Mike Vickers' Blog

April 15, 2019

The Strange Case of Julian Assange

Filed under: Assange, Europe, Jeremy Corbyn, Patrick Cockburn, Politics, Social, USA — derryvickers @ 2:15 pm

Assange had pleaded political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the last seven years.

He was eventually expelled last Thursday and arrested by the Met.

Since then many have come to his defence and an equal number have attacked him because

Julian Assange is wanted on two counts:

  1. Hacking and Leaking US military information principally on its war in Iraq
  2. Accused of rape in Sweden

You can read more about Hacking and Leaking in

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/julian-assange-wikileaks-chelsea-manning-war-democracy-a8867816.html

Cockburn believes that leaking / whistleblowing is essential in this increasingly authoritarian world and finishes his article with:

Assange is likely to pay a higher price than Ellsberg for his exposure of government secrets. The Pentagon Papers were published when the media was becoming freer across the world while now it is on the retreat as authoritarian governments replace democratic ones and democratic governments become more authoritarian.

The fate of Assange will be a good guide as to how far we are going down this road and the degree to which freedom of expression is threatened in Britain at a time of deepening political crisis.’

In his and Jeremy Corbyn’s view the UK Government should reject any US request to expatriate Assange to the US.

But to the Rape Charge, so far one case has been closed but the other is still open and the Swedish Government has yet to request expatriation. If the Swedish Government does ask for Assange to be repatriated to stand trial then the UK Government would find it difficult to refused, we are currently still part of the EU with Sweden.

Dani Garavelli in the Scotsman on Sunday:

https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/dani-garavelli-assange-apologists-make-light-rape-case-1-4906997

‘Labour backbenchers, including Diana Johnson, Stephen Kinnock, Stephanie Peacock and Stella Creasy, signed an open letter to Home Secretary Sajid Javid seeking assurances that every assistance would be offered to Sweden should it make an extradition request.

Garavelli noted that:

‘In the end though, as so often, it was Emily Thornberry who nailed it. “Why weren’t the Swedish authorities told in advance of Assange’s ejection from the Ecuadorian Embassy as the US clearly was? Our priority should be the alleged two victims of sexual violence in Sweden and not a ruse to get him extradited to the US as a whistleblower,” she wrote.

And that sums up the main difference between the two potential charges: A clear court case as to whether Assange did or did not rape two ladies in contrast to the undoubted leak of US extremely dubious human rights violation in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At present of course Assange is in UK custody and the UK government will have to decide whether to expedite Assange to Sweden if asked, or to the US. In my view the UK should expedite to Sweden, but I don’t know if the UK Government can successfully seek a clause in the agreement to so could prevent Assange there after being expedited to the US.

Just to finish for the time being; it looks clear that the Ecuadorian Embassy was pleased to get rid of their visitor after seven years

‘I think the first thing to say is Ecuador has been making some pretty outrageous allegations over the past few days to justify what was an unlawful and extraordinary act in allowing British police to come inside an embassy,” [Jennifer Robinson, Assange’s lawyer] said’

https://www.scotsman.com/news/assange-s-lawyer-claims-ecuador-made-smears-to-justify-arrest-1-4907277

Post Script:  I have now read a similar view to my collection above. See

https://labourlist.org/2019/04/labours-response-to-the-arrest-of-julian-assange-doesnt-cut-it/

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