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Assange faced tough choice: lawyer

AFP/The Local · 30 Jun 2012, 08:09

Published: 30 Jun 2012 08:09 GMT+02:00

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Assange was confronted with risks no matter which path he took and is gambling that Ecuador will look sympathetically at his request for political asylum, said Michael Ratner, a human rights attorney who is on Assange's legal defence team.

The 40-year-old Australian refused to comply with a British police order to turn himself in for extradition to Sweden and instead walked into the Ecuadoran embassy in London on June 19th, asking for asylum.

"He had two very difficult choices. I think he would go to Sweden immediately if he got assurances from the United States that there was not going to be a prosecution," Ratner told AFP.

But the US government would have to provide a clear guarantee with no "minced words," he said.

The United States has said it has no role in the extradition dispute.

Assange faces questioning in Sweden over sexual assault allegations but he denies the allegations and insists it is part of a politically-motivated effort to get him extradited to the United States, where he fears he could be put on trial for espionage or other crimes.

Confronted with the option of being transferred to a Swedish prison without the possibility of seeking political asylum, Assange made an understandable decision, Ratner said.

"Neither (option) is very palatable," said Ratner, president emeritus of the Center of Constitutional Rights who has represented detainees at the US-run prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"He made a very difficult choice for himself."

Assange's concerns that he could be prosecuted in a US court for serious crimes were well-founded, given details that have emerged about a grand jury investigation, public warnings from top US officials and reported questioning

of WikiLeaks associates, according to Ratner.

US officials have refrained from making strident public comments about Assange in recent months, he said.

"I think they're quiet now because there's a grand jury or an indictment and they don't want to prejudice any ultimate trial. That would be my best guess."

Ratner said Assange could face difficult conditions in any "pre-trial confinement" in the United States, similar to those imposed on Army private Bradley Manning, charged with handing over a trove of secret files to Assange's WikiLeaks website.

WikiLeaks enraged Washington by publishing a flood of secret information about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as more than 250,000 confidential US diplomatic cables.

His supporters paint him as a whistle-blowing hero but his critics denounce him as a traitorous anarchist.

His defence lawyer expressed cautious optimism that Ecuador would approve Assange's request for asylum.

Story continues below…

"I'm very hopeful about it, I'll put it that way. They have the ability and the president and the country have the guts to stand up to the United States," said Ratner, citing Ecuador's decision to close a US military base in 2008.

He added: "Of all the countries that would be one of the most favorable (to Assange's request), it would be Ecuador."

Assange is beyond the reach of the police as long as he stays inside Ecuador's embassy on diplomatic territory.

Ecuador's leftist President Rafael Correa, who has often been at odds with Washington and offered Assange asylum in 2010, has said that the South

American country will take its time considering the application.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:10 June 30, 2012 by Fred Johnsson
Assange is a brave man! A hero to expose the corruption.

Hope you make it to Equador and continue to hack and expose what is going on at the top. Please continue your brilliant work!
14:19 June 30, 2012 by philster61
US says it has no role in his extradition? And yet he most likely will show up in the US. A place that denies it has any role in bringing him. US loves to deny things it never has a role in but somehow have a role in....
14:41 June 30, 2012 by foxpur
Technically, Assange doesn't have a claim based on his application. There is no current USA case requiring Assange to be in fear of being pulled to the USA. Therefor there is no current cause for a fear of political protection. Just currently a paranoid unfounded fear, making his Swedish fear the only real one he can claim (and that isn't political). If the USA files a case againt him later that would be a potential threat to him, but as things stand... he is crying wolf because there isn't anything there.

He IS adding things to his criminal list however. Bail jumping, failure to appear by court order... Followed soon with: escape from custody to Sweden, failure to appear in Sweden, another international warrant for UK and for Sweden (much more official than the last he tried to avoid). He is making himself pretty much a wanted man anywhere in the world and his backers aren't liking that and leaving.
14:59 June 30, 2012 by skumdum
Time for this rapist to face the reality.
15:03 June 30, 2012 by foxpur
skumdum: That hasn't even been pushed past the questioning stage... however, the more is trys to run away from it the worse his case looks and the tougher they will be on him if he is ever found guilty. All he is doing is making himself look like a criminal.
16:16 June 30, 2012 by smilingjack
be afraid Julian. be very afraid. sweden will DEFINITELY hand him over to the yanks. Being in sweden is being in America. Make the little person feel important and they will do anything................thats sweden.
16:45 June 30, 2012 by bcterry

"Bottom line: Rape is rape

Sexual assault charges must be taken seriously even if accused is a liberal darling"


"One woman says Assange forced her to remove her clothing, ripped her necklace, forced her legs apart and was "violent." She thought he tore his condom on purpose, and refused to get an AIDS test when she demanded one.

The second woman said she woke up in the morning to find Assange having unprotected sex with her. She, too, demanded an AIDS test. ............. Assange refused

The charges against Julian Assange are not that he was a bad date, or that he didn't call women back. It's that he is a rapist. If those charges are false, you'd think he'd want to get back to Sweden as soon as possible to clear things up, not fight extradition there like his life depended on it."

Report abuse »
17:49 June 30, 2012 by foxpur

Ummm... for what? The USA isn't asking for him, according to them he isn't wanted for anything.

Related note: There is an american in Sweden who is wanted for AWOL... Sweden has already said they are not giving him up and he is actually wanted for something. (http://www.thelocal.se/41732/20120629/)

And there are many more like that...

