30 May 2012 – Julian Assange Extradition Report- Supreme Court of the United Kingdom

(This report was assembled by Brett Flener who is currently living at the London Catholic Worker, UK.  Edited by : John Hamblett, Lauren Plummer, Kate Riley, and Kayleigh Butterfield)

Background Information:

Julian Assange is the founder of Wikileaks, a not-for-profit media organisation that brings important news and information to the public. WLs provides an innovative, secure and anonymous way for sources to leak information to journalists. One of WLs most important functions is publishing original source material alongside news stories, so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth. 

With its anonymous drop box, WikiLeaks provides an avenue to leak information for every government official, every bureaucrat, and every corporate worker, who becomes privy to damning information that their institution wants to hide but the public needs to know.  What conscience cannot contain, and institutional secrecy unjustly conceals, WLs can broadcast to the world. It is telling that a number of government agencies in different countries (and indeed some entire nations) have tried to ban access to WLs.  

It is important to note that Wikileaks does not solicit individuals for information.  The organization only functions as a hub for imported information from the anonymous sources and then serves as a broadcasting platform for the received information.

Banking Blockade: WikiLeaks has published the biggest leaks on war, killings, torture and detention, government, trade and corporate transparency in journalistic history. This has triggered aggressive retaliation from powerful groups. Since 7th December 2010 an arbitrary and unlawful financial blockade has been imposed by Bank of America, VISA, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union. The attack has destroyed 95% of Wikileaks’ revenue.  The US government itself found that there were no lawful grounds to add WikiLeaks to a US financial blockade. But the blockade of WikiLeaks by politicized US finance companies continues regardless.  (more information here: http://wikileaks.org/Banking-Blockade.html


For more information on Wikileaks, how it works, why it is important, how it verifies new stories, the people behind Wikileaks, anonymity for sources, stories that have been brought to light by Wikileaks, and the importance of free press and principled leaking, visit their “about” page: 
http://wikileaks.org/About.html

-this section is paraphrased from the Wikileaks “about” section.

Julian Assange v. Swedish Prosecution Authority:

Julian Assange entered Sweden as a visitor on 13 August 2010; during his visit he had sexual intercourse with two women, AA and SW.  One week after he arrived, SW went to the police to seek advice. AA accompanied her for support. The police treated their visit as the filing of formal reports, for the rape of SW and the molestation of AA.  The reports were filed as Case No. K246314-10 [complainant SW] as ‘rape’ and Case No. K246336-10 [complainant AA] as ‘molestation’.  One day later, the Head prosecutor conducted a preliminary investigation with the two women and assessed that there was no evidence for SW’s rape charge, dismissing the arrest warrant.  On 25 August 2010, the Chief Prosecutor decided conduct alleged by one of the women [SW] disclosed no crime at all, and that SW’s file (K246314-10) would be closed.  On the same day the prosecutor decided that the preliminary investigation into the conduct alleged by AA would continue (on suspicion of the molestation offence only).

On 30 August 2010, Assange, who had voluntarily remained in Sweden to cooperate with the investigation, attended a police interview regarding the ongoing Preliminary Investigation into  AA’s report. He answered all questions asked of him.

Meanwhile, on 27  August 2010, the counsel for the two women appealed the Chief Prosecutor’s decision to a Senior Prosecutor in Goteborg. On 1 September 2010, that prosecutor (Marianne Ny) decided that the Preliminary Investigation into SW’s claim, file K246314-10, would be resumed, under the offence of rape.  She also decided that the preliminary investigation into K246336-10 [AA] would be expanded to include all the conduct in the complaint.

On 14 September 2010, Assange’s counsels enquired in writing as to whether or not Julian was permitted to leave Sweden.  On 15 September 2010, the prosecutor informed Assange’s counsel that he indeed was free to leave but informed them that the investigation was ongoing.  Assange and his counsel tried numerous times to schedule a time for questioning with the Swedish government.  All of these attempts are documented in the chronology section of the “Agreed Statement of Facts and Issues” submitted to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom at the bottom of this section.

From this point on, the Swedish government sought extradition through the English courts for the purpose of questioning Assange on the allegations of sexual assault or molestation, and in one account rape.  The claim came under the jurisdiction of the British Supreme Court on 30 May 2012; it was their job to rule on a technicality of European law, specifically the question “does a public prosecutor constitute a judicial authority?”  Assange’s counsels appealed on the narrow point of law that the Swedish Prosecutor was not a “judicial authority”, but rather a party to the case, and that only a “judicial authority” can issue a European arrest warrant.

