Assange to Ecuador: three questions nobody (on the left) is asking

Now that Julian Assange has taken refuge in London's Ecuadoran embassy and is seeking asylum in the Andean nation, we have three questions. The first, predictably, is only being asked on the political right: Is this supposed champion of transparency and freedom of information going to have anything to say about restrictions on press freedoms in Ecuador? Fox News with great glee quotes Human Rights Watch: "Ecuador's laws restrict freedom of expression, and government officials, including [President Rafael] Correa, use these laws against his critics. Those involved in protests marred by violence may be prosecuted on inflated and inappropriate 'terrorism' charges." Fox also notes that Ecuador has an "insult law" in place known as descato, "which historically has criminalized free speech and expression. Under Descato, which is part of the Ecuadorian Criminal Code, any person who 'offends' the president could be sentenced up to two years in prison and up to three months for 'offending' any government official."

The other two questions practically nobody is asking at all—except World War 4 Report. Assange's supporters take it for granted that extradition to Sweden is merely a prelude to extradition to the United States—a patently illogical assumption. For starters, Assange still hasn't been charged with anything in the US. A little premature to be worrying about extradition, we'd say. Additionally, the UK is Washington's closest ally, while Sweden is officially neutral. Can anyone explain to us why Sweden is any more likely to extradite him to the US than Britain? If anything, the reverse is true, as we have argued before. Smells to us like all these deluded "leftists" are rallying around someone who is cynically claiming political persecution to avoid facing rape charges.

Finally, despite the supposed media defamation campaign against Assange, not even the likes of Fox News have noted the evidence of WikiLeaks' collaboration with the Belarus dictatorship, and claims that cables containing intelligence on dissidents were turned over to the security services of strongman Alexander Lukashenko during the harsh wave of repression in 2010. Index on Censorship has been virtually alone among rights watchdogs in pressing WikiLeaks and Assange on this matter, and he has still failed to come clean. When will he do so?

OK, then. Three questions. We want answers. Waiting...

See our last posts on Ecuador and the WikiLeaks scandals.

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Assange shills for Correa

Oh, look. Assange did a squishy-soft, sycophantic interview with Rafael Correa on RT TV, just as he recently did with Hassan Nasrallah, who shamelessly shilled for Bashar Assad. Trying to butter up el presidente for an asylum bid, are we Julian? Maybe he can get a post in the propaganda department...

You'e just WRONG about this, Bill!

Yes, Britain is more likely to extradite Julian Assange to the U.S., but it has no excuse to do so at present.
Yes, Sweden is officially neutral, but its political posture, as with Switzerland, is increasingly pro-American.
After all, there is no Communist bloc opposing the Germanic plutocracies, so there is no in-between position left to take.
There are just those countries which will do what America says and those which will not - that last a dwindling group.

As everyone but you and a microscopic group of self-marginalized radicals can see, the case against Assange in Sweden is entirely political.
Even the prosecutor had dropped the case due to lack of evidence and then roared back with new charges later - after America declared Assange to be an enemy.
The situation is exactly analogous to the one in which Ken Starr had announced that he was abandoning the investigation into the Clintons for lack of evidence and leaving to take up the presidency of Pepperdine University.
The next DAY he called a press conference and, in a thoroughly dazed demeanor, announced that he was changing his mind and would continue to pursue the Clintons.
It couldn't have been more obvious that he had been told in, no uncertain terms, that he'd better get something on Billy boy or he and his family could kiss whatever career plans they had goodbye.

Even if you think Assange is an international, serial rapist, it should worry you that the U.S. can accuse a man of spying and then put enough pressure on other countries - including a man's homeland - that he becomes a stateless person.
All this even though Assange did not set foot in America.
So, simply revealing American secrets - remotely and without intending to profit or to turn said secrets over to another government - is now a crime anywhere in the world.
That's returning to the doctrine of extraterritoriality with a vengence.

If Assange goes to Sweden to face the trumped up charges, then he faces at least an unfair prosecution.
The likely result of an unfair prosection is an unfair verdict.
After that, he's be given the 'choice' of a prison sentence in Sweden or 'voluntarily' returning to Australia, where he may well be extradicted to the U.S.A.
In light of all the foregoing, what do you expect Assange to do?
Should he spit in the face of one of the few refuges he may have?
Were I in his position I would take any refuge I could get.

