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back to article WikiLeaks' Assange 'very likely' to lose extradition fight

An expert in UK extradition law says it's “very likely” that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will lose his battle against extradition to Sweden, where he's wanted for questioning in an investigation into rape and sexual assault allegations. Julian Knowles, a barrister for law firm Matrix Chambers and the author of books on …

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Megaphone

His loss is our loss

Why? Because anyone here in this forum, any geek, nerd, business owner, any person with a little bit of common sense, every single journalist, news publisher and every human that thinks the internet is supposed to be for everyone is losing the fight against censorship, corruption and bureaucracy.

Sweden is just a big disappointment. UK and US, of course, already lost their way a long time ago, so no need to kick the dead horse.

If Assange loses, we all lose.

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No great loss

If you have sensitive information that you want to place anonymously on the Internet, there are plenty of ways to do so (most of which existed prior to the appearance of Assange) that don't require giving a free ride to a narcissistic self-publicist.

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Coat

It is quite frightening

At the start of this, he was viewed as eccentric, and the majority of people, when told of what was happening (re Sweden, not Wikileaks) thought it was ridiculous, how could anyone possibly think he could be extradited just to talk, when he had extended his stay in Sweden to do so and had been effectivley shunned by the prosecture with charges eventually dropped.

Now, fast forward to today. We have had a steady feed of what at the start seemed like innuendo too stupid to even consider, that we all ignored, but which through repetition, the masses are now starting to accept. We have a conflation of the alleged rape and Wikileaks releases until many just lump it all in together and label him as a bad lot and therefore we don't care what happens and yes he should be extradited, even to the USA.

Things are being said like "until he has proved his innocence" and no one is baulking at it. How does any one of us prove our innocence of anything? Let alone something we have not yet been charged with?

How can we have got into a situation where we can be considering extradition so that someone from another country can talk to someone from the UK? Why can't the Swedish prosecutor get on a plane and talk to him here, in a police station if necessary and determine if they want to charge or not and then request extradition if he is charged and the evidence stacks up, and if he refuses to go?

It is is ridiculous, but as I say, the frightening part is that it is all becoming believable and it is starting to be accepted as normal. Who will be next I wonder.

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@AC 12:04

>>", when he had extended his stay in Sweden to do so and had been effectivley shunned by the prosecture with charges eventually dropped."

Lots of people repeat that claim, but were the charges actually 'dropped' before he left Sweden (though since it seems he wasn't actually charged at any point, do you mean 'the investigation was officially dropped'?)

Is there a reliable source of information for exactly what was said before he left Sweden, and I do mean the ultimate source, not merely someone else on a web forum saying one or other thing is what they have been told happened, whether it's 'he was told the investigation had been terminated and so it's now unfair' or 'he promised to return if asked and has broken his promise', or something in between?

There doesn't seem to be much point people arguing one way or another based on information of unknown reliability about the basic history of the case.

>>"...but which through repetition, the masses are now starting to accept."

Indeed.

Though surely that's something that works both ways?

>>"Things are being said like "until he has proved his innocence" and no one is baulking at it. How does any one of us prove our innocence of anything?"

I suppose in a more general hypothetical case, a suspect might be able to demonstrate innocence (in the sense of 'beyond reasonable doubt') during questioning by producing an impeccable alibi or suchlike, and in such a case the idea of 'demonstrating innocence' isn't necessarily a bad one - if someone publicly known to be a suspect was released and there was a police/prosecutor statement that they had demonstrated their innocence, that might be better for the individual than simply being released without comment.

But in *this* case, where it seems to be one person's word against another, it does make one wonder what could demonstrate innocence, unless he videoed the relevant encounters.

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I looked it up once upon a time, or saw a news report about.

Yes, the charges were legitimately dropped. But they have also legitimately been reinstated at the request of the original complaintant(s).

Yes, the charges are the patently stupid result of a patently stupid law. But that's the thing about electing people who make patently stupid laws; you're stuck having to uphold them after they are passed. And what happens when you hang around with people bent on exploiting those patently stupid laws for their own purposes.

