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"a clear and written threat that they could storm our embassy."
August 15, 2012 4:31 PM   Subscribe

Following claims that Ecuador would accept Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's asylum application, Britain has threatened to raid the Ecuadorian embassy if Assange is not handed over.
Vans are gathered outside the London embassy, reports suggest British police have been seen entering the building. Live stream here.
posted by dunkadunc (1649 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is an act of war, right?
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:35 PM on August 15, 2012 [23 favorites]


Way to ruin all your Olympics goodwill.
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:35 PM on August 15, 2012 [19 favorites]


I think they were just interviewing Richard Stallmann, who's on the scene.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:35 PM on August 15, 2012


Wait, what? This can't be legal, can it? Or...acceptable, in the land of diplomacy?
posted by rtha at 4:35 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Perfectly routine for someone wanted for questioning. Move along.
posted by tyllwin at 4:36 PM on August 15, 2012 [19 favorites]


Did anyone predict this? I thought everyone agreed he could pretty much stay there forever safely.
posted by jacalata at 4:36 PM on August 15, 2012


Totally what the cops would do for any other case of suspected sexual assault (in another country).
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:37 PM on August 15, 2012 [45 favorites]


This is an act of war, right?

Rumors are that Ecuador has several divisions of pan flute bands ready to ship-out.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:37 PM on August 15, 2012 [41 favorites]


Perfectly routine for someone wanted for questioning. Move along.

Is it really routine to raid an embassy, though?

Mind you, I think Assange should be extradited and made to stand trial; I'm just surprised that they would apparently forcibly enter an embassy over it.
posted by Forktine at 4:38 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Embassy diplomacy is so last century.
posted by TwelveTwo at 4:38 PM on August 15, 2012


"Basically a changing of the guard; nothing sinister going on."
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:39 PM on August 15, 2012


No worries, this is brown peoples' embassy.
posted by telstar at 4:39 PM on August 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


I wonder what does Assange has on the government of Ecuador to buy this favor.
posted by wcfields at 4:39 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is it really routine to raid an embassy, though?

It was sarcasm. Classically, I agree with Faint of Butt. Forcibly removing him could be considered an act of war.
posted by tyllwin at 4:41 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


There must be some hidden annex to one of the Lend-Lease agreements where the UK pledges to do whatever the US executive branch asks them to do, forever, you're welcome for the destroyers.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:42 PM on August 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Spanish speakers...?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:42 PM on August 15, 2012


Forcibly entering an embassy is no big deal. All you have to do is put someone on The Secret List of Terrorists and all the usual laws and rights go right out the window.
posted by double block and bleed at 4:43 PM on August 15, 2012 [11 favorites]


"A Domino's Pizza guy just turned up. Did someone order a pizza for Mr. Assange!?"
posted by dunkadunc at 4:46 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, it's close enough to Argentina for cricket. Welcome back, Tories!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:46 PM on August 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's fascinating to me how Wikileaks and Occupy imploded along such similar lines: Wikileaks becoming a organization primarily concerned with keeping its founder from being extradited to stand trial for rape, Occupy becoming devoted primarily to protesting previous police violence against Occupy. In both cases, eyes completely off the ball.

I think international law is a fiction, and the norms only upheld when they serve powerful countries in the West, but I think Julian Assange of all people knew that before he pulled his stunt request for asylum in the first place. The whole thing is such an epic mess considering the potential of Wikileaks when it first emerged.
posted by gerryblog at 4:46 PM on August 15, 2012 [33 favorites]


My fiancee, federal employee: "I don't think I'll be able to go to work tomorrow".
posted by dunkadunc at 4:46 PM on August 15, 2012


Pizza delivery chap just appeared on the feed, but pizza denied. The intrepid reporter is following the pizza guy. This is ridiculous, but great fun.
posted by BungaDunga at 4:47 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Secret List of Terrorists? Assange is near the top of the Public List. (And enjoying it too much) I expect Seal Team 6 to get involved.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:48 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


all the usual laws and rights go right out the window

When the applicable law is "might makes right," all that really matters is that neither the military nor economic power of Ecuador is a threat to the UK. I somehow doubt Ecuador is going to roll tanks on the UK embassy there in response.
posted by tyllwin at 4:48 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


If the US government ever hates me as much as they hate Julian Assange, I'll know I'm doing something right.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:49 PM on August 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Assange should order all the pizzas in London, just clog the street with delivery people.
posted by jason_steakums at 4:49 PM on August 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


Noone is checking the identify of the delivery guys after they drop off the food, right?
posted by ceribus peribus at 4:51 PM on August 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


I think international law is a fiction,

Yep. Always has been.

the norms only upheld when they serve powerful countries in the West

Or elsewhere. There are powerful nations all over. Ecuador doesn't happen to be one of them, but China and Russia are.
posted by valkyryn at 4:51 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Where is the mainstream press?
posted by deanklear at 4:52 PM on August 15, 2012


I'm no fan of Assange, but this is complete bullshit. Embassies are supposed to sacrosanct. This is what happens in banana republics, not Western fucking democracies.
posted by dave78981 at 4:54 PM on August 15, 2012 [18 favorites]


Well technically what they threatened to do does not count as "storming an embassy". They reminded the Ecuadorian government of their ability to PNG all their diplomats, and revoke the diplomatic status of their embassy. There would then be a notice period after which their diplomats have to have left the country and their embassy would revert to British territory.

At this point, the police could enter the premises previously designated as the Ecuadorian embassy, but this would be days or weeks after the proceedings were set in motion (to allow Ecuador to remove sensitive documents and equipment using diplomatic baggage). By no means are The Met going to enter a working embassy, anyone who thinks otherwise is nuts.

The Ecuadorians have decided to interpret this (at least for the press) as a threat to "storm their embassy".
posted by atrazine at 4:54 PM on August 15, 2012 [54 favorites]


Where is the mainstream press?

Google News shows it as a top story with articles from Retuers, most big national papers in the US, etc. I'm not sure what you mean...
posted by wildcrdj at 4:55 PM on August 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


He means 12,000 people are watching what is clearly one dude streaming video from his cellphone.
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:56 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I meant near the embassy. He mentioned there are about 20 there.
posted by deanklear at 4:56 PM on August 15, 2012


Yeah, throwing out an embassy/ambassadors is hardly unheard of. Many countries have expelled Syrian ambassadors recently, for example.
posted by wildcrdj at 4:57 PM on August 15, 2012


Well technically what they threatened to do does not count as "storming an embassy".

does it count as 'terminating diplomatic relations'?
posted by jacalata at 4:57 PM on August 15, 2012


Wait, how did the US get into all this? Britain doesn't have reason to dislike Assange on their own?
posted by maryr at 4:57 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Fiancee: "That's it. Tomorrow is Bleach Your Hair for Assange Day".
posted by dunkadunc at 4:57 PM on August 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Diplomatic immunity!

It's just been revoked.
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:58 PM on August 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


They reminded the Ecuadorian government of their ability to PNG all their diplomats, and revoke the diplomatic status of their embassy.

I think that's a much more likely scenario. I wonder, though, has that ever been done in UK history in order to simply extradite a man for routine non-political questioning? Can we at lest stop that charade now?
posted by tyllwin at 4:59 PM on August 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


Feed's down - dude had to take a call from a housemate who is asking him where all the milk in the fridge went.
posted by awfurby at 5:00 PM on August 15, 2012


BBC Article about this.

Stay Classy England.
posted by marienbad at 5:00 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


*stocks up on Ecuadorian mangoes and pineapples*
posted by ceribus peribus at 5:01 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


By no means are The Met going to enter a working embassy, anyone who thinks otherwise is nuts.
It is hard to tell, but I think they already did.
posted by b1tr0t at 5:01 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, throwing out an embassy/ambassadors is hardly unheard of. Many countries have expelled Syrian ambassadors recently, for example.

It would not surprise me if the United States and our allies consider giving asylum to Assange to be on par with killing 20,000 of your own citizens in a brutal government crackdown.
posted by deanklear at 5:01 PM on August 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


does it count as 'terminating diplomatic relations'?

In theory, not necessarily as they could un-designate the embassy without expelling the diplomats. In practice it would have that effect, yes.
posted by atrazine at 5:01 PM on August 15, 2012


Holy Shit.

I don't know what Ecuador, or it's allies south of Mexico, could do if the UK actually did terminate relations specifically to get Assange but I really hope something dramatic happens that costs England a hell of a lot more than what they're getting (or not getting) from the US.
posted by Slackermagee at 5:01 PM on August 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


So many of this decade's significant events have come in via some dude with a cellphone
posted by The Whelk at 5:02 PM on August 15, 2012 [34 favorites]


does it count as 'terminating diplomatic relations'?

Nah. Embassy "law" is... customary, more than anything else. It's not as if there's a court countries can file suit in against other countries.

Look, it's a game nations play. We'd rather they play this game than the one with tanks and bombers, but it's really just that: a game. There are kind of rules, but only to the extent that the players agree to play by them. Kind of a "If you do X, I'll do Y" sort of deal, with X and Y not necessarily having anything whatsoever to do with each other.
posted by valkyryn at 5:02 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


It would not surprise me if the United States and our allies consider giving asylum to Assange to be on par with killing 20,000 of your own citizens in a brutal government crackdown.