Finally, I find it INSUFFERABLE that you and a few others throw brick bats at a man for ideological incorrectness when he faces police, courts, prisons, and impoverishment for embarrassing our imperial rulers while you sit in comfort.
When you piss off our rulers and take the heat from them and show what a courageous and die-for-your-principles person YOU are, THEN you can criticize Assange!

No, YOU'RE wrong about this, Ray! (And the rest of the "left")

This depresses me.

It doesn't matter that Sweden "is increasingly pro-American." It certainly isn't any more "pro-American" than the UK, which is basically impossible. And that is what is at issue here. Sweden is no more likely to extradite than Britain, and probably at least slightly less likely. (That is, if Assange were facing any charges in the US, which he isn't.)

Assange is not "stateless". He can go back to Australia whenever he wants.

I'm sorry, where I come from, women who say they've been raped (two, in Assange's case) are given the benefit of the doubt. It has not been convincingly demonstrated to me that this case is a frame-up. What do I think Assange should do? Maybe he should man up and go to Sweden and clear his name, if he is so sure of his innocence.

What is truly INSUFFERABLE is that instead of building vigorous solidarity with the heroic Peruvian peasants who are standing up to US-supplied guns to defend their lands from US mineral companies, lefties in the US are all rallying around an accused rapist who hangs with Nazis and connives with dictators.

Truly pathetic.

What Nazis doe she hang out with?

What Nazis doe she hang out with?

Assange's Nazi pal

Are you paying any attention? Assange is not a "she," and the Nazi he hangs out with is Israel Shamir. Do some reading.

Weinberg still doesn't get it.

Bill

You assert: "Sweden is no more likely to extradite than Britain, and probably at least slightly less likely." What exactly do you base this on?  How about the fact that Assange has agreed to voluntarily go back to Sweden if they will promise not to extradite him to the US. Sweden refuses to make any such promise. Why is it not good enough for Sweden to ask him their questions while he remains in Great Britain (remember, he has not been charged with a crime.)? If this is really about asking him some questions, then why is Sweden going through the most onerous process possible?

 

You state, "He can go back to Australia whenever he wants." How? If he steps foot out of the embassy, he will be immediately arrested and sent to Sweden.

 

 

Joe

Joseph still betraying rape survivors

You ask me for documentation that Sweden is no more likely to extradite than Britain (which is so obviously logical as to as to preclude the need for such, and the burden of proof should actually be on you that it isn't, but whatever). OK, from the New Statesman, Aug. 20, "Legal myths about the Assange extradition" by legal affairs columnist David Allen Green, who also shoots down the other falsities you regurgitate from the "progressive" (sic!) media:


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

This is flatly untrue.  The Assange legal team argued this twice before English courts, and twice the English courts ruled clearly that the allegation would also constitute rape under English law...

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

This is similarly untrue. Any extradition from Sweden to the United States would actually be more difficult. This is because it would require the consent of both Sweden and the United Kingdom.

(See Francis FitzGibbon QC's Nothing Like the Sun for further detail on this.)

One can add that there is no evidence whatsoever that the United Kingdom would not swiftly comply with any extradition request from the United States; quite the reverse.  Ask Gary McKinnon, or Richard O'Dwyer, or the NatWest Three.

In reality, the best opportunity for the United States for Assange to be extradited is whilst he is in the United Kingdom.

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

It would not be legally possible for Swedish government to give any guarantee about a future extradition, and nor would it have any binding effect on the Swedish legal system in the event of a future extradition request.

By asking for this 'guarantee', Assange is asking the impossible, as he probably knows.  Under international law, all extradition requests have to be dealt with on their merits and in accordance with the applicable law; and any final word on an extradition would (quite properly) be with an independent Swedish court, and not the government giving the purported 'guarantee'. 

 Four: "The Swedes should interview Assange in London"

This is currently the most popular contention of Assange's many vocal supporters.  But this too is based on a misunderstanding.

Assange is not wanted merely for questioning.

He is wanted for arrest.

