[THS] !!! Glenn Greenwald: What U.S. "Justice" Signifies Around The World
The Harder Stuff in news and commentary
ths at psalience.org
Thu Jan 13 12:15:20 CET 2011
What U.S. "Justice" Signifies Around The World
By Glenn Greenwald
January 11, 2011 "Salon" -- In London this morning, a British court held a
procedural hearing regarding Sweden's attempt to extradite Julian Assange in order
to question him about sex crimes accusations. Afterward, Assange's lawyers released
an outline of the arguments they intend to make in opposition to extradition. Most of
them centered around the impermissibility of extraditing someone who has not been
charged with a crime -- i.e., merely to interrogate them -- but one of the featured
arguments focused on the danger that if Assange were sent to Sweden, that country
would then extradite him to the U.S., where Assange would be subjected to grave
Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, could be at "real risk" of the death
penalty or detention in Guantánamo Bay if he is extradited to Sweden on accusations
of rape and sexual assault, his lawyers claim.
In a skeleton summary of their defence against attempts by the Swedish director
of public prosecutions to extradite him, released today, Assange's legal team argue
that there is a similar likelihood that the US would subsequently seek his extradition
"and/or illegal rendition", "where there will be a real risk of him being detained at
Guantánamo Bay or elsewhere".
Paragraphs 92-99 of the outline detail Sweden's history of violating the Convention
Against Torture by rendering War on Terror suspects to Egypt to be tortured, and
concludes: "based on its record as condemned by the United Nations Committee
against Torture and the Human Rights Committee, Sweden would bow to US
pressure and/or rely naively on diplomatic assurances from the USA that Mr. Assange
would not be mistreated, with the consequence that he would be deported/expelled
to the USA, where he would suffer serious ill-treatment." This danger is legally
relevant because the governing Extradition Act bars the expulsion of a prisoner
where "extradition would be [in]compatible with the Convention rights within the
meaning of the Human Rights Act 1998." The outline also cited vigilante calls from
leading right-wing figures for Assange's murder (yesterday, it was discovered that a
prominent right-wing blogger, Melissa Clouthier, had registered the website
It's quite notable that the mere threat of ending up in American custody is
considered (at least by Assange's lawyers) to be a viable basis for contesting
extradition on human rights grounds. Indeed, this argument is not unusual.
Numerous countries often demand, as a condition for extradition to the U.S.,
assurances from the U.S. Government that the death penalty will not be applied.
Similarly, there are currently cases pending in EU courts contesting the extradition of
War on Terror detainees to the U.S. on the ground that they will be treated
inhumanely by virtue of the type of prolonged, intensive solitary confinement to
which Bradley Manning -- and thousands of other actual convicts -- are subjected.
And now we have the spectacle of Julian Assange's lawyers citing the Obama
administration's policies of rendition and indefinite detention at Guantanamo as a
reason why human rights treaties bar his extradition to any country (such as
Sweden) which might transfer him to American custody. Indeed, almost every
person I've spoken who has or had anything to do with WikiLeaks expresses one fear
above all others: the possibility that they will end up in American custody and
subjected to its lawless War on Terror "justice system." Americans still like to think of
themselves as "leaders of the free world," but in the eyes of many, it's exactly the
"free world" to which American policies are so antithetical and threatening.
* * * * *
Speaking of American justice, ondelette, over at FDL, raises an interesting point: for
those who believe that leading right-wing figures are inspiring violence (whether of
the kind that just occurred in Arizona, things like this, or even calls for Assange's
murder), shouldn't they be treated the same way American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki is:
i.e., targeted by the U.S. Government with due-process-free assassination for inciting
violence? Doesn't the mentality justifying Obama's assassination program necessarily
extend to other Americans accused of "inciting" violence with their political speech?