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Anonymous Coward

@Tom13

>>"I looked it up once upon a time, or saw a news report about.

Yes, the charges were legitimately dropped. But they have also legitimately been reinstated at the request of the original complaintant(s)."

Not in the sense that people keep repeating.

Loads of people seem to say 'charges were dropped, he left Sweden and then charges were reinstated (often claimed to be 'months later')"

In fact, 'charges' weren't dropped. 'Charges' never happened.

What happened was an arrest warrant for questioning was issued by one prosecutor and rescinded by a second.

The second prosecutor apparently had a different view on how serious an offence the claimed events might constitute, or might be pursued as, but even the second prosecutor didn't drop the whole investigation. Given that they hadn't even talked to Assange at that point, that's probably not surprising.

Then a third prosecutor was assigned after complaints from the accusers' lawyer who seems to have taken a line more like the first one, but that doesn't seem to be an unprecedented occurrence

Some people seem to be (wrongly) claiming 'charges were dropped' to justify Assange leaving Sweden, but all the changes of prosecutor, etc took place over a very short space of time, and long before he left Sweden.

And it's a fact that the authorities were trying to arrange an interview with Assange at the point he left Sweden, as his lawyers admitted in court.

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SimonLeigh

This is absurd. The girls were worried that he is HIV positive. Is he? If he's been tested and is OK, the girls will surely withdraw their charges. If he refuses to be tested he's an idiot.

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@SimonLeigh

>>"If he's been tested and is OK, the girls will surely withdraw their charges."

Assuming for the moment that they are acting in good faith, even if the HIV test was the only reason for them originally going to the police, I guess many people might be reluctant to help someone who's said the things he's said.

I could certainly imagine some people in that situation saying "fuck him!" whatever he does/says now.

To the extent that there's been escalation, it doesn't exactly seem to have all been down to them.

And if they aren't acting in good faith...

So, whatever the truth is, it does seem to be something that's maybe gone a bit beyond the point of just forgetting the whole thing..

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Anonymous Coward

Wow

Was anyone surprised by this?

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Not really...

But this "Unless he can demonstrate his innocence ahead of trial, he will be tried."

Is this prosecutor an alumnus of the 'Khomeini School Of Criminal Prosecution' ?

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@Peter R. 1

It's certainly hard to see how in *this* case *he* could demonstrate innocence in the investigation, though it's fairly easy to see how in a criminal investigation in general, a suspect may be able to 'demonstrate innocence' by giving information leading to exonerating evidence.

Surely, investigations *frequently* work with greater or lesser suspicions of guilt, rather than assumptions of innocence?

Investigations don't work like court cases.

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Your lawyer is as good as the defence he puts.

I suspect Assanage has hired losers to defend himself. US couldn't extradite Polansky and Sweden can ?

This will probably not affect wikileaks much though. If mainstream media did not sell as cheap as it does nowadays, probably there wouldn't have been a wikileaks. But the Gvts and corps decided to milk the media to the extent that alternative media is alive and kicking!

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Grenade

"Viva la Informacion" No.

"Viva la Piñata!!!"

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Pint

Buh buh Jules

Have a nice trip back to the land of snow and consensual sechs.

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There may be just a teensy bit of bias in this expert's opinion...

Just thought I'd point out that Julian Knowles, the barrister quoted at length here, works at the Matrix Chambers - along with his good buddy Clare Montgomery, the CPS prosecutor at the extradition hearing. I think Mr Knowles might be just bigging up his work buddy and hoping she'll win....

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A Firm with Form, and none Prime in IT and Virtual and Vitally Important Communications Matter?

Re .... "There may be just a teensy bit of bias in this expert's opinion"... Arbed12, Posted Wednesday 23rd February 2011 22:59 GMT

Always a possibility, Arbed12, and is there an unpleasant history of dodgy, self-serving practitioners into the support of fantastic tales and/or bare-faced lies infecting as if as in a viral infestation, the Matrix gene pool? ........ http://www.matrixlaw.co.uk/Members/61/Cherie%20Booth.aspx

And shared here as questions because statements would be too confusing and/or render the fool, a merry dance in circles in which they are not qualified to perform and deliver other than Sub Prime Administerially.

