Thinking Your Way Through a Labyrinth of Contemporary Issues

Julain Assange, and the reality of Swedish extradition.


I’ve been following the three most talked about whistle-blowers since I first heard about them – Edward Snowden the former NSA employee who is still languishing in Russia, after revealing to journalist Glenn Greenwald the full extent of the NSA spying surveillance. Bradley Manning the former US soldier who is in prison after giving US military files to Wikileaks. This leaves Julian Assange. Currently hold up in the Ecuadorian embassy.

Now some arguments have been that it would be easier for the UK to deport him to the US. That is if the US theoretically asked to have him extradited from the UK. And if he ends up in Sweden facing the allegations of ‘sex crimes’ it would be harder. This is not necessarily true.

While the UK does have an extradition treaty with the US, the UK is a bigger country politically speaking to be able to turn down such a request from the US. This was evidenced with the case of Gary McKinnon, a UK citizen who had hacked into NASA and US military computers.

Though the basis for this was the Gary McKinnon was a UK citizen and Theresa May perhaps had an added sense of value for Gary McKinnon based on this fact, he was ‘one of our own’ after all, coupled with his Asperger’s syndrome, of which subsequently prevented him being sent to the US. The point here is that the UK does have the political power to say ‘no’ to any extradition request from the US, Sweden on the other hand has less power in that respect.

So the fear remains for Julian Assange that if he does get sent to Sweden he will end up, at some point being sent to the US. We do know that the revelations that have come out from Wikileaks have been an embarrassment to the US. All the more reason that the US, just as in the case with Edward Snowden, Gary McKinnon and the now incarcerated  Bradley Manning will undoubtedly be seeking justice with Julian Assange, of which he himself being the latest person to face charges of revealing the truth.

Now there are arguments that Julian Assange is hiding behind this ‘hypothetical’ fear of being sent to the US as an elaborate excuse to avoid facing a Swedish court over the alleged sexual misconduct crimes. Whether this is true or not is irrelevant, if the Swedish authorities are unwilling to guarantee Julian Assange a ‘no extradition agreement’ with the US, then he does have a basis for arguing he cannot go to Sweden.

As Michael Ratner has argued in this video:

“Well, the main thing is that Julian would have gone to Sweden a long time ago had he gotten a guarantee from Sweden that they will not forward him to the United States for standing trial on the espionage charges. Sweden has never been willing to give that guarantee. And Sweden has a very bad reputation of complying with U.S. demands, whether it was sending some people from Sweden to Egypt for torture or whether it’s guaranteeing people who are asylees in Sweden that they won’t be deported.”

Should Sweden guarantee he will not be extradited to the US then he must face the charges. Though the crimes of the US military were worse than the charges Julian Assange is facing, I do not believe one type of crime supersedes another in respect to evading justice. Julian Assange must face the charges before he is able to travel to Ecuador but on the sole basis that there is a guarantee that there is no extradition to the US from Sweden.

Wikileaks would after all conveniently be doing its job in the Western world of media and politics if revelations had been revealed about Russia in it’s role in Ukraine or Chechnya or any revelations about Iran being involved in any questionable actions.

There has even been a sense that patriotism has played a role in people’s perceptions of Julian Assangne’s situation, this is evidenced by the comments that have been formed on the Daily Mail website. Many comments by it’s reader’s prior to the UN’s involvement have been in support of Julian Assange’s plight, the minute that the rhetoric has changed to the UN saying the UK are wrong in forcing arbitrary detention Julian Assange, many readers to the Daily Mail have viewed this as more ‘pesky meddling’ from outside powers.

From the point of view from the average UK citizen the argument thus becomes ‘Why should the UN be telling us what to do?’. This has been a carefully orchestrated  maneuverer whereby the media have being putting patriotism to the front of the national mind-set and no reasonable discussion can take place when ‘someone else is telling us what we can and can’t do’ – in the UK.

Julian Assange should face the charges, both the US and Sweden though must guarantee that he will not be facing extradition to the US. No crime has being committed unless you count telling the truth as an argument for it being a crime.

Though I believe the situation with Bradley Manning is to be seen from a different angle, I understand that he was in a position of responsibility and though I don’t agree with his incarceration, I do understand that he like Edward Snowden were both placed in a position of trust, albeit arguments for when to suspend that  working relationship of trust in the face of morally wrong actions from workplaces are nonetheless arguments for another day .

Julian Assange though is an outsider to this, having never been a part of the US military or any other affiliated organisation where secrecy is part of the job. He has done the right thing revealing the true face of war and thus should not face any charges of whistleblowing, his other charges of sexual misconduct, though as mentioned should be faced, but only with a guarantee of a visit to Sweden and not then on to another country via extradition. If anyone is in doubt about the importance of whistleblowing, they may need to be reminded of this video showing the true face of war.


Oliver Wilson, (2016)

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