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back to article Australia sanguine on Assange-to-Ecuador, would fight US extradition

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard says Julian Assange’s decision to seek political asylum in Ecuador is a matter for Assange and not something Australia needs to comment on. “Mr Assange’s choices are a matter for Mr Assange,” Gillard told a press conference at the G20 meeting in Mexico. “His decisions are for him to make …

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Rather obvious, all that.

If it was me I would indeed have followed the same path.

There's been much confusion in official Australian circles as to what should happen to him should he come back to motherland (covered here on El Reg among others). The latest press releases from Australia.gov should not obfuscate this.

I know that Australia is not New Zealand, but the recent Megavideo snaffu certainly does not help...

Ecuador on the other hand has quite tense relationships with the US, and Assange would certainly be safer in Ecuador (where he is kind of a hero) than in Australia (where he is unofficially /persona non grata/).

I will not lay on the Swedish case, Assange did and I am not into sloppy seconds. However when considering this case one must remember that Sweden has a fast-track rendition treaty with the US (look up "temporary rendition) and that the US have a closed indictment ready.

Moreover, extraditing someone over allegation (without charge) of a minor civil offense (which carries only a small fine), would be a first for the european extradition system (and certainly a cause for it to be reviewed, in my opinion). Usually these kind of things are settled in the absence of the accused party, and should they choose not to show up to defend themselves, they have to pay the fine when they come back to the country.

The fine the alleged offense carries would not cover _one hour_ fee from a qualified attorney. Compared to the cash Sweden and the UK are currently spending (not to mention the US, most certainly), it is plain ridiculous. (It is also ridiculous compared to the cash Assange is spending to fight it, but he has good reasons to fear for his life so that's somewhat more understandable).

Now compare that to the effort (or lack thereof) which was put into bringing director Roman Polansky to jail over child rape (Which is a criminal offense, not a civil one, and of which he was convicted by default, by the way, so that's possible...), and the irony of the present case will strike you.

The whole thing reeks of a backended revenge scheme from the US.

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Ooops

Backhanded, obviously

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Re: Rather obvious, all that.

"The fine the alleged offense carries would not cover _one hour_ fee from a qualified attorney. Compared to the cash Sweden and the UK are currently spending (not to mention the US, most certainly)"

Why would this be costing Sweden any money? They just filed in the form requesting extradition.

It's the UK government and Assange that are the only ones actually spending money on dragging this out.

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Re: Rather obvious, all that.

> Why would this be costing Sweden any money? They just filed in the form requesting extradition.

I don't think the legal team on the case is working /pro bono/. That's at least a handful* of people working on the case, ever since it was launched a couple* years ago. That's REAL money. Far more than the few* hundred bucks that the alleged offense entails. I am not a lawyer, but if I was allowed a wild guess I would say that to date it has cost Sweden several* hundred times more than the maximum possible fine, in salary.

* http://www.xkcd.com/1070/

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Re: Rather obvious, all that.

What would this Swedish legal team have been doing since making the request? The appeals have nothing to do with the Swedish system

I somehow doubt they are paying a handful of people to phone up the UK constantly saying "can we have him now?" I'm sure even government departments wouldn't be that wasteful.

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Re: Rather obvious, all that.

"Moreover, extraditing someone over allegation (without charge) of a minor civil offense"

He's accused of rape and serious sexual assault.

Details. http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/david-allen-green/2011/02/assange-eaw-sexual-sweden

And enough of the conspiracy mongering nonsense. You do know the UK has a US-friendly extradition process too, yes?

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Boffin

@John Wilson

What Sweden considers "rape" and "serious sexual assault", however, may not be what other countries think those terms mean.

Not only that, however, Sweden doesn't necessarily prosecute such cases on "beyond reasonable doubt", but rather on the principle of "if we believe the witnesses" see http://www.newsmill.se/print/30405 for more details.

