Assange Painted into Corner with Manning Boasting

In the political landscape, Julian Assange is one of the current hot-button topics. His actions in the last 6 months have placed him front-and-center in the current furore over the election of Donald Trump, centering on his release of the Podesta emails.

Now, I won’t say the Podesta emails were a storm in a teacup () because that’s beside the point, which is that Assange has deliberately invoked a controversy to personally profit by it, as part of a larger campaign by Assange to avoid dealing with his Swedish sexual assault allegations. To fan the flames of that some more, WikiLeaks released this tweet.

There are two issues here that are conflated and done so in a despite to perhaps mislead people. Yes, there indeed is WAS a movement to get Chelsea [formerly Bradley] Manning clemency and Manning is reportedly on Obama’s shortlist for clemency/pardons prior to leaving office. (note, as I was finishing this, Manning’s sentence was commuted, and Manning will be released on May 17th)

Yet it’s the second part, about Assange accepting extradition to the US, and the ‘unconstitutional case’ that’s of greater interest.

First and foremost, there has been little in the way of activities regarding WikiLeaks. what few there have been, have almost all occurred in the Grand Jury proceedings, an investigative proceeding. There has been no formal indictment filed against Assange to date that anyone is aware of (sealed indictments are another matter, not that one is likely, as it’s not like he’s going to run anywhere) and any indictment filed has to have been presented within a 70-day period. So we are pretty certain there’s no indictment against Assange. Sure there was a Stratfor email claiming there was one but no-one has substantiated it, and it was never mentioned again… which is odd if it were true. nott o mention it would actually be criminal for him to have been made aware of it, and can be punished by jail time. That there wasn’t indicates this was not true.

So no indictment means no extradition, but let’s assume there is.

The US desires to extradite Assange to the US for various Wikileaks related things; how would that work?

In a nutshell, not well.

Sweden as a country does not allow extradition for ‘political crimes’, the prosecution for the actions of Wikileaks would fall into that category (In 1992 Sweden refused to extradite Edward Howard back to the US on a charge of Espionage). That’s well known by a lot of people, especially the older generation since it was the second most popular country for those avoiding the Vietnam Draft (after the obvious country of Canada). This is why on August 18th, 2010, Julian Assange applied for Swedish residency, precisely to protect against a US extradition. Now his residency request was rejected (he didn’t discontinue it, it was denied him) but that doesn’t matter. As Sweden placed their extradition request first, and it has already been processed through the UK courts, they have priority.

So when/if a US Extradition request comes in, Sweden is bound by law to inspect it for legitimacy through the court system. This is also why his constant claims for ‘assurances from the Swedish Government not to be sent to the US‘ could not be granted, not only would it be against the law, but its dealing with the wrong entity. Judicial independence (the cornerstone of any free state) would make that impossible. So either he knows that and is trying to see how many people he can mislead with his seemingly reasonable request (which is anything but), or he is the world’s most ignorant transparency and accountability advocate.

The request would then need to be processed through the Swedish courts, where the US would have to provide evidence of the crimes alleged. That’s going to be ‘fun’ to do and not break the ‘political’ barrier.

So let’s assume they DO manage that then (which makes the second big assumption, following the assumption of the request in the first place), the next step would be to get the agreement of… the UK Government.

That’s right, there’s a thing called the Doctrine of Specialty, which is pretty much standard in extradition cases, and states that extradited persons can only be on trial for the charges they’ve been extradited on. So, since the extradition to Sweden specifically states only the alleged rape and sexual assaults, there’s no way to have Sweden try him for anything else until after the case is completed (either dismissed or sentenced and served). So a request would then have to ALSO request extradition from the UK to Sweden again (under conditions of that treaty) and then request extradition from Sweden to the US.

This is where it gets interesting. Before the final verdict by the UK Supreme court (30 May 2012) The US could have requested extradition from the UK, and then it would have been a matter for the UK Home Secretary to determine (by signing off) which case would proceed. This is a huge issue, as Assange had left Sweden for the UK on 27th September 2010, and so had been in the UK for 611 days.

This is critically important to highlight, because both the US-Sweden, and Sweden-UK extradition treaties are very different from the US-UK extradition treaty. In the former, the crime accused must be a criminal act in both countries, and then evidence must be presented to substantiate the allegation. In the US-UK extradition treaty, there is no requirement to produce the evidence when the US requests extradition from the UK, instead, the court has to be informed that evidence exists – essentially ‘reasonable suspicion’. it’s a much lower barrier to overcome.

This is why it is so puzzling why Assange waited until 19 June 2012 (four days after his final UK Supreme Court appeal was rejected, with extradition set for some time in the period June 28 to July 8, 2012) to suddenly voice his worry about US extradition and violate his bail conditions in fleeing to the Ecuadorian embassy.

So, to recap, the extradition Assange is worried about doesn’t exist, but if it did it would have to be concerning a non-political topic because Sweden doesn’t allow political extraditions. If it was, both Sweden and the UK would then have to go through a court process where evidence would have to be produced to the court, and so he would have two separate attempts to fight it. However, the one time he decides to voice his concern and act on it is when this complex and convoluted set of requirements is locked in place and not in the 87 weeks prior to that where they could have requested extradition from the UK, without restriction on crime and without having to even provide evidence to back up the allegations.