This arrest is for an alleged crime in Sweden as the procedural stage before charging (or "indictment").  Indeed, to those who complain that Assange has not yet been charged, the answer is simple: he cannot actually be charged until he is arrested.

It is not for any person accused of rape and sexual assault to dictate the terms on which he is investigated, whether it be Assange or otherwise.  The question is whether the Swedish investigators can now, at this stage of the process, arrest Assange.


Green goes on to cite the UK High Court judgement, which in turn quoted documents that Swedish prosecutors provided the court to the effect that Assange is wanted for "arrest," not just questioning, and that "a formal decision to indict...will only be concluded when Julian Assange is surrendered to Sweden and has been interrogated." No, that's not how our legal system works, but it apparently is how the Swedish one works.

Your demand that Assange be questioned by Swedish authorities in Britain is utterly repulsive. Assange is accused of rapes committed on Swedish soil; under every legal standard, he should have to answer for them in Sweden.

My noting that Assange remains an Australian citizen was in response to Ray's erroneous assertion that he is "stateless." He certainly can go back to Australia... after he clears his name in the Swedish courts, which is what he should do if he is so sure of his innocence. Hiding behind a political asylum bid to avoid doing so is beneath contempt.

Hey, how about that those Belarussian dissidents? (Oh, I forgot. It's not polite to mention them in "progressive" [sic!] company...)
 


 Bill We can nit-pick this to

 Bill

We can nit-pick this to death if you want. For example, the definition of arrest, is: “the act of depriving a person of his or her liberty usually in relation to the purported investigation or prevention of crime and presenting (the arrestee) to a procedure as part of the criminal justice system.” It has nothing to do with whether someone being charged with a crime or not. Everyone agrees that if Assange is taken to Sweeden, he will go directly to jail (do not pass go, do not collect $200). In other words, he will be under arrest.

 

What this kind argument does is distract us from the main point: this is not about rape charges in Sweden; it is about Wikileaks. Assange's release of documents showed the hypocrisy of US officials, brought their repugnant communications to light, and made their deniability no longer possible. Obama wants to subject Assange to the same treatment that he has done to Bradly Mamnning.

 

Your repeated assertion that this is all about a rape accusation is Sweden is absurd. Can you point to a single other case where Great Britain has gone to a similar effort to extradite someone accused of rape? There is a ring of police around the Ecuadorian embassy. Great Britain is threatening to revoke the diplomatic status of the building. This is really all because of the sex charges and has no political aspects to it at all? Really?

 

You really think that the US is not doing everything in its power to get Assange onto US soil? They made Manning sit naked in a prison cell for months, but are doing nothing to get their hands on Assange? Really?

 

And as for the Belarussian dissidents, what to they have to do with the rape charges or the potential extradition to the US? Or do you bring this up again to wave around as a distraction from the point at hand?

 

Joe

More obfuscation in defense of an accused rapist

So providing clarity on the legal situation that you Assange-suckers insist on distorting is "nit-picking"?

If you acknowledge that Assange is wanted for arrest, what is all this repugnant jive about how he could be "questioned" in England?

How do you know that "it is not about rape charges"? You don't. This assumption is an utter betrayal of the women who say they were raped by Assange. Hey, I've got a great new slogan for the contemporary left: "Rape: It's not so bad after all."

I have seen no evidence whatsoever that the US is attempting to get Assange on US soil. No charges, no extradition request. And you continue to ignore the obvious: It would be easier for the US to extradite from the UK than Sweden. There is not a shred of logic to Assange's asylum case. Not a shred.

I bring up the Belarussian dissidents to point out your double standard. You have written pages on my website in defense of an accused rapist. You have never expressed one syllable of concern for the people he apparently betrayed into a dictator's prisons.

Next: Assange-Akin lovefest?

By rallying around an accused rapist like this, the left is displaying the same degree of awareness on the question of rape as  Rep. Todd Akin. At least the GOP is distancing itself from Akin now (see today's AP)—showing more principle (or at least savvy) than the "left." I never would have imagined it would come to this. Very demoralizing.

Britan threaten to storm an embassy over a sex case????