Only one of those has direct implications for US security interests. One guess as to which it is.
posted by valkyryn at 5:03 PM on August 15, 2012


I think that's a much more likely scenario. I wonder, though, has that ever been done in UK history in order to simply extradite a man for routine non-political questioning? Can we at lest stop that charade now?
posted by tyllwin at 1:59 PM on August 15 [1 favorite +] [!]


If only there was some way the Swedish judge could ask questions of Assange while he was still in England.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:03 PM on August 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


It is hard to tell, but I think they already did.

I don't think we can see the entrance to the embassy from the outside, it's only one floor of the building.
posted by atrazine at 5:03 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


atrazine : They reminded the Ecuadorian government of their ability to PNG all their diplomats, and revoke the diplomatic status of their embassy.

...Which, as others have pointed out, counts as a perfectly cromulent response to someone seeking (and granted) asylum against mere extradition for an investigation into a possible crime with no charges actually filed yet?

This, from the same country that won't even risk mildly annoying the US when we demand they "extradite" UK citizens accused of "hacking" while on UK soil?

Yeah, this show just got a lot more interesting, boys and girls.



wildcrdj :Yeah, throwing out an embassy/ambassadors is hardly unheard of. Many countries have expelled Syrian ambassadors recently, for example.

Refusing to deal with a regime brutally murdering its own population... Sheltering a guy wanted for questioning. Yeah, I can see the similarity there.
posted by pla at 5:04 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder, though, has that ever been done in UK history in order to simply extradite a man for routine non-political questioning?

How many such people were granted asylum in embassies, though? It's not like ordinary car thieves or muggers are being housed in this way. Assange is pretty much sui generis already.
posted by gerryblog at 5:04 PM on August 15, 2012


HOLY CRAP.

Assuming this is true, and the UK is raiding the embassy without the express written consent of the ambassador/president of Ecuador:
This is well beyond "not normally done".
Back in the 70's, when Iran was rioting, the US embassy was stormed (as most people know).
Iran was found to be liable because they didn't do enough to prevent the civilian rioters from entering the embassy.

At minimum, the UK is violating the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, articles 22, 24, probably 26, probably 27, probably 29, maybe 37, maybe 44. Most of those apply even during a time of armed conflict. This law, respecting diplomats, is literally the oldest international law that exists. It goes back to the greek city-states.
It's a violation of the UN Charter, articles 2(3), 2(4), and probably 33.
It's almost certainly a violation of any asylum treaties that have been signed.

Realistically, this is not just treaty law, but general international law. The Court in the Iran case here was very clear that the remedy when a country is fucking around with their embassy is to declare people persona non grata or to break off relations.

"Such events cannot fail to undermine the edifice of law carefully constructed by mankind over a period of centuries, the maintenance of which is vital for the security and well-being of the complex international community of the present day."
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:05 PM on August 15, 2012 [43 favorites]


This is the law that the British have cited to the Ecuadoreans. I'm in my pre-caffeinated state, so I could be missing something, but it does feel that they're bluffing their way through.
posted by the cydonian at 5:06 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think you guys are thinking of 'diplomatic immunity' in terms of Law and Order episodes and not, like, reality. Please check out the act that was referenced in the 'threat' which pretty much seems to make this all, if not upsetting, pretty standard.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 5:06 PM on August 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


But Assange called double-double-oxenfree with both fingers crossed! This violates every rule we have.
posted by gerryblog at 5:08 PM on August 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


Refusing to deal with a regime brutally murdering its own population... Sheltering a guy wanted for questioning. Yeah, I can see the similarity there.

Well, I wasn't dealing with the root cause, just the "OMG THIS IS A DECLARATION OF WAR" comments. If whats actually happening is they're threatening to cancel diplomatic status / etc, thats hardly a declaration of war, even if people think the reason behind it is bad.
posted by wildcrdj at 5:10 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Poor bastard.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:10 PM on August 15, 2012


Interestingly, there has been a similar type of situation in the UK before. In 1984, a policewoman was shot by gunfire that came from inside the Libyan embassy in London (Wikipedia). They couldn't go in and get the murderer because, you know, diplomatic immunity and all that. Presumably out of this experience came the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987 which is what they're using as a basis for the proposed action.

Seems a lot more like what atrazine was saying than an actual storming of the compound itself.
posted by texano at 5:10 PM on August 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Please check out the act that was referenced in the 'threat' which pretty much seems to make this all, if not upsetting, pretty standard.

When is the last time the UK revoked an embassy's status and raided it in order to send one person to another country who was wanted for questioning?
posted by deanklear at 5:12 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Which, as others have pointed out, counts as a perfectly cromulent response to someone seeking (and granted) asylum against mere extradition for an investigation into a possible crime with no charges actually filed yet?

Obviously not, it would be unheard of. It's not going to happen now either though. Our only source for this is the Ecuadorian government's reaction to a note they received from the British government. In any case, there is literally no reason to take such drastic measures to get Assange, because he can't get out of the embassy without being arrested.

The Court in the Iran case here was very clear that the remedy when a country is fucking around with their embassy is to declare people persona non grata or to break off relations.

That is what the British are threatening to do. Of course, after they PNG the Ecuadorian diplomats and cancel the diplomatic status of their embassy, Assange is hosed because he doesn't have personal diplomatic status (if he did, the worst they could is expel him) he just happens to be inside the embassy where the police can't get him. As soon as the embassy ceases to be an embassy he can be arrested. Again though, they're not actually going to do this. He has to come out eventually and they'll just arrest him then.
posted by atrazine at 5:13 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


So much for Obama's promise to protect whistleblowers.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:13 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


From the law cited: The Secretary of State shall only give or withdraw consent or withdraw acceptance if he is satisfied that to do so is permissible under international law.

So yes, they could definitely break relations. But they can't just storm the place, even with this law. And that makes sense - national law can't override a treaty, else treaties wouldn't be signed.

So what's going on in the video then? Clearly there's no storming, right?
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:15 PM on August 15, 2012


Makes me wonder if Assange has some sort of insurance file somewhere.
posted by codacorolla at 5:15 PM on August 15, 2012


Ecuador's President Rafael Correa got both his Master's and PhD (in economics) from the University of Illinois.

(That's not really relevant or anything; I just thought it was kind of an interesting tidbit.)
posted by Sys Rq at 5:16 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


So much for Obama's promise to protect whistleblowers.

I'm not sure Barack Obama can do much to stop the zombied hordes of the Met bludgeoning their way into a building in central London.
posted by dng at 5:16 PM on August 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is the law that the British have cited to the Ecuadoreans. I'm in my pre-caffeinated state, so I could be missing something, but it does feel that they're bluffing their way through.
posted by the cydonian at 2:06 PM on August 15 [+] [!]


I think it's like the Pope desanctifying a Catholic church. It's still a building, but it's not a church. In this case the Pope would be the Secretary of State, and he'd need to take international law into account before taking away the embassy's consular status. I guess the decision would be reviewable by the Courts.

If it looks like a very blunt instrument, that's because it is.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:16 PM on August 15, 2012


Well, there was that previous insurance file. I can't remember if the key to that was ever released, or if it was lost as part of the whole Domscheit thing.
posted by CrystalDave at 5:17 PM on August 15, 2012


I think it's like the Pope desanctifying a Catholic church.
We do have the grand St Thomas Becket tradition of sanctuary.
posted by Abiezer at 5:18 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, there was that previous insurance file. I can't remember if the key to that was ever released, or if it was lost as part of the whole Domscheit thing.


The key to that was released.
posted by pipian at 5:18 PM on August 15, 2012


Rather, released accidentally in a book or story about Assange, IIRC.
posted by pipian at 5:19 PM on August 15, 2012


So much for Obama's promise to protect whistleblowers.

For whistleblowing, surely? Doesn't really extend to celebrity rapists.
posted by Artw at 5:19 PM on August 15, 2012 [12 favorites]


New live coverage here.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:19 PM on August 15, 2012


“The state’s strict adherence to procedural norms and the rule of law protected me! Their hands were completely tied!” -no one ever
posted by gerryblog at 5:19 PM on August 15, 2012 [22 favorites]


The potential fallout for the UK of letting Assange 'slip out of their grasp' SHOULD not be that severe, unless the fallout came from the USA and not just Sweden.

So if the US wants Assange to extradited HERE on Espionage charges, why doesn't the US Government just come out and say it?

Possible Reason #1: Assange is lying to avoid the potential Swedish charges and inflate his own ego by being a Political Victim.
Possible Reason #2: The USA is doing some far-under-the-table shit that suggests a total abandonment of our Rule of Law.

Yesterday, I had the relative likelihood of #1 vs. #2 at 50/50, considering such factors as the US's treatment of Bradley Manning and the New York Times publicly distancing themselves from WikiLeaks. But after this overreaction, we're looking at an 80-90% likelihood of #2.
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:21 PM on August 15, 2012 [11 favorites]


Makes me wonder if Assange has some sort of insurance file somewhere.

I hear he carries a device that would enable him to release the insurance file from any of several servers around the world. It can be triggered in seconds from any computer or phone.

