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US court secrecy makes Assange 'helpless'

US court secrecy makes Assange 'helpless'

Published: 04 Aug 2012 11:39 GMT+02:00
Updated: 04 Aug 2012 11:39 GMT+02:00

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's defense lawyer said on Friday that his client, seeking asylum in Ecuador, was in a state of limbo because of secrecy from the United States over the charges it may pursue.

"We anticipate those charges, but do not have any information from the US as the grand jury proceedings are secret -- and therefore the charges are secret," said Baltasar Garzon, the Spanish former judge who heads Assange's legal team.

"If charges are secret, (Assange) is completely helpless" to plan how to answer the allegations made against him, Garzon told reporters in Quito.

The 41-year-old Assange, an Australian, is holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London and is seeking asylum in the South American nation to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is accused of sexual assault.

But he also fears being extradited to the United States to face charges over WikiLeaks' publishing of a trove of secret documents, including information relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and countless diplomatic cables.

Extradition from Sweden to the United States has been deemed extremely unlikely by several legal experts, who conclude that an extradition order would be easier put into effect directly from the United Kingdom.

"Britain has to agree to his extradition from Sweden, and for that to happen the affair needs to be tried in a British courtroom," said law professor Christoffer Wong from Lund University to national TV station SVT earlier this summer.

Assange's mother Christine met on Wednesday with Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa, who told her "the important thing is for Julian to be assured that Ecuador is considering with great responsibility" his request.

Assange's mother says she is worried her son could face execution if he is extradited to the United States.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

14:18 August 4, 2012 by k2kats
No conspiracy here; it's simply due process.

If charges are brought by a grand jury, they will be well identified and Mr. Assange will have ample time to prepare a defense.
14:24 August 4, 2012 by GLO
Assange should be held to the Law. Everyone has to be subject to Law or return to no social order. You cant do what you think is OK !!!!
16:49 August 4, 2012 by Tiny Red Ant
All a grand jury is is an investigation in order to determine if sufficient information exist to formally bring indite a suspect. Even if the grand jury does it is up to the prosecutor whether or not to lay decide if prosecution is merited.

Anyways, Assanges concerns of pending legal action in American doesn't justify avoiding his legal obligations in Sweden.
17:40 August 4, 2012 by Eyeswideopen
His reluctance to face trial in Sweden if the charges are baseless smacks of cowardice. In the eyes of many he has lost all credibility.
20:23 August 4, 2012 by Grävling
Sweden will loose all credibility if he is taken to the US from Sweden, in one way I hope he is sent to Sweden so this happens and the worlds see's that he was telling the truth all along.
20:25 August 4, 2012 by John Ahern
The question I have is why the Swedish government is acting so secretively on this matter? For instance, why are they repeatedly refusing any attempts to interview Assange? And why has Sweden been ignoring formal requests from Equador to advise them of their intentions? Obviously, the Brits are happy for the Swedes to take the heat on this one.
20:59 August 4, 2012 by philster61
Eyeswideshut.

he hasn't even been charged yet. Why would he need to even come to Sweden if the charges are indeed baseless. And they are. They have have had ample time to question him. There is a statute of limitations with any accusation and I believe the reason why they aren't questioning him is because they know they have no case..
23:42 August 4, 2012 by Tiny Red Ant
The chameleon.

Assange is only predicting on what might happen to him, akin to a person

predicting that they will find 1 million dollars on the ground. Sweden will not violate their commitment to EAW for Assange, irrelevant of Assanges baseless claims.

The Swedish government association to the desire to prosecute Assange is that of their commitment to the EAW and laws that govern the enforcement of the laws of Sweden.

Assange's predicament is due to his refusal to surrender to Swedish authorities under their terms. Anyone else would have been treated exactly the same as Assange has.

Swedish prosecutors wants to prosecute Assange.

If the accused believes that the accusations are baseless, then they need to defend themselves.

The is a unique mechanism in the statute of limitations. "The running of the statute may be suspended for any period the accused is absent from the state..." So Assange better get into Sweden quick.

The only plausible reason as to why Assange has to yet to be charged is his refusal to return to Sweden and be charged. Prosecutors try to avoid charging a person in absentia. It is can be considered a violation of the accused rights to be present to hear and understand the charges against them.

Julian Assange seems convinced that he is so special that laws need to be different for him.
07:48 August 5, 2012 by prince T
this man reminds me of a bible scripture

Prov 28:1 - The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the godly are as bold as lions.
08:30 August 5, 2012 by Camlon
Guys, think logically. Why the heck would Aasange be afraid of getting max 1 year in luxury prison in Sweden? Especially when the case is baseless. He has already been locked up the Ecuadorian embassy for more than a month.

