Thursday, February 24, 2011

Julian Assange Can Be Extradited To Sweden : Video

By Jerry Smith Feb 24 2011

Julian Assange may have lost the first round in his extradition battle, but not the war. Judge Howard Riddle felt that Assange could get a fair trial in Sweden and said his extradition to Sweden would not violate his human rights.

Assange's lawyers plan to appeal the decision. They have seven days to lodge a notice of appeal and the hearing should take place within a period of 40 days after that, but may stretch to three to four months.

Assange has been fighting extradition to Sweden where he is wanted for questioning by the Swedish police. The Swedish police have not charged Assange with anything, but want him extradited to face questions about accusations of rape and sexual molestation made against him by Sofia Wilen and Anna Ardin, which he denies.

Assange has offered to be questioned in Britain, but Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny has refused the offer saying he must go to Sweden to be questioned and that DNA samples may need to be taken.

Judge Howard Riddle said:
"I must order Mr Assange be extradited to Sweden."

"I am satisfied that the specified offences are extradition offences."

"It would be a reasonable assumption from the facts that Mr Assange was deliberately avoiding interrogation before he left Sweden."

"Looking at all the circumstances in the round, this person (Mr Assange) passes the threshold of being an accused person and is wanted for prosecution."
Judge Riddle also decided that the Swedish Prosecutor Marianne Ny was a "judicial authority with the function of issuing arrest warrants".

Assange said:
"What we saw today was a rubber-stamping process. It came as no surprise, but is nonetheless wrong. Of course, we always knew we would appeal."

"There was no consideration during this entire process as to the merits of the allegations made against me."

"It comes as no surprise but is nevertheless wrong. It comes as the result of a European arrest warrant system amok."

"What does the US have to do with a Swedish extradition process? Why is it that I am subject, a non-profit free speech activist, to a $360,000 (£223,000) bail? Why is it that I am kept under electronic house arrest when I have not even been charged in any country, when I have never been a fugitive?"
Extradition specialist lawyer Michael Caplan said:
"Resisting EAW requests are exceedingly difficult."

"The process assumes that a person will get an equally fair trial in any of the member states, so there are very limited grounds for opposing extradition."
Assange's lawyers fear that if Assange is extradited to Sweden he may then be extradited to the United States and once in U.S. custody he may face torture, life at Guantanamo Bay, both or even the death penalty.

Assange and WikiLeaks have angered The United Stated government by publishing leaked diplomatic cables and military files on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, something the US claims threatens its national security.

Referring to the case against Assange by Sweden the U.S. State Department said:
"The U.S. is not involved."

"This is a matter between Britain and Sweden,"
Former federal prosecutor and Washington attorney Joseph diGenova who thinks that the U.S. does not have a case against Assange said:
"There isn't a jury in the United States that is going to convict Julian Assange of anything. Assange in my opinion qualifies as a journalist. He and WikiLeaks are journalists."
Assange's lawyer Mark Stephens said:
"We are still hopeful that the matter can be resolved in this country. We remain optimistic of our chances on appeal."

"We're pretty sure the secrecy and the way [the case] has been conducted so far have registered with this judge. He's just hamstrung."
Stephens also said that Assange has paid a great deal of money to defend himself, including more than £30,000 to translate material into a language Assange can understand. Stephens also feels that the prosecution should bear the cost of translating materials.

Final paragraphs of Judge Riddle's decision:
"There was at one stage a suggestion that Mr Assange could be extradited to the USA (possibly to Guantanamo Bay or to execution as a traitor). The only live evidence on the point came from the defence witness Mr Alhem who said it couldn’t happen. In the absence of any evidence that Mr Assange risks torture or execution Mr Robertson was right not to pursue this point in closing."

"It may be worth adding that I do not know if Sweden has an extradition treaty with the United States of America. There has been no evidence regarding this. I would expect that there is such a treaty."

"If Mr Assange is surrendered to Sweden and a request is made to Sweden for his extradition to the United States of America, then article 28 of the framework decision applies. In such an event the consent of the Secretary of State in this country will be required, in accordance with section 58 of the Extradition Act 2003, before Sweden can order Mr Assange’s extradition to a third State. The Secretary of State is required to give notice to Mr Assange unless it is impracticable to do so. Mr Assange would have the protection of the courts in Sweden and, as the Secretary of State’s decision can be reviewed, he would have the protection of the English courts also. But none of this was argued."

"I have specifically considered whether the physical or mental condition of the defendant is such that it would be unjust or oppressive to extradite him."

"In fact as I am satisfied that extradition is compatible with the defendant’s Convention rights, I must order that Mr Assange be extradited to Sweden."

While he waits for the appeals to start Assange remains under house arrest at Ellingham Hall in Norfolk,UK.

Click here to download a pdf of Judge Riddle's decision.

Video from Russia Today featuring Assange speaking:

Video from The Telegraph featuring Assange criticizing the European arrest warrant system:

News clip from CBS' The Early Show:

Video from AP featuring Mark Stephens:

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