No, wait, that was Kim Dotcom. Or was it Mitnick?
posted by ceribus peribus at 5:21 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ecuador's President Rafael Correa got both his Master's and PhD (in economics) from the University of Illinois.

Better that than the University of Chicago.
posted by sulphur at 5:21 PM on August 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


Artw: For whistleblowing, surely? Doesn't really extend to celebrity rapists.

I wasn't aware he'd been convicted of anything.
posted by gman at 5:21 PM on August 15, 2012 [20 favorites]


I wasn't aware he'd been convicted of anything.
posted by gman at 8:21 PM on August 15 [+] [!]


Because he fled prosecution and requested asylum!
posted by gerryblog at 5:23 PM on August 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


"celebrity rapists"?!?

Roman Polanski got an easier time moving away after being CONVICTED of far worse.
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:23 PM on August 15, 2012 [22 favorites]


Doesn't really extend to celebrity r******.

Actually, the law should extend to everyone. That's the whole point: to protect individual citizens from the whims of powerful states.
posted by deanklear at 5:24 PM on August 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


Assange doesn't qualify as a whistleblower -- he didn't work for the US government. He's a journalist. And there's no journalism shield law I know of that says journalists don't have to stand trial for crimes.
posted by gerryblog at 5:26 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of course, if he WERE a whistleblower, he'd also have to stand trial for unrelated crimes. So it's sort of a moot point.
posted by gerryblog at 5:27 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hear he carries a device that would enable him to release the insurance file from any of several servers around the world. It can be triggered in seconds from any computer or phone.

The proper way to do this is with a dead man's switch, where the key is released if he doesn't stop it. Otherwise all the UK would need to do is cut the cables going to the embassy and bombard it with electromagnetic interference until they successfully arrest him.
posted by mullingitover at 5:27 PM on August 15, 2012


They just need one REALLY BIG diplomatic pouch...
posted by mrbill at 5:27 PM on August 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Actually, the law should extend to everyone. That's the whole point:

Which is why the UK is trying to extradite him to Sweden, where his is wanted for questioning (as I understand it, analogous in our legal system to being a suspect).
posted by muddgirl at 5:29 PM on August 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


r******

The dude admired it in hIs statement. Stop being such a chump.
posted by Artw at 5:29 PM on August 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Look, it's a game nations play. We'd rather they play this game than the one with tanks and bombers, but it's really just that: a game. There are kind of rules, but only to the extent that the players agree to play by them.

Kind of like how society is only a game that individuals play, where we agree not to kill one other and steal their stuff. There are rules, but only to the extent that the players agree to play by them. But we're far more prosperous because of them than in those times and places where might is right.

And like how it took a long time and great effort to get those rules firmly part of society - and it's a work still in progress - it will likewise take a lot of time and effort and dedication to implement similar security and prosperity in our society of nations.

Don't be blase about international law. It is currently weak because bad people want to keep it weak. If/when bad people succeed, be outraged, not cynical and passive.
posted by anonymisc at 5:30 PM on August 15, 2012 [27 favorites]


They just need one REALLY BIG diplomatic pouch...

Or a bullet proof car and an exciting chase across London to the nearest illegal airfield.

Although all those surface to air missiles they installed for the Olympics might scupper that plan.
posted by dng at 5:30 PM on August 15, 2012


Perfectly routine for someone wanted for questioning. Move along.

Yep. We're pretty much past the point of any pretense on behalf of the authorities. This is a frame-up job at this point, plain and simple.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:31 PM on August 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


Assange isn't being asked to stand trial, he's being asked to stand for an interview. Which he has offered to do via video, and has repeatedly been refused. I'm not really a fan but this new development really reinforces the general impression that Assange is being set up and the US is behind it all. My tax money at work, yay.

If I happened to be a British national present in Ecuador at the moment, I would be getting the hell out.
posted by localroger at 5:31 PM on August 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'm not able to connect to that new live feed - guess it's been overwhelmed?
posted by awfurby at 5:32 PM on August 15, 2012


We've covered this already, mrbill. They stuff Assange with diplomatic cables and make him the pouch.

OT: Did I read elsewhere recently that Wikileaks was undergoing a big DDOS attack?

Coordinated with this effort?
posted by notyou at 5:32 PM on August 15, 2012


Anyway, if the US really wanted him they could extradite him from the UK more easily than from Sweden. I've never really understood that argument. If he were in Sweden fighting extradition to the UK it would make more sense.
posted by atrazine at 5:32 PM on August 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Kind of like how society is only a game that individuals play, where we agree not to kill one other and steal their stuff.

No. Individuals are supervised by the state. If you decide to break the rules, I can call the cops, and you go to jail.

There are no "cops" in international law.
posted by valkyryn at 5:32 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not as if there's a court countries can file suit in against other countries.

Actually, there is - the International Court of Justice, which was created specifically so that nations can file suit against other nations. It's generally used for relatively minor problems between basically friendly nations, mainly b/c most of the time when a poorer nation brings suit against a richer nation and wins (say, Nicaragua vs. US or East Timor vs. Australia) the richer country just ignores it or withdraws from the Court's jurisdiction. It's not very effective at actually punishing anybody but it can play a role in getting international opinion on your side.
posted by williampratt at 5:34 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


awfurby: "I'm not able to connect to that new live feed - guess it's been overwhelmed?"

The whole Bambuser site is down. Last I saw they had 20,000 people watching.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:34 PM on August 15, 2012


notyou, it just occurred to me that the TrapWire exposure may have been the last straw for the UK and the US. If Anonymizer (owned by Abraxis, the makers of TrapWire) had formerly been a nice honeypot, it may have dried up and pissed the US/UK governments off enough to try and raid an embassy.
posted by deanklear at 5:34 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wikileaks was undergoing a big DDOS attack? ... Coordinated with this effort?

Well that's kind of a waste of time considering that the brouhaha has pretty much severed Assange from Wikileaks for months now.

I want to know what the odds are, should he somehow make the slip to Ecuador, if the US stages a totally illegal violation of airspace thing like they did to nab Timothy Leary from Tibet. (I'll give them a pass for Osama bin Laden, but it's still not a good precedent.)
posted by localroger at 5:35 PM on August 15, 2012


Assange doesn't need a lawyer. He needs a shark. Like a literal shark.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:35 PM on August 15, 2012 [30 favorites]


With frikkin lasers, just to be sure.
posted by unSane at 5:36 PM on August 15, 2012


Assange isn't being asked to stand trial, he's being asked to stand for an interview.

To determine if he should be extradited for trial, right? The criminal prosecution is still ultimately the primer mover here.
posted by gerryblog at 5:36 PM on August 15, 2012


Jesus Christ. A lot of people in this thread really want this to be EXCITING HIGH ESPIONAGE and are talking about the proceedings as though Challenger tanks were in the midst of driving through the walls of the Ecuadorean embassy. It's apparently more fun to respond to the Michael Bay version of the political crisis, so we're all going to pretend that's what's going on. Why don't we watch what happens and then decide how we feel about that, instead of preemptively throwing shit at Britain\Sweden\Assange\the US\the Bradley Manning defense fund\Ecuadorean pan flutes.
posted by samofidelis at 5:36 PM on August 15, 2012 [25 favorites]


dunkadunc: "The whole Bambuser site is down. Last I saw they had 20,000 people watching."

That's a shame - is anyone tweeting from the location?
posted by awfurby at 5:37 PM on August 15, 2012


Why didn't they just take him while the world media was distracted with the Olympics? The UK wouldn't have been able to protect him and police unauthorized uses of IOC trademarks at the same time.
posted by ceribus peribus at 5:37 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


He needs a shark. Like a literal shark.

He's Julian Fucking Assange. I am sure he has a fleet of sharks with giant fucking lasers on their fucking heads.
posted by localroger at 5:37 PM on August 15, 2012


Could the problem with a UK->US extradition be the issue of capital punishment? I'm pretty sure the US government would like to kill him, and the UK (like most civilized countries) frowns on that, regardless of the circumstances.
posted by mullingitover at 5:38 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


awfurby: "That's a shame - is anyone tweeting from the location?"

The journalist who was livestreaming is tweeting here: @alburyj
posted by dunkadunc at 5:38 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Assange isn't being asked to stand trial, he's being asked to stand for an interview. Which he has offered to do via video, and has repeatedly been refused.

Being formally questioned by the police isn't quite the same as Skyping your Aunt Emma,they may well charge him immediately afterwards. They have the legal right to compel his presence for the questioning and they choose to exercise it. Obviously if he weren't who he is, its unlikely that they'd be pursuing this with such vigour, but legally they are 100% in the right.
posted by atrazine at 5:39 PM on August 15, 2012 [12 favorites]


To determine if he should be extradited for trial, right? The criminal prosecution is still ultimately the primer mover here.

But the thing is, there are no charges, and insisting that he come in personally when he is willing to converse by videophone is over the top. It's totally unnecessary. What do they hope to learn in person they can't learn over the gotomeeting other than OH HAI WE'RE FROM THE US AND WE'RE HERE TO BRING YOU IN.
posted by localroger at 5:39 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you decide to break the rules, I can call the cops, and you go to jail.