And Dan, surely it must be both inexcusably unprofessional and pathetically unethical for a barrister to offer such an opinion at such a time, for it is bound to raise the spectre of subliminal judicial interference, which may be some conniving ploy/cunning plan/conspiratorial plot to have things start all over again .... as a nice little earner. Is there a cash flow/liquidity problem and/or an Intellectual Property deficit at work here/there/in the Matrix?

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Anonymous Coward

Wrong!

There's no bias. At least not on the part of Knowles.

You have to realize that the burden of proof is on Assange to show that the extradition request isn't valid.

Knowles points to the weakness in Assange's lawyer's arguments and the fact that some of the key witnesses got embarrassed under cross.

So yes the person who signed the EAW has the legal right to sign EAWs.

Yes the Swedes intend to charge Assange.

That pretty much kills the defense's strongest arguments to invalidate the EAW.

In addition to everything else the defense tried to raise...

* The US DoJ is still investigating Assange and his association to Manning. No charges have yet been filed therefore no threat of extradition. (Oh and of course the fact that if there was any extradition, the death penalty is a non-starter.)

* Assange's Swedish counsel did admit that while he was in constant contact with the Swedish investigators, he was mysteriously out of contact with Assange for 6 days and on the day an arrest warrant was being issued, Assange was leaving Sweden. (Ooops! Counsel 'lied' in earlier documents.)

The rest of the defense was an attempt to air their case in the court of public opinion.

So Knowles isn't biased.

Also note that he did hedge his bet by using language like ... "I think it's very likely that the Swedish prosecutor will prevail and extradition will be ordered by the senior district judge,”

Very likely means he's less than 100% certain, but probably > 75% certain.

(Assuming that > 50% means likely, very likely would be > 75%)

Sorry, but my bet is Assange is going bye-bye...

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Megaphone

It really is very worrying ...

... how many people think that a defendant has to "prove their innocence". Blair and his foul cohorts should be brought to justice for deliberately allowing this ignorance to go unchallenged.

Now, repeat after me: "Everyone is innocent unless proven guilty beyond all reasonable doubt", and keep repeating it until it becomes ingrained in your very personality. Then, go out and fight to make sure that every instance of perverted justice that seeks to take that away is nothing but a bad memory.

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@AC

>>"I was under the impression it was actually upto the Swedes to prove they had a valid case for extradition."

Then it looks like you need to research European Arrest Warrants.

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@Intractable Potsherd

>>"how many people think that a defendant has to "prove their innocence".

Note:

'defendant' - someone on trial (presumed innocent by the court)

'suspect' - someone subject to an investigation (*not* 'presumed innocent' by the investigators)

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Innocence is assumed in court,

never in the selection for prosecution.

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And some twits

need to learn the difference between trials and extraditions. He will be presume innocent in court, but that happens AFTER extradition.

Now what you all seem so worried about is that the US will extradite him from Sweden after he arrives there. Fear not, no one in the current administration is sufficiently competent to accomplish that.

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Grenade

@AC re Huh? Posted Thursday 24th February 2011 12:04 GMT

"You have to realize that the burden of proof is on Assange to show that the extradition request isn't valid."

I guess innocent until proven guilty doesn't exist in your troll world?

-=-

I guess you really don't know anything about the legal system.

In a criminal trial, the presumption is innocent until proven guilty.

There wont be a criminal trial until Assange gets to Sweden and gets formally charged and the trial process starts.

We're talking about Assange fighting an EAW. Here the law is that the burden of proof is on Assange to show that the EAW is not valid. That is, the courts are presented with a document and it is assumed to be valid until you can prove that its not.

Your impression is wrong. Its actually the reverse. The Swedes presented the EAW, and on the face of the document, the UK courts determined that it was valid. Assange's lawyers are challenging that finding so you have an appeal to the extradition.

So the burden of proof is on Assange to show that the EAW is faulty.

Unfortunately for Assange its not.