While it's true that American officials -- once the assassination efforts were leaked --
began passing claims to journalists that Awlaki had an "operational role" in Terrorist
plots, there has been no evidence presented of that, and the concern
overwhelmingly with Awlaki is what he inspires violence with his political speech. If
presidentially-decreed assassination is justified against him, why not other American
leaders accused of inciting violence? Shouldn't the President order them taken out,
"We have to condemn publicly the very idea that some people have the right to repress others. In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousandfold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers ... we are ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations." - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
"Our memory is struggling to rescue the truth that human rights were not handed down as privileges from a parliament, or a boardroom, or an institution, but that peace is only possible with justice and with information that gives us the power to act justly." - John Pilger
"Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public!" - Cornell West
WikiLeaks: Julian Assange 'happy' after extradition hearing
Judge releases website founder on bail as he vows to keep publishing US diplomatic
cables in tandem with newspapers
* Mark Tran
* guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 11 January 2011 12.32 GMT
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, with his lawyer Jennifer Robinson, speaks outside
court. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, with his lawyer Jennifer Robinson, speaks to
the media outside court. Photograph: Andrew Winning/Reuters
Julian Assange today expressed his satisfaction after a procedural hearing on his
extradition to Sweden and vowed that WikiLeaks would continue its work.
After the hearing at Belmarsh magistrates court, Assange said he was "happy about
today's outcome" and said the skeleton argument he and his legal team hastily
produced over Christmas would be made publicly available later.
This outlines "some important issues which will be gone into in detail on 6 and 7
February", he said.
"I would also like to say that our work with WikiLeaks continues unabated and we are
stepping up our publishing for matters relating to 'cablegate' and other materials.
This will shortly be occurring through our newspaper partners around the world, big
and small newspapers and some human rights organisations."
In today's 10-minute session, Assange's QC, Geoffrey Robertson, said all legal
preparations were in place for a full two-day extradition hearing next month.
District judge Nicholas Evans released Assange, who spoke only to confirm his name,
age and address, on conditional bail. Assange, who wore a dark suit and light-
coloured shirt, listened intently as he sat behind a glass screen at the top-security
His bail was modified, allowing him to stay at the Frontline Club for journalists in
Paddington on 6 and 7 February, so he does not have so far to travel.
Robertson said Assange's legal team was collecting evidence from further witnesses
in Sweden, but the judge said the authorities there were likely to take the view that
the extradition warrant would stand nevertheless.
Media interest in Assange was maintained as journalists from around the world filled
100 seats in the court and an annexe connected by video link. High-profile
supporters of Assange who turned up today included Bianca Jagger, Jemima Khan
and Gavin MacFadyen, director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism.
A high court judge released Assange on £240,000 bail last month after the WikiLeaks
founder had spent nine days in Wandsworth prison in London. Assange spent
Christmas at a manor house on the Norfolk-Suffolk border owned by Vaughan Smith,
a former army captain and the founder of the Frontline Club.
Sweden is seeking extradition of the 39-year-old Australian over allegations of rape,
molestation and unlawful coercion, made by two women over 10 days in August.
One of the women alleges that Assange had sex with her without a condom when it
was her "express wish" that one should be used. The second woman accuses him of
having sex with her on 17 August without a condom while she was asleep at her
Assange admits having had consensual sex with both women, but denies any criminal
In interviews with Swiss newspapers yesterday, Assange said he might move to
Switzerland or Australia, and revealed that WikiLeaks has been losing more than
£400,000 a week since releasing a collection of US diplomatic cables that severely
embarrassed the US government.
He said he had not made a request for political asylum in Switzerland, and declined
to say whether he would.
Guardian Books will publish next month the first in-depth account of the WikiLeaks
phenomenon. The book will be called WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on
US officials have stepped up their pressure on WikiLeaks by seeking information from
Twitter. A federal court approved a US department of justice subpoena demanding
that the site hand over data about users with ties to WikiLeaks.
This article was amended on 12 January 2011. The original said that Assange has
signed a deal with Guardian Books, which will publish next month the first in-depth
account of the WikiLeaks phenomenon. This has been corrected.
More information about the THS