'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

If Extradited to Sweden, Assange Will Be Turned Over to the US (Part 1) 

Today, the final pieces of the puzzle fell into place as to how the Swedish extradition warrant against Julian Assange will be used to facilitate his delivery into US custody. Yesterday, Marianne Ny, the Swedish prosecutor who wants Assange returned to Sweden for questioning in relation to a sex crime investigation, posted the following opaque statement about Assange's possible extradition to the United States on the prosecution's website:

Due to general agreements in the European Arrest Warrant Act, Sweden cannot extradite a person who has been surrendered to Sweden from another country without certain considerations. Concerning surrender to another country within the European Union, the Act states that the executing country under certain circumstances must approve a further surrender.

On the other hand, if the extradition concerns a country outside the European Union the authorities in the executing country (the country that surrendered the person) must consent such extradition. Sweden cannot, without such consent extradite a person, for example to the U.S.A.

In other words, as reported by Robert Mackey of the New York Times, the United Kingdom, as the country that executed the extradition warrant, must approve any decision by Sweden to allow the US to take custody of Assange. But, why, you may ask, doesn't the US merely request that the UK transfer him to the US now? Well, according to Mackey, it is pretty difficult for the US to extradite anyone from the UK, citing the case of Scottish computer hacker Gary McKinnon, who remains in the UK despite an eight year old indictment and extradition request.

So, in addition to the fact that Ny has not disavowed any intention to have Assange turned over to the US, there is the additional one that it appears much easier to have Assange extradited to the US from Sweden with UK approval than it is to have Assange extradited to the US directly from the UK. Not to worry, you say, the UK would never do it, you say?

Don't be so sure. Today, there was this bombshell in relation to the appeal of the judge's order to release Assange on bail:

The decision to have Julian Assange sent to a London jail and kept there was taken by the British authorities and not by prosecutors in Sweden, as previously thought, the Guardian has learned.

The Crown Prosecution Service will go to the high court tomorrow to seek the reversal of a decision to free the wikileaks founder on bail, made yesterday by a judge at City of Westminster magistrates court.

It had been widely thought Sweden had made the decision to oppose bail, with the CPS acting merely as its representative. But today the Swedish prosecutor's office told the Guardian it had not got a view at all on bail and that Britain had made the decision to oppose bail.

Lawyers for Assange reacted to the news with shock and said CPS officials had told them this week it was Sweden which had asked them to ensure he was kept in prison.

Karin Rosander, director of communications for Sweden's prosecutor's office, told the Guardian: The decision was made by the British prosecutor. I got it confirmed by the CPS this morning that the decision to appeal the granting of bail was entirely a matter for the CPS. The Swedish prosecutors are not entitled to make decisions within Britain. It is entirely up to the British authorities to handle it.

As a result, she said, Sweden will not be submitting any new evidence or arguments to the high court hearing tomorrow morning. The Swedish authorities are not involved in these proceedings. We have not got a view at all on bail.

If there was any doubt as to whether the UK would object to the US seizing Assange upon extradition to Sweden, this pretty much eliminates it. The Crown Prosecution Office objection to Assange's bail is strong circumstantial evidence that the UK is already working in concert with the US.

If the judge orders extradition (and, as this point, the judge looks like the only thing standing between Assange and US incarceration), the US will request that the Swedes turn Assange over to them in relation to a sealed indictment. The Swedes, after obtaining the approval of the UK, will do so. At some point shortly thereafter, US Attorney Eric Holder will hold a press conference, announcing that a variety of serious federal felony charges have been filed against Assange, and that he is currently in custody at an undisclosed location.

And the conditions of Assange's confinement as a pre-trial detainee, if the ones currently experienced by Bradley Manning are any indication, won't be pleasant:

Since his arrest in May, Manning has been a model detainee, without any episodes of violence or disciplinary problems. He nonetheless was declared from the start to be a Maximum Custody Detainee, the highest and most repressive level of military detention, which then became the basis for the series of inhumane measures imposed on him.

From the beginning of his detention, Manning has been held in intensive solitary confinement. For 23 out of 24 hours every day -- for seven straight months and counting -- he sits completely alone in his cell. Even inside his cell, his activities are heavily restricted; he's barred even from exercising and is under constant surveillance to enforce those restrictions. For reasons that appear completely punitive, he's being denied many of the most basic attributes of civilized imprisonment, including even a pillow or sheets for his bed (he is not and never has been on suicide watch). For the one hour per day when he is freed from this isolation, he is barred from accessing any news or current events programs. Lt. Villiard protested that the conditions are not like jail movies where someone gets thrown into the hole, but confirmed that he is in solitary confinement, entirely alone in his cell except for the one hour per day he is taken out.

In sum, Manning has been subjected for many months without pause to inhumane, personality-erasing, soul-destroying, insanity-inducing conditions of isolation similar to those perfected at America's Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado: all without so much as having been convicted of anything. And as is true of many prisoners subjected to warped treatment of this sort, the brig's medical personnel now administer regular doses of anti-depressants to Manning to prevent his brain from snapping from the effects of this isolation.

Eventually, Assange's attorneys will be allowed to speak with him, probably after being forced to obtain a court order to do so, subject to serious restrictions. It is entirely possible that Assange will be held indefinitely, as Manning is now, without any charges being brought against him. It is even possible that he will be designated as an enemy non-combatant, although it is more probable that he will be treated as such without a formal designation. It is hard to imagine that the US will allow Assange to be publicly tried, given the thorny problems related to classified information and state secrets associated with such an endeavor.

And, the alleged victims of Assange that have complained to the Swedish prosecutors? No one will ever know what transpired between the alleged victims and Assange except them. If Assange committed sex crimes (and, at this point, I have no confidence in what they might be, given the tabloid news coverage of them), very few are going to believe it after they see what the US has done to Assange with the complicity of the Swedes. The alleged victims will discover that they have been pawns in a more deadly serious game.

Labels: , , , ,

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?