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Grenade

Re: There may be just a teensy bit of bias in this expert's opinion...

"Just thought I'd point out that Julian Knowles, the barrister quoted at length here, works at the Matrix Chambers - along with his good buddy Clare Montgomery, the CPS prosecutor at the extradition hearing. I think Mr Knowles might be just bigging up his work buddy and hoping she'll win...."

Bigging it up or not, it appears that he may have been correct. Also I fail to see the connection here between reality and "hoping she'll win", and what point you were striving to make. Dids't think that bigging it up might make the judge do the deed?

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WTF?

Curiouser and curiouser

Seems odd.

Not that Assange might lose the hearing, but that a separate extradition request from the USA might "win the day". Ignoring the posturing from the likes of the cretinous Alaska woman and her chums -- do we really think the septics are so stupid as to create a martyr over this? Whatever they do to Assange, Cryptome, Wikileaks, and any number of the next generation will continue releasing material into a world where govt information leaks are at or near the top of the news agenda thanks to the Julian Assange Martyrdom Show. Doesn't make sense.

Or maybe this Knowles guy knows fuck all about fuck all.

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Anonymous Coward

Hard to be a martyr

Martyr? With all the bad press, unwarranted or not, that suddenly popped around him (court, books, even the BBC Panorama was quite bad) I doubt it would give him a long lasting martyrdom outside of some Internet corners.

Would also send a message to everyone everywhere of "leak whatever you want, except if it fucks with the good ol' US of A"

That is unless those insurance files are really juicy... ummm.

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Nah

> Martyr? With all the bad press, unwarranted or not...

Yes martyr. Kill or imprison a person for exposing truth (no matter what their motivation) and all the bad press in the world won't swing public opinion against them. Whether it is long-lasting or not, surely US govt can see they would not be doing themselves any favours by hounding him.

If a US extradition request came in and snaked him out from under the Swedish beak (a possibility this Knowles guy is positing) then there's no justice seen to be done in Sweden, just about every conspiracy theory going gets instantly confirmed, and the Assange saga suddenly rockets off in a whole new direction with the world's media chasing it. Best outcome I can see as far as they are concerned is that he gets extradited to Sweden, found guilty of the current grubby charges, is utterly discredited and can then be dealt with quietly a few years down the line one way or another.

Then again as you point out there are always the insurance files.

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Anonymous Coward

Bradley Manning

Haven't they done that already to Bradley Manning?

Can't see much good done to him, where's the public there?

Assange, if left just to public and media, will just end up the same way.

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Boffin

Huh?

"Yes martyr. Kill or imprison a person for exposing truth (no matter what their motivation) and all the bad press in the world won't swing public opinion against them. Whether it is long-lasting or not, surely US govt can see they would not be doing themselves any favours by hounding him."

Sorry, but to date, Wikileaks hasn't done a good job of 'exposing the truth'.

According to the NYT, the video released by Assange was edited to not show the insurgent with the RPG.

There were no 'leaks' of even a suggestion of wrong doing in either the after action reports or the diplomatic cables.

As to your assertion of an impending US extradition... LOL... they're still too early in their investigation. My guess is that if Assange gets extradited tomorrow and doesn't continue to fight it, he'll be done with his trial in Sweden before he gets charged in the US, assuming that the US can charge him...

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Coat

There is no US charges...

Look,

Assange is a fscking twit.

The followers of St. Julian of ASSange don't seem to get it that Julian hasn't done any whistle blowing and the only thing he's done is promote Julian.

I've said this a couple of times already.

I'm all for real whistle blowing.

* Oracle over charging the US government millions on licensing.

* Chromium-6 in our water system(s).

* Unhealthy handling practices in our food supply chain.

(Chicken and Beef producers)

* Chicago Metra trains air pollution in and around Union Station

* Blago and other IL politicos being crooked. (So what else is new?)

Stuff like that.

Abu Ghraib and other military whistle blowers too.

But that's not Wikileaks nor Assange.

As to Wikileaks?

Look at what his 'whistle blowers' are facing. Jail Time.

