by Patrick Henningsen, 21st Century Wire:
Yesterday, a high court judge ruled to uphold a UK arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, consigning him to further limbo and little chance of justice.
While the details, twists and turns of this case are certainly important, it’s essential to first understand that this case no longer has anything to do with any laws Assange is said to have broken. This is now one hundred percent political.
The case of the missing case
In August 2010, the Swedish Prosecutor’s Office issued an arrest warrant for Assange as part of an investigation for an alleged sexual assault involving two women. This triggered a European Arrest Warrant, which prompted UK authorities to issue a domestic warrant for the arrest and detention of Assange.
In September 2010, Assange was arrested and then released on bail. At the time, US authorities were already openly branding Assange as an international criminal and calling for his apprehension and to stand trial in the US where he would face any number a federal charges ranging from espionage to ‘threatening US national security’ by publishing, among of other things, a damning video leaked in 2010 that depicted US war crimes in Iraq.
On June 19, 2011, prior to his extradition hearing, Assange jumped bail, and claimed political asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where he has been living in the basement ever since. By jumping bail at that time, Assange triggered a separate UK arrest warrant. However, the Swedish sex assault case was eventually dropped in August 2015, and has since been deemed by many analysts to be vexatious, if not completely fraudulent. Despite all this, the UK government has still enforced the original charge of jumping bail.
There were faint hopes that yesterday’s hearing at Westminster magistrates court might yield a victory for justice and common sense, but those hopes were dashed by senior Judge Emma Arbuthnot. Seemingly unmoved by recent game-changing events, she sluggishly reiterated that bail jumpers like Assange must “come to court to face the consequences of their own choices.”
In addition, the judge made a series of bizarre remarks, including a claim that Assange has not been arbitrarily detained, and should be grateful of the luxurious conditions of his incarceration.
“Firstly, he can leave the embassy whenever he wishes; secondly, he is free to receive, it would seem, an unlimited number of visitors and those visits are not supervised; thirdly, he can choose the food he eats, the time he sleeps and exercises.”
“He can sit on the balcony (I accept probably observed by the police and his supporters) to take the air. He is not locked in at night.”
The first comment by judge Arbuthnot was a condescending one, considering how police teams are on rotation 24/7, ready to detain Assange should he dare to step foot out the front door. It should also be noted that he has only ventured out on the embassy’s balcony a total of six times in five and half years.
Pulling security to get me safely on the balcony six times in six years for a few minutes turns into this: https://t.co/Y46PVZ9C5x
— Julian Assange ⌛ (@JulianAssange) 13 February 2018
Assange is all too aware of what will happen when he walks out that door in London’s Belgravia; he will be arrested, questioned and held on remand until such a time that the British will hand him over to US authorities to be rendered from RAF Northholt back to the US and placed in a federal penitentiary, awaiting to stand trial for a laundry list of trumped-up allegations prepared by the US Department of Justice.
While the UK government refuses to publicly announce any US extradition orders for Assange, it’s fairly obvious that UK and US authorities have a coordinated strategy in containing and apprehending him. According to a statement made to The Guardian by his defense lawyer Jennifer Robinson, the US government is certain to bring a case against Assange and Wikileaks:
“The UK FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] refuses to confirm or deny whether there is an extradition request for Mr Assange,” she said. “In our recent FOI challenge against the CPS […] the CPS refused to disclose certain material because it would ‘tip off’ Mr Assange about a possible US extradition request. It is time to acknowledge what the real issue is and has always been in this case: the risk of extradition to the US.”
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