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struggle4progress's Journal
struggle4progress's Journal
July 2, 2012

In the week before Assange left Sweden, authorities were repeatedly in contact with Assange's lawyer

in an attempt to schedule an interview:

... In cross-examination the Swedish lawyer confirmed that paragraph 13 of his proof of evidence is wrong. The last five lines of paragraph 13 of his proof read: “in the following days <after 15th September> I telephoned <Ms Ny> a number of times to ask whether we could arrange a time for Mr Assange’s interview but was never given an answer, leaving me with the impression that they may close the rape case without even bothering to interview him. On 27th September 2010, Mr Assange left Sweden.” He agreed that this was wrong. Ms Ny did contact him. A specific suggestion was put to him that on 22nd September he sent a text to the prosecutors saying “I have not talked to my client since I talked to you”. He checked his mobile phone and at first said he did not have the message as he does not keep them that far back. He was encouraged to check his inbox, and there was an adjournment for that purpose. He then confirmed that on 22nd September 2010 at 16.46 he has a message from Ms Ny saying: “Hello – it is possible to have an interview Tuesday”. Next there was a message saying: “Thanks for letting me know. We will pursue Tuesday 28th at 1700”. He then accepted that there must have been a text from him. “You can interpret these text messages as saying that we had a phone call, but I can’t say if it was on 21st or 22nd”. He conceded that it is possible that Ms Ny told him on the 21st that she wanted to interview his client. She requested a date as soon as possible. He agrees that the following day, 22nd, she contacted him at least twice.

Then he was then cross-examined about his attempts to contact his client. To have the full flavour it may be necessary to consider the transcript in full. In summary the lawyer was unable to tell me what attempts he made to contact his client, and whether he definitely left a message. It was put that he had a professional duty to tell his client of the risk of detention. He did not appear to accept that the risk was substantial or the need to contact his client was urgent. He said “I don’t think I left a message warning him” (about the possibility of arrest). He referred to receiving a text from Ms Ny at 09.11 on 27th September, the day his client left Sweden. He had earlier said he had seen a baggage ticket that Mr Assange had taken a plane that day, but was unable to help me with the time of the flight ...

Mr Hurtig was asked why he told Brita Sundberg-Wietman that Ms Ny had made no effort to interview his client. He denied saying that and said he has never met her. He agrees that he gave information to Mr Alhem. He agrees that where he had said in his statement (paragraph 51) that “I found it astonishing that Ms Ny, having allowed five weeks to elapse before she sought out interview”, then that is wrong ...

In re-examination he confirmed that he did not know Mr Assange was leaving Sweden on 27th September and first learned he was abroad on 29th. He agreed that the mistakes he had made in his proof were embarrassing and that shouldn’t have happened. He also agreed that it is important that what he says is right and important for his client that his evidence is credible.

The witness had to leave to catch a flight. Miss Montgomery said that there were further challenges she could
make to his evidence, but thought it unnecessary in the circumstances. That was accepted by the court after no
point was taken by Mr Robertson. The witness was clearly uncomfortable and anxious to leave.

City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court (Sitting at Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court)
The judicial authority in Sweden -v- Julian Paul Assange
Findings of facts and reasons
June 30, 2012

Does Ms Susan Benn suffer from hallucinations?

Mr Assange was served requesting his surrender because he exhausted his appeals in both the UK and Sweden, failed to pursue an appeal to the European court at Strasbourg, and recently jumped bail. The UK now is therefore pursuing his extradition pursuant to law.

Mr Assange had already appealed the 18 November 2010 arrest order issued by the Stockholm District Court, and the international and European warrants, to the District Court, which upheld the warrants 30 November 2010, and had appealed the Court of Appeals judgment to Sweden's Supreme Court, which denied his appeal 2 December 2010.

On 7 December 2010, he surrendered to the London police and was remanded to Wandsworth but was released 16 December 2010 with bail and sureties, subject to certain bail conditions. His extradition hearing was held in early February at Belmarsh, and his extradition upheld 24 February 2011. He appealed to the High Court, which heard his appeal and then contemplated the matter for four months before dismissing his appeal on 2 November 2011. He appealed to the Supreme Court, which likewise heard his appeal and then contemplated the matter for four months before dismissing his appeal on 30 May 2012. The Supreme Court refused to reopen his case but granted Assange until 28 June to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Instead, Mr Assange jumped bail.

Ms Benn believes Mr Assange's cries for asylum "take priority over extradition claims." The UK, of course, in a spirit of friendship with Ecuador, will not violate the Ecuadorian embassy. But the UK does not recognize "diplomatic asylum," and Mr Assange's fear of extradition to Sweden on a sex complaint is not based on any internationally cognizable fear of persecution. A few years ago, Mr Assange was contemplating a permanent move to Sweden and applied for permanent residency there. But almost immediately after applying for residency, he suddenly quit the country, complaining he "fell into a hornets' nest of revolutionary feminism."