So where do you get this Sweden will do it attitude?
19:37 June 30, 2012 by johnny1939
Manning is going to trial on September 21st. The US would probably love to have Assange in the country on or about that time. It is getting more and more interesting...Hello Hollywood are you out there?
20:33 June 30, 2012 by DonQuixot
It is historicallly proven fact that Swedish Government and the CIA have worked together in some plans, projects, activities, operations and similar, yes, they have been very good friends in the past, and they have not promised not te be good friends in the future.
23:51 June 30, 2012 by tompaq
Please DonQuixot, put down the bong. The USA doesn't want him. It is much better to have him out and about and associating with all his other bizarre friends. It's easier to keep tabs on the whole lot.

What does he have to worry about going to Sweden for? If he's convicted the most time he'll do is 3-4 months.
02:12 July 1, 2012 by Eric1
Oh, cry me a river. Poor comrade Assange. Boo hoo.
01:46 July 2, 2012 by Garry Jones
Yet more disinformation:

"Assange faces questioning in Sweden "

No, he has already been questioned, these are the statements made to the police.


(English translation)


If the USA wanted him they would have gotten him extradited from the UK. He would be so much safer in Sweden. The UK and the USA are great friends.

1) The documents he released put American lives at risk

2) The documents he released put UK lives at risk

3) The documents he released put Swedish lives at risk

4) The documents he released put civilians in Muslims countries at risk

1 Because the terrorists can use some of the info to recruit

2 Because terrrorists might find it easier to hit a UK target.

3 ...... or Swedish

4 Because USA soldiers who have made mistakes (killed civilians in error) may no longer report them for fear of leakage. More mistakes of the same manner could be repeated rather than being sorted by the commanding officers.

One thing remains when you strip it down. He released them for his own fame. When you read the questions put to him by the Swedish police and his answers you will see this for yourself. You will also see exactly what he is accused of and who accused him instead of the misinformation you are being fed by other ignorant (about the subject) people.

And anyway..... if the Ecodorians grant him refuge how is he going to get to South America? It's not going to happen. We will pick him up on the way.
08:18 July 2, 2012 by skogsbo
the only tough choice he has, is that he needs to grow up and face up to all of his crimes, those accused and those proven. Man or mouse?
21:05 July 2, 2012 by expatjourno
First of all, if the U.S. decides to indict Assange, they can do it in no time.

Second, no one knows if there is already a sealed indictment, least of all the idiots who claim the U.S. doesn't want to prosecute Assange.

Third, U.S. propaganda to the contrary, there is no evidence that any lives were put at risk or any individuals harmed as a result of the publication of the cables.

Fourth, many, many innocent people have been killed by U.S. drone strikes and bombings, however, and the U.S. just keeps on killing them.

Fifth, Sweden's role in rendition flights that send people to be tortured was revealed by Wikileaks, so Sweden has every incentive to get revenge on Assange.

Sixth, Assange was safer in the UK because it has more of a functioning legal system than Sweden.

Seventh, the women are not especially credible. They conferred before going to the police and had every opportunity to collude.

Eighth, the U.S. war crimes that Wikileaks revealed are much more serious than anything that Assange did, so how about if we prosecute war criminals and only after that consider going after the person who exposed them?
22:14 July 2, 2012 by Tiny Red Ant
It is amazing how some will use rendition flights done by Sweden as an argument for why Assange should be sent to Sweden. It doesn't take much searching to find that UK had a more active role in rendition or other human right abuses. The reason that fact is omitted is that it doesn't fit the narrative for some.

A crime is a crime, no matter if it is done by government officials or an individual. Sex assault is a serious crime and should not be ignored because of the hero status of one individual.

Assange needs to stop hiding behind the work he did for Wikileaks and go defend himself.
22:35 July 2, 2012 by expatjourno
Tiny, a crime is a crime. However, a tainted witness is a tainted witness. Neither woman is credible, based on their behavior, including their text messages, after the alleged assaults. The first prosecutor's decision was the correct one. Only intervention by the Swedish Government caused a second prosecutor to be brought in.

Both the UK and Sweden may well have a motive for doing Assange harm. that is not the issue. The reason Sweden is more likely to extradite Assange to the U.S. is that Sweden does not have a functioning judicial system, as the Swedish Government's intervention in this case makes perfectly clear.

And the U.S. has made it very clear that it does intend to extradite Assange to face trial in the U.S.: http://www.salon.com/2012/07/02/dianne_feinstein_targets_press_freedom/
01:41 July 3, 2012 by Garry Jones
> Neither woman is credible, based on their behavior, including their text messages, after the alleged assaults.

Did you read the links?

The women did not accuse him of this. So any belief that they were put up to this is incorrect. They explained what happened and the police realised the implications and brought about this whole affair. The women contacted the police for ONE REASON - To find out if they could force him to have an Aids test.

It is a public offence to rape and the police can file charges against the will of the woman/women raped.

Before you go on with all your conspiracy theories read the facts of the case.
02:00 July 3, 2012 by sgt_doom
We still have a few brave people in America and one of them, Ms. Rowley, former FBI SAC and whistleblower, explains the illogic of the Swedish govenment refusing Assange's request for a promise not to extradite to America (questioning, huh????).


Say, isn't Sweden the same country where that company, SKF, sold the Nazis their ball bearings to they could then invade, and occupy, Sweden in WWII?

What a country??????
07:05 July 3, 2012 by expatjourno
Garry, the charges are a load of BS cooked up by two jealous women who colluded before going to the police. The initial prosecutor declined to prosecute. So the Swedish Government brought in another prosecutor who was willing to prosecute. Those are the facts of the case.

Julian Assange has repeatedly said he would willingly go to Sweden if Sweden agreed not to send him to the U.S., where he faces the same pre-trial torture that Bradley Manning and Jose Padilla suffered and a possible death sentence or life in prison for exposing U.S. war crimes. Again, those are the facts.

You are the one who chooses to deny the basic facts of the case.
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