Socialist Worker

Julian Assange fights extradition challenge

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2693

Julian Assange

Julian Assange (Pic: David G Silvers/Flickr)


Julian Assange began his fight against extradition to the US in a London court on Monday.

After a week of arguments from prosecution and defence, the extradition case is scheduled to be adjourned until May.

Assange is the founder of the organisation WikiLeaks. In 2010 it released about 470,000 classified military documents concerning US diplomacy and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It later released a further tranche of more than 250,000 classified US diplomatic cables.

Wikileaks obtained and decrypted video footage from a US Apache helicopter in 2007.

It showed Reuters journalist Namir Noor-Eldeen, driver Saeed Chmagh and several others as the Apache shoots and kills them in a public square in Baghdad, Iraq.

After the initial shooting, an unarmed group of adults and children in a minivan arrives on the scene and tries to transport the wounded. They are fired upon as well.

Many of the damning documents revealed by Wikileaks were obtained by former US soldier Chelsea Manning. She spent seven years in jail and has been jailed again for refusing to name those who helped her.

Assange now faces one count of computer hacking as well as 17 allegations of violating the 1917 Espionage Act. They carry a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison.

It is the first time that the 1917 act has been used to indict a publisher or journalist. The prosecution of Assange is both the revenge of the US military machine and a direct threat to anyone who might reveal the truth about the crimes of the US military.

Labour MP Richard Burgon said recently “Wikileaks helped expose war atrocities. All who support a free press must oppose this extradition.”

At one time there was a competing extradition request for Assange from Sweden, where two women had made allegations of sexual assault and rape

But the Swedish authorities have dropped the investigation.

Eva-Marie Persson, Sweden’s deputy director of public prosecution, said last November that she found the alleged rape victim’s version of events to be “credible and reliable”.

However, she added that the evidence had become weaker due to the passage of time since the alleged rape took place.

It was right that Assange was investigated by the Swedish authorities.

But he should not be extradited to the US. To do so would punish someone for exposing imperial slaughter.

If the courts approve extradition, the British government will have the final say. It must be pressured to say no.


Sajid Javid’s links with US donations

Sajid Javid, then the home secretary, signed the Donald Trump administration’s extradition request for Assange in June 2019. The year before, Javid visited Georgia in the US for the “world forum” of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

Javid spoke at the meeting, as did Jonah Goldberg, a fellow at the AEI .

Goldberg has called for Assange to be “garroted”.

Since attending his first “world forum” at the AEI in 2011, within a year of becoming an MP, Javid subsequently visited six out of eight AEI annual conferences up to 2018.

In total, Javid has received £31,285.19 in gifts from the AEI.

 


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