Ms Susan Benn would have us think Mr Assange's "life and liberty ... are at stake." With respect to the charges in Sweden this claim seems manifestly untrue, since the obvious charges Mr Assange faces there are punished only by a fine, although Mr Assange could possibly be subject to detention as a flight risk while the Swedish authorities sorted matters -- an outcome unfortunately made more probable by Mr Assange's own behavior in jumping bail with the hope of asylum in Ecuador.

It would, of course, not be all surprising if there were a US investigation into Mr Assange and other members of his organization, insofar as these people seem to have obtained, through a contact in the US military, an unprecedented trove of documents. US intelligence and counter-intelligence experts have no doubt been wracking their brains over the question of whether the entire affair is as simple as the popular public versions of it, or whether the whole show is a coordinated sideshow to distract attention from another piece of more substantial espionage. Mr Assange's love of personal secrecy, and his flair for stunts like the alleged encrypted "nuclear file," probably have not set at ease the minds of the US intelligence and counter-intelligence establishment -- not least because Assange has the gigantic ego and love of games that one might expect from a successful double or triple agent.

But whether various other countries would, or would not, extradite Mr Assange to the US on espionage charges is, of course, moot at present, as there is no actual evidence that any espionage charges have been filed against Mr Assange anywhere. The alleged "credible reports that a sealed indictment has already been made against Mr Assange" presumably refers to the supposed Stratfor email, apparently obtained in an FBI sting operation against a small group amateur hackers and released by Mr Assange's Wikileaks (not an uninterested party) -- a document whose provenance thus deserves great skepticism.

Even if there were a sealed indictment, awaiting unsealing at a convenient time, Sweden cannot extradite a person to the US, after that person has been extradited to Sweden from another EU country, without first obtaining the consent of that EU country, as discussed on the Prosecuting Authority's webpage:

Facts about extradition and surrender
... if the extradition concerns a country outside the European Union the authorities in the executing country (the country that surrendered the person) must consent such extradition. Sweden cannot, without such consent, extradite a person, for example to the USA ... The Principle of Speciality applies here, i.e. the person surrendered to Sweden may not be tried for any crimes other than those stated in the arrest warrant and may not be surrendered to another state, unless the original surrendering country grants its permission. In addition, the conditions imposed by the surrendering country also apply.

Apparently, none of this matters to Ms Benn, who foresees torture and execution in her crystal ball. Ms Benn apparently reaches these conclusions based on her view of the Bradley Manning case: "The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Torture .. has formally found that the United States has subjected .. Bradley Manning, to conditions amounting to torture." This is inaccurate: the document to examine is A/HRC/19/61/Add.4, dated 29 February 2012:

... In his report, the Special Rapporteur stressed that “solitary confinement is a harsh measure which may cause serious psychological and physiological adverse effects on individuals regardless of their specific conditions.” Moreover, “<d>epending on the specific reason for its application, conditions, length, effects and other circumstances, solitary confinement can amount to a breach of article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and to an act defined in article 1 or article 16 of the Convention against Torture” ... In response to the Special Rapporteur’s request for the reason to hold an unindicted detainee in solitary confinement, the government responded that his regimen was not “solitary confinement” but “prevention of harm watch” ... http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Guardian/documents/2012/03/12/A_HRC_19_61_Add.4_EFSonly-2.pdf

In actual fact, the Special Rapporteur has declined to interview Manning because: "The US Government authorized the visit but ascertained that it could not ensure that the conversation would not be monitored." It is a good principle that persons, who are allegedly being tortured, should have some access to private unmonitored interviews, and no doubt the Special Rapporteur is right to stand on this principle. But absent specific evidence, all the Special Rapporteur can do is stand on principle, and that is all he does: "The Special Rapporteur concludes that imposing seriously punitive conditions of detention on someone who has not been found guilty of any crime is a violation of his right to physical and psychological integrity as well as of his presumption of innocence. We shall all, of course, agree with that principle, although the principle itself does not tell us anything whatsoever about the conditions of Manning's detention.

With a similar carelessness, Ms Benn would have us know that "Mr. Manning has been charged by the US government with the capital offense of 'aiding the enemy'" -- whereas in fact

... the prosecution formally declined to categorize the charge of “aiding the enemy” as a capital offense, when Manning’s charges were officially referred on Feb. 3 ... http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/foreign-affairs-defense/wikisecrets/live-blog-bradley-mannings-arraignment/

Ms Benn deduces from this very thin soup: "So it is clear that there is a legal process in place which will result in taking Julian to the US, which if allowed to succeed would violate his basic rights. And then she throws out what she apparently regards as devastating argument:

Swedish authorities have refused, without reason, to make the 3 hour trip to London and to interview Julian causing him to be trapped in the UK under virtual house arrest for 561 days and an additional 10 days in solitary confinement – all without charge. Instead they have issued an INTERPOL Red notice and extradition requests.

Beyond this, Ms Benn adds: Julian and his legal team have previously sought assurances from both the UK government and the Swedish government that they will guarantee safe passage after the completion of legal interviews with Mr Assange and both have previously refused.

