Julian Assange Moves to Force U.S. to Reveal Charges Against Him and Compel Ecuador to Prevent Extradition
Lawyers for Julian Assange have moved to force the Trump administration to reveal the charges against them and compel Ecuador, the nation that has granted him asylum, to prevent extradition to the United states.
According to a press release on Wednesday, the lawyers filed an urgent application to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR), based in Washington D.C., to direct the Trump Administration to unseal the charges it has secretly filed against Assange.
The statement explains that they are additionally asking the Commission to compel Ecuador to “cease its espionage activities against Mr. Assange, to stop the isolation imposed on him and to protect him from U.S. extradition.”
“The urgent request is in the form of a comprehensive 1,172-page application for ‘precautionary measures’ directed to the international body which monitors compliance of the U.S. and Ecuador with their binding legal obligations. The calls to extradite Mr. Assange to the United States, as the result of his work as a publisher and editor, is the reason Mr. Assange obtained political asylum at Ecuador’s embassy in London in August 2012,” the press release says.
The international coordinator of Assange’s legal team, Baltasar Garzón, explained that the situation “gravely undermines the legal safeguards that must be guaranteed by the state protecting Mr. Assange from the Trump administration’s political persecution.” He is requesting that the IACHR urgently intervene in favor of Assange and is calling for “international solidarity for this case in which the right to access and impart information freely is in jeopardy.”
The US has refused to reveal what the sealed charges against Assange are, despite the fact that proof that he has been charged was recently made public in a filing error for another case. Sources from the Department of Justice have also confirmed the existence of charges to the Associated Press and New York Times.
“The revelation that the U.S. has initiated a prosecution against Mr. Assange has shocked the international community”, the legal submission states. The U.S. government “is required to provide information as to the criminal charges that are imputed to Mr. Assange in full”, it adds.
The submission also reveals that U.S. federal prosecutors have formally approached people in the United States, Germany and Iceland — pressing them to testify against Assange in return for immunity from prosecution.
“Those approached are associated with WikiLeaks’ joint publications with other media about U.S. diplomacy, Guantanamo bay and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The joint publication effort between WikiLeaks, The New York Times, McClatchy, The Guardian, The Telegraph, the UK’s Channel 4, Al Jazeera, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, El País, The Hindu, and Reuters, among others, won numerous journalistic awards and created the collaborative model subsequently used for other large disclosures such as the Panama Papers,” the statement explains.
Over the past couple of years, the Trump administration has greatly ramped up efforts to prosecute Assange. There has been a Grand Jury against WikiLeaks in the Eastern District of Virginia since 2010.
“The Administration has been plagued by leaks of classified information in its first two years, and is clearly intent on using the prosecution of Julian Assange as an ‘icebreaker’ to set a dangerous precedent that would enable the prosecution of most serious media organisations, such as The New York Times, the Washington Post, AP, CNN and NBC which routinely obtain and publish information from classified sources,” the WikiLeaks statement says.
In their submission to the IACHR, WikiLeaks lawyers document the U.S. attempts to pressure Ecuador to hand over Assange. They explain that the efforts have intensified severely since the publication of the “Vault 7” CIA leak — which was the largest leak of CIA classified information in history.
The New York Times reported last month that Ecuador’s new president, Lenin Moreno tried to negotiate handing over Assange to the U.S. in exchange for “debt relief.”
They also highlight espionage operations against Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he resides, by specialized security services contracted by Ecuador. They note that instead of protecting him, as he has asylum, they have been actively spying on him and his visitors. According to media reports, the company has also been acting as an informant to the U.S. authorities, specifically the FBI.
This reporter can personally attest to the spying efforts, as I recently visited the embassy. I detailed the conditions during my visit in a previous report for Gateway Pundit, as I was shocked that his accommodations are more akin to those of a political dissident in China or Stasi-era Germany — not a journalist claiming political asylum from a country that once promised to protect his right to publish information.
The application to IACHR also denounces the gag order placed on Assange, and their interference with his access to lawyers. Ecuador has threatened to terminate his asylum if he publicly comments on politics or current affairs, completely destroying his freedom to publish or do his job.
“Ecuador is required to end the regime of isolation imposed on Mr. Assange, suspending the application of the so-called special protocol and guaranteeing his rights as an asylee will be respected in full,'” the filing states.
The submission highlights the very dire implications for freedom of the press in the U.S., as the right to publish truthful information is clearly under attack.
“It is time that Mr. Assange, who has already paid a high price for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of opinion, expression and information, and to promote the right to truth in the public interest, recovers his freedom,” the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, together with the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders, said in a statement last month.
The WikiLeaks founder entered the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on June 19, 2012. He was soon granted political asylum. The UK has long refused to acknowledge the findings of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD), which found that Assange is being arbitrarily and unlawfully detained and must be immediately released without the threat of arrest and compensated.