Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Julian Assange and British Extradition Law

Whle the Assange extradition circus continues in the United Kingdom, a key development has made it increasingly likely that Mr. Assange will find himself an unwilling resident of the United States.  This has been made more likely by the wording of the United States/United Kingdom extradition treaty of 2003:

Here is a screen capture showing the pertinent section of the treaty:

Clearly, under Section 4.1 of the Treaty, extradition for political offences are exempt from extradition.

Unfortunately, in her recent commentary, District Judge Vanessa Baraister noted that political extradition was forbidden only in the Treaty, it was not forbidden in the United Kingdom Extradition Act of 2003.  According to the Act, there are the following bars to extradition (section 11):

"If the judge is required to proceed under this section he must decide whether the person’s extradition to the category 1 territory is barred by reason of—
(a) the rule against double jeopardy;
(b) extraneous considerations;
(c) the passage of time;
(d) the person’s age;
(e) hostage-taking considerations;
(f) speciality;
(g) the person’s earlier extradition to the United Kingdom from another category 1 territory;
(h) the person’s earlier extradition to the United Kingdom from a non- category 1 territory."

If a judge decides that any of these questions have a negative answer, the person must be discharged.  Otherwise, the person will be considered to be unlawfully at large after conviction of the extradition offence.  

That said, under section 13 Extraneous Considerations, we find this:

A person may not be extradited to either Class 1 or Class 2 jurisdictions if the request for their extradition is based on political opinions or if they might be prejudiced at trial because of their political opinions.

Here is an excerpt from the Opening Summary of the Defense Case, summarizing Julian Assange's political opinions:

"i. He is a leading proponent of an open society and of freedom of expression.

ii. He is anti-war and anti-imperialism.

iii. He is a world-renowned champion of political transparency and of the public’s right to access information on issues of importance – issues such as political corruption, war crimes, torture and the mistreatment of Guantanamo detainees."

It is this stance that has led Mr. Assange into direct political conflict with Washington.  Here's what one big player in Washington had to say about Assange and WikiLeaks back in 2017:

Here's more of what the same "gentleman" had to say in the same speech given to the Cetner for Strategic and International Studies:

"No, Julian Assange and his kind are not the slightest bit interested in improving civil liberties or enhancing personal freedom. They have pretended that America’s First Amendment freedoms shield them from justice. They may have believed that, but they are wrong.

Assange is a narcissist who has created nothing of value. He relies on the dirty work of others to make himself famous. He is a fraud—a coward hiding behind a screen.

And in Kansas, we know something about false Wizards."

It is very, very clear that there is political involvement in the case of Mr. Assange and his extradition.

Other than the exemption based on political opinions, the United Kingdom Extradition Act makes no mention of political offences as a means of exemption from extradition.  We all know that this entire circus is based on American politics and politicians/lawmakers who have already condemned Julian Assange no matter whether he is guilty or not.

Not surprisingly, it certainly appears that the deck is stacked against Julian Assange.  The decision about his fate is sealed; Washington will do whatever necessary to ensure that a member of the public never again exposes their shenanigans to the light of day. It is Washington's hope that fear of government reprisal will shut us all up.

1 comment:

  1. I imagine you have been following Craig Murry'ss daily reports from the Assange Court but some your readers may have missed it so I think I thought I would pass on the link. Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day 1

    So far we are up to Day 3 and the impression that we are reading a sequel to Alice in Wonderland get stronger all the time. I don't think the judge is even making a pretence at being impartial or, heck, even being a competent magistrate from sound of it.

    Clearly the fix is in between the British and U.S. Governments control Assange into a cell and throw away the keys. It is hard to tell if this will shut down whistleblowers and journalists or just make them be a lot more paranoid and careful when publishing things. Personally I hope for the second.

    At the moment it looks like Assanges only hope is that the magistrate, is reversed on appeal since apparently the higher courts the UK maybe a bit more independent than the handpicked magistrate who is presiding here.