It is in fact much harder to extradite from UK to the US, than it is from Sweden. In the UK it will take many years, and there will be plenty of court cases who can fail. In Sweden it will go fast, and it will not destroy Sweden reputation. The people who think Sweden is shithole will still think so, and the ones who think Sweden is amazing will not change their mind. Swedes will say "oh well, that is a shame" and forget about it, like other things Sweden has done.

Aasange do not want life in prison in America. That is why he is not going to Sweden.
09:30 August 5, 2012 by Camlon
I don't get how Swedes can get so outraged if they did the excact same thing in return.

Also, a dictator kicked out Sweden. So what? Who cares?
10:51 August 5, 2012 by rise
@ Camlon

["...So what? Who cares?"

I can see you have stated your mind about Sweden and the Swedes. So what? Who Cares?
12:58 August 5, 2012 by Camlon
That post was posted on the wrong article. I was actually posting about the Belarus dictator. Sorry.
19:15 August 5, 2012 by bcterry
His mother's assertion that the U.S. will execute him is laughable.

She knows damn well that Sweden will not extradite anyone to another country that will not agree to guarantee that the death penalty is off the table.

In Canada, we always make sure that the death penalty will be not be carried out on anyone we extradite to the U.S. They have ALWAYS honored our position EVERY TIME we have asked.

She is simply playing the same pathetic game as her son and his lawyer.

So let's get real here, and knock off the bullsxxt!
22:19 August 5, 2012 by sgt_doom
To #1, #2 and the other equally insipid and ignorant comments: President Obama recently signed into "law" the National Defense Authorization Agreement (NDAA) granting the US government the power to arrest and indefinitely detain any citizen and non-citizen, without due process.

(Much like the Soviet Union and China practice.)

The Obama administration now has a well-established record for "preemptive arrests" of various types of activists; has waged a war on whistleblowers -- including invoking the Espionage Act against US citizens -- more times than all previous US presidents combined.

Wikileaks' Assange has much to fear from them, especially as at least 13 US ambassadors had to be replaced as they were found to be persona non grata in the host countries thanks to those Wikileaked cables which exposed how they were working on behalf of American-based multinationals against the interests of those host countries.
05:43 August 6, 2012 by Tiny Red Ant
There was immense curiosity into what the first and second comment was, enough to respond to their contents. The first was about due process and the second about Assange should be held accountable. It is obvious that they both deal with different issues in different countries.

In response to that the NDAA was brought out, specifically "preemptive arrests." The inclusion of that law was used to try to demonstrate that Assange's concerns are some how founded. The obvious question is why would US try to get Assange through proxy? They have an obvious law that would make the process easier, where all they would have to do is issue an arrest warrant for Assange. That is no need to trump up charges. All that would be needed would be suspicions related those contained in the NDAA, and an arrest warrant. That is even thought the NDAA was signed in late 2011.

All in all, that does not diminish the fact that Assange has gotten due process and is still expect to be held accountable. The grand jury is nothing but an investigation into the whether or not Assange or Wikileaks have committed criminal offense. Assange's lack of understand is no reason to feel helpless, he should educate himself on about it.
10:11 August 6, 2012 by Borilla
I see, Assange cannot answer 2 rape charges in Sweden because the US might charge him with a crime. As pointed out above, Assange's claims are specious because the US has no need to pursue him through an alternate judicial system. It appears that Julian simply considers himself above the law and has hired attorneys and PR people to try and create a straw man. One of the basic tenets of due process is the ability to face your accuser. Why doesn't Mr. Assange want to do that? Cheer up Julian. Maybe your Momma can still save you.
13:14 August 6, 2012 by Opaline
So, it says experts think it's highly unlikely he will be extradited from Sweden to the US because it's easier for them to take him straight from the UK. But it then says the UK has to agree to extradite him to Sweden, so surely that's the same even if he was to be wanted for extradition by the USA?

In which case surely it's EASIER for them to get him from Sweden because, if other Brits are on the same thought-waves as my friends and family are, Britain doesn't agree that he's committed any crimes like the USA seem to think, and therefore wouldn't agree to the extradition, whereas Sweden seem to agree that he's a criminal from the US' point of view, especially as they see him as a criminal here too.

Does that make sense? I'm just wondering what other people think of this, surely I can't be the only one to have thought if this idea.
13:47 August 6, 2012 by robban70226
There is a room waiting for him in Guantanamo where if classified as ''terorist ''will not have the constitutional rights in the USA, Dirty trick to avoid complaying with basic human rights, Torture is acceptable there and no lawyers allowed... He will just vanish from eath
16:22 August 6, 2012 by bcterry
"There is a room waiting for him in Guantanamo where if classified as ''terorist ''will not have the constitutional rights in the USA, Dirty trick to avoid complaying with basic human rights, Torture is acceptable there and no lawyers allowed... He will just vanish from eath "

Complete and utter crock of bullsxxt.

Laughable.
21:24 August 6, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
@ bcterry, you post number 15

Your assertion about Canada and the death penalty is not entirely correct. In the interests of journalistic accuracy, read this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Ng
22:35 August 6, 2012 by bcterry
@ Reason abd Realism,

To my surprise you are right.

I was always under the impression that Canada enforced the agreement of no death penalty in that case.

We did not ask for it like i thought.

I stand correct on that point.

However, i still stand behind my other point, that they always honor the request when asked for.

If Sweden agreed to extradite Assange, and stipulated no death penalty, America would indeed honor it if they agreed.

I doubt very much they would seek the death penalty for Assange anyway.

In the Manning case, the soldier who was arrested in May 2010 in Iraq on suspicion of having passed classified material ... It was the largest set of restricted documents ever leaked to the public, a capital offense, the prosecutors are on record saying they will not seek the death penalty in his case.
05:30 August 7, 2012 by Tiny Red Ant
@bcterry

That is the point. America will honor a request made by other government when surrendering fugitives. The prosecutor will have to make the request for punishment, however their might be some cases where the court over rules.

@Opaline

Each extradition request for individual is considered based on the merits of the crimes and issues related to the punishments for the crimes included. Those decisions are made through the courts.

Sweden as a nation public view on Assange varies, with no clear consensus.

There is a need to stop conflating Assange's publication of the cables with the relationship he had with two Swedish women. This misunderstand of what a grand jury is also does not help.

The grand jury in America is trying to determine what laws Assange and Wikileaks have committed in the obtaining and publishing of government information. The prosecutor is Sweden want to prosecute Assange for the sexual molestation of two Swedish women.
08:15 August 7, 2012 by bcterry
@ Tiny Red Ant

"That is the point. America will honor a request made by other government when surrendering fugitives. The prosecutor will have to make the request for punishment, however their might be some cases where the court over rules."

In those cases where the court over rules, wouldn't that decision have been made before the extradition is complete, as in the case of Ng?
09:28 August 7, 2012 by Uncle
As I wrote before, Assange is a prime target for every enemy of the USA right now. It does not even matter who kills him and what the killer will claim, USA will be discredited.

Huge chunk of all inmates in Europe and US - from Al Qaida members to Neo Nazis, Russian mafia and Chinese contrabandists can be paid off to murder him and all the fingers will ALWAYS be pointed at the US government. Especially by the left wing socialists, who are into conspiracy theories more than the medieval europeans into witch stories.

So the dances around the legal questions are just for the show. It is all just to prolong his already miserable life. If he has left 1% of survival will, he will demand to place him in a federal high security prison in a single cell in US.
10:41 August 8, 2012 by Tiny Red Ant
@bcterry

America will honor requests made by Canada and other countries. Canada never made any request of clemency for Ng. They haven't made any request for Canadian citizen Ronald Smith. The only reason it is known about him is because of ACLU fighting for him. Anyways, Ng is not a Canadian citizen.

Upon further investigation it seems that the government merely asked if extraditing a fugitive to a country that had the capital punishment was a violation of their rights. United States v. Burns makes it a violation of their rights.

The cases that I am referring to are those in America. That would be bad grammar on my behave. Also, it should have been written differently to be more clear.

Prosecutors might request leniency for a suspect in a crime. This could be because of the suspects cooperation with the prosecutors or another reason. Anil Kumar who was is accused of insider trading is one example. Then there is Brent Beckley of Absolute Poker.
15:25 August 8, 2012 by bcterry
@ Tiny Red Ant,

Here is an article on Canada's position that you may find pertinent.

"http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/showthread.php?p=46015647#post46015647"

Excerpt,

"Atif Rafay and Sebastian Burns were not surrendered to the United States until the state of Washington agreed to take the death penalty off the table. Britain, France and Australia have done the same with extradition requests made by the USA as well."
07:20 August 11, 2012 by Tiny Red Ant
@bcterry

That is the same case thanks for all the information. I wish Assange smartens up and defends himself in Sweden.
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