Action for Assange: UPDATED

Action for Assange poster by AusFoWL

Action for Assange poster by AusFoWL

Being the smart, well-informed engaged citizens that readers of the ol’ raincoaster blog tend to be, you’ll no doubt be aware that at literally any moment Julian Assange’s fate is to be decided. The Supreme Court of the UK will either send him to Sweden (which will presumably roll over obediently and hand him over to the US for a lifetime of confinement and probable torture) or they will set him free after more than a year under house arrest. For review: he has not been charged with a crime in any country, although the US has a Grand Jury inquiry ongoing that leaks like a sieve. If it doesn’t, how’d I find out about it? I’ve got better things to do than hang around streetcorners in Alexandria, Virginia.

Above is a poster from the Australian branch of Friends of Wikileaks. If you’re at all inclined to support WL, go ahead and sign up for this interesting new activist network, but expect it to be significantly more IRL than most. Below, I’m posting a link to Christine Assange‘s 60 (yes, 60) talking points, as well as the full text of a letter to British MP’s Nick Clegg and Teresa May. Initially I said those letters wouldn’t have an effect, but I stand corrected; as the author reminded me, things are indeed different now. Politicians may be no less self-interested than ever, but their self-interest now lies in listening to the Will of the People; they can hear the tumbrils approaching.

Christine Assange’s 60 Talking Points: a sample:

Christine Assange, mother of WikiLeaks founder and Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange, has spent many long months reaching out to supporters and urging them to contact their local political representatives. Recognising that many politicians do not even know the true story behind WikiLeaks and her son’s legal battles, she asks supporters to give them the facts as well as requesting their assistance.

Christine today used her Twitter account and the #fact4mp hashtag to post 60 important talking points for supporters to disseminate:

1. Wikileaks and Assange have not been charged with any crime in any country in the world. See http://justice4assange.com

2. WikiLeaks and Assange have been recognized for quality investigative journalism with many prestigious awards. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_Assange

3. WikiLeaks has a perfect record regarding information reliability. No government has denied the authenticity of any documents.

4. WikiLeaks redacts its documents, so to date not one person has been physically harmed by its publications.

5. WikiLeaks exposes government and corporate corruption, fraud, shady deals, war crimes, torture, and kidnapping. It is in the public interest to know these things.

6. WikiLeaks partnered with The Guardian, New York Times, Der Spiegal, Le Monde, and El Pais to publish Cablegate. Why target only WikiLeaks?

7. WikiLeaks acts in accordance with traditional journalism. It publishes information given by various sources.

8. WikiLeaks acts like traditional media but protects its sources with a secure anonymous Drop Box.

9. WikiLeaks is a legal, legitimate, online news publisher, recognized as such by other journalist organizations worldwide.

10. WikiLeaks is a non-profit independent publisher funded by donations from ordinary citizens from around the world.

You can view the whole list by clicking on the link above.

I Am FREE

I Am FREE

If you’d like to poster or protest outside your friendly neighborhood Australian embassy for their abandonment of a citizen abroad, here is a handy-dandy roundup thereof, worldwide.

If you’d like to do it anonymously, we’ve already featured some instructions on making an Anonymous mask, but here is a great roundup of more, complete with security features eg telling you to wear gloves when sculpting clay, so you don’t leave fingerprints.

There is an Avaaz petition up to support Julian and tell Australian politicians that they have a duty to their citizens abroad. A duty they have noticeably not performed in this case.

and now, the Letter to MPs:

From the Wikileaks Forum (which for some reason seems to prefer not to allow me to register, OKFINE!):

Read this link:

http://www.anniemachon.com/annie_machon/2012/03/the-extradition-farce-why-the-delay-in-reform.html

Then read the first link (the reply to the Freedom of Information request) in this letter. Then send the letter to wherever you think it will do most good.