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Mushroom

Re: @John Wilson

Nope. What Sweden considers rape is what the UK considers rape, and what any half-decent human being would consider rape. I'd love to know where this whole "it's not rape" BS came from, but it is just that: utter BS. And the rape apologists crawling out of the wood work make my skin crawl.

Assagne is accused of rape and serious sexual assault. And it is utterly disgusting to see people defending Assagne not on the basis that he is innocent unless proven guilty (which would be difficult to defend, seeing how he refuses to face a court) but on the basis of "he did it, but it ain't rape".

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Re: @John Wilson

What is happening here, is that the charges are being misrepresented. As the UK does not have an equivalent charge to some of them, it's being referred to as rape. In reality, the charge is unique to Sweden and not really what many people consider to be rape. Essentially, they had consensual sex, with a condom which failed. The Swedish law then says the woman can ask for a HIV etc. test (don't see why he couldn't ask for one either), which he's refused to do. The normal punishment for this is a fine, maybe a couple of thousand.

The punishment alone tells us how serious the Swedes consider this. If it really was rape in the sense the British would mean, the punishment sure as hell wouldn't be a smallish fine. So, people are not apologists for rape at all, as the offence is not really rape. And if that were the case, the Swedes are apologists as well for having such a meaningless penalty.

Now to the 'serious sexual assault'. From the reports I've seen, this pretty much relates to allegations he rubbed himself up against some women. That, generally, is not the definition of a 'serious' sexual assault in this country. Again, the penalty they're talking about is pretty small, so again, Sweden are saying it's not terribly bad.

So, in all this, the crime seems to be getting misrepresented and Sweden itself is not saying the crimes are very serious by the paltry (relatively) punishments. Nobodies even mentioned jail in a serious way as punishment.

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Re: @John Wilson

What Sweden considers as rape is what Sweden considers as rape.

If you go to Sweden and do what Sweden considers as rape, don't be surprised if Sweden wants to interview you with a view to charging you with rape.

If you flee from prosecutors interviews in Sweden and have your lawyer lie to prosecutors so you can do so, don't be surprised if Sweden tries to extradite you.

If you've paid the bail of a delusional, bat shit insane Australian, don't be surprised when he tries to leg it to Ecuador.

I could understand his objections, protestations and appeals if he was being extradited to the US. He is not. Trying to claim you are a political refugee to avoid being extradited to face rape charges - well, actually, that does sound a little like a politician.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @John Wilson

There are times when you should read the court judgement, not the press. See

http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/media/judgments/2011/assange-judgment-0211201

The ruling says that the charges for which the Swedes requested extradition all have parallel charges in the UK, and it itemises the equivalent offenses. Your claim of "unique to Sweden" has been reviewed by the court and found to be false.

The "serious sexual assault" refers to Count 4, which was not that he "rubbed himself up against some women". The Count reads:

"On 17 August 2010, in the home of the injured party [SW] in Enkoping, Assange deliberately consumated sexual intercouse with her by improperly exploiting that she, due to sleep, was in a helpless state. It is an aggravating circumstance that Assange, who was aware of the expressed wish of the injured party and a prerequisite of sexual intercourse that a condom be used, still consumated unprotected sexual intercourse with her."

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Anonymous Coward

question

how -exactly- does having a website that is hosted in a different jurisdiction and publishing leaked documents make one a political activist(?)?

WikiLeaks will host any leaked document, not just political ones. And in the case of the diplomatic cables, he actually withheld their publication and tried to capitalized on them!

I find it hard to believe that he is a political activist, and I believe that the USofA will be able to prove in court that he isn't one. And so I ask those who understand these things better then me, how is he a political activist?

the above is assuming that they still want him after he have already published all the documents.

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Re: question

> I find it hard to believe that he is a political activist, and I believe that the USofA will be able to prove in court that he isn't one.

I think you'll find that in most countries, "political activist" is not accepted in court as an excuse for one's actions. On the other hand, he is a human being, and as such he has rights -and duties.

The "political activist" thing might or might not be taken into account by Ecuador when reviewing Assange's asile application, but that is a diplomatic matter and entirely irrelevant for a court of law (even a USofA court).

