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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?
Posted by struggle4progress | Fri Jun 29, 2012, 10:02 PM (5 replies)

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 ...

Posted by struggle4progress | Sat Jun 23, 2012, 07:05 PM (16 replies)
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