12 April 2019
Cogito Ergo Non Serviam
Julian Assange, the man behind WikiLeaks, is under arrest in London. After hiding in the Ecuadoran embassy for 7 years, his hosts finally had had enough of him, and they invited the Metropolitan Police in to take custody of the man. He faces extradition to the US where is he wanted for conspiring with Chelsea Manning (as she is now known) to break into US government computers. The British will have the ability to hold him for a year for bail jumping. The charges of rape against him in Sweden may be revived. His supporters claim this is all punishment for his brave exposing of evil. This journal is not a supporter. One believes him to be an asset of the GRU and FSB.
Some in the media have conflated freedom of the press and whistle-blowing with the theft of computer files. American law is quite clear, and journalists across the spectrum are comfortable with the balance it has drawn. In simplest terms, it is illegal to break into someone's computer and take information from it. It is perfectly legal for someone else to publish that information. In terms of burglary, it's illegal to burgle, but it's OK to be a fence, to take possession of stolen goods. If the goods are data, possession of stolen data itself by a publisher is not a crime nor is disseminating it.
In order for a US grand jury to issue an indictment, prosecutors need to present sufficient evidence to warrant a trial. That is not the same as beyond a reasonable doubt. So, whether the US has a case is not in doubt. Whether the US will win is.
The UK extradition treaty with the US is governed by the principle of specialty, a fundamental of international criminal law. In a case where Country A wants Country B to extradite a suspect, Country A must give a complete and unamendable list of charges. Based on that, Country B will decide whether to extradite the alleged criminal. This is important because it means Country A cannot pile numerous charges on after the suspect arrives in its jurisdiction (unless new crimes are committed after that arrival).
In the case of Mr. Assange, he is charged with just one count of conspiracy. That may well be sufficient for the UK to send him to the US. However, once extradited, Mr. Assange could not be charged in the US for any additional crimes that occurred before his extradition. So, while he sits in a cell in London for up to a year, the US prosecutors will try do decide just what they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
Meanwhile, the rape charges he faced in Sweden may come back. The BBC explains, "Swedish prosecutors dropped the investigation into Assange in 2017 because they were unable to proceed while he remained in the Ecuadorean embassy. Assange also faced two other charges of molestation and unlawful coercion, but these were dropped in 2015 because time had run out. Prosecutors will now re-examine the rape case to decide whether to resume it before the statute of limitations runs out in August 2020."
The Me-Too Movement did not exist when he sought asylum in the embassy. He comes out seven years later into a world less tolerant of boorish male behavior. He claims, and always had, that the encounter was consensual. Massi Fritz, lawyer for the alleged victim, said, "what we have been waiting and hoping for since 2012 has now finally happened. No rape victim should have to wait nine years to see justice be served."
Mr. Assange faces up to five years in a US prison if convicted. In Sweden, he could be jailed for as many as 10 years. If convicted in America, he can claim the mantle of martyr for some of his supporters. If he is convicted as a rapist in Sweden, his reputation would not be as pure. American prisons are not as nice as Swedish jails, but he still might want to consider a trip to the US instead of Sweden.
© Copyright 2019 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.