On Wednesday, April 20, 2022, the British judiciary officially authorized the extradition to the United States of Julian Assange, an Australian journalist and founder of Wikileaks, where he faces 175 years in prison for exposing war crimes to the general public. the US government.
Returning to recent events, this article discusses the political and legal levers that can still be mobilized to repeal the extradition order. In France, a request for political asylum for Julian Assange was submitted to the National Assembly in February last year by a group of parliamentarians, including Jean-Luc Melanchon. This can still be repeated and massively supported.
Source: CounterFire – John Rees – 24-04-2022
Priti Patel, Boris Johnson’s interior minister, is set to decide whether Julian Assange is alive or dead: will she send him to the United States, where he is on trial for espionage? If convicted, he faces up to 175 years in prison. It is no exaggeration to say that only a fraction of this detention would be enough to see his death in prison.
As the trial is currently pending, Patel’s decision is purely political. Should she respond positively to the extradition request when the allegations equate journalistic investigations with espionage? Should he allow a first-time law on espionage against the journalist, passed in the United States in 1917 and prosecuted? Should the United States extend its archaic antispyware laws to other countries and to a non-US journalist?
And this is far from exhausting the fundamental questions that Patel must ask. She may have been interested in litigation, including the fact that the main prosecution witness confessed to lying in court, or the CIA accidentally spying on the accused and his lawyers, or even the CIA’s assassination of Assange in London. It could also review the validity of the extradition agreement, which transferred 200 people from Britain to the United States when only 11 returned.
In any, if not all, normal case, any of these issues may be sufficient for the Minister of the Interior to declare the extradition request invalid. But this is not an ordinary thing and not an ordinary interior minister, who in this case manages to surpass the terrible line of Tory interior ministers, who took turns “here”.
The case is primarily an act of political revenge on Julian Assange for revealing documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Guantanamo Bay prison, and diplomatic maneuvers that compromise the United States government.
And this is the point: should journalists be allowed to report only on government statements and the activities of large public relations corporations, information that the rich and powerful want to receive? Or should they be free to disclose facts that might otherwise be hidden from the public eye?
No one was harmed by WikiLeaks publications, as American lawyers themselves admitted in court. No foreign state has granted or gained privileged access to documents published by WikiLeaks. The only beneficiaries were the public, which revealed the most serious facts that they would not have known otherwise.
It is for this service to the public that Julian Assange spends his fourth year in a high-security prison in Belmarsh and risks extradition to the United States.
Priti Patel is a born reactionary, ultra-hawk, and an unconditional admirer of American power. Her current priority is to try to send desperate asylum seekers to Rwanda, and she will almost certainly sign an extradition order. But she could face, as in the past, a reason for embarrassment. His bizarre and illegal lobbying of Israel and the persecution of his ministerial staff have hurt him and the government.
Massive pressure from Patel could have the same effect and form the basis for the next stage of the judicial battle. This moment is crucial, because Patel is not yet a decision-maker at this stage. Even if they sign the extradition order, Julian Assange’s defense still has a chance to cancel the extradition in British courts. His lawyers can and will challenge elements of the original decision of the “magistrate’s court” [juridiction la plus basse dans le système anglais] who rejected their arguments against extradition.
The decision of the magistrate’s court in early 2021 consisted of two parts. One blocked the extradition on the grounds that Julian Assange posed a risk of suicide if he was transferred to the US prison system. The rest of the decision is in Magistrate’s Court rejected arguments against extradition based on freedom of the press and the fact that the extradition treaty made extradition illegal in political matters.
US lawyers, appealing to the Court of Appeals, managed to overturn the decision on non-extradition, which is why the case is now on the table of Priti Patel. But Assange’s lawyers now have the same right to challenge in the appellate court the elements on which they lost in court. Magistrate’s Court.
We are now talking about the impact on the political environment in which the appeal process takes place. It is in this sense that we must understand the mobilization around Priti Patel’s decision.
Source: CounterFire – John Rees – 24-04-2022