Well, it depends on who you are, where you are, what time of day it is, your past history with the local police, the temperament of whatever local judge takes your case, the temperament of the police assigned to the case, the nature of any personal relationships you may have with the involved police, the nature of any personal relationships I may have with the involved police, the specific rule you believe I've broken, and countless other human factors.
posted by hoople at 5:40 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyway, if the US really wanted him they could extradite him from the UK more easily than from Sweden. I've never really understood that argument. If he were in Sweden fighting extradition to the UK it would make more sense.

The US has more leverage over Sweden than the UK, and Sweden has already participated in extraordinary renditions. There may be people inside of the UK government with the power to stop the extradition who agreed to let them try from Sweden.

Either way, everything in this case is unprecedented. The INTERPOL alert, the behavior of the prosecutors and judges in Sweden, and now the UK is threatening Ecuador with the closure of their embassy to retrieve one man wanted for questioning. Someone powerful wants Assange in Sweden, and I sincerely doubt it's the Swedes.
posted by deanklear at 5:40 PM on August 15, 2012 [11 favorites]


Could the problem with a UK->US extradition be the issue of capital punishment? I'm pretty sure the US government would like to kill him, and the UK (like most civilized countries) frowns on that, regardless of the circumstances.

After all this talk of laser sharks, I can't tell if you're kidding or not.
posted by maryr at 5:40 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


They have the legal right to compel his presence for the questioning and they choose to exercise it.

Not internationally.
posted by localroger at 5:40 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm still watching at Bambuser. It's three cops in front of a door, as it has been for the past half hour or so.
posted by codacorolla at 5:40 PM on August 15, 2012


Glad I am not a British diplomat or embassy staff in Quito right now.
posted by Xoebe at 5:40 PM on August 15, 2012


Thanks duncadunkaduncadunk - heading over there now.
posted by awfurby at 5:41 PM on August 15, 2012


Does the UK state normally let persons of interest (or suspected rapists) dictate the terms of their testimony?
posted by gerryblog at 5:41 PM on August 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


They just need one REALLY BIG diplomatic pouch...

Human smuggling by diplomatic pouch has been tried. There's clear precedent that the host country may remove a kidnap victim from a diplomatic pouch without repercussions, though what rules would apply on a voluntary passenger are less clear.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:42 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


The most fundamental rule of interaction in the uncivilized world: might makes right. Civilization is built on making this rule inoperative. To the extent that this rule is operative, Civilization fails.

The new innovation is to swathe the rule of "might makes right" in all sorts of double talk and diplomatic mumbo-jumbo. Can't leave it naked, after all, that's too offensive.

So Britain can cite this law and that law and it's all part of the garment covering "might makes right" - in reality, they may as well strum their fingers across their lips with "bramblahbambramblam", and then add, "in other words, BECAUSE FUCK YOU". It's not like the weaker party can do anything about it. Back to the caves.
posted by VikingSword at 5:42 PM on August 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Jesus Christ. A lot of people in this thread really want this to be EXCITING HIGH ESPIONAGE and are talking about the proceedings as though Challenger tanks were in the midst of driving through the walls of the Ecuadorean embassy.

But some police were seen! Near an embassy! This is shocking and unprecedendented!
posted by Artw at 5:42 PM on August 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


For those who want to contact the UK to urge respect for international law and whistleblowers: an Interactive Map of British Consular and Embassy locations around the USA, including their telephone numbers.
posted by warreng at 5:42 PM on August 15, 2012


Metafilter: the Michael Bay version of the political crisis
posted by lalochezia at 5:43 PM on August 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Did anyone ever uncover an English translation of the statement that was read out by a consular offical earlier in the stream?
posted by awfurby at 5:44 PM on August 15, 2012


After all this talk of laser sharks, I can't tell if you're kidding or not.

It wouldn't be the first time an extradition to the US was denied, and this was for a convicted murder.
posted by mullingitover at 5:46 PM on August 15, 2012


I think the real issue here is that Ecuador decided to use G4S for their security.
The Met are just helping out.
posted by Mezentian at 5:46 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Mezentian, I am patting myself on the back for getting that one.
posted by deanklear at 5:48 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


No. Individuals are supervised by the state. If you decide to break the rules, I can call the cops, and you go to jail.

No. Cops are individuals, just like me. Society consists of members (such as us), and we (society) pay other members to enforcement our laws.
There is no intrinsic reason that enforcement must be suddenly inapplicable for international society, except that powerful bad people undermine the development of enforcement at every step. Might-is-right tries to protect the status quo, but just like regular society, far greater net prosperity comes from the security they oppose.

There are no "cops" in international law.

The efforts from bad people to prevent enforcement mechanisms existing, have been tireless. But if we want to enjoy a better world, we'll get there in the end.
posted by anonymisc at 5:48 PM on August 15, 2012


Everybody needs to stop overreacting.

The UK government is presenting the most extreme version of its position, and Ecuador is doing the same. This is a negotiating tactic, nothing more. Nobody seriously thinks the police would storm the embassy -- not even Ecuador thinks that. They just say they do to rile people up. Look how well that worked!
posted by twblalock at 5:50 PM on August 15, 2012 [11 favorites]


The Bambuser feed in the OP just went down for me, and the whole site seems dead at the moment.
posted by codacorolla at 5:51 PM on August 15, 2012


Everybody needs to stop overreacting.
BUT I'M FREAKIN OUT, MAN
posted by TheNewWazoo at 5:52 PM on August 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


In other WikiLeaks news: Cloud support brings WikiLeaks back online - We're working on it says AntiLeaks
posted by homunculus at 5:52 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Could the problem with a UK->US extradition be the issue of capital punishment? I'm pretty sure the US government would like to kill him, and the UK (like most civilized countries) frowns on that, regardless of the circumstances.

No EU country will extradite someone without an agreement that they will not face the death penalty in the destination country so that is not a valid reason to evade the Swedish court system.

Not internationally.

Within the EU, yes. Why do you think he's holed up in the embassy in the first place? The Supreme Court ruled that he should be extradited after a long series of appeals all of which he lost.

The US has more leverage over Sweden than the UK, and Sweden has already participated in extraordinary renditions.

They have more leverage over Sweden than over their most important European ally? Sure. The UK has done rather a lot more than just participate in extraordinary renditions.
posted by atrazine at 5:52 PM on August 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


WikiLeaks supporter David House lashes out against Julian Assange: MIT computer scientist attacks founder in series of tweets that claim his actions 'put WikiLeaks supporters at risk'
posted by homunculus at 5:53 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


They have more leverage over Sweden than over their most important European ally?

Great Britain is still a global empire and nuclear power. Sweden, not so much. Ecuador? If I could get myself officially declared to be a country I'd have about as much influence as they do.
posted by localroger at 5:55 PM on August 15, 2012


Obviously if he weren't who he is, its unlikely that they'd be pursuing this with such vigour

If Assange wasn't who he was, he wouldn't have the resources to evade with such vigour. Many suspected rapists can't simply pop off to the UK.
posted by muddgirl at 5:57 PM on August 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


Regardless, strategically it seems it would have been far smarter for Assange and Ecuador to have made the announcement a week or so ago, while the olympics were still ongoing.
posted by hoople at 5:58 PM on August 15, 2012


Many suspected rapists can't simply pop off to the UK.

Sadly, most don't need to.
posted by mek at 5:58 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not internationally.

Within the EU, yes. Why do you think he's holed up in the embassy in the first place?


Well the British don't have to extradite him; he's holed up in the embassy because, even though they don't have to, they are. But if they didn't want to Sweden would have to pound sand. There is no international requirement for you to be extradited for a police interview. It's at the discretion of the government of the other country where you are, and in this case the UK has decided to kiss the US's butt.

They were afforded an offer to collect the information they want, presumably with the UK police listening in, so that if there were probable cause emerging fromthe interview just cause for extradition would be obvious. But that wasn't good enough for them. No, the whole thing has to happen where are we fucking kidding ourselves any more that it's not about the US swooping in and nabbing him?
posted by localroger at 5:59 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Great Britain is still a global empire and nuclear power.

Great Britain's nuclear weapons are manufactured and maintained by the United States and are mounted on American designed missiles. Leverage?
posted by atrazine at 6:00 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


But the thing is, there are no charges, and insisting that he come in personally when he is willing to converse by videophone is over the top. It's totally unnecessary.

My understanding is that, unnecessary or no, it is the law in Sweden. They need him to be physically present to continue their legal process. The US has similar due process laws, although our process is slightly different. It's why the popular conspiracy theory is that the US wants to extradite him, rather than just charge him with treason and put a bounty on his head.
posted by muddgirl at 6:01 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wolverines Assemble!
posted by Mezentian at 6:02 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Great Britain's nuclear weapons are manufactured and maintained by the United States and are mounted on American designed missiles.

Um, no they aren't. It would be a major derail but I happen to know a lot about this. The US shared a lot of technical info with the UK in the years after 1945 but Britain built its bombs and missiles almost entirely on its own nickel. The whole point of the exercise is they didn't want to be dependent on us should there be a diplomatic rift.
posted by localroger at 6:02 PM on August 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


muddgirl: "My understanding is that, unnecessary or no, it is the law in Sweden."