So the situation at present seems to be that Mr Assange, having skipped bail and trotted into the Ecuadorian embassy, is waggling his tongue at the Swedes: Neener! neener! neener! You should have come to get me! And he is adding conditions for his cooperation: Well, I don't know! Why can't you guarantee nobody else will ever prosecute me?
June 24, 2012

Definition of paranoia: supporters of Julian Assange

The right does not have a monopoly on paranoia, as the conspiratorial fantasies of the backers of Julian Assange show
Nick Cohen
The Observer, Saturday 23 June 2012

... The right does not have a monopoly on paranoia, as the conspiratorial fantasies of supporters of Julian Assange show. Glenn Greenwald, Glenn Beck's namesake and mirror image on the American left, made it embarrassingly obvious in the Guardian last week that a paranoid "leftist" defence of an alleged rapist was the order of the day. Greenwald argued that Assange was not a coward who dare not face his Swedish accusers but a true dissident, who was camping out in the Ecuadorean embassy because he had a genuine fear of persecution. America "would be able to coerce Sweden into handing him over far more easily than if he were in Britain", he explained.

It was a small country "generally more susceptible to American pressure and bullying". The poor man did not know that Britain has a notoriously lax extradition treaty with the United States, which the liberal-minded have condemned for almost a decade. Nor did he blink at what must be the crankiest request for refugee status ever. Assange is the first asylum seeker to claim persecution at three removes. He wants to renounce his Australian citizenship and become an Ecuadorean because (and you may have to bear with me) the Australian government failed to help him fight an attempt by the British government to extradite to him to Sweden, whose government may, at some undefined point, extradite him to the United States – or maybe not, because there is no extradition request ...

Reasonable doubt cannot stay the tongues of Ken Loach, Tariq Ali, Jemima Khan, Naomi Wolf, John Pilger and their comrades. They lament western wickedness with the reliability of professional mourners. For them, America is a demonic empire with supernatural power and reach. The constraints that bind ordinary nations cannot contain it. I refuse to call their conspiracy theories "leftwing," and not only because most of the British liberal left behaved honourably during the WikiLeaks affair. Hofstadter's caution needs to be remembered too – paranoia turns everything it touches to dirt. The professed principles of sufferers are no exception. The American right's hatred of immigrants makes a nonsense of its belief in free markets, which require the free movement of labour. Its opposition to gun control makes its claims to be tough on crime equally ridiculous. Mutatis mutandis, the leftwing defenders of Assange are equally willing to destroy their own beliefs.

Conservatives throw around the phrase "leftwing feminist". They do not understand that although most feminists are on the left, it is far from clear that all leftwingers are feminist. If the indulgence of Islamists who believe that divine law mandates the subjugation of women did not convince you on this point, the treatment of Assange's alleged victims ought to make you think again. Some of Assange's supporters say that the women have no right to put allegations of sexual abuse before a competent court. Instead, they denounce them as "feminazis" in language so extreme that the women's lawyer said his clients were "the victims of a crime, but they are looked upon as the perpetrators". I doubt that posterity will recall much that Assange said. But it ought to remember his assertion that "Sweden is the Saudi Arabia of feminism". In one sentence, Assange encapsulated the special pleading and misogyny of a rotten "progressive" culture ...


February 10, 2012

Poetry may not motivate folk to register to vote

So I had another of my many hare-brained ideas: I thought mebbe I'd write some poetry and head off to a community poetry night to see if I could snag some voter registrations

Lesson 1. Writing voter registration poetry is hard! This took more time than I expected!
Lesson 2. Community poetry nights can go on a long time! I was there about four hours in all!
Lesson 3. Either I met a whole lot of civic-minded poets or else mebbe some folk didn't tell me the whole truth. Anyway, my net voter registration score was zero. That's a new low for me in number of voter registrations in number of registrations per hour of effort

So I'm recycling my poem here:


Fannie Lou said later
she finally just got sick and tired
of bein sick and tired

Back in 62
Fannie and some friends took a bus
26 miles to the county courthouse
to register to vote

And when they got there
police were everywhere

First on the long registration form was:
what your name?
and next:
who you work for?

They all filled out the form
then got back on the bus again
to go the 26 miles

Fannie Lou was sick and tired of it

And the police followed them
stopped the bus
and fined everybody ridin on it
for ridin in a bus painted the wrong color

made them all dump out their pockets
that’s how the police fixed the fine:
just took everybody’s money
eighteen dollars and mebbe some change

Fannie Lou sure was sick and tired of it

She got home in the dark without any change
her boss was waitin there
and he told her she was fired
and he kicked her out of her house that he owned

Fannie Lou was so sick and tired of it

She found friends to stay with
and when she’d been there a few nights
somebody shot sixteen bullets through the window

Oh! Fannie Lou was sick and tired of it
but Fannie Lou was also real sick and tired of bein sick and tired
so she didn’t stop

Today the police don’t follow you
when you want to register to vote
your boss can’t fire you for that
you don’t have to go 26 miles on a bus
and the form isn’t very long

You can register here and now
and you can vote in May and November

You can take a minute to stand
on Fannie Lou’s strong shoulders
if you look, you'll see
that’s why she’s standin back there in 1962 and 63

I pray:
dear Lord
next time I’m feelin sick and tired
please give me some of Fannie Lou’s blues
and make me sick and tired
of bein sick and tired

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