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back to article Lawyers fear Assange faces death penalty in US

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could be imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay or face the death penalty if he's extradited to the US, his attorneys argued in court papers released Tuesday. The document, which outlines the defense Assange's legal team intends to use next month at a hearing over Sweden's request for extradition, says …

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Black Helicopters

Easier to extradite from Sweden

I find the idea that it would be easier to extradite him from Sweden than it would be to get him from the UK.

I there anyone here who can explain (or reference) the basis for this claim?

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More difficult.

Not quite sure what you ask - but since an extradition request from the US to the UK would involve the UK deciding - yes or no - while an extradition request from the US to Sweden would involve BOTH Sweden and the UK to agree ...

Well. Getting him from Sweden is more difficult than directly from the UK, even by legal means.

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Treaties

The US-Sweden extradition treaty allows for extradition on suspicion of offences commited outside of the jurisdiction of the requesting nation and in some cases without the customary requirement that the offence for which extradition is requested be a punishable offence in both nations.

http://internationalextraditionblog.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/us-sweden-extradition-supplementary-treaty-35-ust-2501.pdf

http://internationalextraditionblog.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/us-sweden-extradition-treaty-14-ust-1845.pdf

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US Extradition Treaties

"The US-Sweden extradition treaty allows for extradition on suspicion of offences commited outside of the jurisdiction of the requesting nation and in some cases without the customary requirement that the offence for which extradition is requested be a punishable offence in both nations."

The US-UK treaty is similar. Additionally, the UK has form when it comes to handing people to the USA on request - think of the NatWest Three or involvements in renditions to Guantanamo Bay.

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Pure hype ...

Silly me.

I thought Sweden was its own country and has its own legal system. And Assange has already claimed his innocence. (This is the issue at hand.)

But if you're wondering about the US Government...

First the US Government knows that many if not all of the EU and other countries will not extradite a person when there's a potential for the death penalty. So usually for an extradition, the US has to agree that the death penalty is off the table. And to date, the US Government has not yet charged Assange with anything so what US extradition?

As to a CIA rendition ... I don't recall the US Government labeling Wikileaks a terrorist organization.

And Obama has already vowed to close down Guantanamo. So if anything... if there was a rendition... Bulgaria anyone?

This is pure fantasy on the part of Assange's lawyer. Don't blame him because he's doing his job. The question is if the English judges buy in to it...

Now tell me that Assange doesn't live in a fantasy world!

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Black Helicopters

You trust the CIA and the US to play by the rules!

As to a CIA rendition ... I don't recall the US Government labeling Wikileaks a terrorist organization.

Since when has that stopped the US and the CIA!

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Anonymous Coward

Rendition

Render unto Obama what is Obama's due.

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@Dagg

Seriously, you give the CIA too much credit.

And of course you probably don't know that the CIA has to act within the law. (Although there is a lot of gray area...)

You also give Assange too much credit.

As it has been pointed out ad nauseum, what Assange leaked was classified, yet nothing of great importance.

Assume you're right. The CIA might do something. Do a risk assessment. Assange isn't worth the risk. (Murphy's law... if something can go wrong ... it will go wrong.) The US Government is building a case against Assange. You can't say that there is no transparency. What you and other 'commentards' don't know is what information and what evidence the US Government has against Assange. Until the legal card is played out, there's no reason to plan anything.

If you were talking about the Russian spy network (remember Anna Chapman???), or the Mossad, I'd say they would be more adept at performing the dark spy arts than the CIA.

What you probably don't remember (If you were even alive back then...) is the failed attempt at the rescue of the American Iran Hostages when the Shah fell. Or the fact that the Clinton Administration pulled a Kennedy and cut the CIA's budget so they lost Human Intel capabilities and their effectiveness.

So please by all means keep the dark conspiracy alive. Over estimate the CIA ...

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The law ? Don't talk to me about the law ...

The CIA has to operate within the law, but that's no help if the government gets all elastic about it. After all if the British government could redefine Iceland as a terrorist organization in order to freeze their bank assets (they did, really, look it up) then defining Assange as a terrorist ought to be a doddle.