Bill

 

You are missing the fact that there is a difference between “being arrested” and “being charged with a crime”. Yes, he will be arrested. No, he has not been charged with a crime. And Swedish officials don't say they want to charge him with a crime. They say they want to question him.

 

How do you know that "it is not about rape charges"? Show me when the any government has to to the extreme lengths that they have over a rape case. Don't forget to include threatening to remove diplomatic immunity for a embassy.

 

A Virginian grand jury has been working on a case against Assange for espionage, earlier this year there were leaks that the US government has already issued a secret sealed indictment against Assange, while Australian diplomats have said that Assange is the target of an investigation which is "unprecedented both in its scale and its nature".

 

What is truly amazing is that you continue to insist that Great Brittan would threaten to storm the Ecuadorian embassy over a sex case. If your position is so rational, show me another example.

 

Joe

More distortions in defense of an accused rapist

You don't seem to be reading very carefully. I reiterate:

Green goes on to cite the UK High Court judgement, which in turn quoted documents that Swedish prosecutors provided the court to the effect that Assange is wanted for "arrest," not just questioning, and that "a formal decision to indict...will only be concluded when Julian Assange is surrendered to Sweden and has been interrogated." 

I never said the law is applied equally to everyone (don't be absurd), but the notion that the rape case is merely a subterfuge to get him to Sweden so he can be extradited to the US doesn't make a lick of sense. Zero.

Talk to me when that grand jury brings back indictments. "Leaks" of a "sealed indictment"? Sounds specious, and you don't even provide a link.

Again, Britain's threat to "storm the embassy" doesn't mean Assange isn't a rapist. And, in fact, there was no such threat. More from David Allen Green:

Will the Ecuadorian embassy be stormed?
Litigation, and not broken glass, is the more likely consequence.

Last night the foreign minister of Ecuador warned that its London embassy was facing being "stormed" by the United Kingdom government. There had even been a threat in writing, it was claimed. This was a rather dramatic announcement, and it evoked images of SAS soldiers crashing through embassy windows to capture their cornered prey.

The reality seems to be more mundane. The UK government appears to have pointed out that it has the legal power to revoke the embassy status of the premises currently being used by the Ecuadorian embassy... As such, this is merely a statement of what the law says. The UK government added that it does not want to use that power and hopes for an eventual compromise. Any threat is at best implicit, but it is hardly a brutal ultimatum.

And what would happen next is even less exciting.  As the UK government will be purporting to be exercising a statutory provision – in this case a power under the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987 – then any executive action is in principle amenable to the jurisdiction of the High Court for judicial review.  Here it would be Ecuador challenging the UK government in a case that would raise complex points of domestic and international public law.

Accordingly, there will not be breaking glass in Kensington but the prospect of months (or perhaps years) of highly expensive litigation, which will probably reach the Supreme Court. In reality, Ecuador should now be more concerned about lawyers' bills than any special forces "storming" its embassy. 


Well, I guess I shouldn't be too disappointed that the "left" doesn't give a shit about rape. After all, big segments of the "left" rallied around Radovan Karadzic too. 

Weinberg 's blinders

On January 26, 2011, Fred Burton, the vice president of Stratfor, a leading private intelligence firm which bills itself as a kind of shadow CIA, sent an excited email to his colleagues. "Text Not for Pub," he wrote. "We" – meaning the U.S. government – "have a sealed indictment on Assange. Pls protect."

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/national-affairs/wikileaks-stratfor-emails-a-secret-indictment-against-assange-20120228#ixzz24JQOm7FI

 

If you read what I wrote, I never said he was not rapist. I said he's never been convicted. And I've said that Britain's response is far more than would be expected for a simple rape case. Again, show me where Britain has ever treated a rape case like this.

Joseph's dishonesty

Well, at least you provided a link for your claim. But Stratfor has a rep for empty hype. Not very impressed with its breathless claims. If there is an indictment, why would the US be sitting on it instead requesting extradition immediately, while Assange is still on the soil of Washington's closest ally—and before the situation is further complicated by his arrival in Sweden or Ecuador? Makes little sense.