IMHO Openleaks has a better model. They're just the drop box who then lets the real professionals vet the material and publish what they find to be true.

And that's another thing. Assange doesn't care who he hurts along the way. Don't take my word for it. Just check out excerpts from the books written about him.

So its midnight my time... lets see what the UK Judge has to say.

Mine's the coat with betting slips that say Julian is going to go buh-buy since day 1. ;-)

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Sigh

Where did I assert anything about impending US charges? I just pointed out it would be ridiculous for them to attempt extradition _as posited by Knowles_

I agree he has no case to answer in the US, so down off the high horse.

You could argue relative truthiness until blue in the face, but two small points I would make to that: 1) any bending of the truth done by wikileaks pales in comparison with that done by governments 2) edited or not, it isn't fabricated.

Manning never had the media circus surrounding him that Assange now has. Afaik, he was taken straight from active service in Iraq to military detention in America. I think it would be difficult to draw any meaningful comparison between him and Assange.

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If it has been editted to remove exhonorating evidence

it IS fabricated. In point of fact, even here in the US of A where the court standards are much lower than they are in Old Blighty, that is called LIBEL or SLANDER depending on the exact means of defamation.

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incorrect ..

it's perfectly standard practice to edit information towards one view or another .. and also to not mention exonerating prose in publishing .. libel and slander require a falsehood being published or spoken publicly .. the offended party can publish it's own exonerating "facts" ..

libel and slander are civil offenses .. not crimes .. and I don't think a US government entity can sue for libel nor slander .. only individuals or private associations of individuals

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@blackworx

>>"If a US extradition request came in and snaked him out from under the Swedish beak (a possibility this Knowles guy is positing) then there's no justice seen to be done in Sweden, just about every conspiracy theory going gets instantly confirmed"

But surely, the way conspiracy theories work, they're *always* confirmed, since they just mould round whatever evidence was available?

The accusations against Assange are declared suspicious because they came from two people (while if they'd come from one it would have been 'only one' and if from more than two, would 'obviously' be a setup).

Had the accusations been stronger, that would have been suspicious on the basis that it was more unusual behaviour, but as it is, they're suspicious because there seems to be some sordid greyness to them, or because 'they're not really criminal at all, except *technically*'.

They're suspicious because there was a difference of opinion between prosecutors about the initial arrest warrant and the potential seriousness of the offence, but unanimity would also be seen as suspicious. As we know, anyone seemingly 'on Assange's side' is evidence that there are good people as well as the conspiracy (the exception that proves the rule), whereas the lack of anyone on his side shows how comprehensive the conspiracy is.

Had he been arrested at the beginning, that would be proof they wanted to frighten him out of later publication, but if action is taken after publication, it's obviously revenge.

Had he been kept in Sweden, that would obviously have been proof of them holding him for the Americans, since otherwise he would have 'obviously' gone somewhere he would have been safe even though in fact he didn't.

Etc.

If Assange did end up being found Not Guilty in Sweden and no request for extradition ever came from the USA, that'd still not be any kind of evidence *against* a Great Conspiracy, merely proof of what a genius Julian is,or how scared the USA is of some Secret Files he has, or something.

Basically, you can't satisfy a conspiracy theorist, and you shouldn't even try.

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Big Brother

@blackworx

"2) edited or not, it isn't fabricated."

Actually yes you could consider it a fabrication based on the amount of editing.

There are a couple of real life examples... One comes to mind where a government employee was fired because of an edited quote that was pushed out on the net and her boss jumped to the wrong conclusion.

After the entire quote was released to the media, even the President wanted to help her get her job back.

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Boffin

@blackworx No curiosity...

Look,

You have the documents on US Government system. Manning allegedly stole. They end up on Wikileaks.

How did that happen?

So the US DoJ is putting all of the pieces of the puzzle together and when they are ready, they will act.

Is Wikileaks and Assange pure as the driven snow?

Clearly not.

But whatever the US DoJ decides to do is in the future. Lets focus on the here and now.

Under Swedish law, Assange allegedly violated the rights of those women.

Rather than face questioning. He skipped town. Hence the EAW.