And torture is out of the question, though the US government redefined waterboarding as not torture, even though they themselves imprisoned Japanese for doing this during the second world war. So all they need to do is make it legal to apply the 'manual digit reshaping devices' (formerly known as thumbscrews) and 'readjust Assange's height specifications' (put him on the rack), and bingo, all is done within the law.

Or of course, the US govt could do as they did with Al Capone, and pass a law effective retroactively, which makes it a crime to have done something which was legal at the time.

But of course, this is as improbable as the Swedish government redefining the meaning of rape in order to get Assange extradited in the first place.

Isn't it?

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Troll

I wouldn't put anything past America.

They have proven on many occasions that there is nothing to which they will not sink if they feel their global dominance is under threat.

I also find it suspicious that Sweden is acting as a stepping stone in this extradition to America as Britain has a long held policy of never extraditing someone to face the death penalty.

Sending him to Sweden first negates that responsibility legally if not morally.

Icon because I assume that Ian Michael Gumby will immediately start trolling this comment and thread.

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Trust the US? No. But there's a but.

"Sending him to Sweden first negates that responsibility legally if not morally."

Incorrect. If we are speaking of legal acts, then Sweden - by its own laws - cannot extradite him to the US if the court here fears he'll be given the death penalty, tortured, or if there is a political component.

Besides, IF the US requested extradiction from Sweden, then (a) a Swedish court would have to judge the case, and (b) the *UK* would have to agree. Them's the laws.

Of course, one could argue that the US wouldn't give a damn, and that Sweden would fall in line, but since every single scrap of documentation in such a case would be, by default, public in Sweden, there'd have to be a hell of a lot of laws broken to achieve it.

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Anonymous Coward

Sweden ignores its own laws if told to do so by the USA

There are several well-known examples of that.

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@Sweden ignores its own laws

"There are several well-known examples of that."

Yeah, so well-known you don't mention any!

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Boffin

Too late...

Sorry, but my post got here first. :-P

What's interesting is that I call this pure hype and get thumbs down. Someone else says the exact same thing... thumbs up.

Assange's lawyer is doing his job and is trying to do anything that's within the law to keep his client out of jail.

The truth is that if the whole US issue was off the table and it was a matter of Assange facing the rape charges, he'd be in Sweden by now. There would be no grounds to fight the extradition.

This is why a lawyer in the UK who knows that the US would have to take the Death Penalty off the table if they wanted to extradite someone from the EU is making those remarks. He's just doing his job. Were I him, I'd probably do the same thing.

In truth, were Assange to face charges in the US, he'd get something like 20 years or less. Even Manning wouldn't get the death penalty.

And speaking of the death penalty... In Illinois the state is in the process of removing the death penalty. But please don't let the facts get in the way of your delusions.

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e.g.

Um, didn't they redefine their privacy laws a while back ...

a) To make it easier to intercept all internet communications passing through their country

and

b) To enable the passing of that info the the USA

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equip flail from the resident chill

There is no rape charge, and it's very unlikely that there will ever be one. There is no charge at all, actually, but if/when there is it will probably be a "sex by surprise" one, which bears a small fine as max penalty. That's if Sweden manages to change the law in time to make "sex without condom" fit in the sex by surprise law. They're essentially trying to extradite him over a parking ticket.

Sweden also made clear that they will surrender him to the US should they ask.

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"Sorry, but my post got here first. :-P"

"And speaking of the death penalty... In Illinois the state is in the process of removing the death penalty. But please don't let the facts get in the way of your delusions."

Espionage is a federal offence where state punishments don't apply, but don't let facts get in the way of your delusions about me having delusions.

Keep making ahit up, I find it quite entertaining.

Good to see your armchair psychotherapy can't resist on making another completely unfounded diagnosis.

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Boffin

@N&G

Perhaps you misunderstand that I'm trying to point out that the Death Penalty is going out of fashion. The reason that the state of IL is looking to remove the death penalty is that there were several death row cases involving innocent men who were convicted because of prosecution misconduct and/or DNA evidence cleared them. (Separate cases)

With respect to espionage. Can you recall the last time the Death Penalty was used in the US on an Espionage case? Hmmm I think back to the Rosenberg trial. Past that, I can't think of any.