You've been watching too many TV series.

On the other hand I can't really blame you as Nobel Prizes tend to be handed out to convicted criminals on the basis that they are "political activists". That would certainly tend to cause confusion. Just remember that neither the Nobel Prize comittee nor TV channels are judiciary authorities.

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Stop

Assange is a political activist

Assange compiled documents to denounce what he called an illegal war of the US and allies against Iraq. He did many other things as well, but that act would clearly meet the definition of 'political activist', wouldn't it?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Assange is a political activist

So?

He is currently undergoing extradition for *questioning* about a potential RAPE.

He's hiding behind his day-job, and screaming 'political prisoner' and 'set-up!' in order to evade justice.

The man lost my respect a long while ago. Now he's pretty much just a rapist-on-the-run as far as I'm concerned.

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Unhappy

Assange is not a great political activist

Else he would take some star lawyers, face the music in Sweden and, while being in the headlines, he would raise awareness about the political topics that are important to him. Every move of the officials in Sweden and the US will generate major headlines and raise awareness of Wikileaks and his persona. Assange does not fit the description of a terrorist, even by the most generous interpretation of the term, so he could use the legal wrangling to good effect.

The great political activists stayed on topic even if it endangered them. Aung San Suu Kyi never ran away from her cause, nor did Lech Walesa or Martin Luther King. Imagine the outcry if Assange would be delivered to Sweden to face an investigation and the Swedes would find an excuse to deliver him to the US. It would make the West look like a caricature of the Soviet block in the 50s.

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Re: question

I'm the last person to defend Assagne, I don't think he is remotely worthy of the attention given to him; people have been leaking documents for as long as there have been documents worthy of leaking, but most people who report on those documents protect their sources far better than WikiLeaks has done.

But. On the question of political activist, you're really asking the wrong question: for the purposes of extradition, extradition won't be granted if the alleged crime is of a political nature. I doubt the person has to be an activist in order to accused of a crime that is political in nature. (that is espionage, not the rape allegations)

It's worth noting, incidentally, that the 'political nature' defense against extradition is almost universal. It's not unique to Ecuador.

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Machiavelli says: This ain't the Israelis and Eichman

So what does old Niccolo Machiavelli have to say about Assange?

"But a prince must be careful that he does not show compassion unwisely. If a prince is too compassionate, and does not adequately punish disloyal subjects, he creates an atmosphere of disorder, since his subjects take the liberty to do what they please—even to the extremes of murder, theft and wholesale release of cables and videos (sic). Crime harms the entire community, whereas executions harm only the individuals who commit crimes. Some measure of cruelty is necessary to maintain order. But a prince should be careful in his exercise of cruelty, tempering it with humanity and prudence."

"Machiavelli then asks whether being feared or loved is preferable. Ideally, a prince should be both loved and feared, but this state of affairs is difficult to attain. Forced to make a choice, it is much better to be feared than loved. This is because men, by nature, are “ungrateful, fickle, dissembling, anxious to flee danger, and covetous of gain.” In times of remote danger, they are willing to take risks for their prince, but if the danger is real, they turn against their prince. It is easy to break a bond of love when the situation arises, but the fear of punishment is always effective, regardless of the situation."

Since Assange went to England, his fear of punishment has become more palpable which is just what the U.S. wanted. So even if he is never convicted, Assange will always fear the long arm of Prince Uncle Sam. And his future maybe nothing more than a run down villa in Quito, listening for the sound of black helicopters and hanging out near where the tour buses full of Swedish flickor get gas.

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> [in] a run down villa in Quito

waiting for the next revolution and a new US friendly government quite happy to get rid of the useless gringo and send him off to whoever wants him in exchange for a bit more foreign aid.

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Anonymous Coward

Yesterday, Libya.

Today, Syria.

Tomorrow, Ecuador.

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Anonymous Coward

Ecaudor - nice place to live?

Because I assume that at some point he will have to move there rather than remained holed up in the Embassy.

