised against him, Assange remained in legal limbo, never becoming a legal defendant in Sweden. Consequently, his lawyers were never given full access to the case file. The legal system was used not to deliver justice but perversely to ensure justice was never obtained.
The Swedish Prosecutor Marianne Ny (erroneously ‘crowned’ by the UK Supreme Court as a ‘Judicial Authority’) and the Crown Prosecution Service together determined the boundaries of the legal playing field – British Courts were spoon-fed only such aspects of the case that put the defence at a disadvantage, and such areas of evidence as would have been exonerating remained ‘unavailable’.
Asylum from US persecution
In June 2012, knowing he would be prevented from defending himself against an extraterritorial, extrajudicial, US-led persecution for his work with WikiLeaks, by an imminent detention – incommunicado – imposed on his arrival in Sweden, Julian Assange decided instead to seek refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
He was granted political asylum six weeks later, the day after the Metropolitan police in London laid a siege at the embassy threatening to invade it. The UK government further threatened to remove the Embassy status of the building if Ecuador did not hand Assange over, but the Latin American country put Human Rights first and protected him. More on these events here and here on this blog.
Neither the UK nor Sweden recognised by either word or deed the political asylum granted for Julian’s protection, detaining him for a further three and a half years to date; the UK refusing him Safe Passage, demanding that he abandon the protection of his asylum and continuing to insist that he go to Sweden.
Extraordinary lack of progress
Sweden did not accept Ecuador’s repeatedly extended hand of legal co-operation (first offered shortly after the 2012 asylum decision) until December 2015, after letting the statute of limitations expire on two of the three cases, and only after the prosecutor was sharply criticised by the Swedish High Court for her abject failure to progress the case at all.
Even after a Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement was signed between Ecuador and Sweden in the hope of progressing the preliminary investigation for the remaining case, the Prosecutor continues to prevaricate, challenging the MLA and implying she might not question Julian Assange, after all.
In this timeline, you can get an overview of the ‘exceptional’ procedures that have been the norm in this case, and, on the same site – Justice for Assange – you can also find a fact-checker to correct frequently quoted errors.
Is this Justice? It is Not! But there is hope..
So how did we get to the United Nations’ Working Group on Arbitrary Detention?
On 12 September 2014 Julian Assange submitted a complaint against Sweden and the United Kingdom to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, seeking relief.
Will he get it? Well, according to information leaked to the BBC – hello, UKGov? – the ruling is in his favour, but this will not be officially announced until 8am (UK – GMT) on Friday (9am Geneva – CET), when the UN will properly report their findings and the legal basis for them.
Then, at 12 noon, there will be a WikiLeaks/Assange press conference at the Frontline Club, from which we will learn more.
Notwithstanding the ruling the BBC ‘understands’ is in Julian Assange’s favour – ie that his detention is arbitrary and therefore unlawful – the UK government have been quick to indicate that they will not honour it, despite being a party in the process for just under a year and a half. David Cameron’s spokesperson almost immediately said that it was ‘not binding’, and the police have said all is the same as far as they are concerned – far from returning his passport, they will arrest Assange if he leaves the Embassy.
A significant ruling
Such a ruling cannot simply be brushed aside however, and it will undoubtedly be unwelcome to the UK and Sweden, who will find themselves in an awkward place if they continue at variance with it. Furthermore the finding that the detention is arbitrary does establish a good sound basis for a legal challenge at the European Court of Human Rights, and that matters.
Sweden have now, themselves, officially confirmed that the ruling was in favour of Julian Assange – he was arbitrarily detained. Obviously. And it is very good to know that there is finally some formal recognition of the injustice to which he has been subjected.
On Friday the 5th of February we will know more.
#Stand4Assange on #FridayThe5th
#UNWGAD4Assange #Justice4Assange #WikiLeaks