Not at all. Sweden has, in the past, interviewed people accused of murder over Skype.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:03 PM on August 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


it is the law in Sweden

Where Assange is...n't. Stoning adulterers to death is the law in Iran, does that mean the US must extradite the accused in such cases too?
posted by localroger at 6:03 PM on August 15, 2012


Not at all. Sweden has, in the past, interviewed people accused of murder over Skype.

That's an interesting claim that would certainly lend credence to claims that this is a pretext for US extradition. Do you have a cite?
posted by [expletive deleted] at 6:05 PM on August 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


I would be incredibly surprised if anyone's going to raid the Ecuadorian embassy to the UK tonight. What we know is that British news media are reporting that Ecuador's foreign minister Ricardo Patino claims, claims, that UK officials told Ecuadorian ones that they think they can enter the embassy and arrest Julian Assange. Additionally, we know that Ecuador's decision regarding Assange's asylum request is expected Thursday.

The alleged raid threat might be grandstanding by the British, or it might be a double bluff on the part of the Ecuadorians (who may well have little to lose by making such a claim). Either way, the OP claims that "reports suggest British police have been seen entering the building" but does not provide those reports.

This post reeks of overreaction.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:05 PM on August 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Great Britain's nuclear weapons are manufactured and maintained by the United States and are mounted on American designed missiles. Leverage?

I understand about denying extradition is cases when capital punishment may be used (I don't think they apply to Assange anyway). THIS is the ridiculous type of stuff I can't tell if folks are being serious about. "I'm pretty sure the US government would like to kill him" ? Sure, figuratively speaking, but in this day and age, if the US government really wanted him dead, wouldn't they let him go to Ecuador and then solve the problem themselves?
posted by maryr at 6:05 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


anonymisc : The efforts from bad people to prevent enforcement mechanisms existing, have been tireless. But if we want to enjoy a better world, we'll get there in the end.

Oh, good - I so look forward to the day I can get extradited to Saudi Arabia for apostasy; to Singapore for smoking weed; to Thailand for making fun of their king - Then we'll see some real justice in this world! ;)
posted by pla at 6:05 PM on August 15, 2012


Fascinating that the British are willing to flaunt diplomatic relations with another state just to send this guy off to Sweden to answer questions.

Fascinating too, that the Ecuadorians are willing to flaunt British law just to stop it from happening.
posted by dazed_one at 6:06 PM on August 15, 2012


"The UK has not run a programme to develop an independent delivery system since the cancellation of the Blue Streak missile in 1960. Instead it has purchased US delivery systems for UK use, fitting them with warheads designed and manufactured by the UK's Atomic Weapons Establishment and its predecessor."

"Trident missiles are carried by fourteen active US Navy Ohio class submarines, with U.S. warheads, and four Royal Navy Vanguard class submarines, with British warheads. The original prime contractor and developer of the missile was Lockheed Martin Space Systems."

"Trident missiles are carried by fourteen active US Navy Ohio class submarines, with U.S. warheads, and four Royal Navy Vanguard class submarines, with British warheads. The original prime contractor and developer of the missile was Lockheed Martin Space Systems."

"n 1974, a US proliferation report discussing British nuclear and missile development noted that "In many cases, it is based on technology received from the US and could not legitimately be passed on without US permission."

"In contrast with the other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the United Kingdom operates only a submarine-based delivery system, having decommissioned its tactical WE.177 free-fall bombs in 1998."

So localroger, what's the secret nuclear secrets that you know about that Wikipedia doesn't? My understanding is that the UK decided to pull out during the Suez Crisis because the US could lean on their nuclear deterrent. France decided to develop their own, independently, and de Gaulle called England 'perfide Albion.'

EVERYONE CHILL. I HAVE HIDDEN YOUR FIREBIRD KEYS.
posted by samofidelis at 6:07 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


It is very simple. The easiest way to punish Assange is to lock him up for raping a woman in Sweden. Getting him to the US and figuring out a what to charge him with and securing a conviction is very complicated. Sweeden got badly burned by the GM-Saab fiasco and will get some kind of resolution of the Saab mess once Assange is locked away. Those diplomatic cables contained enough of her majesty's secrets to give te Brits sufficient motivation.
posted by humanfont at 6:07 PM on August 15, 2012


dazed_one: "Fascinating too, that the Ecuadorians are willing to flaunt British law just to stop it from happening."

That would be the logical choice if he's been set up and the US just wants to throw him a Supermax forever. They're not flaunting British law, though. Seeking asylum in an embassy is pretty well established.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:07 PM on August 15, 2012


This question has been asked a thousand times in other "Julian Assange extradition" threads, but I haven't seen an answer. If it has been answered, please forgive me and point me to it.

Here it goes:

Why would the USA need to have Assange sent to Sweden to nab him? Why can't he be nabbed right there in London, which is in the UK, as in the United "special relationship" Kingdom?
posted by gertzedek at 6:09 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Look, in the US we call this "taking someone down to the station." If a cop shows up at your door and says, "We're going to take you down to the station," and you ask, "Can we do this over Skype?" the answer is no, you are being detained for questioning. You can't just do it over Skype.

I don't know why this seems so unusual.

Where Assange is...n't. Stoning adulterers to death is the law in Iran,

Sweden is not going to stone him to death or give him the death penalty, and there is not one shred of evidence that they're going to extradite him to the US, or even that they could legally do so.

The easiest way to punish Assange is to lock him up for raping a woman in Sweden.

Yes, that would be the easiest way to punish him for raping some women, which at least his lawyer as admitted to.
posted by muddgirl at 6:09 PM on August 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


I wonder what the US would have done if the Chinese had tried this shit when they were protecting Chen Guangcheng at the Embassy in Beijing.
posted by gman at 6:09 PM on August 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


EVERYONE CHILL. I HAVE HIDDEN YOUR FIREBIRD KEYS.

OK, well, most of my nucular expertise-ay is of the WWII vintage, the Cold War being a rather depressing place for me to explore. They certainly showed Argentina though!
posted by localroger at 6:09 PM on August 15, 2012


Embassies aren't invulnerable to hostile acts. International law is one thing, but there's no international police force. Nations can do what they like to each other and when things go wrong the results are rarely deterministic. Hell, the US invaded a UK dependency in Grenada without even telling us, and we didn't nuke Washington.

The full nature of the relationship between the UK and the USA isn't clear, but it does run very deep - especially in matters of security and intelligence, in which fields Mr Assange has chosen to gambol. Anyone who thinks there is any aspect of the UK's dealings with Mr A that isn't discussed to the last detail with our colonial cousins, thinks wrong.
posted by Devonian at 6:10 PM on August 15, 2012


Fascinating that so many on Metafilter are willing to give Assange a pass on rape accusations.
posted by the_artificer at 6:10 PM on August 15, 2012 [13 favorites]


Those diplomatic cables contained enough of her majesty's secrets to give te Brits sufficient motivation.

It wasn't the Queen's sister who took drugs and slept with Peter Sellars, it was the Queen herself!
posted by dng at 6:10 PM on August 15, 2012


the British are willing to flaunt diplomatic relations ...the Ecuadorians are willing to flaunt British law

flout [disregard], not flaunt [show off]
posted by jacalata at 6:10 PM on August 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


This post reeks of overreaction.

Yeah too bad there wasn't such a reaction when assange revealed the dirt on all those innocent people we murdered.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:11 PM on August 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Sure is fun living in a Neal Stephenson novel.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:11 PM on August 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


localroger -- indeed. There was an independent British nuclear programme. I suspect they were required to drop the second 'm' and the 'e' after they took delivery of the Tridents ;P
posted by samofidelis at 6:11 PM on August 15, 2012


there is not one shred of evidence that they're going to extradite him to the US

I will bet you one thousand dollars, right here and right now, that if Assange ever touches ground in Sweden he will end up in the US. I'd bet you ten thousand except that I'm not Mitt Romney and even a thousand is a lot of money to me. But I am about as sure of this as I am that the Sun will rise tomorrow and that this year's Arctic ice melt will break all records.
posted by localroger at 6:12 PM on August 15, 2012 [10 favorites]


flout [disregard], not flaunt [show off]
posted by jacalata at 9:10 PM on August 15 [+] [!]


Yeah, jacalata, just noticed that myself. *hangs head in shame*
posted by dazed_one at 6:12 PM on August 15, 2012


The easiest way to punish Assange is to lock him up for raping a woman in Sweden.

YES. The easiest way to punish Assange for raping a woman in Sweden is to lock him up for raping a woman in Sweden.
posted by gertzedek at 6:12 PM on August 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


It wasn't the Queen's sister who took drugs and slept with Peter Sellars, it was the Queen herself!
posted by dng at 20:10 on August 15 [+] [!]


Wait, does would one go about taking drugs and sleeping with Peter Sellars? Oh, no reason.
posted by samofidelis at 6:12 PM on August 15, 2012


According to the Twitter feed of the guy on the scene, he jut saw a couple of police enter the side door of the Embassy. No word yet on whether they were invited. I would assume so. Forcing his way into an embassy didn't work out so well for Jack Bauer.
posted by COD at 6:13 PM on August 15, 2012


Fascinating that so many on Metafilter are willing to give Assange a pass on rape accusations.

