Thursday, February 02, 2012
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared in UK Supreme Court this Wednesday to fight attempts to extradite him to Sweden. In charges supposedly unrelated to WikiLeaks, a court in Sweden wishes to extradite him on accusations related to a visit him made to Scandinavia in 2010 in which he allegedly sexually assaulted two women. Assange regards the charges as trumped up, the case manipulated in a plot to give him an unfair trial, and regards the extradition as illegal anyway. He regards the charges as related to his work with WikiLeaks, which has gained him some big enemies.
“The US Government has made it clear that they’re going after Assange,” said his lawyer, Jennifer Robinson. WikiLeaks was launched in 2006, and within a year had increased its database to more than 1.2 million documents containing sensitive information, often from “leaked” sources, exposing confidential and embarrassing information that has upset many governments, including the US.
Julian Assange brought his case to Britain’s Supreme Court on Wednesday. His lawyers argued that the Swedish warrant holds no weight because it was not issued by an independent and impartial judicial authority. They warn that if needed they will take the case it to the European Court of Human Rights. They also point out that no charge has been brought against Julian.
The Swedish prosecution against him said that “The English notion of an arrest warrant issued by a court is very much an exception,” but warned that if the U.K. Supreme court honored only judge issued warrants, “it would make it impossible for possibly eight, possibly more European partners” such as Denmark, Finland, and Sweden, to extradite criminal suspects.
Robinson counters that “If he doesn’t win it means that anyone can be extradited from the UK, be arrested and put into detention at the behest of any prosecutor anywhere in Europe without having to show any evidence, without being charged and without proper judicial oversight. So I have faith that the British justice system should not and cannot stand for this sort of precedent.”
Nevertheless, extradition specialist Karen Todern said she would be “very surprised” if Assange’s team won the case.
Assange, who has already “been under house arrest for more than 400 days without charge,” according to Robinson, has struggled against big enemies. A US embargo against his website has cost him funds, leading him to cease posting documents so he can do some “aggressive fundraising.” There are rumors that he has considered putting his servers in a boat over international waters, though Jim Dempsey of the Center for Democracy and Technology think-tank notes, “You prosecute real people, you don’t prosecute servers. So if the WikiLeaks people want to live on a platform in the North Sea and educate their children there…for people who have lives it doesn’t make sense.”
The case has caught widespread attention because many consider Assange as a symbol and representative of the right of free speech. The Supreme Courts decision is expected within the next few weeks.