We all know Assange hasn't been convicted. He is doing everything possible to avoid justice—you'd think if he were so confident that the charges are bogus he'd be eager to go to Sweden and clear his name (given that the extradition threat is simply non-existent at this point, and that Sweden is actually slightly less likely to extradite than Britain).

When has Britain ever had the opportunity to treat a rape case like this? When has an accused rapist made up bogus claims of an extradition threat, sought and received asylum in a foreign embassy, and been treated as royalty by "progressives" (sic) all around the world? Rather unique circumstances, fortunately. So your question is no more honest than Assange's asylum bid.

Clarity on Assange "charges"

A BBC News "Q&A: Julian Assange and the law" cuts through some of the vague and contradictory coverage of the Assange case which has made for such confusion. A critical point:

Why have some media outlets, including the BBC, said that Mr Assange has been "charged" when he has not?

Extradition requests are normally made after charges have been brought against the suspect in the country making the request, leading some to infer that Mr Assange is "facing charges" in Sweden.

This is not the case. Sweden has requested his extradition so he may be questioned.

One of the criticisms directed at Sweden by Mr Assange's supporters is that he has not been formally charged with any offence.

However, in Sweden, charging comes much later in the process of a criminal investigation than it does in many other countries.

In a letter given to Mr Assange's extradition hearing in the UK and quoted in the High Court's subsequent judgement, Swedish Director of Prosecutions Marianne Ny stated: "A formal decision to indict may not be taken at the stage that the criminal process is currently at.

"Julian Assange's case is currently at the stage of 'preliminary investigation'.

"It will only be concluded when Julian Assange is surrendered to Sweden and has been interrogated."

Despite the lack of formal charges, in its judgement in May, the UK Supreme Court found that the Swedish public prosecutor was a judicial authority capable of issuing the warrant, in the same way as a judge or a court would be.

So it is bogus (or, at least, shows no understanding of the legal situation) to say Assange is "only" wanted for questioning, implying that there is something irregular or extraordinary about the extradition case.


Rapers and their ilk effortlessly unite

From day one, i was deeply disturbed by the manner in which Assange dealt with the rape charges. Given the fact that rape is epidemic globally and femicide, the targeted sexualized killing of women because they are women, is escalating at such a rate that Eve Ensler, author of the Vagina Monologues and incredible voice for the relatives of femicided women all over the earth, has said women are on the way to extinction, i felt Assange could have courageously faced those charging him with rape displaying to the world what a true eaglitarian would do if such charges were indeed false. Instead i was forced to endure Naomi "shoots herself in the right wingish foot" Wolf defending Assange while a rather inept anti rapist activist failed miserably to articulate what really needed to be done on Democracy Now! Made me wish i had the fame and fortune to be invited to respond to the whole debacle.

I am so disgusted with unaddressed rapes in occupy camps; with the ongoing virulent sexism among so called leftists; and the failure all around to effectively integrate the seriously life and death issues facing women and all extremely marginalized peoples into struggles for justice these days that i fear the looming doom has the upper hand.

Never liked Assange and never will. Something smells off here.

Thanks Bill for your never ending astuteness.

Questions for Assange

Why not ask basic questions like (1) Why did Assange remove Namir's photograph of the Humvee from his website? (2) Why did he cut forty-five seconds from the long version to make the short version? (3) Why did he say the van, seen at the beginning of the long version, and the so-called "rescue van" are not one in the same vehicle?

Wrong questions for Assange

Did he cleverly edit the "collateral murder" video to create the impression of an atrocity that didn't actually happen? We haven't seen a convincing case to this effect, and certainly your haphazard pot-shots do not constitute one. Making light of US atrocities in Iraq hardly gives one the moral authority to call out Assange over his apparent collaboration with Lukashenko. So those may be your questions for Assange, but they are assuredly not ours.

Questions not based on "soda straw" view

The atrocity, like so many other gun-site videos posted on the internet, is quite real. Each and every one totally horrifying! My questions, however, are not derived from the "soda straw" view of Collateral Murder. May I suggest the following:

 

Go first to the “Collateral Murder” website and find the “map of the first attack” produced by Reuters. Print it out and examine it carefully.