A-Z list of UK MPs:
http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/

And from the JulianAssangeFanciersGuild:

OPEN LETTER TO NICK CLEGG, UK DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER

By post: House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

By email: nick.clegg.mp@parliament.uk

Dear Nick Clegg,

I want to draw your attention to a disturbing Freedom of Information request for details of US Government involvement in the ‘independent’ Scott Baker Review of the UK’s extradition arrangements.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/8157…

This FOI reply makes it clear there was very high-level US Government involvement in the Baker Review  – up to and including US Attorney General Eric Holder – but that the public are not to be told what was discussed, as that might “prejudice relations” between the UK and the US. Likewise, details of any critical responses or objections from the public consultation, or whether the Review met with anyone who’s actually experienced the Extradition Act as a defendant (apparently not), will be published only after the Government has decided how it will implement the Review’s recommendations – this, we are told, is to ensure “transparency and public open access”. That is not right. Informed public debate about changes to the Extradition Act, and whether those changes adequately protect the rights of individual citizens – the people who might one day find themselves at the sharp end of it – must be based on full disclosure before, not after, decisions have been reached. On the face of it, this FOI reply indicates a profound lack of balance in the Baker Review.

Recent extradition cases reflect a similar – and scandalous – lack of balance in the UK’s current extradition arrangements, both on the US side and towards Europe. The lack of a forum provision, or any requirement for US law enforcement agencies to provide evidence beyond ‘reasonable suspicion’, has left UK citizen Babar Admad languishing in a British prison for eight years without charge or trial. Richard O’Dwyer’s is another young life about to be ruined, for an offence which doesn’t exist in Britain and is in essence a civil matter – copyright infringement against immensely rich and powerful multinational corporations. And now 65 year old Christopher Tappin becomes the latest victim of the UK’s weak extradition laws – in solitary confinement in a prison system notorious the world over, facing a legal system where plea bargains are often a defendant’s only option, his wife crying on the tarmac at Heathrow because he looked to senior British politicians to protect his right to a fair trial – and they failed him. How did US interests – corporate and otherwise – come to contaminate our legal space to this degree? Where does the United States’ extraterritorial jurisdiction end and where does Britain’s sovereignty begin – or rather, where has it gone?

Britain’s courts are completely hamstrung by the UK’s current extradition arrangements. The deeply flawed European Arrest Warrant system mandates that our judges put ‘mutual recognition’ of Europe’s many different – and often incompatible – judicial systems above the need to check whether the evidence even shows there is a prima facie case to answer. Literally thousands of people have been extradited to Europe via EAWs – their lives disrupted, losing their jobs, homes, family and access to support networks or English-speaking lawyers – to face lengthy imprisonment awaiting trial under a legal system that is alien to them, often on what amounts to very trivial charges. Where is the UK courts’ right to insist on proportionality before this happens? Or to insist that European prosecutors use Mutual Legal Assistance to question people before issuing these draconian EAWs? Why must our judges operate under a system which tells them they must ignore evidence even though it plainly shows that extradition is not justified? If the UK’s current extradition arrangements fail to work in the interests of justice this often, how many more victims must there be before Britain calls a halt?

The case of Julian Assange – shortly to be decided by the Supreme Court – is perhaps the most worrying of all. His extradition is demanded by an investigating prosecutor for questioning in a case concerning consensual but unprotected sex, where he has not been charged, and where the forensic DNA evidence indicates there has been wrongdoing and abuse of process in issuing the extradition warrant. The Swedish judicial system allows for indefinite pre-trial detention and for trials to be held behind closed doors, heard by a judge and three politically appointed lay jurors who have no legal training. Furthermore, he faces an overwhelmingly hostile media environment in Sweden and there are justifiable fears about the “temporary surrender” mechanism available in the US/Sweden bilateral treaty for his onward rendition to the US to face potential espionage charges. Evidence has now emerged that the US has had a secret sealed indictment against Assange for more than a year – another reason that makes the above FOI reply deeply troubling.

In its progress to date through the British court system, judges have ruled that none of these factors are sufficient to override the Swedish prosecutor’s extradition request, thereby setting new and dangerous precedents for us all. The Irish Supreme Court has just unanimously ruled that European Law does not permit extradition for the purposes of questioning only. In the UK, however, unless the Supreme Court upholds his appeal on the basis that a partisan prosecutor is not a proper judicial authority, Assange’s case will have created the perfect storm of precedents – meaning that, henceforth, any person can be extradited from the UK to anywhere in Europe, without charge, without evidence, by any prosecutor, anywhere, and without proper judicial oversight.