The recent Espionage cases where US citizens sold secrets to foreign governments (80's and 90's) they all got long stiff prison sentences. Death penalty was never on the table.

Now if you had been paying attention, Espionage isnt' the only avenue that the US Government could prosecute Assange. The USDOJ already hinted at that and the US press pundits all agree that there are other options. So if Assange is charged not for Espionage but something else, the death penalty wouldn't be an option. (There are sentencing guidelines that the judges must use when sentencing a convicted felon.) Again making the death penalty a moot point.

But since you're keen on this death penalty issue, there is one case where IMHO the death penalty is appropriate. You did hear about the gunman in AZ? No insanity plea there.

So hopefully you've learned a little bit more about the US legal system.

(The more you know...)

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Assange a blowhard and Chicago the Windy City, but...

What laws of the State of Illinois is Assange supposed to have violated?

Has he even ever been in Illinois?

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Flame

Organized Crime, Terrorists, and Death Penalty

"In Illinois the state is in the process of removing the death penalty"

That is because metro area Chigago is the home of Organized Crime and Terrorists.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organized_crime_in_Chicago

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Ayers

The United States President rose from there, even though he had virtually no (~1/3'rd a year)political experience, with the only viable experience as being a "Community Organiser" that got a summer jobs program for teens and some asbestos removed from a building, quite by accident.

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/225564/what-did-obama-do-community-organizer/byron-york

It does not take a genius to figure out why the Death Penalty is hated by the people who perform the most heinous of crimes - they can continue to do their deadly work from prison with free rent, free health care, free tv, and free protection... and wait for a Pardon from a fellow liberal Democrat, like the way Democrat Jimmy Carter and Democrat Bill Clinton pardoned Communist Terrorists...

http://books.google.com/books?id=ZOfkAoDb_2IC&lpg=PA165&ots=-r3w4trOXl&dq=carter%20pardon%20terrorist&pg=PA165#v=onepage&q=carter%20pardon%20terrorist&f=false

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D06EED7133CF931A15752C0A9679C8B63

It amazes me that Democrats that run the system continue to contort the laws in the United States by making sure they can murder without lasting consequence, get rid of the Death penalty to avoid the justice they deserve, and then wait for a Communist sympathising Democrat to pardon them.

The way terrorists circles were frequented by Democratic American Presidents like Carter, Clinton, and Obama, makes me sick to my stomach.

Anything for a vote in the liberal American circles... throwing a lever for one of these people to get them elected soils the electorate hands with the blood of innocents.

Foreign press endorsing these murderers and panderers of murders are soiled with the same blood.

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That is the defense!? Really?

He might be rendered and get the death penalty!? Really. In the spotlight. What a lame defense. Perhaps that idea to seek asylum in Sweden as a whistleblower was, shall we say, shitty? Especially when you got too hot to handle. Then England gives up a Commonwealth subject like a kid who shot a spitball in class.

Off to Stockholm young Julian. Face your charges of shoving your willy in without a wrapper when the girls (that's plural) said no. You likely will get off...

Mister Assange, if your brand of whistleblowing actually accomplished anything other than media furor then I might support you. As it is, you do nothing other than draw attention to yourself. Freedom of speech... Whatever.

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@multpharious

If all he's done is create a "media furor", then you would have a valid point. Unfortunately, he seems to have uncovered some illegal goings on, including perverting the course of justice, which you conveniently seem to be unaware of:

http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=4215

But hey, I expect your attitude is everyone does it, so why shouldn't the US.

Well if the State ignores the law, what exactly is the incentive for anyone else to take any notice of it?

If you want another example of "those who think they're above the law", have a look at this example of state backed criminal behaviour, and see if you still think its such a good thing for the whistleblowers just to shut up (this one might actually affect you):

http://www.philstockworld.com/2011/01/10/fear-and-loathing-on-wall-street-catastrophic-implications-for-banks-of-the-ibanez-case-ruling/

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Unhappy

Whistle while you work...

That is truly a frightening article. I'm curious as to how this will affect us outside of the U.S., particularly Canada (which has some close ties itself).

Whistleblowing for the greater good of the people == good.

Whistleblowing against the greater good of the people == bad.

