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'Sweden should make promises': Amnesty

Published: 28 Sep 2012 08:11 GMT+02:00
Updated: 28 Sep 2012 08:11 GMT+02:00

Australian activist Assange, 41, has been holed up in Ecuador's London embassy since June 19th, when he claimed asylum in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning over allegations of rape and sexual assault.

Ecuador granted him asylum on August 16 but Britain has refused him safe passage out of the country -- leaving Assange stuck inside the embassy as the diplomatic deadlock continues.

Assange denies sexually assaulting two Swedish women and claims the allegations are a politically motivated attempt to secure his eventual extradition to the US.

The WikiLeaks website deeply embarrassed the US government by publishing huge caches of confidential documents on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and more than 250,000 diplomatic cables from US embassies around the world.

Assange supporters claim he could receive harsh treatment if sent to the United States and possibly even face the death penalty.

On Thursday -- Assange's 100th day inside the embassy -- Amnesty said it was "time to break the impasse".

"If the Swedish authorities are able to confirm publicly that Assange will not eventually find himself on a plane to the USA if he submits himself to the authority of the Swedish courts then this will hopefully achieve two things," said Nicola Duckworth, Senior Director for Research at Amnesty.

"First, it will break the current impasse and second it will mean the women who have levelled accusations of sexual assault are not denied justice."

She added: "While Amnesty International has no evidence that Sweden plans to extradite Assange to the USA it seems evident that fears about such an outcome have played no small part in the current stand-off.

"Amnesty International believes that the forced transfer of Julian Assange to the USA in the present circumstances would expose him to a real risk of serious human rights violations."

Sweden said last month that it was up to the US to give Assange the guarantees he has sought from Stockholm.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague and his Ecuadoran counterpart Ricardo Patino discussed Assange's case in New York on Thursday, but failed to come to any agreement.

Ecuador said Thursday that Britain could grant safe passage to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange under an extradition treaty between the two countries dating back to the 19th century.

The treaty -- signed September 20, 1840 -- makes it possible to "demonstrate to the United Kingdom that it can deliver safe passage," Ecuador's foreign minister, Ricardo Patino, told South American broadcaster Telesur.

The text "foresees that no one shall be extradited if the offense in question is not political in nature," Patino added.

The minister said he had addressed the issue with his British counterpart, Foreign Secretary William Hague, when the two met earlier Thursday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Hague "recognized the validity of this accord, even if his interpretation differs from ours," according to Patino.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

10:33 September 28, 2012 by olga118
"Assange supporters claim he could receive harsh treatment if sent to the United States and possibly even face the death penalty. " There is no evidence of that.

Amnesty International believes that the forced transfer of Julian Assange to the USA in the present circumstances would expose him to a real risk of serious human rights violations." There is no evidence of that and since when did Amnesty International protect people from being prosecuted for commiting crimes that they commited with full knowledge and intent. Give me a break.
13:09 September 28, 2012 by woodturner1946
Lies Lies and more Lies for Assange. No one has seemed to notice that if the U.S.A. Had wanted Assange, it would have been far easier to get him from the UK. The ties are far closer to London than Stockholm. This man (?) needs to stand up for being a predator on women and take his medicine in Stockholm...BUT I guess if you are a media darling you can pretty much do as you wish. So when will he begin robbing banks and blaming everyone else???? why not? It seems to work for Rape..why not robbery??Then lets move to murder, need anyone Killed..Assange can get away with it! what a sludge he is
14:26 September 28, 2012 by Grokh
@olga118 innocent until proven guilty, Sweden has not charged him with anything, they only want him for questioning. Meanwhile all this parade goes on sweden still hasnt assured it wouldnt extradite him to USA where senators have publicly stated how much they want him arrested.

You talk about no evidence, but no one has seen any evidence of him being guilty of the crimes the swedish government is trying to QUESTION(not charge) him about.