I see from the internet that Quito enjoys a pleasant though cool spring-like climate year round. And with around 120 days of precipitation a year possibly dryer weather than the UK.

Or there is the Galapagos islands.....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ecaudor - nice place to live?

Nope - http://www.hrw.org/americas/ecuador - still any port in a storm.

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Re: Ecaudor - nice place to live?

nothing a wodge of cash would not solve. even in "failing states like somalia the local warlord\ pirate boss lives in luxury. its just a crap life for the normal people without ill gotten gains

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Anonymous Coward

Hacker?

> ... the silver-haired hacker

It is sad to see El Reg devalue the term hacker so much.

What exactly has Assange hacked? He published documents obtained by somebody else. That is not hacking.

Try using the word "hacker" for those who deserve it (and that does not include the skiddies of Anonymous).

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Re: Hacker?

Nor does it apply to people that break into computer systems. Hacker is a term for those who 'Hack' together bits of code and shell scripts to get meaningful work done. The term you are thinking of is 'Cracker'

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hacker?

Actually, it is a misfit in BOTH the positive and negative use of the word. Real hackers don't do or need bullshit, he's been doing nothing but. I had so hoped the idiot got finally shipped off to Sweden :(.

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Re: Hacker?

You obviously haven't read about him at all. He's been a computer prodigy from a young age, a hacker in the real sense of the word.

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Meh

Shanks Very Much

This is great news! Now that he's leaving the protection of the Crown there's a good chance someone will just shank the arrogant gringo & this whole mess will be finished.

Having spent some time in Ecuador I feel confident much of the general populace will not tolerate his smug attitude or the fact he's obviously a rapist.

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Re: Shanks Very Much

"Rapist" only in a very odd way that only Sweden seems to recognise. (Yes, I think the myriad considerations for rape in the Sexual Offences Act are too broad, so I have no time at all for this bizarre concoction the Swedes have conjured up).

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Meh

Re: Shanks Very Much

Your daughter or your mother probably wouldn't agree with your unqualified legal theory.

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Anonymous Coward

Has this really been thought through?

So long as he is in the embassy, he is safe from the British Police. However, as soon as he is on the pavement outside, he can be arrested and taken back to prison, even if he is granted asylum in another country, he still has to actually GET there, which involves crossing a significant distance of British Sovereign Territory, upon which he is fair game for the authorities.

Unless he intends to spend the rest of his life holed up in a flat in London.

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Re: Has this really been thought through?

Shouldn't be a problem if they ship him in the "diplomatic pouch" that is immune to local jurisdiction while in transit. I'm unaware of any physical size limitations for said "pouch".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Has this really been thought through?

They drive him in a diplomatic car, which the police can neither stop or search, to the airport. I'm unsure how the diplomatic channels work in an airport but I'd be willing to bet they can easily get him through to one of their planes.

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Re: Has this really been thought through?

So, anyone up for running in to the building (if it's part of a block of flats) and hitting the fire alarm?

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Happy

Re: Has this really been thought through?

"Shouldn't be a problem if they ship him in the "diplomatic pouch" that is immune to local jurisdiction while in transit."

I saw the question, and immediately thought, 'the diplomatic bag'.

The diplomatic pouch being the other name. But what with him being an Aussie, I now have the mental image of him, stuck in the pouch of a giant kangaroo, hopping through London, to make his escape at Heathrow.

I leave it to you, dear reader, to decide what this says about my state of mental well-being...

P.S. - El Reg, now you've got an Australian bureau, can we have a kangaroo icon?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Has this really been thought through?

Diplomatic bags aren't supposed to carry people, although it has been done in the past. Airport security doesn't 'easily' allow people to be shepherded onto planes without interference, especially as regards high-profile criminals.

The only viable way to get him out from the embassy would be to issue him his own Ecudorian diplomatic passport.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Has this really been thought through?

... which come to think of it still wouldn't work because diplomatic immunity does not normally pertain to personal business.

