Didn't the UK provide protection for Pinochet?
US in pursuit of Assange, cables reveal
August 18, 2012
Philip Dorling/the AGE/Sydney Morning Herald
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Photo: Reuters
AUSTRALIAN diplomats have no doubt the United States is still gunning for Julian Assange, according to Foreign Affairs Department documents obtained by The Saturday Age.
The Australian embassy in Washington has been tracking a US espionage investigation targeting the WikiLeaks publisher for more than 18 months.
The declassified diplomatic cables, released under freedom of information laws, show Australia's diplomatic service takes seriously the likelihood that Assange will eventually be extradited to the US on charges arising from WikiLeaks obtaining leaked US military and diplomatic documents.
This view is at odds with Foreign Minister Bob Carr's repeated dismissal of such a prospect.
Australia's ambassador to the US, former Labor leader Kim Beazley, has made high-level representations to the American government, asking for warning of any moves to prosecute Assange. However, briefings for Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Senator Carr suggest the Australian Government has no in-principle objection to Assange's extradition.
On Thursday, Ecuador granted Assange political asylum at its London embassy on the grounds that if extradited to Sweden to be questioned about sexual assault allegations he will be at risk of further extradition to the US to face espionage or conspiracy charges.
Last night, the diplomatic standoff continued. Foreign Secretary William Hague said Britain would not allow Assange safe passage out of the country, ''nor is there any legal basis for us to do so''. However, he later told reporters ''there is no threat here to storm an embassy''.
WikiLeaks announced on Twitter that Assange would give a statement outside the embassy tomorrow. Meanwhile, one of his defence lawyers said he would appeal to the International Court of Justice if Britain prevented him from going to Ecuador.
In May, Senator Carr told a Senate estimates committee hearing: "We have no advice that the US has an intention to extradite Mr Assange … nothing we have been told suggests that the US has such an intention."
However, the Australian embassy in Washington reported in February that "the US investigation into possible criminal conduct by Mr Assange has been ongoing for more than a year".
The embassy noted media reports that a US federal grand jury had been empanelled in Alexandria, Virginia, to pursue the WikiLeaks case and that US government officials "cannot lawfully confirm to us the existence of the grand jury".
Despite this, and apparently on the basis of still classified off-the-record discussions with US officials and private legal experts, the embassy reported the existence of the grand jury as a matter of fact. It identified a wide range of criminal charges the US could bring against Assange, including espionage, conspiracy, unlawful access to classified information and computer fraud.
Australian diplomats expect that any charges against Assange would be carefully drawn in an effort to avoid conflict with the First Amendment free speech provisions of the US constitution.
The cables also show that the Australian government considers the prospect of extradition sufficiently likely that, on direction from Canberra, Mr Beazley sought high-level US advice on "the direction and likely outcome of the investigation" and "reiterated our request for early advice of any decision to indict or seek extradition of Mr Assange".
The question of advance warning of any prosecution or extradition moves was previously raised by Australian diplomats in December 2010.
American responses to the embassy's representations have been withheld from release on the grounds that disclosure could "cause damage to the international relations of the Commonwealth".
Large sections of the cables have been redacted on national security grounds, including parts of reports on the open, pre-court martial proceedings of US Army Private Bradley Manning, who is alleged to have leaked a vast quantity of classified information to WikiLeaks. Australian embassy representatives have attended all of Private Manning's pre-trial hearings.
Australian diplomats have highlighted the prosecution's reference to "several connections between Manning and WikiLeaks which would form the basis of a conspiracy charge" and evidence that the investigation has targeted the "founders, owners, or managers of WikiLeaks" for espionage.
However, the embassy was unable to confirm the claim in a leaked email from an executive with US private intelligence company Stratfor, that "[w]e have a sealed indictment against Assange".
"Commentators have ... suggested that the source may have been referring to a draft indictment used by prosecutors to 'game out' possible charges," the embassy reported in February. "There is no way to confirm the veracity of the information through official sources."
A spokesperson for Senator Carr said yesterday Assange's circumstances remained a matter for the UK, Ecuador and Sweden, with Australia's role limited to that of a consular observer.
with Australia's role limited to that of a consular observer
Shame on our cowardly government!
Get ******* if you want to count.
So, if you're only a small country, it's OK to be bullied by a stronger "ally"?
Julian Assange clearly views Ecuador as a safe haven but for many who live there, planted firmly in their lands, justice remains a distant reality. I hope those whose eyes briefly rested on this country will hold their gaze long enough to see the whole picture
So why is Ecuador mixing it up in all of this?
WIKILEAKS founder Julian Assange will appeal to the International Court of Justice if Britain prevents him from going to Ecuador, according to a senior Spanish human rights lawyer.