Not to mention the persecution that wikileaks have suffered as well as the soldier usa has arrested without trial for over 2 years or so now have not been legal or answered for. At this point id rather USA be judged for oppressive politics against freedom of the press , but the media seems to focus on how assange doesnt want to go to sweden to answer a few questions -_-x
15:26 September 28, 2012 by smilingjack
olga and woodburner you should stop watching reruns of 2 and a half men and try reading. your not very bright are you?

what were you educated in the USA? the land of the dumbest, fattest most religious extreme people on the planet? oh I forgot war mongering as well.
15:50 September 28, 2012 by bcterry
"You talk about no evidence, but no one has seen any evidence of him being guilty of the crimes the swedish government is trying to QUESTION(not charge) him about."

What other cases have you seen where all the evidence is presented to the public before they go to trial, or even lay charges?

You suggesting that assange be given special privilege over others?
17:16 September 28, 2012 by olga118
@smilingjack "what were you educated in the USA? the land of the dumbest, fattest most religious extreme people on the planet? oh I forgot war mongering as well". While I stand in awe of your superior education and the eloquent manner in which you express yourself, your punctuation isn't very good.

@grokh " Meanwhile all this parade goes on sweden still hasnt assured it wouldnt extradite him to USA where senators have publicly stated how much they want him arrested". He broke the law and an extradition treaty between Sweden and the USA does exist, yet you suggest that we should give him special treatment.
06:25 September 30, 2012 by Tiny Red Ant
The must frustrating thing about Julian Assange and some of his supporters is that they don't understand how America works. "Senators" suggest a lot of things in the US, but they never amount to nothing. Anything politically in America needs at least 50% to be implemented by both the house and senate, and the president's approval. For any criminal investigation the responsibly is the federal or state prosecutors.

If it is determined that Assange has committed a crime then it is the prosecutors responsibility to convince the courts.
17:06 September 30, 2012 by MarkDnrs
THERE ARE GOOD REASONS why being extradited to Sweden (and thus why this is 100% about Wikileaks not ludicrious fake charges centered around a "broken condom") is condemning the person being extradited to that renegade country to torture and human rights violations:

1. You get imprisoned in Sweden even before being charged, so if the US brought charges at that time he has no recourse to diplomatic protection;

2. Sweden has a history of agreeing to all extradition requests to the US, including extraordinary rendition in 2001, in 2006 it was reported by Swedish

Military Intelligence that subsequent restrictions were being ignored;

3. Sweden has a clause in their extradition treaty for "Conditional Release" which the UK does not, which would not be subject to the same restrictions as extradition and the UK would not need to approve the onward extradition;

4. If, as Australia believes, the US would bring charges carefully worded to avoid conflict with the First Amendment, the UK and Sweden could declare that the charges are not political offenses and therefore not prevent him from being extradited.

5. If Sweden wanted to question Assange, they could have done so in the UK. Issuing an EAW was disproportionate, especially when no charges have been brought. Expert legal opinion supports this: http://www.scribd.com/doc/4839...

6. 3. The International Prison Chaplains Association says that Swedish prisons are the worst prisons in Europe. In 47 percent of cases, prisoners in Sweden are held incommunicado.

7. To repeat the point about Sweden's nature as a human rights violator:

There is always that Swedish legal device known as a Temporary Surrender or Conditional Release, under which Assange can be sent on from Sweden to the United States secretly and quickly.

Sweden has in the recent past allowed rendition (torture) on its soil at the request of the US. In fact, in the last 10 years Sweden has done whatever the US wants so that it can share security information. Much like Britain. The Swedish foreign minister responsible for extradition, Carl Bildt, became a U.S. Embassy informant in 1973 when he was 24 years old. He shipped his personal effects to Washington, to lead a conservative leadership program, where he met Karl Rove. They became old friends and would go to conferences together and so on.
22:09 September 30, 2012 by Tiny Red Ant
Let us just say that is baffling.

With in the Extraction Laws such as the EAW; an extradition request can be made for person to be extradited to another country while they are being prosecuted or serving time in jail. This requires a judge's permission and the extradition hearing can be postpone until after the trial or sentencing is completed.

This is the same law that requires the permission from the originating country for any extradition request. That is to say under the "Conditional Release" Sweden needs the UK's permission to extradite Assange to another country.

There is no reason to address the other obvious errors.
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