Thursday, January 3, 2013

Assange’s Extradition Battle

[Author’s note: The following post is the second part in a three part series on Julian Assange.]

Julian Assange is a former hacker from Australia.
Assange had sex with two women in Sweden in August 2010. Assange traveled from Sweden to the UK on September 27, 2010.
Swedish police issued an international arrest warrant on November 20, 2010 seeking Assange’s extradition to Sweden to provide testimony in regards to allegations of sexual misconduct involving the two women.

He turned himself in to London police on December 8, 2012. On December 16 Assange was granted bail on the conditions that he reside at the house of a British friend and that he wear an electronic tracking devise.

Assange’s extradition hearing began on February 7, 2011. His lawyers argued that once Assange was extradited to Sweden he would then face extradition from Sweden to the US on charges relating to Wikileaks’ release of classified US documents. Assange’s extradition to Sweden was upheld by the court on February 24, 2011.

Assange appealed the decision to the High Court in London. That hearing took place in July and the Judges’ decision was delivered on November 2. The court ruled in favor of his extradition to Sweden.

Julian Assange appealed to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. The case was debated in February 2012. The court ruled against Assange on May 30, 2012.

During his extradition battle, Assange offered to be interrogated in Britain or over the phone, both of which are allowed by Swedish law. The Swedish prosecutor declined the offer.

From April 17 through July 3, the news channel RT aired 12 episodes of “The World Tomorrow” a political interview show hosted by Julian Assange. RT is funded by the Russian government. Assange interviewed Rafael Correa, the President of Ecuador, for one of the episodes. During that interview Correa told Assange, “Welcome to the Club of the Persecuted!”

On June 19, 2012 Julian Assange went to the Ecuadorian embassy in London to seek political asylum. He has been living there ever since. Julian Assange was granted political asylum by Ecuador on August 16, 2012. Ecuador granted the asylum because it fears Assange could be extradited from Sweden to the US.

Assange spent 1 year and 7 months under house arrest and has spent 5 and a half months living out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Assange has repeatedly said that he would go to Sweden if he was given a guarantee that he would not be subsequently extradited to the US. The Swedish government has replied that its country’s legislation won’t allow any judicial decision like extradition to be decided in advance. Ecuador has offered Swedish prosecutors the ability to question Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Sweden declined the offer. British police will arrest Assange should he step outside of the Ecuadorian embassy.

Article 22 part 1 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations states,
1. The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving State may not enter them, except with the consent of the head of the mission.
Britain is a signatory to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. This means that Britain cannot enter the embassy without the consent of Ecuador. In August, Britain threatened to storm the embassy based on the UK Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act of 1987. That threat would not have only been questionable under the Vienna Convention, as Ecuador noted, but would have also overturned centuries of established norms in international relations. Britain later withdrew its threat.

Soon after being granted asylum by Ecuador, Assange gave a speech from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy. Assange declared, “The US administration’s war on whistleblowers must end.” He also said, “Bradley Manning must be released.”

Assange concluded his speech by saying,

“On Wednesday Bradley Manning spent his 815th day of detention without trial. The legal maximum is 120 days. On Thursday my friend Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Human Rights Center, was sentenced to three years in prison for a tweet. On Friday a Russian band was sentenced to two years for a political performance. There is unity in the oppression. There must be absolute unity and determination in the response.”

Assange gave another speech from the balcony in December.


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