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Big Brother

Assange has quite a while to go to beat Cardinal Mindszenty's record

"The Venerable József Mindszenty (March 29, 1892 – May 6, 1975) was a cardinal and the head of the Roman Catholic Church as the Archbishop of Esztergom in Hungary. He became known as a steadfast supporter of Church freedom and opponent of communism and the brutal Stalinist persecution in his country. As a result, he was tortured and given a life sentence in a 1949 show trial that generated worldwide condemnation, including a United Nations resolution. Freed in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, he was granted political asylum and lived in the U.S. embassy in Budapest for 15 years. He was finally allowed to leave the country in 1971. He died in exile in 1975 in Vienna, Austria."

Personally, I'd rather be in Ecuador than have to eat American cafeteria food for 15 years.

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Happy

Re: Has this really been thought through?

Of course it has.

Jason Bourne will be driving him to Heathrow in a smart car using reverse gear all of the way. On the wrong side of the street, of course.

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Re: Has this really been thought through?

"The only viable way to get him out from the embassy would be to issue him his own Ecudorian diplomatic passport."

...and the UK would have to recognise his status as an Ecuadorian diplomat, which seems unlikely.

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Anonymous Coward

Laws?

The USA does not care about laws. They'll simply go in and take him.

They assassinated/overthrown democratically elected leaders before in South America, so why Assange thinks he'd be safe there beats the hell out of me.

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Holmes

dragged kicking and screaming

Of course. By the CIA after having his tequila spiked with GHB. OK, maybe just 'unconscious'.

"Strewth, mate, imagine my surprise when I woke in in Guantanamo"

It's a rape case on paper (that's already been chucked out once then reinstated, but that's just the documented part that people can see). The Yanks want him out of sheer embarrassment and spite cos Hell hath no fury like a Government that failed to keep a secret which got out.

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Meh

CIA

Jesus. Why does anyone think the CIA would care? He's done nothing significant except make people pay for 'secrets' that turned out to be meaningless. He'll be solutioned on the streets of Ecuador.

The real risk are the Bradley Mannings who give the Assanges private info. Hang them high I says.

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FAIL

Hang the Bradley Mannings?

In the country where I live, Germany, we have a good number of heroes who did things like Bradley Manning. They were 'hung high', just as you propose for Mr. Manning -- and the guys doing the hanging were the Nazis. We may discuss about the good or bad Mr. Manning has done, but if you want to hang people for civil disobedience, you live in a sad world!

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Re: CIA @Don Jefe

As the commenter above has said, your political ignorance is astounding. If you have nothing better to say, I suggest you keep quiet to avoid embarrassing yourself further.

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Meh

Re: CIA @Don Jefe

Link to the secrets. I dare you! Show us what the WikiGeeks exposed. Do it. Oh. There were no secrets. Make double certain now. No secrets or useful info? Are you sure you looked as hard as the press? Maybe check once more. Still nothing? Goodness, I think we've been had!

Nothing happened except Assange made enough money to pay for his legal counsel but he's more than happy to leave his suppliers to rot.

Anyone that supports Assange hasn't read up on what he failed at doing.

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FAIL

Re: Hang the Bradley Mannings?

Whatever Bradley Manning might have done, it certainly was not civil disobedience. He was a military service member obligated to follow lawful orders which included preserving the secrecy of classified materials. It is alleged that he did not do so, and he is being tried by a military court. Possibly the lawfulness of the orders will be questioned, but I doubt that would be an effective defense. It still has to be proved that a crime was committed and that Pvt. Manning committed it. He isn't likely to be hanged or otherwise terminated, though.

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Re: CIA @Don Jefe

"Show us what the WikiGeeks exposed"

Wikileaks released a database of US military reports from Afghanistan and Iraq. Some of the reports included things like the surnames of informants and the town or village in which they lived.

As regards the Wikileaks embassy reports, a quick thumb through will show cables labelled with various classifications, including some marked "Secret". That's why Bradley Manning is in so much trouble.

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