Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to be extradited to Sweden

On Thursday, a British court ordered Julian Assange, founder of the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks, to be extradited to Sweden. Assange, a 39 year old Australian, has been accused by two Swedish women of sexual assaults against them.

Assange’s lawyers have the option of appealing against this decision, and have decided to do so. Assange has denied the claims of sexual abuse, claiming the allegations to be politically motivated because his website recently published secret US diplomatic cables. Earlier, during the hearing, Assange claimed that rape cases in Sweden were “tried in secret behind closed doors in a flagrant denial of justice”, and termed the country “the Saudi Arabia of feminism.”

Julian Paul Assange

Judge Howard Riddle, in his verdict, declared the allegations made by the two Swedish women a valid reason for extradition and also attested the validity of Sweden’s demand to send Assange to the country for further questioning.

Geoffrey Robertson QC, lawyer for Assange suggested the latter could be extradited to the United States, on charges concerning the release of 250,000 US diplomatic cables by Wikileaks, where he could be sentenced to death penalty. His Swedish counterpart, Clare Montgomery QC, stated that while Assange’s trial would be held in private, the arguments raised in the trial would be released to the public. She also assured that Sweden was going to provide “protection” against the alleged risk of Assange’s extradition to the US, terming it as a “threat and violation.” The European Court of Human Rights has also agreed to intervene if Assange was subjected to an “inhuman or degrading treatment or an unfair trial” in the US, she added.

Assange had been granted bail in December, but has been electronically monitored ever since.

Assange has been accused of raping a sleeping woman, during his visit to Stockholm last year. Another woman has alleged that the Wikileaks founder sexual assaulted her thrice. If the Swedish court declares him guilty, he could be sentenced to up to four years in prison.

Paul Stephens, the Australian ambassador to Sweden, had earlier written to the country’s Justice Minister, appealing that if Assange was extradited, his hearing “would proceed in accordance with due process and the provisions prescribed under Swedish law, as well as applicable European and international laws, including relevant human rights norms.”

Assange is likely to remain in custody, since bail is not granted in Sweden before a trial or the accused being released.

Sweden aims to extradite Assanage to US: lawyer

Julian Assange’s lawyer in Britain has accused Swedish authorities of secretly planning to extradite the WikiLeaks founder to the United States, in an interview with a German newspaper to appear tomorrow.

 

Julian Paul Assange

Attorney Mark Stephens told the weekly Die Zeit that he believed Swedish officials were cooperating with US authorities with an eye to extraditing Assange as soon as the Americans have built a criminal case against him.

“We are hearing that the Swedish are prepared to drop the rape charges against Julian as soon as the Americans demand his extradition,” he said, citing sources in Washington and Stockholm.

Stephens called the Swedish charges against his client a “holding case” to buy time until the United States can prosecute him themselves over WikiLeaks’ mass release of classified US documents.

UN probing allegations US is ‘torturing’ soldier over leaks

The United Nations is reportedly beginning an investigation into claims that Pfc. Bradley Manning is being “tortured.” Manning was arrested in May, after allegedly leaking over 250,000 classified diplomatic cables to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

Bradley E. Manning

Last week, it was announced that supporters for Manning lodged a complaint with the Office of The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland, saying that the conditions of his cell and the treatment he is receiving, amount to “torture.” According to Salon, Manning is not allowed to exercise, is denied bed sheets and pillows, and has been held in solitary confinement for 23 hours of every day since his arrest. According to Manning’s attorney, David Coombs, a former United States Army major, and veteran of the Iraq War, Manning is only allowed to walk in a small room for exercise.

“[Manning is] taken to an empty room and only allowed to walk, normally just walks figure eights in the room. If he indicates that he no long feels like walking, he is immediately returned to his cell,” stated Coombs to Salon.

The Pentagon denies that Manning is being tortured, saying he is being treated “fairly. We’ve been reviewed … No concerns have been voiced from a (Department of Defense) perspective.”

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange granted bail, set free

The founder of the whistle blowing website Wikileaks, Julian Assange, has been granted bail and was set free, pending an extradition hearing. Justice Duncan Ouseley granted Assange “conditional bail,” upholding the previous ruling which was made earlier in the week. He ruled against a Swedish appeal filed just two days ago. Assange is wanted for questioning in Sweden for alleged molestation and rape.

Julian Paul Assange

On Tuesday, Assange was granted bail with the help of former British army officer and journalist Vaughan Smith, who told the court that Assange could stay at his mansion in Suffolk. Defense barrister Geoffrey Robertson said that Smith would keep Assange “if not under house arrest, at least under mansion arrest.” Assange’s lawyers say that Assange is only wanted for questioning, and has not been charged with any crimes. However the lawyers representing Sweden countered by saying “The court has already found that Mr. Assange is a flight risk. Nothing has changed in this regard. [If the alleged offences took place in Britain] it undoubtedly would have been a charge of rape in this jurisdiction.” Robertson did not agree.

Bail was set at £200,000, with two additional guarantees of £20,000. Assange would also have to surrender his passport and submit to electronic monitoring. Pending further court hearings, Assange will be residing in a manor owned by Smith, which is located near the Norfolk–Suffolk border in England. Assange would also have to spend at least four hours at Smith’s mansion in the day and four at night. He will also have to check in with police every day between 6–8 pm local time. After the magistrate outlined the conditions Assange said, emotionlessly, on Tuesday, “I understand.” Bail conditions remained the same, with small changes that included where he is allowed to travel, changes to his curfew and times in which he must report to authorities. Assange has yet to be formally charged with any crime.

Assange believes the sex offense accusation against him are politically motivated to take attention away from material that Wikileaks is publishing, including the release of over 250,000 United States diplomatic cables.

‘WikiLeaks has uncovered real face of Pak politicians’

A Pakistani judge has said that the secret US diplomatic cables released by the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks have uncovered the “factual face of politicians” in the country and would help the people understand the “real mindset of our rulers”.

Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed of Lahore High Court.

Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed of the Lahore High Court, who rejected a petition seeking a ban on WikiLeaks earlier this week, said in his detailed judgement: “Access to facts and the truth cannot be denied to the citizens of Pakistan.”

Asif Ali Zardari, President of Pakistan.

He observed that the “WikiLeaks reports didn’t harm or damage the nation or the common person, rather it helped the nation understand the real mindset of our rulers”.

He also wrote in the judgement: “Nothing is greater than the truth and whatever WikiLeaks has published now, the Pakistani media had been revealing to the masses already.”

The judge further declared the WikiLeaks reports were based on facts.

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