 

Next go to “July 12, 2007 Baghdad air strike” at Wikipedia and click on coordinates “33.3137oN 44.512oE.” After clicking on “Google Maps,” roll over the Satellite icon and click on “Google Earth.” Print it out and examine it carefully.

 

Now compare Reuters map with the satellite imagine. Note the Mosque and position of the Humvee (Hotel 2/6), as well as the intersection where Namir photographed that Humvee. With satellite view in hand begin viewing the long version of the video.

 

Note that the van driver and photographers are each four blocks away when they begin to move toward that fatal intersection. Once near the location - last reported position of combatants firing on Humvee (Hotel 2/6) - the photographer crouched down to avoid danger while the van driver turned one block before entering the dangerous intersection. The van avoids this deadly intersection once again when it returns traveling north on this same road three minutes after the helicopters engaged.

 

Oh, by the way, everything mentioned here about the van and photographers, a forty-five second clip, was edited out to create the short version of Collateral Murder. Can’t imagine why Assange would do that, can you?

 

So "Collateral Murder" was real or it wasn't?

Why don't you just make your accusation clear? I see a bunch of minute arcana and insinuation, but little clarity in your post. Cut to the chase already, will ya?

Collateral Murder

When Bushmaster Six asked who called for support from the Apache helicopters, a soldier in the Humvee (Hotel 2/6) said "I believe that was me." They had AK47's and were to our east where we were taking small arms fire," he added [15:15].

 

The position 100 meters to his east is an intersection where the Reuters photographer, Namir Noor-Eldeen, took pictures of the Humvee. The fellow accompanying Namir, as they approached the location, was described by David Finkel as follows: "Now the man with Noor-Eldeen guided him by the elbow toward one of the buildings and motioned for him to get down."

 

There was no way for the man who escorted Namir to the intersection, the one who motioned for him to get down, to know there was danger (American Humvee) around the corner of that building unless he had been at that location previously.

 

If that man was at the location - no doubt, pulling back when he heard the helicopters arriving - why would anybody doubt that his companions next to him in the courtyard, the ones carrying an AK47, RPG and RPG round, were with him attacking the Humvee?
 

As for the other group of five men seen [01:21] at the next intersection south of the one mentioned above - the ones who have undoubtedly placed their weapons out of the pilots sight and are walking around pretending to be innocent civilians - Hotel 2/6 implicates them when he tells Crazyhorse 1/8 about the location: "Currently we’re not being engaged but just south of that location." [12:10]
 

Note: When the Reuters employees and their escort arrive there are eighteen men in the courtyard. Ten of them are at a nearby intersection when the Apaches engages. If you cannot identify the coordinated efforts of these Iraqis men, I can give you a rundown on the activities of each one of them. Most interesting is the older fellow wearing shorts who tells the three guys with weapons that the pilot in the lead helicopter can see those weapons clearly.  [Bet you missed that?]

 

 

Um, so "Collateral Murder" was real or it wasn't?

You are giving us a barrage of minutia that only those already intimately familiar with the case can even follow. I challenge you to explain your basic point in 25 words or less.

Collateral Murder - Not murder

Here are twenty five words to explain my basic point. Watch this video and tell me if these pilots are also guilty of murder:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUhS2phBe0I

Incapable of saying what you mean, are you?

You haven't explained your basic point at all. Posting a link to a video is not an explanation. Say what you mean in concise and clear terms or get off my website.

Collateral damage is not murder

Julian Assange duped you and a lot of other people into believing the gun-site video he called "Collateral Murder" shows Apache helicopter pilots killing innocent civilians. It's simply not true!

 

The only thing more horrifying that watching one of these videos is hearing American citizens accuse those pilots, our "good soldiers," of murder.

 

Adios Bill Weinberg

Murder and quotation marks

I can only reiterate:

Did Assange cleverly edit the "collateral murder" video to create the impression of an atrocity that didn't actually happen? We haven't seen a convincing case to this effect, and certainly your haphazard pot-shots do not constitute one. Making light of US atrocities in Iraq hardly gives one the moral authority to call out Assange over his apparent collaboration with Lukashenko. So those may be your questions for Assange, but they are assuredly not ours.

I find your use of quote marks around  "good soldiers" mysterious, since you are presumably not intending to imply irony.