Re: Well he's a bit of an arse, but...
"The problem of course is that these charges are sealed. The US has no business calling itself a free or democratic society if a person can be charged without actually being informed of those charges."
They're only sealed at the point of being filed. They do that while they to prepare to collect evidence based on those claims, or because they're getting similar charges filed against others where revealing one means those connected know they're vulnerable.
It's also used in more complex investigations, where you'll be accruing charges as time goes on, it might be charge A now, and then 3 weeks later as you're still processing the evidence, you might go through 3 other people and suddenly have a charge B to add.
Before anything can be done about it, those charges become unsealed. Now, another fun thing is that indictments aren't permanent. They have a shelf-life, typically 180 days ('speedy trial act') before they expire. This clock doesn't run when they're sealed, but sealing is a 'special' action, and you really have to justify it to the judge why it's being sealed. If you lie about it, the indictment can be dismissed (especially if absent the seal, it goes over the time limit and thus violates the requirement in the constitution for a speedy trial.
BTW, an indictment is just an initial step than the UK doesn't have. It's basically a process where a prosecutor presents whatever evidence they feel they want to show to a neutral party (the grand jury) to demonstrate that the minimum barrier of 'probable cause' exists. I don't do criminal law, but my belief is that in the UK, the equivilent step is the police officer's discretion.
"Unless they were going to extradite him on one reasonable charge and then unseal a raft of trumped up charges the moment he lands, with the intention of dragging him through a show trial and setting an example. "
Ohhh no. absolutely not. That's actually THE central pillar of all extradition treaties, and is called the 'Doctrine of Speciality'. There's two aspects to it, and usually it's the other one that Assange makes claims about being violated.
Basically put, a person extradited can only be taken to trial for the crimes listed in the extradition request. Country Alpha makes a request to country Zulu Person A is to be sent to country alpha, to face trial for charges 1-13. You can't slip person B in there, you can't decide that you'll send them on to country bravo, or add charges 14-42. That country, for those charges only, and afterwards, they get to leave the country.
That's why Assange's claim of 'Sweden will send me to the US' is ludicrous, because it's specifically prohibited in all extradition treaties. That 'can' happen, but there's a specific process. Basically if it did happen, and Alpha wanted to send him on to Bravo, then it'd start a whole new process. In the claimed case, both the UK and Sweden would have new hearings, and we'd use the strictest aspects of the treaties (which is the Swedish treaty with the US by FAR) for both countries, and both countries would have to fully agree.
that's why it doesn't happen EVER. ESpecially in Assange's case, since the Us-Sweden treaty prohibits extradition for 'political crimes', which these would be, so it'd be an automatic denial of extradition from both the UK and Sweden if the US asked SWeden to send him on.
by comparison, the UK extradition treaty with the US is unique in that while the US has to show evidence to back up the charges and request in other countries, in the UK the DOJ just has to assert that relevant evidence does exist. It's an INCREDIBLY low bar and one the US would use if they had any desire for Assange during the 600+ days he was roaming free, before the Swedish extradition request became final (and thus no new request could be considered)
That clear things up?