Recent developments make Mr Assange’s situation even more worrying. Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has taken to writing blog posts and multiple tweets declaring Wikileaks is planning a smear campaign against him and this is therefore an attack on Sweden. This is based on entirely fabricated articles by the Swedish newspaper Espressen, which was also responsible for breaking the confidentiality of a preliminary investigation by relaying the news “WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange hunted down, suspected of rape” to the world’s media hours before a senior Swedish prosecutor decided the rape allegation was false. Prejudicial public remarks have also been made by Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, Justice Minister Beatrice Ask and Prosecutor General Anders Perklev. It is inconceivable that Julian Assange will receive a fair trial in Sweden in a case which has become so highly politicised there.

I would remind you again of UK Home Secretary Theresa May’s legal obligations under the Human Rights Act 1998 to safeguard individuals’ rights under the European Convention of Human Rights, including Article 6, the right to a fair trial:

“… the Home Secretary is under a duty under the Human Rights Act 1998 not to act in a manner that is incompatible with a person’s rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. Therefore, she must consider whether, as a result of events occurring after the extradition proceedings, it would be contrary to the convention for a person to be extradited… During the statutory extradition process, human rights are considered by the courts, but if a human rights issue arises after the end of that process the Home Secretary must consider these issues.” Source: Hansard HC Deb, 24 November 2011, c190WH

The Home Secretary must be reminded of her legal obligations in respect of this case.

Yours sincerely,

[name]

[UK/US/Australian citizen/Citizen of Europe]

and now,  some notes from the OP:

People think it is up to the Supreme Court whether JA is
extradited to Sweden. WRONG. It’s up to the UK Home Secretary, a lady called
Theresa May. She’s the one who has the final say-so on ALL extraditions –
always. The legal basis for this is at the bottom of the letter – so sending
the letter to UK MPs is the best way to put pressure on her to block the
extradition if the Supreme Court turns down JA’s appeal.

  • raincoaster

    Yeah, but Teresa May isn’t the cleanest knife in the drawer. I doubt very much her decision will be influenced by anything other than what will do her career the most good, and the power for that lies with Cameron and the rest of the 1%, not with the People.

  • Debra

     Yes, precisely – “whatever will do her career most good” – please take a moment to stop and think what effect all the previous Open Letters addressed to her back in December during the time of the Parliamentary debates had… – to my certain knowledge emailed to at least 10% of the whole House of Commons.

    Ever wondered about that “surprise” High Court decision to allow the case to be bumped up to the Supreme Court? Nothing to do with the fact the Home Secretary didn’t want an embarrassing hot potato – and a diplomatically contentious legal obligation – landed in her lap at an awkward time?

    Come ON people – wake up! READ those previous letters (one of them’s up on SvA, there were at least two more). Don’t just assume they CAN’T have any effect. I have an email inbox full of correspondence from influential UK MPs – and a personal reply by snail mail from the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe – that tells me they DO.

    Sorry Raincoaster, bit of a rant and not fair to single you out. I appreciate you are Canadian so possibly not so familiar with the ins and outs of UK politics. But please send the letter anyway, eh?

  • Debra

     Btw – just in case anyone doesn’t realise this – one of our previous campaign letters was actually quoted during the UK’s partliamentary Extradition Debate – yes, the one where the motion was carried overwhelmingly without even a vote on it – and our letter is the reason JA’s name was brought into  that debate. Seriously, no joke – our letter was the reason for that.

    There is a lot of support for JA among UK MPs – to my certain knowledge – but they are wary of using his name “out loud” because, from their pov, it’s politically “toxic” – unless, that is, they know they have popular support. This is why our letters are so effective.

    Raincoaster mentions the power is in the hands of the 1% – yes, yes, yes – that is WHY we are bloody emailing them!!!  To give them the ammunition they can use… I have already had responses from MPs – about the FOI reply – “thank you, this is very useful”.

    Wikileaks themselves at the time kept tweeting “lobby decision-makers” – that’s what these letters do. The campaign in Australia is also heavily focused on lobbying MPs. There’s a reason for that approach.

  • raincoaster

     Not at all; perfectly fair to single me out. I was falling back into the old activist’s ennui “We tried that and it didn’t work.” But you’re right to contradict me. A lot of things are working now that hadn’t worked before, and maybe May isn’t quite as secure as she used to be on her perch. They can hear the tumbrils approaching.

    I’ll post these open letters on my blog tomorrow, or as soon as I get my work done tonight. Got a big post on Sabu going up as well.

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