Published on Wednesday, February 1, 2012 by Common Dreams
Will Assange’s case set precedent?
The first day of Julian Assange’s appeal hearing has come to a close after his legal team made arguments against efforts to extradict the Wikileaks’ founder to Sweden. Assange’s Lawyer, Dinah Rose QC, argued that the European arrest warrant (EAW) issued against Assange is invalid. A Swedish prosecutor had requested the warrant, not a judge, which Rose is arguing delegitimizes the arrest. The two-day hearing will continue tomorrow as the Swedish prosecution is set to offer rebuttal.
Dissenter/FireDogLake has been providing updates throughout the day:
The European arrest warrant (EAW) system has been the focus of the hearing. The hearing opened with Dinah Rose QC of Assange’s legal team arguing, according to Alexi Mostrous, that European arrest warrants are “built on trust and a streamlining of such proceedings is to be balanced by protection of rights.” She went over European extradition law going all the way back to 1957. She cited a case before the European Court of Human Rights on whether a Swedish public prosecutor is “proper judicial authority.” And said that High Court judges nor Swedes have produced a definition of “judicial authority.”
Rose called the lower court’s ruling “inconsistent” with “judicial authority” and said it was obvious such authority must be independent of the executive and other parties. [...]
Should Assange lose the case, he will be extradited for trial in Sweden, where he will face not only a ‘closed door’ hearing, but also possible ‘surrender’ to the US. John Pilger provides additional analysis at the New Statesman:
“The Obama administration’s determination to crush Assange is revealed in secret Australian government documents, released under Freedom of Information, which describe Washington’s pursuit of WikiLeaks as “unprecedented”.” — John PilgerThe consequences, if [Assange] loses, lie not in Sweden but in the shadows cast by America’s descent into totalitarianism. In Sweden, he is at risk of being “temporarily surrendered” to the US, where his life has been threatened and he is accused of “aiding the enemy” with Bradley Manning, the young soldier accused of leaking evidence of US war crimes to WikiLeaks.
The connections between Manning and Assange have been concocted by a secret grand jury in Virginia that allowed no defence counsel or witnesses, and by a system of plea-bargaining that ensures a 90 per cent conviction rate. It is reminiscent of a Soviet show trial.
The Obama administration’s determination to crush Assange is revealed in secret Australian government documents, released under Freedom of Information, which describe Washington’s pursuit of WikiLeaks as “unprecedented”. It is unprecedented because it subverts the First Amendment of the US constitution, which protects truth-tellers such as WikiLeaks. In 2008 Barack Obama said, “Government whistleblowers are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal.” Obama has since prosecuted twice as many whistleblowers as all previous US presidents.
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Back to London, The Guardian reports:
Assange was earlier greeted outside the UK’s highest court by supporters playing protest songs and holding placards demanding his release from bail conditions. Inside a packed court 1, Assange listened and took notes as (Assange’s lawyer, Dinah) Rose, argued that the formation of a European framework decision on crossborder extradition arrangements showed “decisions with serious implications for personal liberties should only be taken by independent judicial authorities”.
She said: “The words ‘judicial authority’ can only be understood as meaning an independent judge or a person executing equivalent power.”
She said that to include public prosecutors in the concept of what is a judicial authority was “contrary to a basic, fundamental principle of law”.
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The Guardian has provided live updates throughout the day and will do so again tomorrow here.
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Sky News is providing a live stream of the hearing here.
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