Someone will be quick to correct you and remind you it wasn't RAPE rape.
posted by gertzedek at 6:14 PM on August 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also to be clear, if there is one thig we've learned from the Wikileaks leaks, it is that if Obama wanted Assange dead, he'd be dead. Obama does not fuck around with rule of law stuff when it comes to murdering alleged enemies.
posted by humanfont at 6:14 PM on August 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


I have still not figured out when it's appropriate to do that, or the best way. I figure that on mefi, if I'm not already in an argument with someone, they're usually likely to be receptive to pedantic corrections, but it's tricky.
posted by jacalata at 6:15 PM on August 15, 2012


Hell, the US invaded a UK dependency in Grenada without even telling us, and we didn't nuke Washington.

Just a tiny correction: Grenada had been independent for almost a decade when the US attacked.
posted by williampratt at 6:15 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


the_artificer: "Fascinating that so many on Metafilter are willing to give Assange a pass on rape accusations."

I don't think anyone here thinks so.

But Sweden has refused to guarantee they won't hand Assange off to the US. That is all they had to do. And Assange doesn't want to spend the rest of his life in a Supermax, or someplace worse.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:15 PM on August 15, 2012 [10 favorites]


the_artificer: Fascinating that so many on Metafilter are willing to give Assange a pass on rape accusations.

Don't be ridiculous. Just because many of us don't believe that international law should be tossed out the fucking window in order to apprehend a rape suspect, doesn't mean that he's getting a pass.
posted by gman at 6:15 PM on August 15, 2012 [25 favorites]


it wasn't RAPE rape.

My understanding is that it was an overly enthusiastic drive to completion after the rubber broke. Which is kindof cadly, but not a police matter in most places.

Anyway Assange has offered to try and clear it up over video, and the steadfast insistence that it has to happen in person is not consistent with the gravity of the alleged offense.
posted by localroger at 6:16 PM on August 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


humanfont: "Obama does not fuck around with rule of law stuff when it comes to murdering alleged enemies."

Only in the Third World. People don't take too kindly to missile-toting drones over London.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:16 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I will bet you one thousand dollars, right here and right now, that if Assange ever touches ground in Sweden he will end up in the US.

I'll repeat my question again, because this argument confuses the shit out of me - what stopped the UK from shipping him to the US all this time? Why does he need to go to Sweden to end up in American hands?
posted by gertzedek at 6:16 PM on August 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


But Sweden has refused to guarantee they won't hand Assange off to the US. That is all they had to do.

Anyway Assange has offered to try and clear it up over video

Again, where do all you people live that you get to dictate the terms of your appearances to the police?
posted by gerryblog at 6:17 PM on August 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Well the British don't have to extradite him; he's holed up in the embassy because, even though they don't have to, they are.

Wrong.
European Arrest Warrants leave little room for discretion. Obviously the Home Secretary can do whatever they want, but that would be a violation of the treaty governing the EAW.

The main thing his lawyers argued was that the EAW is intended for conducting prosecutions, not just investigations. This doesn't mean that you can't use it before you "charge" someone with a crime (a concept that works very differently in the Swedish legal system), just that you can't use it to compel witnesses to appear or to go on fishing expeditions.
Several English courts, including the Supreme court have held that he can be extradited under the EAW.

Nuclear derail: Sure, the British have operationally independent weapons and yes they have in the past built their own nukes, but the current Trident system is "jointly" owned by the UK and US.
posted by atrazine at 6:18 PM on August 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Obama does not fuck around with rule of law stuff when it comes to murdering alleged enemies.

Well at least you've finally come out and admitted; and in such plain language.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:19 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


the steadfast insistence that it has to happen in person is not consistent with the gravity of the alleged offense.

Because it wasn't RAPE rape. Thanks localroger!
posted by gertzedek at 6:19 PM on August 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


localroger: "Which is kindof cadly, but not a police matter in most places."

So no means yes if you're almost done?
posted by the_artificer at 6:19 PM on August 15, 2012 [10 favorites]


gerryblog: "Again, where do all you people live that you get to dictate the terms of your appearances to the police?"

Sweden was happy to go to Serbia to interview a suspect. Why not Assange?
posted by dunkadunc at 6:20 PM on August 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


what stopped the UK from shipping him to the US all this time?

Assange hasn't doen anything even approximately sketchy under UK law. For them to ship him to the US would be a total butt-kiss capitulation. It was set up in Sweden where the laws are more easily manipulated and the government can more easily shrug and say "It was the US, what were we supposed to do?"
posted by localroger at 6:20 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sweden is not going to stone him to death or give him the death penalty, and there is not one shred of evidence that they're going to extradite him to the US, or even that they could legally do so.

US Tries To Build Case Against WikiLeaks - NY Times
Justice Department officials are trying to find out whether Mr. Assange encouraged or even helped the analyst, Pfc. Bradley Manning, to extract classified military and State Department files from a government computer system. If he did so, they believe they could charge him as a conspirator in the leak, not just as a passive recipient of the documents who then published them
Sydney Morning Herald
UNITED States prosecutors have drawn up secret charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, according to a confidential internal email obtained from a private US intelligence company, Stratfor.

In the email, sent to Stratfor intelligence analysts on January 26 last year, the company's vice-president for intelligence, Fred Burton, responded to a media report concerning US investigations targeting WikiLeaks. He wrote: "We have a sealed indictment on Assange."
Yes, that would be the easiest way to punish him for raping some women, which at least his lawyer as admitted to.

Citation?
posted by deanklear at 6:20 PM on August 15, 2012


Roll on the Penn state style rape apologetics.
posted by Artw at 6:20 PM on August 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


it wasn't RAPE rape.

We don't know what happened, but if Assange gets the benefit of the doubt, then it would also be nice to take the allegations seriously, because sexual assault is sexual assault. Or am I somehow contributing to an unsafe environment for men on MetaFilter by saying so?
posted by KokuRyu at 6:22 PM on August 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


dunkadunc, that's a really specious comparison:

Investigators have visited the prison in Belgrade, where the man is being held. According to reports, decisions about extradition of 21-year old was taken within 1-2 months. Serbia is not an EU member but said prosecutor Ewa Korpi still has hopes for a relatively quick decision: - As far as we know the suspect agrees to extradition and that makes it a simpler system in the management, she says.
posted by gerryblog at 6:22 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Only in the Third World. People don't take too kindly to missile-toting drones over London.
It won't be a drone strike, drone strike, we'll be sure to ask for consent when you're awakened by our missile going up the Thames.
posted by humanfont at 6:22 PM on August 15, 2012


Again, where do all you people live that you get to dictate the terms of your appearances to the police?

Well the laws are different in different countries and I suspect you'd want your country to protect you if your scribble of Mohammad was deemed sacriligious by the police in Iran.
posted by localroger at 6:22 PM on August 15, 2012


Again, where do all you people live that you get to dictate the terms of your appearances to the police?

Speaking of rapists, remember when Polanski was able to appear on a television screen as the plaintiff in a UK libel suit?

Which is kindof cadly, but not a police matter in most places.

Uhhhhh. It's not like you can get "grandfathered in" to vaginas. If she didn't want him there, then she didn't want him there.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:23 PM on August 15, 2012 [10 favorites]


Assange hasn't doen anything even approximately sketchy under UK law.

Having sex with someone while they are asleep is also rape in Britain.
posted by dng at 6:24 PM on August 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


@trh_humunculus is tweeting from the Embassy as well.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:24 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not like you can get "grandfathered in" to vaginas.

Could you not have looked for a better analogy?
posted by Flashman at 6:26 PM on August 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Sure is fun living in a Neal Stephenson novel.

ha! I had never actually looked at it that way until I started reading this thread and attempted to explain it to my gf - "He's Australian but holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in the UK, trying to avoid deportation to Sweden after pissing off the Americans - wait, what does this remind me of...?"
posted by mannequito at 6:26 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


This sleep sex think is a real sticking point for me. These are pretty much one night stands right? That is pretty bold. Unless his counterpart was like "I have a sleep sex fetish, so um.... sleep sex" that shit ain't going to fly.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:27 PM on August 15, 2012


It was set up in Sweden where the laws are more easily manipulated and the government can more easily shrug and say "It was the US, what were we supposed to do?"

Sweden is not a banana republic. It it too cold to grow bananas even in Stockholm.

Serbia is not a member of the EU so Sweden couldn't issue an EAW for that guy (or they could, but it wouldn't do much good), they had to go through the standard extradition procedure (also required if you're seeking to extradite someone for a crime that could result in a prison sentence of more than a year within the EU).

Iran, incidentally, is also not a member of the EU.

Speaking of rapists, remember when Polanski was able to appear on a television screen as the plaintiff in a UK libel suit?

Libel is not a criminal matter.
posted by atrazine at 6:27 PM on August 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


The rape GRAR is irrelevant. Assange is not trying to avoid the charges in Sweden.

Assange would be happy to go through the process in Sweden if he was assured he wouldn't end up being sent to the US, where they are currently sharpening their knives, so to speak.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:29 PM on August 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


The rape GRAR is irrelevant. Assange is not trying to avoid the charges in Sweden.

