Assange extradition determined by the executive not courts – exclusive interview

The Voice of Russia     John Robles   September 28 2012  Part I

Photo: EPA

I was wondering if you could give our listeners a little bit of insight regarding Julian Assange’s conference before the United Nations General Assembly?

Well, as you can see from his speech he was using the opportunity to point out that the relentless persecution of WikiLeaks by the Obama Administration must stop. He mentioned of course the plight of Bradley Manning. And in details went into the situation with regards to the persecution of WikiLeaks here in the United States. Of course this is a venue that was offered by the Ecuadorian authorities who were hosting this event at the United Nations in the hope that by tsking part, he could get the ears of decision makers through that venue.

So, I understand you are in the United States right now. Do you have any problems there?

No, I did not have any problem entering the country and I hope I won’t have any problem exiting the country as well. I’m here on a diplomatic invite from the permanent representatives of the Ecuadorian authorities here at the UN and taking part in the events yesterday.

Was there any progress made, there, yesterday at the UN? Do you think anything is going to really come out of this?

Well, as far as I know there was a meeting today between the Foreign Minister Patiño from Ecuador and his counterpart from the UK William Hague where they discussed the situation and where the matters are with Julian Assange. As I know there was no definite outcome. But there was certainly the understanding that the dialogue would continue. The Ecuadorian authorities are doing their best in finding a solution to this standoff and have been offering a possible solution to it. And let’s hope that with the continued dialogue this will have a positive outcome in the end.

Did the dialogue go into the area of respecting the sovereignty of embassies? The subject of the planned storming of the embassy in London, did that come up?

Of course I’m not a privy to the diplomatic dialogue between the countries, it is not a direct WikiLeaks matter. But as far as I know the threat that was made earlier by William Hague to storm the Embassy in London has been withdrawn after a very strong protest, and not just by Ecuador but by all the Latin American countries. So, I think that is out of the picture and the threat is no longer there.

What do you think personally, Julian called Bradley Manning an American patriot and a hero, what do you think about Bradley Manning?

Well, he is the alleged source of the information that we have been publishing and he is going through extremely tough times and has been held for months upon end, under conditions that are described as tantamount to torture by the Special Rapporteur on Torture of the UN, Juan Mendez, which of course is a horrible thing to do to a young man. As far as one can understand about his motives, if indeed he is the source of this information, he did that after being disillusioned about the mission in Iraq when he witnessed that innocent people were being detained and being tortured for doing basically nothing, just opposing the political allies in Iraq. So, it seems from every indication that has been published, and everybody can see on the Internet that he is indeed a patriot. And if he is indeed the source of this information – he is one of the most important whistleblowers in history and a hero in my mind.


Are you privy to any details regarding his incarceration? Is he still being woken up every 15 minutes and made to sleep without his clothes on etc? Are they still doing the same things to him they were doing?

No, not to my knowledge after a great pressure which I’m certain had an effect on changing his conditions. He was moved to another prison where his circumstances are more tolerable. This is just something that we have observed on the sideline we try our best as an organization to follow the plight of this young man. And we support him as much as we can in any way.

Regarding being sent to Sweden, can you comment on that at all, as far as there were some reports last week that Ecuador was planning to send him to Sweden? I found that very odd. Can you comment on that at all?

What I heard was that as a possible solution to this standoff the Ecuadorian authorities suggested “the possibility” that Julian would move from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to the Ecuadorian Embassy in Sweden as an attempt to finish that phase that he is wanted for, which is basically questioning. He has not been charged of anything. As far as I know that offer was turned down and that possibility but it just shows that the Ecuadorian authorities are working hard on finding a solution that could end this standoff, and this matter. And I must emphasize that Julian Assange has never tried to evade being questioned. He agreed to questioning, he has offered himself for questioning for weeks when he was staying in Sweden. And after he moved to London he offered a go to the Scotland Yard or to the Swedish Embassy to be interrogated through video link, or he offered the Swedish prosecutors to travel to London to interrogate him there. But all his offers have been turned down and it is quite spurious how the Swedish prosecution authorities are handling the matter.

That sounds extremely suspicious to me!

A lot of things that pertain to the way the Swedish authorities and the Swedish prosecutors’ office and the foreign office have been handling this matter is suspicious. One thing of course that is very suspicious is the total denial until now of the Swedish authorities to grant him some kind of certainty and guarantee that he will not be extradited further to the United States which should be a relatively easy thing to do. It would suffice to make a political declaration that of course Julian Assange would never be extradited to the United States from Sweden on the basis of his work as a publicist and journalist of, ah, in WikiLeaks.

It has been claimed by the Foreign Minister in Sweden Carl Bildt that the Executive in Sweden cannot do that because it is a matter of the Judiciary. Prominent academics and experts have pointed out that it is totally incorrect. It is the decision of the Executive whether to extradite or not. If a request comes to the Swedish authorities, it is the Executive who takes the decision whether the person is extradited or not. If a person is offered for extradition he has then the opportunity to go to the court to challenge that. But first and foremost it is the Executive who makes the decision and it is very much in the hands of the Foreign Minister of Sweden to decide upon that. And it is in his hands to give a guarantee that Julian Assange as a journalist and editor and publisher will not be extradited to the US on the basis of his work at WikiLeaks.

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