Monday, August 20, 2012

Assange "Myths" In The New Statesman

It is depressing to see this article by David Allen Green in the New Statesman being widely distributed. So I am going to provide a point-by-point reality check...

One: “The allegation of rape would not be rape under English law” 

Show us one case in English law where a man has been successfully convicted of rape in the same circumstances. Just one... Go on, it should be easy.

NB: this would include, in the supposedly more serious case, consensual sex followed by penetration while asleep, followed by more consensual sex, followed by happy smiles and hugs the next day.

Two: “Assange is more likely to be extradited to USA from Sweden than the United Kingdom”

It is certainly true that David Cameron's UK government would be just as happy as Sweden to extradite Assange - if nobody was looking, and if they thought that they could get away with such a crime as easily as Carl Bildt's gang in Stockholm. But extraditing Assange from the UK would have never-ending political and legal consequences (just look at how Blair's illegal invasion of Iraq still reeks like an albatross nailed to the door of 10 Downing Street).

More importantly, however, Sweden has a special deal with the USA called "temporary rendition".  David Allen Green (let's call him DAG for short) doesn't even mention it, even though it's widely discussed at sites like Justice4Assange.com (has he even visited those sites?). This sordid little "temporary rendition" deal legally binds Sweden to extradite anyone the US requests.

And let's not forget how Sweden rendered two asylum-seeking Egyptians for the CIA, who then handed them over to Mubarak's torture squads.And let's note that there is minimal public outrage about this in Sweden, because hardly anybody is speaking out against their US overlords in the Swedish media or in parliament.

Furthermore, there is a narrative at play here. Until and unless the USA reveals their secret Grand Jury bullshit "evidence", there is absolutely no reason for the UK to extradite Assange to the USA. And if we assume (as some people do) that the sex allegations are a hurriedly concocted means to smear Assange's reputation and get him behind bars ASAP, it's important that the Swedish "rape" narrative is sustained to a logical conclusion. Otherwise the whole thing starts to look even more farcical. Just imagine if the USA revealed it's sealed indictment NOW - it would immediately justify everything Assange and his "paranoid" supporters have been saying.

Three: “Sweden should guarantee that there be no extradition to USA” 

DAG regurgitates the meme that is is "not legally possible" for the Swedish government to give any guarantee about a future extradition. This is nonsense. There are ways and means of achieving such guarantees, assuming they are desired. For example, the Sweden government could seek a guarantee from Washington that they will not seek extradition while Assange remains in Sweden.

The pretence that Sweden and the UK cannot extradite to the USA is also a farce. The USA can seek extradition based on one piece of bullshit "evidence", then introduce more bullshit "evidence" with a stronger penalty once Assange is on US soil (or in Gitmo, where centuries of international law and US domestic laws clearly mean Jack Shit).

Four: “The Swedes should interview Assange in London”

This is where DAG excels himself, claiming Assange "cannot actually be charged until he is arrested". DAG then goes into lengthy and impressive detail about Swedish law. But wait a minute, mate - there is nothing in Swedish law that says they cannot question a European Arrest Warrant suspect abroad. In fact they have done it before (a fact they strangely denied for many months) in cases far more serious than Assange's.

Given the current diplomatic impasse, it would surely be in everybody's best interests if Sweden went into the Ecuadorian Embassy and asked Assange whatever else they still need to know (remember, they already questioned him in Stockholm before the case was closed - then reopened). The Swedes could then present their evidence to the world - or at least to the Ecuadorean government. If they have a valid case, not just a he-said-she-said media brouhaha, then I'm sure growing public support for Assange will disappear before you can say "He only deserves power who every day justifies it" (Dag Hammarskjold). Assange and Ecuador (if they still supported him) would be isolated, if not disgraced, and the situation would be far easier to resolve.

It is important to note that there is nothing stopping the Swedes questioning Assange right now, and yet they refuse to even try and publicly explain why they will not question him in London. It cannot be for the alleged victims' sake - their cause would have been best served, if anybody actually cares about them, by resolving this case two years ago.