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@AC - Missing my point

My statement is that there is nothing really surprising in what is being touted as a leak. I have been more than interested in "conspiracy" for quite some time...and this tripe he is publishing ain't it.

Oh my, Gaddafi has a hot blonde nurse. Goodness. Stop the presses.

The Ibanez ruling is the example you bring to the table? Are you associated with WikiLeaks?

When you are done reading

Corporate Crime and Violence: Big Business Power and the Abuse of the Public Trust

1988 by Richard Mokhiber

Please come back for a discussion. I read this 20 years ago.

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That's only part of his defence

Dan Goodin has chosen the most sensationalist part of the defence argument, but it's only one of several arguments. Most of it involves the improper use of extradition in that (a) he hasn't been charged and (b) the Swedish authorities haven't done the extradition order correctly.

Assange's lawyers have gone for the blunderbuss approach of putting down anything they can think of in the hope that something will stick. The lawyers are doing their job, in other words.

" Face your charges of shoving your willy in without a wrapper when the girls (that's plural) said no."

That's the point: he hasn't been charged. Sweden are trying to extradite him for an interview, which according to the defence isn't a legitimate use of extradition.

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@multipharious

Very good point.

Whistle blowing... the biggest and well known case was PGE's Chromium-6 dump. And even today we're still seeing the after effects. The EPA is now testing water in and around Chicago and other major cities for levels of Chromium-6 (Chromium Hexavalate?)

That's Whistle blowing.

Price Fixing of products? Again Whistle blowing. (Corn Products, Memory Chips, etc...)

What has Wikileaks done?

Google and read the articles in 'The New Yorker', 'Vanity Fair', 'The Guardian' and other newspapers around the world. I'm talking about accredited journalists and not some conspiracy nut blog post.

I'm all for true whistle blowing.

But Assange isn't about that.

Read up on the articles about Assange threatening to sue 'Grauniad' (Guardian) over the leaks from his 'organization'.

He's a con man and many of the commentards have bought in to his con.

Oh and one more thing... Can Gaddafi file a medical insurance claim if he's getting a 'theraputic' massage from his Ukrainian 'nurse' if it includes a 'happy ending'?

(That's one question I have based on the information Wikileaks published from the cables....)

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Actually, part of the problem most of the world has with the Swedish rape charges

is that the girls DIDN'T object at the time, they changed their minds AFTERWARD. In fact, they only changed their minds when he became an internationally renowned figure.

Now, the kool-aid drinkers who keep posting on this site believe that's because the women are CIA stooges who are trying to get him extradited to the US. In fact the women are fellow anarchists who have a different sacred cow: all sex is the rape of women. Which is actually sufficient to explain why the case changed jurisdiction in Sweden and got reinstated after a moderately sane prosecutor dropped the previously filed charges. Trust me on this, the CIA is too incompetent to have planned this ahead of time, or paid them off after the fact.

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@Tom 13

>>"is that the girls DIDN'T object at the time, they changed their minds AFTERWARD. In fact, they only changed their minds when he became an internationally renowned figure."

So he suddenly became famous one week when he'd been a nobody the week before?

Or maybe the WOMAN whose flat he was staying at, who seemed to be involved in organising his visit, didn't actually know who he was at first?

And the accusations (not charges) seem to be that there wasn't proper consent for unprotected sex.

His defence may well be to argue that there was, and that the accusations are the result of some later change of mind, or even outright lies, for whatever reason, but it's not really possible at the moment for anyone else to say what consent may or may not have been given.

>>"In fact the women are fellow anarchists who have a different sacred cow: all sex is the rape of women."

Which I guess will be news to any men they've slept with previously who they haven't reported to the police.

Presumably they were just waiting until they'd screwed someone famous enough, (though according to you, it took them a while to work out that they had, *despite* being fellow anarchists).

And even then, the original police contact is claimed to have been in the hope that the police could get Assange to take a HIV test, rather than to press charges.

Possibly that was all some kind of cunning double-bluff, but I do trend to get a bit suspicious when all manner of things are being claimed to be ruses or bluffs by one or other person who doesn't seem to know the facts any better than anyone else.

