Julian Assange’s extradition to USA is rubber-stamped by Priti Patel

Protest: you can tell the strength of public feeling in support of Julian Assange from this image – but the law is the law, even if it is a bad one.

The UK Home Secretary who wants to send asylum-seekers to a country with a record of human rights abuses has approved the extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to the United States. Is anybody surprised?

The decision flies against fears that Assange will be mistreated by US authorities who – it is alleged – planned to either kidnap or assassinate him while he was in UK custody.

The United States has been foiled in its attempts to prosecute Assange for around 12 years after he published reports on Wikileaks that alleged war crimes and corruption by that country.

The US government wants to prosecute Assange for 18 alleged crimes – 17 of them under a 1917 terrorism act – because his reports allegedly caused risk to the lives of American military personnel.

No evidence has been brought forward to substantiate the claim. US prosecutors have admitted that they do not have any.

Those said to be responsible for the alleged war crimes and corruptions have not faced any form of justice and were allowed to walk free, despite the allegations and the evidence supporting them.

The US has been foiled in its attempts to bring Assange to trial for 12 years – firstly because the journalist, fearing his own life would be under threat if he was brought into US custody, fled to the UK’s Ecuadorian Embassy seeking asylum, which he received until 2019, when he was arrested for breaking UK bail by British police.

He has stayed in Belmarsh Prison since then – long after his jail term for the bail offence was over – because the US had applied to extradite him and he has a history of absconding.

This has led him to suffer mental ill-health, according to his supporters.

It led a court to deny the US extradition request in January 2021, on the grounds that his mental health would suffer much more if he were subjected to the US penal system, which is far more hostile that that in the UK.

Meanwhile, it is understood that US secret service operatives planned to either kidnap or assassinate Assange, while he was in UK custody.

Former CIA director and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, confronted with the allegation, said the 30 sources who spoke to Yahoo News reporters “should all be prosecuted for speaking about classified activity inside the Central Intelligence Agency” – which seems to be an admission that the claims were accurate.

It seems that in 2017, US intelligence agents plotted to poison Assange. They bugged the Ecuadorian embassy in London so they could listen to meetings with his solicitors, followed Assange’s family and associates, targeted his then six-months-old baby to steal his DNA, and burgled the office of his lawyer.

Given this information, one would expect a UK court to dismiss any extradition request at once, on the basis that Assange’s life is in clear danger.

Unfortunately, the UK has a one-sided extradition treaty with the US – signed during Tony Blair’s period in office – that makes no provisions for such circumstances. Indeed, the UK must take US assurances that a suspect will not be ill-treated at face value, with no evidence requirement, and US claims cannot even be cross-examined in court.

So it should be unsurprising that the Home Office has said the courts found that extradition would not be “incompatible with his human rights” and that while in the US “he will be treated appropriately”; the law binds them into saying that.

Once extradited to the States, it seems Assange will face a kangaroo court, rather than receiving any actual justice.

The law under which he is charged does not allow a public interest defence, meaning he cannot argue that he was holding the US government to account by publishing details of its alleged war crimes.

And as Assange is not a US citizen, it seems he would not enjoy constitutional free-speech rights.

Furthermore, the US authorities have arranged for his case to be heard in Alexandria, Virginia – home of the US intelligence services, where people cannot be excluded from a jury because they work for the US government – prompting fears that Assange will be judged by people with a vested interest in supporting their employer.

He could go to prison for 175 years, according to colleagues at Wikileaks – although the US government says the term is more likely to be between four and six years. Who do you believe?

Assange has 14 days to appeal the decision and Wikileaks has said that it will.

Otherwise the UK will send a man to a foreign country whose government, we understand, has already tried to kill him, to face a trial on crimes for which there is no evidence, judged by people employed by the prosecutor, facing a possible 175-year prison sentence – on the basis of safety assurances that aren’t worth the time it takes to speak them.

So much for British justice!

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.


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One Comment

  1. Tony June 18, 2022 at 11:23 am - Reply

    We should have learned the lesson of extraditing James Earl Ray back to the United States.
    He was framed for the assassination of Martin Luther King.

    When he applied to Judge Preston Battle for a trial, Battle very conveniently died of a heart attack before he could give a ruling.

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