Five: “By giving Assange asylum, Ecuador is protecting freedom of the press” 

Anyone who believes the garbage about Ecuador persecuting journalists needs to take a good,long look at President Correa's continuing battles with a corporate-controlled media market. They should also go and read a few Ecuadorian newspapers, where criticism of the government is still easy to find.

It is wildly ironic that newspapers like The Guardian, which loudly condemns Rupert Murdoch's influence on British politics and society, should fail to applaud Ecuador's new constitution, which restricts private media ownership to 33% of the market. And it is shameful to see supposedly humanitarian groups, many of whom rely on US funding, joining the chorus condemning Correa's efforts to provide a free and fair press.

DAG also cites the case of Alexander Barankov, who is to currently facing extradition from Ecuador to Belarus. This troubling case is also being widely cited as a reason to condemn Correa. Personally, without having seen any evidence at all, and while a judgement on Barankov's extradition remains pending, I will hold off judgement. Would that others could do the same more often.

ENDS

3 comments:

  1. 1) Being unable to find a case ending in successful conviction (I see you're not too keen to look either? Afraid of finding one?) doesn't change that this case would be a rape case in the UK too.

    2) Temporary surrender would require a successful extradition order, which would have to go through normal extradition procedures INCLUDING UK approval.

    3) It's legally impossible to guarantee since the procedures aren't in the hands of people, but the law. It is impossible, without knowledge of what the extradition would be for, to say whether or not you would block it (for example, for political purposes)

    4) Assange is at the procedural stage of being charged. The arrest warrant is for him to face allegations. The swedish system, if you'd bother to read up on it, is to interview the suspect one last time and THEN formally charge. The state have then only two weeks to bring it to court. There is no precedent of the Swedish government questioning people at this stage. Go and check, I almost certainly guarantee all your examples are FIRST INTERVIEW stages, with the suspect brought back to Sweden for the second interview.

    5) Let's see... http://www.indexoncensorship.org/tag/rafael-correa/

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  2. Lee,

    1. I am sure if there were such a case the rabidly anti-Assange UK media would have dug it up long ago.

    2. You don't think the UK govt would be more than willing to approve extradition from Sweden? Of course they would.

    3. Governments make the laws. This case would never have been re-opened if the Swedish legal system were not compromised by politics.

    4. Everyone is suddenly a legal expert eh? And you "almost certainly guarantee" your info is right? LOL. Sorry but Sweden has abused due process every step of the way here, and there's really not much point arguing over this latest "2 weeks" meme if they don't even respect their own laws.

    5. Isn't it funny how sites like that have failed to speak up in support of WikiLeaks for two years, but suddenly come out loudly condemning Ecuador? Here's a better perspective:

    http://www.publico.es/441167/y-van-y-le-dan-un-paracaidas-al-hijo-de-puta-o-por-que-assange-debia-morir

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  3. People like Lee Griffin act as though legal principles will be followed in the Assange case. That's naive. When power is involved, the only rule that will be followed is the one that says the country with the most murderous weapons gets what it wants. Like Mao said, "all power flows from the barrel of a gun." And the gun is pointed straight at Assange.

    G, I read some of the comments on Greenwald's latest Assange piece in the Guardian. (I see he's decamped from the struggling Salon.com.) It's disappointing to see how many people in that comments thread are also buying into the bogus "rape" allegations, or just hating on Assange because "he's a self-promoter" or "he revealed secret information." The fact that Wikileaks revealed the truth doesn't matter to these people, only "secrecy" counts."

    And while newspaper comment threads might be populated with paid disinfotrolls, I see a similar reaction on ostensibly left-wing U.S. blogs like Balloon Juice. Lots of supposedly anti-regressive people despise Glennzilla and Assange. This civilization is fucked, mate. If this is what a critical mass of people think like, they deserve to have night fall on them, to have the fascist system they lust for. The fascism they cheer will kill them too, and I will piss on their graves. I'm going to keep ducking and dodging and slip-sliding around the fascist controls as best as I can, in hopes of seeing the people I revile die while I'm still alive to chuckle.

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