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@Ian - You have -23 and I have -22

That is proper whistle blowing. It is astounding that companies can disappear and leave States and communities to foot the bill for the cleanup. These folks walk. They poison an entire watershed and walk.

It looks like these wiener boy ACs have their first conspiracy, and think that JA is their "come from heaven" pop culture messiah they need to defend like some Christ figure. Save your tithe. I remember discovering a cool band back in the day and thinking I ruled. These ACs probably don't even have a properly shielded tinfoil hat in their closet and have never heard the clicks on the phone line nor seen the fishsticks melt.

"Needle nose..up my nose...AH! Where are all these wires coming from!? How far up in my head do they go!? I pull out more and more copper spaghetti!" - LARD "Can God Fill Teeth?" on "The Last Temptation of Reid"

I have gotten nailed to the tune of 22 downvotes so far for saying WikiLeaks is worthless tripe (using my own moniker.) I have not contributed to their downvote stats with my own paltry and petty single vote slag...though I probably should for all the lame-o, newbie, conspiracy snipe ACs that lurk around these WikiLeaks forums here on El Reg. When you newbies grow up you will discover a world much more horrid than you think... The old school is amused by your downvotes. (but we think you suck)

If WikiLeaks were actually worthy of attention (like Ian Michael Gumby is mentioning regarding dumping) then I would support it, but middle school diplomatic wires about silly susie said such and such? It accomplishes nothing other than agitation without substance. What are you defending? The right to do what...exactly?

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Happy

I would actually trust the Sweden justice...

I would not be surprised if the whole thing was just about "following the rules". I.e. they are absolutely unwilling to change the way things would be done if he was just Joe Nobody. It is quite likely that they would refuse interrogating him at his convenience, be it in the UK or by video. So, following the rules, they ask for extradition the way they would with anybody else.

In that case, all this grandstanding about rendition would be nothing but paranoia from his part. Of course, you have good reasons to be paranoid when you pissed off the US so much...

I hope he gets extradited, then receives a fine and a few months with probation, as one would expect for such conduct. I would be laughing long and loud.

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Why?

In the article I quote "Assange hasn't been charged with any crime."

Your comment quote "I hope he gets extradited, then receives a fine and a few months with probation, as one would expect for such conduct. I would be laughing long and loud."

So you have decided (without knowing the man) that he is guilty of a crime that he has not been charged with. Yes allegations have been made and he has offered to talk to them but no charges.

I also think that this is now to tainted in the public eye. How is a jury (if one is needed) supposed to be unaffected by the press on this?

I don't know the man and he may be a big douch-bag but come on, would you like to be treated like this if the roles were reversed?

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I think you missed the point

"So you have decided (without knowing the man) that he is guilty of a crime that he has not been charged with. Yes allegations have been made and he has offered to talk to them but no charges."

I'm just guessing, but I think what the OP meant was that there's all this bother, massive news story, worries about extradition to the US and execution, etc, and then what happens is he gets 100 hours community service in Sweden, and then let go.

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Jury tainting

Surely that's the whole point.

Assange is staging a huge media drama so that he can claim jury tainting and any trial should be null and void.

If he was really interested in a fair trial, he would have immediately cooperated with the cops and kept everything low-key.

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@Charles Manning -- Fair trial

What has he been *charged* with that requires a trial exactly?

From what I've seen, he bent over backwards to cooperate with the Swedish prosecutor (no police were involved), and was rebuffed....

Also, the evidence surrounding the need for him to be *interviewed* was leaked to the press by the *prosecutor*'s office... so how is it that you are blaming Assange for not keeping it low-key?

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WTF?

Does he think we're retarded or something?

Lets see... He is presently in a country that regularly allowed extraordinary rendition flights to land at its airports until plane spotters blew the whistle. A country where a mostly harmless and rather stupid hacker has been fighting for several years not to be extradited to America. Yet he is worried the Swedish will hand over to the Americans?

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Sir

"He is presently in a country that regularly allowed extraordinary rendition flights to land at its airports"

No-one was rendered from the UK though.

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I grant you that

However, we do know that UK intel passed info to the Merkins so suspects could be rendered from less image-conscious countries.