Baltasar Garzon, who is working on Assange's defence, told Spanish newspaper El Pais that Britain was legally required to allow Assange to leave once he had diplomatic asylum.
"What the United Kingdom must do is apply the diplomatic obligations of the refugee convention and let him leave, giving him safe conduct," he said. "Otherwise, he will go to the International Court of Justice." ... <cont>
Assange exploits decade of US folly
August 18, 2012 /AGE editorial
THE saga of Julian Assange's extradition from Britain, which began with the WikiLeaks founder having sex with ''Miss A'' and ''Miss W'' in Sweden two years ago, could only have happened in a post-9/11 world. Before the US-led coalition's ''war on terror'' redefined the rule of law as dispensable, Assange's fear of political persecution - the basis on which he has won asylum in Ecuador's embassy in London - would simply have been ridiculous. Instead, the insistence by Britain, Sweden and Australia that there is no more to this extradition than a purely criminal investigation is debatable.
The Saturday Age reveals that Australia, as Assange's home country, has communicated with the US about his potential prosecution over the online release of a trove of classified information. Senior US officials have declared him a security threat who should be prosecuted for espionage. There is evidence of a US investigatory process and preparations for an indictment that could form the basis for extradition from Sweden. Australia has been a reluctant defender of Assange's legal rights ever since Prime Minister Julia Gillard pre-emptively declared: ''The foundation stone [of the WikiLeaks postings] is an illegal act that certainly breached the laws of the United States of America.'' Claims to be ignorant of US prosecutors' plans now stand exposed as false.
The Australian attitude recalls the glaring lack of concern about the detention without charge of two other citizens, David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib, at Guantanamo Bay. The US tried to put its detainees beyond the reach of its courts, engaged in extrajudicial rendition and torture, then tailored retrospective laws to obtain convictions in military courts. Few requirements of a fair trial were met. The role of Britain and Australia in all this assists Assange's claim that he fears extradition to the US to face charges that may carry the death penalty.
Ecuador has clashed with the US and has a record of rights abuses - notably, and ironically, in judicial interference and denying its citizens freedom of expression. However, the recent track record of the US and its allies in bending and even breaking long-standing international laws and conventions creates enough doubts about the circumstances of Assange's case that Ecuador has felt able to accept him as a ''victim of political persecution''. The claim that he faces a real but unacknowledged risk of extradition to a third country, the US, where ''he would not face a fair trial'', is founded on the record of the past decade.
Let us be clear about this. Justice in the Swedish case requires a fair hearing of the allegations of sexual assault, a serious, non-political crime. Even given troubling aspects of the investigation and the question of whether the alleged acts constitute a crime in British law, Assange's bid for asylum would have been doomed if only Britain and Sweden had an interest in this case, as our government pretends.
Yet if this were a routine and, in the scheme of things, minor case, would the British government be willing to move heaven and earth to get its man? Foreign Secretary William Hague even declares that Britain refuses to recognise the concept of diplomatic asylum and could arrest Assange inside Ecuador's embassy. The threat to repudiate the Vienna Convention, which rules embassy premises ''inviolate'', recalls the US scorn for the Geneva Conventions, which has already opened one can of worms for global relations. Imagine China had made such a declaration when a dissident recently took refuge in the US embassy.
The Assange case does not require a spotless hero for us to be concerned that every citizen be afforded exactly the same rights and protections. The rule of law depends on the fair, consistent and transparent application of the law to every accused person. A nation that unfailingly does so could never credibly be accused of persecution. Assange is the first Australian to be granted asylum for fear of persecution by the US, which has long been a refuge from persecution. That speaks volumes about the tangled web left by the ''war on terror''.
Re: msolga (Post 5080279)
Quote:So, if you're only a small country, it's OK to be bullied by a stronger "ally"?
Nope. I didn't say it was okay.
Assange offered himself up as the football. Being surprised at being kicked around after doing that is ridiculous. 30 odd miners have been shot dead in South Africa.
Are you a racist Olga?
So why is Ecuador mixing it up in all of this?
It can't be because they support freedom of speech.
Thought I'd take a look at what Human Rights Watch has to say about Ecuador.
Do you support the view that might is automatically right?
(But then, you never start threads do you? You never stick your neck out. That's not your style, is it? )
Assange calls for the release of Bradley Manning, the alleged WikiLeaks source, describing him as one of the world's foremost political prisoners.
He goes on to refer to the jailing in Russia of members the feminist punk band, Pussy Riot.
"There is unity in the oppression. There must be absolute unity and determination in the response," adds Assange.