Julian Assange Extradition Case to the US

In April 2019 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 took place in London in February 2020and September 2020

On January 4th 2021, district judge Vanessa Baraister rendered the first instance verdict: she ruled Assange cannot be extradited to the US on the grounds it would be unjust and oppressive to extradite him by reason of his medical condition. However, she did not accept as valid the other important bars to extradition the defense team had brought to her attention, that Assange is a journalist and the charges against him are political. The freedom of the press is still very much under threat. Assange was denied bail. The US has appealed

See also Political persecution of Assange and WikiLeaks

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.

On June 24th 2020, the US published a new version of the indictment of Assange, as a new base for requesting his US extradition. In a rather unusual move, the US are changing the nature of the accusations, while the extradition hearing (trial) is already going on. Original PDF version and full-text (OCR) version of the superseding indictment, copy-pastable with table of content and links to sections, sub-sections, etc.

  • Accusing Assange of a broadened alleged “hacking conspiracy” involving “Anonymous”, lulzsec, antisec, CCC, Snowden, etc.
  • Attempting to qualify WikiLeaks as an intelligence agency “recruiting” sources.
  • doesnt formally add charges (as it would be illegal according to extradition treaties), yet heavily modifies and broadens the existing ones.
  • Criminalizing the helping of Edward Snowden out of Hong-Kong.
  • A lot of the alleged conspiracy relies on the testimony of Sigurdur Thordarson as “Teenager”. Thordarson had served a three-year sentence for multiple counts of embezzlement and fraud, including against WikiLeaks and sex crimes against nine minors. Thordarsson stole tens of thousands of dollars from WikiLeaks, and impersonated Julian Assange in order to carry out the embezzlement. As part of the criminal prosecution of Thordarson in Iceland, he was examined by a forensic psychiatrist who diagnosed him as a sociopath suffering from a “severe anti-social personality disorder.”. (source)

Redacted names in the indictment:

  • WLA-2 = Daniel Domscheit-Berg
  • WLA-3 = Jacob Appelbaum
  • WLA-4 = Sarah Harrison
  • “Teenager” = Sigurdur Thordarson
  • “NATO Country-1” = Iceland

US DoJ press release: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/wikileaks-founder-charged-superseding-indictment

US Government Expands Assange Indictment To Criminalize Assistance Provided To Edward Snowden - ShadowProof 25/06/2020

WikiLeaks' response to the indictment

Media analysis of the indictment, as compiled by WikiLeaks defence fund run by Courage foundation

An attack on the press

See The "Assange Precedent": how Assange's case impacts journalism worldwide.

Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg reacts to the indictment saying espionage charges against Assange are the most significant attack on the press since the Pentagon Papers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJuCNrRXxC4&feature=youtu.be

See also In Defense of Julian Assange

I am guilty of violating the Espionage Act

a John Stuart Mill quote

“ 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

The practice of extradition from antiquity to modern France and the United States

Terrorism, Criminal law, and Politics

“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.”

Julia Jansson

https://defend.wikileaks.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/1006908.pdf

European Convention on Extradition https://rm.coe.int/1680064587

Extradition treaty between the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/243246/7146.pdf

Critics of UK-US extradition treaty

Johnson: “Elements of extradition arrangements with the U.S. are imbalanced.”

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.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-corbyn-julian-assange-extradition-us-wikileaks-war-crimes-a9331376.html

While demanding Assange, US refuses to extradite CIA agent who killed British teen

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.

https://thegrayzone.com/2020/02/18/assange-us-extradite-cia-killed-british-teen/

Legal arguments why the US extradition of Julian Assange should be denied include the nature of Assange's work as a journalist and publisher and that the charges against him are political, as well as due process violations, spying on Assange and his lawyers, and his bad physical and mental health.

They are exposed in the defence closing statement

See also : https://www.thecanary.co/uk/analysis/2020/01/25/six-legal-arguments-show-why-the-us-extradition-of-julian-assange-should-be-denied/

About the Political Offense Exception

The Political Offense Exception: Punishing whistleblowers abroad

Mark Dell Kielsgard https://www.ejiltalk.org/the-political-offense-exception-punishing-whistleblowers-abroad/

Queen Elizabeth won’t get involved in Julian Assange case because it’s a POLITICAL matter

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.

https://www.rt.com/uk/480974-queen-elizabeth-julian-assange/

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  • Last modified: 2021/04/12 10:55