Dude, he absolutely is.
posted by Artw at 6:30 PM on August 15, 2012 [15 favorites]


Having sex with someone while they are asleep is also rape in Britain.

Cool. Probably a good law. The thing is, as I understand it (and I'm open to cites if I'm wrong) there were originally two accusers, one of whom has dropped out, the other of whose complaint is that he kept going after the rubber broke.

Now, that is not a cool thing. I am not defending that at all. But it is not a criminal thing in a lot of places, including the place where my butt is planted right now, and AFAIK the other 49 similar places knit up into a big ole superpower. Sex is a messy thing and it involves a lot of powerful emotions and it's hard enough to realistically ask people to parse matters of consent and power before the action gets heavy.

Decommissioning an embassy and creating an international incident because somebody didn't realize yes had turned to no in the middle of the act is, well, a special kind of stupid.
posted by localroger at 6:31 PM on August 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Eep. My bad, not charges. Accusations.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:32 PM on August 15, 2012


Livestream via http://www.ustream.tv/channel/occupynewsnetwork
posted by Surfurrus at 6:33 PM on August 15, 2012


Could the problem with a UK->US extradition be the issue of capital punishment? I'm pretty sure the US government would like to kill him, and the UK (like most civilized countries) frowns on that, regardless of the circumstances.

It is an absolute no-no for any EU country to extradite him without an ironclad guarantee that the death penalty is not an option. In fact, that's presumably why Manning isn't facing a firing squad.

Though if the US wanted Assange, they'd just wait for the proceedings to be done and for him to be deported to Australia, and get the Australian government to hand him over at the airport and invalidate his citizenship, David Hicks-style. Julia Gillard has strongly hinted that the government would be amenable to following any such request.
posted by acb at 6:33 PM on August 15, 2012


Dude, he absolutely is.

Yeah, Assange is so terrified of a Swedish interrogation that he's spent almost two years in self-imposed incarceration, and is preparing to permanently exile himself to Ecuador, just to avoid the possibility of a criminal sentence in Sweden. That makes perfect sense!
posted by mek at 6:33 PM on August 15, 2012 [15 favorites]


Let's get this out of the way: Sweden does not have a "broken condom" law. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was not arrested because his contraception failed mid-coitus. Nor is he charged with "sex by surprise."

...

The allegations against Assange are rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion. He's accused of pinning one woman's arms and using his body weight to hold her down during one alleged assault, and of raping a woman while she was sleeping. In both cases, according to the allegations, Assange did not use a condom. But the controversy seems to center on the fact that both encounters started off consensually. One of his accusers was quoted by the Guardian newspaper in August as saying, "What started out as voluntary sex subsequently developed into an assault." Whether consent was withdrawn because of the lack of a condom is unclear, but also beside the point. In Sweden, it's a crime to continue to have sex after your partner withdraws consent.

posted by gerryblog at 6:34 PM on August 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


Again, where do all you people live that you get to dictate the terms of your appearances to the police?

In an Ecuadorian embassy.
posted by jacalata at 6:34 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Further livestreaming here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/occupynewsnetwork
posted by dunkadunc at 6:35 PM on August 15, 2012


Again, where do all you people live that you get to dictate the terms of your appearances to the police?

In an Ecuadorian embassy.


OH. That makes complete sense. Sorry to have gotten riled up.
posted by gerryblog at 6:35 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Speaking of rapists, remember when Polanski was able to appear on a television screen as the plaintiff in a UK libel suit?

That, IMHO, is an outrage. Polanski is a fugitive from UK law by being a fugitive from a country with an extradition treaty with the UK, and as such should be regarded as an outlaw, with no property rights in the UK.
posted by acb at 6:35 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Decommissioning an embassy and creating an international incident because somebody didn't realize yes had turned to no in the middle of the act is, well, a special kind of stupid.

I'm thinking the punchline at the end of this will be Julian Assange getting to the police station in Stockholm and finding out they just wanted to tell him the charges had been dropped.
posted by dng at 6:35 PM on August 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


Live stream - on the way. Hyde Park corner, about 10 minutes.
posted by unliteral at 6:36 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


As a woman, I have as much anger about rape as anyone else. Can we save that conversation for another thread? Assange has not been convicted of it -- he has not even been *charged* with rape. All this drama about the accusations feels like a purposeful derail.
posted by Surfurrus at 6:36 PM on August 15, 2012 [29 favorites]


Jinx dunkadunc.
posted by unliteral at 6:38 PM on August 15, 2012


Albury has a new feed
posted by HopperFan at 6:38 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


How can we possibly save that conversation for another thread? Obviously if the question of the rape accusation is off the table then the UK's actions are obviously unjustified. The fact that he is wanted for questioning with respect to a rape charge is the subject of this thread.
posted by gerryblog at 6:38 PM on August 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Another live stream.
posted by basicchannel at 6:39 PM on August 15, 2012


Thank you, surfurrus. I would be as outraged as anybody should the charges turn out to be true. The probelm is the Swedes have been offered an opportunity to clear it up without violating Assanges very just concerns, and they have been stonewalling him. That does not make it look like they want to actually get to the bottom of the charges at hand.
posted by localroger at 6:39 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


How can we possibly save that conversation for another thread?

Well you could just read the thousands of comments in previous Assange threads, and pretend we're having the exact same argument again for your personal edification.
posted by mek at 6:39 PM on August 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


My understanding is that it was an overly enthusiastic drive to completion after the rubber broke. Which is kindof cadly, but not a police matter in most places.

Anyway Assange has offered to try and clear it up over video.


Well, that's mighty big of him. Rape charges (or any legal charge) isn't some sort of moveable feast where you get to decide how you want to respond to. Or, at least, they shouldn't be, even though we know that that that is not what always happened. I think in this case there's a certain reluctance to admit that someone who has done so much that people admire (and I do admire what he did with wikileaks) could also be guilty of something reprehensible or that that same person should stand trial for a particular charge just like everyone else. This is not support for charging in there and dragging Assange out, but like Assange the women who have accused him also deserve justice. And in this case that is to have their accusations heard in a court of law and know that if a court finds that those charges are true then their attacker will face justice.

And I really don't get the belief that Sweden is any easier to sway than any other European country. Is there a single country in Europe who hasn't actually been guilty of looking the other way with extraordinary renditions or that couldn't have pressure put on it by the US?
posted by lesbiassparrow at 6:39 PM on August 15, 2012 [13 favorites]


Well you could just read the thousands of comments in previous Assange threads, and pretend we're having the exact same argument again for your personal edification.


some of the old threads were pretty good. The Bruce Sterling take on Assange's overall worldview was not bad at all, but I might have been drunk.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:43 PM on August 15, 2012


Yeah, Assange is so terrified of a Swedish interrogation that he's spent almost two years in self-imposed incarceration, and is preparing to permanently exile himself to Ecuador, just to avoid the possibility of a criminal sentence in Sweden. That makes perfect sense!

If he were, for instance, a megalomaniacal narcissist with delusions of grandeur, it'd make perfect sense.
posted by acb at 6:44 PM on August 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


lesbiassparrow, Sweden both has infamously interesting sex laws (Yeah, it really is rape if you keep going after the condom breaks) and an infamously compliant relationship with the US. The thing is, they could conduct an interview over the video with the UK cops on the line and if he's really done anything wrong, it would all be over, back to Sweden, buh-bye. They are aggressively maneuvering as if they have to avoid the possibility of learning that there is no there there.
posted by localroger at 6:44 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think "rape rape" is a huge derail, but it isn't monstrous to think that all sexual assaults may not be equal in how horrific they are. Just as we don't judge that all voluntary and involuntary manslaughter cases are murders, using "rape" only for the worst of the worst doesn't mean the alleged behavior is being condoned.
posted by tyllwin at 6:44 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


but I might have been drunk.

There are people here who aren't drunk?

Darn, I might be doing this thing wrong.
posted by localroger at 6:45 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


If he were, for instance, a megalomaniacal narcissist with delusions of grandeur, it'd make perfect sense.

Yes, if you assume your conclusions at the start, it makes thinking a whole lot less stressful.
posted by mek at 6:45 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


and an infamously compliant relationship with the US.

Unlike, say, the UK or Australia?
posted by acb at 6:45 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, it really is rape if you keep going after the condom breaks


Let's get this out of the way: Sweden does not have a "broken condom" law...
posted by gerryblog at 6:46 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]




If he were, for instance, a megalomaniacal narcissist with delusions of grandeur, it'd make perfect sense.


Let's not forget the calls for him to be charged with Treason from the US Houses.

It's not ALL in his head, now is it?
posted by gcbv at 6:46 PM on August 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


If I were a Tom Clancy-type, I'd write a thriller where a British violation of a South American Embassy leads to World War III.
posted by drezdn at 6:48 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Let's not forget the calls for him to be charged with Treason from the US Houses.