So the whole claim of ‘fearing US extradition’ fails on pretty much every single factual point, even assuming there was an indictment (there isn’t as we’ve established, but the DOJ have also publiclly stated they’ve never sought one) to base an extradition request on.

In fact, when it comes to Assange’s claims of US extradition, what is the most puzzling is why he traveled to the UK back in September 2010. After all, it’s well known how easy US extraditions from the UK are (Gary McKinnon etc.). Someone so worried about US extradition would not go to the one country with the easiest treaty there and stay there for 20 months. Not when most of that is spent fighting a return to the country he was so certain would protect him from US extradition, that he applied for residency.

There is only one explanation that fits all these facts. There is no US extradition, and Assange never felt there was. The claim of it was a last-minute desperation move by a man desperate to avoid his own accountability.

He left Sweden 27th September 2010, while an interview with the prosecutors was scheduled for the 28th at 5 pm with his lawyer one week earlier (22nd). There is strong evidence that his lawyer was informed on the 27th that he would be arrested at the interview on the 28th, which is what prompted the flight.

As for why the UK was his destination? As an Australian, he’s a commonwealth citizen, and so does not require a visa. While this may be true throughout the Schengen area that includes Sweden, the Schengen limit is for 90 days in a 6-month period across the entire zone, giving him only a month or two. Meanwhile, in the UK, he can stay for up to 6 months starting on his arrival – more than enough time to try and sort it out and move on or get it dismissed, meanwhile he’s still in the Schengen area if he can get it dismissed and return to Sweden.

There’s also the gamble of the laws themselves. The UK uses civil law, while much of Europe uses the Napoleonic code. When it comes to laws regarding sex, the UK (and other such countries, like the US) is often woefully lacking. Since a key aspect of extradition is that the offence(s) must be a crime in both countries, he may have been banking on the UK not considering the accusations from Sweden to be crimes, thus negating the extradition request. That backfired.

So now we’re back to the original tweet and claim. that Assange would allow himself to be extradited to the US if Manning was commuted.

However, he said nothing about Sweden, which is more pressing because there IS an extradition order from Sweden, and not even a request from the US (as we’ve now established).

However, the reason stated by Assange for fleeing to the embassy was because of fear of US extradition, which he seems to no longer have an issue with. So absent his (flimsy and imaginary) pretext for avoiding extradition to Sweden, it has to be asked:

What justification will he now claim for staying there?

And it’s pretty much a given that he won’t now leave the embassy to hold himself to the same kind of accountability he claims to be providing to others, by standing up to the charges that have been substantiated against him in at least EIGHT court hearings.

No, because courts and punishment are for the likes of Manning. Manning will have spent 7 years in prison for actions of whistleblowing. Assange refuses to show the same respect for law and justice and accountability as he claims others should when it comes to matters of his own personal choice. Or is Assange trying to say that his role as a middleman and publicist is so much more important than whistleblowers, that he should be held above the law in any action he deems because that’s certainly what it sounds like.

Wth his boast last week, he painted himself into a corner over his own issues. He gambled that Obama’s history of punishing whistleblowers (more than every other president combined… or should that be ‘before him’) would preclude him from commuting Manning’s sentence. That bluff is now called, so now we will see if Assange is even capable of practicing what he preaches.

  • Arbed121

    The one thing you seem to be missing is Assange’s side of the story, which Swedish prosecutors finally allowed him to give them in November 2016 (they had previously refused all methods of him giving it: at Australian embassy, Swedish embassy, phone, video, in person at UK police station during 18 months of house arrest, by written statement, etc). Here it is:

    Have you investigated this, from May 2015: “There are responsive documents in the US Dept of Justice Extradition Unit”?

    Also, there was a peculiar comment from the Met Police today when asked whether they would arrest Assange if he emerges from the Ecuadorian embassy: “We couldn’t possibly speculate”. What in hell does that mean? Also, as the UK Govt is currently in possession of his passport, how is he expected to get to the US to surrender himself in Manning’s place without negotiating this with the UK government?

    • ktetch

      Right, he’s been completely prohibited from giving his side of the story….
      Except of course for:

      Interview with prosecutor 30 August 2010
      Interview with prosecutor 28 September 2010 (missed because he’d gone to the UK the evening before)
      Interview with prosecutor week of October 11 2010 (arranged and then ignored by Assange
      Appeal to Svea Court of Appeal 20 November 2010
      Appeal to Swedish Supreme Court 30 November 2010
      Extradition hearing 7-11 February 2011 City of Westminster Magistrates Court in the Belmarsh courthouse London.
      High Court Appeal 12&13 July 2011
      UK Supreme Court appeal 1&2 Feb 2012
      Appeal to UK Supreme Court to re-open appeal 14 June 2012

      By my count, that’s NINE instances where he got to tell his side of the story, of which he availed himself of 7 all prior to his entry into the Embassy.

      now, as explained in detail above, there isn’t and never was a US Extradition for Assange (and if he thought there was, he’d be stupid to have gone tot he UK when he did, also odd that he went into the embassy right as it had been removed) So at ANY time after that he could have left the embassy to be interviewed.

