Last April the US submitted a request to the UK to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is charged with 17 Espionage Act offenses, and 1 count of conspiracy to commit computer crime (for allegedly attempting to protect a source’s anonymity). He risks a possible 175 years prison sentence.
The extradition hearing began in London on 24th February 2020
This hearing will last for one week. The case is set to resume for three weeks on May 18th 2020.
Wikileaks founder and journalist Julian Assange is held at Belmarsh high-security prison in London, since April 2019 when Ecuador terminated the political asylum granted to him in 2012 under Correa's presidency, rendered him to the UK authorities and the USA officially requested to the UK his extradition for trial. Indeed after years of investigation by a secret grand jury in the USA, paralleled by multiparty political persecution which severely damaged his body and mind, Julian Assange is now charged in the USA with 17 Espionage Act offenses, and 1 count of conspiracy to commit computer crime for allegedly attempting to protect a source’s anonymity - totaling a possible 175 years prison sentence.
The charges all relate to Wikileaks journalistic activities of publishing authentic information in the interest of the public, many times in collaboration with other news outlets. Specifically in this case, the charges relate to the publishing by Wikileaks of documents transmitted by ex-army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, revealing US war crimes in Irak and Afghanistan.
Hence the charges basically equate journalism and truthtelling to treason, when in fact the duty of journalists, whistleblowers, activists, citizens, is to the people, not to the power.
This first use ever of the 1917 Espionage Act against a publisher makes Julian Assange the unwilling sacrificial frontperson of an unprecedented attack on the free press, and on democracy. It comes in the context of a larger crackdown on freedom, human rights, and globalized abuse of the living planet.
To let this extradition and prosecution happen would inaugurate an era darker than we know.
Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg reacts to the indictment saying espionage charges against Assange are the most significant attack on the press since the Pentagon Papers
See also In Defense of Julian Assange
Extradition treaty between the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America
Jeremy Corbyn praises Julian Assange and calls for extradition to US to be halted. The prime minister Boris Johnson acknowledged: “To be frank, I think Mr Corbyn has a point in his characterisation of our extradition arrangements with the United States and I do think there are elements of that relationship that are imbalanced. I certainly think it is worth looking at.”
High-ranking CIA agent Anne Sacoolas is charged with killing a teenage British citizen. While the US demands Julian Assange’s extradition, it refuses to give up its spy.
1. Client-lawyer confidentiality breached
2. The initial charge is flawed
3. Initial charge relies on co-operation from Manning
4. Additional charges raised by the US are political
5. US legal precedent argues that Assange’s work is protected by the US Constitution
6. Threats of violence against Assange mean he’s unable to receive a fair trial
A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman has said the Queen will not intervene to release Julian Assange, vowing to remain “non-political.” The statement seemingly confirms that Assange’s detention is a political, not criminal, matter.
European Convention on Extradition https://rm.coe.int/1680064587
“ Among other matters of importance in which I took an active part, but which excited little interest in the public, two deserve particular mention. I joined with several other independent Liberals in defeating an Extradition Bill introduced at the very end of the session of 1866, and by which, though surrender avowedly for political offences was not authorized, political refugees, if charged by a foreign Government with acts which are necessarily incident to all attempts at insurrection, would have been surrendered to be dealt with by the criminal courts of the Governments against which they had rebelled : thus making the British Government an accomplice in the vengeance of foreign despotisms”
John Stuart Mill (Autobiography), quoted by Naomi Colvin in the 36C3 talk The case against WikiLeaks
“Recent atrocities have ensured that terrorism and how to deal with terrorists legally and politically has been the subject of much discussion and debate on the international stage. This book presents a study of changes in the legal treatment of those perpetrating crimes of a political character over several decades. It most centrally deals with the political offence exception and how it has changed. The book looks at this change from an international perspective with a particular focus on the United States. Interdisciplinary in approach, it examines the fields of ter-rorism and political crime from legal, political science and criminological perspec-tives. It will be of interest to a broad range of academics and researchers, as well as to policymakers involved in creating new anti-terrorist policies.”