J. Assange, WikiLeaks founder, has been staying in the Ecuador Embassy offices in London for several says until today, to escape the arrest warrant disposed by Swedish authorities and executed by the UK officers following several appeals, hearings and juridical debates.
At present a police van monitors 24h a day the embassy venue, to execute the arrest if Mr. Assange should set foot on British soil outside the diplomatic offices. On the major international newspapers many different opinions, chronicles and reports have spread. There’s a lot of confusion on the issue regarding mostly the real reliability of the consequences feared by Mr. Assange that moved him to decide to seek political asylum. He’s firmly persuaded to keep his advice if Swedish authorities don’t give him an official guarantee to refuse any possible request of extradition coming from the US government.
Several detailed and realistic chronicles have been published, even a structured report of Mr. Assange allegations on MSNBC.com
This situation provoked a heated debate all over the world, involving crucial issues ad press freedom, civil rights, and justice. Some support his legal team fears, others highlight the opportunity to comply with the requests of the authorities and expose his defense on the allegations moved. A concerned appeal by Michael Moore and Oliver Stone has been published on New York Times, it reported major concerns regarding a potential extradition request by US authorities, and a possible allegation of espionage under anti-terrorism acts adopted after the 9/11 tragedy, and the negative consequences on press freedom in similar cases.
It’s important, by the way, to clear the issue of many common legal and juridical myths or misunderstandings: the New Statesman tried to explain the situation with appreciated results.
Everybody should consider these key issues:
- Sweden adopted an arrest warrant complying with the present European Law. It’s a European arrest warrant, executed by the UK authorities that granted Mr. Assange several hearings and appeals, deciding to proceed after the examination of his legal team reports. Technically there’s no extradition: since 2004 the European arrest warrant is a common police legal instrument immediately executive on the whole EU territory.
- Swedish political or juridical authorities cannot give Mr. Assange any guarantee to refuse potential extradition requests coming from anywhere. Such a promise cannot be a binding decision for any juridical authority under any democratic system in the world. He’s asking the impossible.
- The concerns about a potential extradition in the US, and the consequent risks of death penalty sentences are partially groundless. The European Human Rights Court does not allow any extradition of citizens in case of countries applying the death penalty in their penal law.
Considering all the issues above, in my opinion it’s important to develop an exit strategy to avoid the present situation becoming a stalemate. Mr. Assange cannot ask the impossible while escaping the law in force in EU that would grant him a regular democratic trial, and would also protect his civil rights. The allegations don’t matter with his controversial journalistic activity through WikiLeaks, but his personal penal responsibilities as a European citizen.
If he will attend a regular trial, complying with the arrest warrant, it means that he’s trusting the reliable guarantees provided by the European law. A concrete request could instead be an appeal to political authorities of EU to monitor the situation and the correct execution of major law dispositions. It would be a noble gesture and a great transparency act. It would avoid the present frozen impasse of seeking a shelter in a pleasing embassy.
If WikiLeaks is really working for transparency and accountability, it would be a great, hopeful, encouraging indication of consistency and trustworthiness.