The full “Agreed Statement of Facts and Issues” submitted to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom by both counsels can be found here:

http://www.scribd.com/swedenversusassange/d/80912442-Agreed-Facts-Assange-Case

Vigil at British Supreme Court 

Approximately 50 supporters ― including representatives from the London and Oxford Catholic Workers, Veterans for Peace UK, Friends of Wikileaks (FoWL), Wise Up for Bradley Manning Solidarity, and the South London Massive Christian Community ― gathered Wednesday morning at the British Supreme Court to keep vigil for the Julian Assange extradition appeal verdict, and to support the mission of Wikileaks.  The legal technicality in question was whether or not a public prosecutor could be considered a “judicial authority.” The 5-2 decision in favor of the prosecution was handed down by the Lords around 8:30am.  However, Assange’s defense found one more point of contention and was given 14 days to make a submission which the Lords may assess before deciding whether to re-open the case.

Further statement was issued by the British Supreme Court to explain the current proceedings (for statement and full judgment: http://www.supremecourt.gov.uk/news/julian-assange-v-swedish-judicial-authority-judgment.html ):

Following this morning’s judgment by the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom in Assange v The Swedish Prosecution Authority, Ms Rose (counsel for the appellant, Mr Assange) has indicated that she may make an application to re-open the Court’s decision. Ms Rose suggested that the majority of the Court appear to have based their decision on the interpretation of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, on which no argument was heard.

The Supreme Court has granted Ms Rose fourteen (14) days to make such an application. If she decides to do so, the Justices will then decide whether to re-open the appeal and accept further submissions (either verbally through an open hearing, or on paper) on the matter.

Questions

1) Julian Assange has not been charged with a crime in any country, yet he is currently on day 543 of effective house arrest.  He checks in with the local police station in the UK daily and wears an electronic tracking tag.  Why? 

2) Assange has repeatedly made himself available for questioning in Sweden and London.  Is it within reason to believe that this case is being treated with special care because of Assange’s founding role and public figure of Wikileaks?  Who benefits from excessive reputation damage of Assange and Wikileaks?

3) Because 3 different prosecutors handled the initial reports in Sweden, there are some troubling discrepancies in their reports.  Simply put: within a period of 13 days there was an arrest warrant issued by the assistant prosecutor (Maria Kjellstrand); a day later the same arrest warrant was dismissed by the Chief Prosecutor of Stockholm (Eva Finne), and subsequently a preliminary interview was conducted of which the Chief Prosecutor concluded “the conduct alleged by SW disclosed no crime at all and that file (K246314-10) would be closed”; and then there was a re-opening of both files after an appeal by the two women’s counsel to a new senior prosecutor of Goteborg (Marianne Ny) that stated “the preliminary investigation in respect of file K246314-10 [SW] would be resumed, under the offence of rape.  Could the senior prosecutor have been acting with more consideration to politics than the law?  Do you believe that the Chief Prosecutor of Stockholm (Eva Finne)- after carefully interviewing the two women in what was sure to be one of the most politically charged and important cases of her career- would dismiss SW’s file if she were not positive that the incident did not constitute the elements of rape?

4) There is reason to believe that the US has issued a secret indictment  (full information and e-mail correspondences made available here: http://wikileaks.org/Stratfor-Emails-US-Has-Issued.html) for Julian that could be used to extradite him to the US from Britain or Sweden. The confidential emails leaked to Wikileaks from the US private intelligence firm Stratfor lead many people to believe that the United States Government has a secret indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.  That Fred Burton, Stratfor’s Vice-President for Counterterrorism and Corporate Security, is a former Deputy Chief of the Department of State’s (DoS) counterterrorism division for the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), is of particular importance on this point.  In early 2011, Burton stated in internal Stratfor correspondence that a secret Grand Jury had already issued a sealed indictment for Assange. Wikileaks has anonymously received and subsequently released several principled leaks that involve the U.S. government and various financial institutions and corporations.  Releases such as the Iraq War Logs, Collateral Murder video, Stratfor Global Intelligence Firm, and over 250,000 diplomatic cables have undoubtedly unsettled many of the senior US leaders.  Calls for assassination have been made publicly by several senior political leaders in the US.  Is there reason to believe that the US government would want to make an example out of Julian Assange and the mission of Wikileaks?  

Why I am in solidarity with Julian Assange and the mission of Wikileaks:

1) As a person of faith striving to follow the example of Jesus, I believe communicating and living the truth, regardless of the cost, is fundamental to the practice of Christianity.  I see a dedication to revealing the truth, regardless of the cost, in the mission of Wikileaks.

2) I would like to live in a more just and transparent world.  Freedom of the press and principled leaking are necessary components of forming this world.

3) Some of my closest friends are in the military.  If they are going to fight I would like them to know the reasons they are being asked to do so and the truth about the nature of war.  This can only be accomplished by a truly free press.