So he's going to go back to Sweden.

He can try to appeal this judge's decision, however he would have to show how the judge erred with respect to the law. IMHO that's doubtful.

Thats the issue here and now.

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Anonymous Coward

Forgone conclusion....

"No matter which side prevails in the extradition fight, the losing party will almost certainly appeal and set off what could be months or years of proceedings, Knowles said. In the event the US seeks Assange's extradition before he is transferred to Sweden, it will be up to the UK's Home Secretary, Theresa May, to decide which of the two requests to honor. Knowles predicted the US application would win the day."

Sweden already said that they would let US charges trump theirs so that if the US were to file for Assange's extradition while he was in the UK, then Assange would have to fight the US extradition, and not have to wait to see if the US and Sweden fight over who gets his pale skinny ass first.

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That is all well and good

but I was under the impression that the US has so far completely failed to find anything to hang on Assange.

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Black Helicopters

The jury is still out on that one...

Actually its the Grand Jury... but you get the idea.

Last I heard/read was that several people were fighting subpoenas that the US DoJ had issued.

Didn't hear the outcome...

The DoJ has a lot of work ahead of them and it will take some time.

Remember Assange was leading a paranoid Nomad life for a while so he probably did a better job of hiding his tracks, but like many, didn't cover all of them.

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Head Cases .... Some into the Light and Others, Lurkers in Really Dark Places

"That is all well and good ...but I was under the impression that the US has so far completely failed to find anything to hang on Assange." .... Goat Jam Posted Thursday 24th February 2011 00:57 GMT

Goat Jam, Hi,

The video interviews here do not disagree with you and reveal much more than those with hidden agendas in support of deceit, would care to have shown ....... http://www.abc.net.au/news/events/wikileaks-key-players/

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US ...

won't be able to extradite him, or at least he'd not be convicted of anything here .. our press is too strong and won't allow the precedent to be set, NYTimes and other republished .. and will continue .. though he was foolish to be in England, where our intelligence arms cooperate (not so) covertly

what Julian has to fear is Putin .. the one man in the world you don't want to piss off .. and he did

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oh ...

initially read that some leaks about Russia had irritated Putin .. they were minor .. so in balance I can see Putin going the other way as they showed much more of America's duplicity

the way I feel in whole .. as a libertarian-conservative US citizen ..

“In a free society we're supposed to know the truth,” Ron Paul said. “In a society where truth becomes treason, then we're in big trouble. And now, people who are revealing the truth are getting into trouble for it.”

“This whole notion that Assange, who's an Australian, that we want to prosecute him for treason. I mean, aren't they jumping to a wild conclusion?” he added. “This is media, isn't it? I mean, why don't we prosecute The New York Times or anybody that releases this?”

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@Flybert

>>"[Ron Paul said]....I mean, why don't we prosecute The New York Times or anybody that releases this?”"

I rather assumed that there may be a distinction being made between simply publishing information and being suspected of conspiring in the initial illegal taking of the information.

I guess I'd be in a different position if I published stolen diaries that someone stole without my encouragement to if I'd been egging them on beforehand.

Whether the US authorities can actually prove Assange had any prior involvement in the information removal is of course a crucial issue.

I'm not sure where people draw the line between journalism and conspiracy, but wherever the line is legally drawn, I'm guessing the US would be keen to place Assange on the wrong side of it.

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Black Helicopters

@Flybert

The US can extradite and charge Assange under a couple of different laws other than the Espionage Act.

There is a fine line between receiving, vetting, and then publishing the documents versus aiding and abetting the actual crime of stealing the information.

So if the US can show that Assange was more than just a 'conduit', they will have a case that goes beyond what the courts have already determined.

If he is charged, he will be convicted. Think of the Guardian and NYT who have already worked with him. They could be called upon to give evidence and based on their books, what do you think they'll say?

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@That is all well and good

They also failed to find any link between Iraq and 911 or any WMD - but that didn't stop them

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Anonymous Coward

I'm Julian and this is my friend Sandy

not

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Anonymous Coward

Oooh, parquet floor!

Bona.

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