      But then there’s also these other dates when his ‘side was heard’
      24 June 2014 – Stockholm district court
      12 September 2014 – Svea court of appeal
      10 November 2014 – Svea court of appeal (response)
      8 December 2014 – Swedish Supreme Court

      That’s 4 more instances where his side was heard.

      Now, the fun stuff.
      13 March 2015 – prosecutor requests to interview Assange in the Embassy.
      16 April 2015 – Assange agrees to be interviewed WITH CONDITIONS
      17 April 2015 – Prosecutors have to ask Assange what those conditions are.
      29 May 2015 – Prosecutors send message regarding details of interview on June 16-17 by email, sends postal version next day
      16-17 June 2015 – Prosecutors travel to London to interview Assange, but are turned away from the Embassy
      January 2016 – Ecuador’s Prosecutor-General denies the May 2015 interview request.

      22 Feb 2016 – At this point, Assange makes another presentation to Swedish courts, presenting his case. Making it the TWELFTH time out of 15 chances to get out his side of the story.
      He appeals this in August 2016 to the Svea appeals court (instance 13)
      then, November 14 2016 is the interview. the 14th time he’s officially had his say, and the 17th opportunity to do so officially, not counting his ability at any time to walk outside and present it.

      Now, your video, first of all, it states that they’re trying to interview him in May 2015, as noted above, which also contradicts your starting claim.
      Second, either julian’s stay in the embassy has made him lose his memory, or he’s deliberately misleading things, but in the start of the interview, he’s talking about warrants. They’re not warrants, they’re subpoena’s. bit different. Second, yes FOIA’s can be blocked on ‘ongoing prosecutions’ under 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(7)(B). Everyone in the FOIA world knows this. Also, FOIA’s are never for use in court proceedings, federal documents for public viewing are on PACER, else they’re sealed. It’s another attempt to mislead. He mentions 40.000 pages int he FBI file and how he can’t see them, but conveniently forgets that if they do file an indictment, guess what? they send him all those pages FREE. it’s fun at 4:40 watching him trying to think of a way of explaining how people suspected of a crime, can’t get detailed investigative notes prior to them being charged with a crime, you know, so they can destroy evidence and hide things sooner.
      Classic gaslighting.

      “Couldn’t possibly speculate” is a police “no comment”.
      Second, as reiterated many times above, the US government has not requested him, not once. No indictment, no extradition order. No-one except Assange has even suggested he be ‘taking Mannings place’. besides, even if there was a US extradition request now, it wouldn’t matter. The Swedish request would take precedent, and under all the applicable treaties, the US would have to wait until after the Swedish charges were fully discharged one way or another. He doesn’t get to pick and choose which court orders he’ll decide to abide by.

      • Arbed121

        Tsk, all those court hearings you listed – you never figured out they were procedurals about the validity of the warrant, not trials, not about hearing or testing the underlying case and (its lack of) evidence? You’re aware, of course, that in EAW extradition hearings the defence is always barred from introducing its evidence.
        I could go on knocking down your analysis point by point, but it’s not worth it. It’s clear you have relied on a combination of the prosecutor’s own website (Swedish Prosecution Authority) and various UK media’s reports (also relying on the SPA website). To make one point, though, when the prosecutor dropped 3 allegations in August 2015, did you read her statement carefully, or count the number of dropped allegations in the first two paragraphs? It’s four, not three, isn’t it? Hmm, so the sneaky prosecutor had a 4th secret allegation she never revealed to the UK courts… I wonder how that might relate to the 3 she dropped, given they were all from a lady who handed in a DNA-free ‘torn during sex’ condom to back her false allegations??

        • ktetch

          “they were procedurals about the validity of the warrant, not trials, not about hearing or testing the underlying case and (its lack of) evidence?”

          Sorry, but part of the testing of the validity of the warrant is actually showing there’s evidence.
          There are extradition treaties that don’t require that kind of evidence production – it’s very well documented that the US extradition treaty in the UK is such a one. Which then makes it very strange that Assange, fearing US extradition, would willingly travel to the UK.

          I’m happy to debate things (in fact I’d be thrilled to) but to date, you’ve made a lot of claims, and not provided a lot to back them up.

          For instance, where is your proof for your main claim, that of ‘the accusers have withdrawn the allegations”?

          I’d love to see that, but every time I’ve asked someone who has made that claim for proof, they’ve either vanished, or pointed to the ‘justice4assange’ site which has made the claim without anything to back it (and which has consistently overstated certain things (like calling an opinion written by 2 members of a 5 member panel a ‘UN Ruling’) and understated or ignored others (like the Swedish prohibition on extradition for political crimes, or the doctrine of speciality). Then again, as it’s a personal website of the defendant (or of someone affiliated with him) it’s not got a requirement to be neutral or factual, since its entire job is to advocate.