4) Julian Assange is not the most humble or appealing public figure that has ever existed.  But this does not mean we have permission to let the powers that be lock him in prison for the rest of his life without making noise about it.  If most of us were to search deep, we may find wiggle room for a bit of sympathy and understanding in regards to some of his comments and behavior.  When you think about the extreme measures that nearly every superpower has taken to vilify Assange and the Wikileaks organization, one finds it easy to imagine how keeping a calm, cool, and collected demeanor could be a challenge.  Like it or not, Julian Assange, along with the Wikileaks team, are taking risks to receive and publish information that the public needs to know.  Kudos to them.

5) Katrin Exelsson, a spokeswoman for Women against Rape, wrote a letter in 2010 that was published by The Guardian (full link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/08/wikileaks-rape-allegations-freedom-of-speech) :

Many women in both Sweden and Britain will wonder at the unusual zeal with which Julian Assange is being pursued for rape allegations (Report, 8 December). Women in Sweden don’t fare better than we do in Britain when it comes to rape. Though Sweden has the highest per capita number of reported rapes in Europe and these have quadrupled in the last 20 years, conviction rates have decreased. On 23 April 2010 Carina Hägg and Nalin Pekgul (respectively MP and chairwoman of Social Democratic Women in Sweden) wrote in the Göteborgs-Posten that “up to 90% of all reported rapes never get to court. In 2006 six people were convicted of rape though almost 4,000 people were reported”. They endorsed Amnesty International’s call for an independent inquiry to examine the rape cases that had been closed and the quality of the original investigations.

Assange, who it seems has no criminal convictions, was refused bail in England despite sureties of more than £120,000. Yet bail following rape allegations is routine. For two years we have been supporting a woman who suffered rape and domestic violence from a man previously convicted after attempting to murder an ex-partner and her children – he was granted bail while police investigated.

There is a long tradition of the use of rape and sexual assault for political agendas that have nothing to do with women’s safety. In the south of the US, the lynching of black men was often justified on grounds that they had raped or even looked at a white woman. Women don’t take kindly to our demand for safety being misused, while rape continues to be neglected at best or protected at worst.

6) Excerpts from Wikileaks mini-essays on principled leaking (http://wikileaks.org/About.html):

The power of principled leaking to call governments, corporations and institutions to account is amply demonstrated through recent history. The public scrutiny of otherwise unaccountable and secretive institutions forces them to consider the ethical implications of their actions. Which official will chance a secret, or corrupt transaction when the public is likely to find out? What repressive plan will be carried out when it is revealed to the citizenry, not just of its own country, but the world? When the risks of embarrassment and discovery increase, the tables are turned against conspiracy, corruption, exploitation and oppression. Open government answers injustice rather than causing it. Open government exposes and undoes corruption. Open governance is the most effective method of promoting good governance.

4 comments

  1. Good work and writing Brett. I’m glad to hear that you are taking part in this effort.

    I really liked your fourth point on why you are standing with Assange and WikiLeaks. It’s fairly easy to buy into, or reject, a brand…especially when it’s a person or idea. It seems that the WikiLeaks/Assange ‘brand’ is being demonized so that the societies that are paying attention to this case will buy into the other, better, kinder brand (government, etc.), which is troubling. Whether or not I agree with him matters less than a balanced perspective, and standing up for what is right and just is critical to our faith. Thanks for doing your best to fully live out your faith.

  2. Brett,

    Glad to know you are well and fully engaged in thoughtful advocacy.

    Joining you in concern for honor, integrity, and transparency, I have questions about the concept of “principled leaks”. Does not the call to bear witness necessarily require visibility, audibility, and accountability of the prophetic agent? Can anonymity truly abide with moral authority?

    Principled disclosure feels important. Thank you for calling us to wrestle with these thoughts.

    Stay safe.

    Phyllis

  3. 1. Thanks so much for putting all of that together. I’ll be honest in saying that I haven’t been following this in any kind of detail so I appreciate having all of that in one place.
    2. As far as I understand you, I think we’re on the same page. I think the party that has the power to control the narrative of any given event seriously shapes the perception of that event, and as such I affirm that there should be a chance for a free press to be just that and report the truth as is. I especially remember the collateral murder story when it came out and the impact it had.
    That being said, I was just curious what your thoughts were (having been much more involved in this) from both a faith perspective and a legal-interest perspective? Specifically in regards to question 3. I don’t think I’m so naive as to think that legal systems are always righteously upholding the law without an agenda, political or otherwise. That being said, is there reason to trust that there could be a legal solution to end 1.the financial blockade and 2.the current case(s) against Assange? And as a follow-up, how do you see the faith community being involved in this and what was the response to the vigil?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s