Step out of line and share Assange’s fate: Prof. Melzer: “And nobody will care. I can promise you that”.
Today, people from several campaigns supporting Julian Assange, including Defend Wikileaks, will be demonstrating against his extradition.
A message has been received from Tracy Worcester (below) who gave a clear and persuasive address outside Belmarsh prison where she visited Assange. Reuters – unlike more right-wing outlets – yesterday gave a straightforward account of the proposed extradition of Julian Assange to the USA, about which a decision is to be made shortly.
Another message, from a Bournville reader, says that extradition would be an injustice crowning all those he has suffered already and a threat to free speech everywhere – with particular implications for whistle-blowers, journalists and bloggers.
He forwarded a long and detailed interview with Professor Nils Melzer, a Swedish academic, professor of international law at the University of Glasgow who is serving as the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Some points made by Melzer follow:
Assange reported to the Swedish authorities on several occasions because he wanted to respond to the accusations
After a detailed examination of the rape allegations he pointed out that far from fleeing from the Swedish judiciary in order to avoid being held accountable, Assange reported to the Swedish authorities on several occasions but the authorities stonewalled. He contacted the Swedish judiciary several times to make a statement – but was turned down. Melzer (below) says:
“I speak fluent Swedish and was thus able to read all of the original documents. I could hardly believe my eyes: According to the testimony of the woman in question, a rape had never even taken place at all. And not only that: The woman’s testimony was later changed by the Stockholm police without her involvement in order to somehow make it sound like a possible rape. I have all the documents in my possession, the emails, the text messages.
The media and government agencies have painted a completely different picture over the years
Melzer gives a long and detailed account of the charges, opening: “We know that the original statement, according to the chief public prosecutor, apparently did not contain any indication that a crime had been committed. A revised statement was edited without the involvement of the woman in question and wasn’t signed by her. It is a manipulated piece of evidence out of which the Swedish authorities then constructed a story of rape”.
Though the public prosecutor’s office gave him written permission to leave Sweden for short periods of time, on the day that Julian Assange left Sweden a warrant was issued for his arrest.
His lawyer explained that Assange had to go to Berlin for a conference and had asked if he was allowed to leave the country. During the flight, his laptops disappeared from his checked baggage. Existing correspondence proves that after arriving in London, via his Swedish lawyer, Assange offered public prosecutors several possible dates for questioning in Sweden.
Then he heard that a secret criminal case had been opened against him in the U.S. His lawyer said that his client was prepared to testify in Sweden, but because of Sweden’s record (in one instance they had to pay a million dollars in damages to two men who were extradited to the CIA in Egypt without any legal proceedings) he demanded a diplomatic assurance that Sweden would not extradite him to the U.S. The Swedes declined to provide a guarantee, arguing that the U.S. had not made a formal request for extradition.
Assange said he was willing to be questioned in London or via video link under the cooperation treaty between the United Kingdom and Sweden
Under the terms of the treaty, Swedish officials can travel to the UK, or vice versa, to conduct interrogations or questioning can take place via video link. During the period of time in question, such questioning between Sweden and England took place in 44 other cases.
The Swedish prosecution avoided questioning Assange for five years and eventually his lawyers petitioned Sweden’s Supreme Court to force the public prosecution to press charges or to close the case.
Melzer recalls that when the Swedes told the UK they might be forced to abandon the case, the English Crown Prosecution Service wrote “Don’t you dare get cold feet!!” in a document addressed to the Swedish Chief Prosecutor Marianne Ny, a copy of which was obtained by the Italian investigative journalist, Stefania Maurizi, in a five-year long Freedom of Information litigation which is still ongoing. Sweden finally abandoned the case against Assange in November 2019
Why would the Swedish and British authorities act like this?
In July 2010, Wikileaks – in cooperation with the New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel – published the Afghan War Diary, one of the largest leaks in the history of the U.S. military. Wikileaks obtained a document in which Stratfor, a security consultancy that works for the U.S. government (firstname.lastname@example.org) advised American officials to deluge Assange with all kinds of criminal cases for the next 25 years.
What Wikileaks did is a threat to the political elite in the U.S., Britain, France and Russia. Wikileaks publishes secret state information – they are opposed to classification – and in a world, even in so-called democracies, where secrecy has become rampant, that is seen as a fundamental threat
Was another suppression related to a 2017 allegation by former congressman Dana Rohrabacher that Donald Trump had offered to pardon Julian Assange if he claimed that Russia had nothing to do with a leak of Democratic party emails in 2016? Trump offered to pardon Assange if he said that Russia had nothing to do with WikiLeaks’ publication of Democratic Party emails in 2016. accusation.
What awaits Assange if he is extradited?
Melzer feels sure that Assange will not receive a fair trial in part because Assange will be tried in Alexandria, Virginia, the notorious ‘Espionage Court’ where jury members are drawn from a local population, 85% of whom work in the national security community – at the CIA, the NSA, the Defense Department and the State Department. He adds that the cases are always tried in front of the same judge behind closed doors and on the strength of classified evidence. Nobody has ever been acquitted there in a case like that. He continues:
“I am the Special Rapporteur on Torture for the United Nations. I have a mandate to ask clear questions and to demand answers. I visited Assange in his cell in London in May 2019 together with two experienced, widely respected doctors who are specialized in the forensic and psychological examination of torture victims. The diagnosis arrived at by the two doctors was clear: Julian Assange displays the typical symptoms of psychological torture. If he doesn’t receive protection soon, a rapid deterioration of his health is likely, and death could be one outcome”.
Melzer then asks three questions:
- What is the legal basis for denying someone their fundamental right to defend themselves?
- Why is a man who is neither dangerous nor violent held in solitary confinement for several months when UN standards legally prohibit solitary confinement for periods extending beyond 15 days?
- Why have none of these UN member states launched an investigation, answer my questions or even demonstrate an interest in dialogue?
And gives a warning to all:
When countries like Sweden allow themselves to be manipulated like that, then our democracies and our human rights face a fundamental threat. Power corrupts if it is not monitored. A show trial will make an example of Julian Assange. The point is to intimidate other journalists. The message to all is: “This is what will happen to you if you emulate the Wikileaks model”.
Assange has published proof of systematic torture. But instead of those responsible for the torture, it is Assange who is being persecuted. Melzer added: “This could just as easily happen to us or our children. And nobody will care. I can promise you that”.
Our Bournville informant ended: “Evil triumphs when good people do nothing”: