Julian Assange Seeks Asylum in Ecuador
On Tuesday the 19th June there was a new twist in the Julian Assange case. In an effort to avoid extradition to Sweden to face the charges around sexual assault he has sought asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
According to Assange there is more to the allegations emanating from Sweden than meets the eye. He says that the sexual relations with the women accusing him were in fact consensual and that the accusations are covering up attempts by the United States to file a case against him and extradite him.The biggest concern that Julian Assange says he faces is not answering the allegations in Sweden but that Sweden will allow him to be extradited to the United States where he could be on trial for treason and espionage, which can attract the death penalty.
Though the experts who are watching the saga unfold are a bit confused and have expressed some puzzlement as to the tactics that Assange is employing.
With the Swedes having a long history of neutral behaviour and of being a haven for United States draft dodgers it is not clear why they would be more likely to expedite extradition to the United States than the government of the United Kingdom.
On the other hand the UK has unique laws that enable the prosecution of journalists who do expose the official secrets of the country to the general public, laws that neither the United States or Sweden have in place to the same degree.
In fact in the US the publishing of secret documents is not illegal and there has not been a previously recorded case of a media organisation being prosecuted for doing so it is the person that leaks the information that is generally in the limelight and open to prosecution.
The view from Julian Assange regarding the Swedish judicial system instead talks about some of the reasons why he feels that they will extradite him, and why he will not receive an impartial hearing on the charges. These reasons include:
The fact that the extradition request from Sweden does not include charges laid and there is disparity between the women’s complaints. The criminal intent supposedly displayed by Assange is inferred by the prosecution rather than plainly stated within the complaints.
Sweden does not have any limit to how long he can be detained in prison without trial and Assange could remain in detention for an undefined period of time.
Any trial will not be held publically instead it will be in secret and an impartial tribunal will not be provided.
Neither Julian Assange nor his lawyers have been supplied with the allegations against him in writing by the prosecutor, which violates the Swedish Code of Procedure.
The Swedish Prime Minister has made a number of statements that reference the Assange trial during sessions of the Swedish Parliament. These could create prejudice against Assange.
Sweden has an agreement with the United States, which is bilateral, and under this agreement Julian Assange could be extradited to the United Sates upon arrival in Sweden.
As it currently stands Julian Assange is waiting for a decision from the Ecuador authorities as to whether they will grant him asylum or not, a decision which could take time.
In the meantime Assange is being housed in their London Embassy and can stay there as long as the decision is being considered, the difficulty could be if they do stay yes to the asylum moving him from UK territory to their own could be a tricky exercise in itself.