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Anonymous Coward

Publicity seems to hinder rendition

"He is presently in a country that regularly allowed extraordinary rendition flights to land at its airports until plane spotters blew the whistle."

So kicking up a fuss about the possibility of being extradited to the US, either directly or indirectly, seems to be an effective way of preventing it. (Gary what's-his-name would have been extradited long ago if it wasn't for the publicity).

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Big Brother

The United Fascist States of America

Of course he'll be tortured and treated like a terrorist. If you don't agree with the US government or dare speak out against them--it's the American way to torture and completely violate the Geneva Conventions.

Please take a moment to educate yourselves about how the US is becoming more and more a fascist country than an open theocracy/democracy. Search the net for "The End of America" and check out the interviews with Naomi Wolf on Youtube. You will be surprised how history is repeating itself right before our very eyes.

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Joke

Don't be silly!

Of course the USA wouldn't put him in Guantanamo - it's not like he was ever friends with someone who sold a sandwich to a guy who knew someone who looked like Osama ...

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Stop

Oh come on...

I'm not a huge fan of the States either, but they still have as good if not better protection of free speech than pretty much every country. The difference is that they're, for better or for worse, the most powerful (and loudest) country around and so make a big, easy-to-hit target.

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Black Helicopters

Technically correct...

but the US's record isn't quite as good as you (or they) might think.

Reporters Sans Frontieres rated the States as 20th on its Press Freedom Index for 2010 - well ahead of France and Italy (who have big problems at the moment), but behind Estonla (9th) and Lithuania (11th), and barely ahead of Namibia (21st).

For the record: the UK came in at 19, and Sweden was joint top...

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... and Free Speech Zones

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_speech_zone

You have the right to say anything, but the government has the right to control where, when and how you say it.

So sure, you can say xxxx, but you must go into your basement after 2am and whisper into the corner.

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WTF?

@lain 14

Uhm Estonia? Lithuania?

We have counties in some states that are larger (by size and/or by population) than those countries.

While the US Government has this thing called the First Amendment there are some things which are not protected speech. At the same time, the US Government has learned from past experience that there has to be some restrictions concerning the press and what gets reported.

If you look at the US and UK, there is this concept of 'Yellow Journalism' or sensationalizing the news for the sake of selling news papers. William Randall Hurst ring a bell? Something at small postage stamp sized countries don't have to deal with.

Oh and 20th out of how many countries? 192 or so? (I've lost count and if the Sudan vote goes the way the press is reporting, they'll be a separate country...)

Not bad.

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Ah ...

I assume that means he has retained local counsel. Only an American Lawyer could say this with a straight face.

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Extradition Treaties

On paper he might be safer in Sweden, given that obnoxious little treaty that allows the US to request extradition from the UK with a fairly low barrier. Ask Gary McKinnon...

Or have the Swedes bent over even further than the UK did?

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@Number6

>>"given that obnoxious little treaty that allows the US to request extradition from the UK with a fairly low barrier. Ask Gary McKinnon..."

Ask a guy who has already admitted guilt about how a treaty is bad because it has a low standard of proof?

Whatever McKinnon's valid complaints might be, the required standard of evidence in the treaty isn't really one of them.

I guess everyone's different, but I find that a poor argument presented with a clutch of others tends to make the others look more suspect, rather than stronger.

Hence Mark Stephens' media grandstanding with regard to the death penalty doesn't actually make a good impression.

He knows perfectly well that there couldn't be an extradition from Britain *or* Sweden without appropriate assurances being made, and hence it's just hot air, though after his previous [reported] comments about honeytraps, I guess that kind of thing isn't much of a surprise.

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Sir

"Whatever McKinnon's valid complaints might be, the required standard of evidence in the treaty isn't really one of them"

Really? What about inflating the amount of damages incurred so that it met the extradition criteria? Or doesn't that count?

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@david wilson

Don't confuse them with facts and logic.

The fact that McKinnon has been able to use the system and to fight extradition for so long shows that the system works. (Isn't McKinnon's defense an affirmative defense?)

With respect to the honeytraps... didn't they drop those claims after the Guardian reporter outed the fact that Assange's Swedish defense team had access to the information of which Assange was being questioned about?

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