Grandstanding by teabaggers on Fox News does not legal proceedings make.
posted by acb at 6:48 PM on August 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


charged with Treason

This is absurd. Julian Assange isn't a US citizen. He can't be charged with treason. Espionage, sure, terrorism, sure, but he can't be charged with treason. Manning, not Assange, could be theoretically charged with treason.
posted by tyllwin at 6:49 PM on August 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, Assange is so terrified of a Swedish interrogation that he's spent almost two years in self-imposed incarceration, and is preparing to permanently exile himself to Ecuador, just to avoid the possibility of a criminal sentence in Sweden. That makes perfect sense!

Dude really doesn't want to have the conviction and due time. I'm really not seeking that as hard to beleive versus the various conspiracy theories.
posted by Artw at 6:49 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Anyway, stick a fork in Old Britannia, she's done. The land of the Magna Carta has been replaced with CCTV cameras and embassy raids on behalf of "special relationship" friends.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:49 PM on August 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Just because many of us don't believe that international law should be tossed out the fucking window in order to apprehend a rape suspect, doesn't mean that he's getting a pass.

He's "getting a pass" because your position is that a person sufficiently famous/connected/powerful/useful-for-other-reasons gets asylum in an embassy and doesn't have to stand trial. Assange is abusing the tenets of international law more than the British, who (as has been explained upthread) are going through the established rules, albeit aggressively.

Political asylum is important. It's not for this.
posted by gerryblog at 6:50 PM on August 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Manning, not Assange, could be theoretically charged with treason.

Except that it is impossible to convict anyone of treason under the US constitution. He'd be charged with aiding the enemy, a WW1-era crime which is functionally equivalent to treason in all but name.
posted by acb at 6:50 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


So let me get this right:
1) Guy pisses off the USA
2) Guy allegedly commits a criminal act in Sweden
3) Courts determine that extradition to Sweden is legal
4) Guy agrees to comply with orders to appear so long as Sweden promises they won't hand him over to the USA
5) Sweden says "No worries, the US isn't even involved in this criminal matter, so why are you worried? We promise."
6) Guy holes himself up seeking asylum in Ecuadorian embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden.

Oh wait, #5 didn't happen.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 6:53 PM on August 15, 2012 [18 favorites]


From Occupy livestream: Police getting aggressive now - pushing people back. "Police seem a bit on edge; about three officers now."

3 am there?
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/occupynewsnetwork
posted by Surfurrus at 6:53 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder whether he let the people who stood bail for him know that he was going to not appear to answer his bail, or whether he just didn't show up?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:54 PM on August 15, 2012


Regardless of anyones opinion on the seriousness of the charges, apparently it wouldn't be the first time someone with criminal charges against them sheltered behind diplomatic immunity from the UK police. According to that article, 11 people in the last three years, even.
posted by jacalata at 6:54 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, good - I so look forward to the day I can get extradited to Saudi Arabia for apostasy; to Singapore for smoking weed; to Thailand for making fun of their king - Then we'll see some real justice in this world! ;)

You have it backwards. International law protects you from states kidnapping you without consequence merely because you made fun of their king or whatever. The purpose of civilization and the rule of law is to reduce might=right, and as international actors start to enjoy the same security that exists between smaller actors in pockets of advanced civilization, then yes, much greater justice and prosperity will follow. Maybe it was a joke, but it's kind of annoying and "DEATHPANELS!" to associate things that can make a positive difference, as a threat instead of what it really is.
posted by anonymisc at 6:54 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Political asylum is important. It's not for this.

Alternatively: cutting off diplomatic relations is important. It's not for this.
posted by jacalata at 6:56 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


London protester is complaining to livestream about police " He pushed someone right into me -- no apology!" (genteel Occupiers!)
posted by Surfurrus at 6:57 PM on August 15, 2012


Blazecock Pileon: "Anyway, stick a fork in Old Britannia, she's done. The land of the Magna Carta has been replaced with CCTV cameras and embassy raids on behalf of "special relationship" friends."

Oh yes, that embassy raid that is not actually going on.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:58 PM on August 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Political asylum is important. It's not for this.

Right, because we can decide that for sovereign countries such as Ecuador, because we know better.
posted by mek at 6:58 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, Assange is so terrified of a Swedish interrogation that he's spent almost two years in self-imposed incarceration, and is preparing to permanently exile himself to Ecuador, just to avoid the possibility of a criminal sentence in Sweden.

Ask 20 people right now if they'd rather live in Ecuador or go to jail. Seriously. What you find so hard to believe is that someone would run away to another country to avoid possible jail time. That happens ALL THE DAMN TIME.

Also, even assuming that there's something weird about wanting to flee to a tropical country rather than go to jail for rape, all that tells you is that Julian Assange believes himself to be in danger in Sweden; it doesn't speak to reality. There is, aside from conjecture, zero evidence that Julian Assange is in any danger of being extradited to the US.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:00 PM on August 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yeesh, this is a sticky pickle.

I wish Assange would do the right thing and give himself up to Sweden to face the (quite serious, people, please stop minimizing them) charges. I wish Sweden would do the right thing and promise not to extradite him to the U.S., or at least not to do so unless the U.S. in turn makes some promises around (at minimum) treatment and type of trial for whatever it is he hasn't been charged with. I wish the U.S. would stop its current little affair with ignoring civil liberties and international law at the drop of a hat. I wish the U.K. would grow a pair and stop doing the U.S.'s dirty work.

I don't think I'm going to get any of my wishes.
posted by feckless at 7:02 PM on August 15, 2012 [22 favorites]


There is, aside from conjecture, zero evidence that Julian Assange is in any danger of being extradited to the US.

The Ecuadorians have obviously determined otherwise.
posted by moorooka at 7:04 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


gerryblog: He's "getting a pass" because your position is that a person sufficiently famous/connected/powerful/useful-for-other-reasons gets asylum in an embassy and doesn't have to stand trial.

I'm not saying he shouldn't stand trial; he should, once guarantees are in place regarding extradition. Much like Chen Guangcheng didn't want to leave the Embassy in Beijing and be at the mercy of the draconian laws and show trials of China, Assange doesn't want to put himself in a similar situation with the United States. It's not hard to understand, but then I guess there are also people on here who feel it's okay to bomb a mosque because a suspected terrorist is inside.
posted by gman at 7:04 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


3 am there?
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/occupynewsnetwork


This is live streaming from a smart phone? Holy fucking shit.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:05 PM on August 15, 2012


So, to sum up:

UK Gov't: "GRAR!"
Ecuador Gov't: "GRAR back at ya!"
Occupy Dorks on Ustream: "blah blah! woof! fookin' police! hurf durf!"
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 7:05 PM on August 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


The Ecuadorians have obviously determined otherwise.

Ecuador hasn't granted him asylum yet.
posted by gerryblog at 7:05 PM on August 15, 2012


London protester is complaining to livestream about police

Those protesters are such fucking maroons. It's 3.00 in the morning -- PC Plod has been asked to guard the embassy. He's being polite and respectful, and they're seeking to get him to answer for decisions that he has no input into whatsoever.

"Ew, ew! You nudged that man and he bumped right into me! Police brutality!!"

That might constitute the first time in my life I've ever had sympathy for the brutal, take-no-prisoners approach of the US police.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:05 PM on August 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Guy agrees to comply with orders to appear so long as Sweden promises they won't hand him over to the USA

I do not know anything about Swedish or British law, and I am far from an expert on extradition law. But I do know United States criminal law, for the little that it's relevant here just conversationally, and in the jurisdictions that I am familiar with that sentence is not a valid proposition. If you strike the "so long as..." and anything that follows it, then you're golden. If not, they are comin' in after you.

I would be surprised to learn this is different in Sweden or Britain.
posted by cribcage at 7:06 PM on August 15, 2012


He's "getting a pass" because your position is that a person sufficiently famous/connected/powerful/useful-for-other-reasons gets asylum in an embassy and doesn't have to stand trial. Assange is abusing the tenets of international law more than the British, who (as has been explained upthread) are going through the established rules, albeit aggressively.

Political asylum is important. It's not for this.
You should blame Ecuador, not Assange. It's their decision who does and does not get asylum.

He's spent more time under house arrest then the typical Swedish sentence for the crime he's committed.

Regardless of whether or not you think he'll just be handed over to the U.S it seems pretty obvious that's what he thinks and obviously you have to expect someone in his position is going to do everything in their power to avoid that.
posted by delmoi at 7:07 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ok, so what are the possible outcomes here.

1) His hosts are having a chat with Assange right now and are saying, "Yeah, its been fun but time to hit the road" and Assange comes out now, or sometime soon, by himself.

2) The police raid the embassy and drag him out, Ecuador potests about her sovereign rights. BTW how the fuck do you raid an embassy, don't they have security up the ass ?

3) Assange calls the bluff, the cops sit out there for months and eventually it fades from memory.

4) In the interest in diplomacy Sweden and Ecuador cut a deal and they interview him via skype as long as Equador promises to hand him over if he fucks up and implicates himself.

I think 1,4, are most likely with 3 as a darkhorse. I don't think a handful of police can raid an embassy if they lock it down. This isn't Lethal Weapon and these guys aint Riggs and Murtaugh.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:07 PM on August 15, 2012


I think you have to deconstruct this a bit.

Assange may be Mr Rapey Rape Rape and he certainly sounds like an asshole to me, but guess what, even rapey assholes get the same rights as anyone else.

It couldn't be clearer that the intent if he goes to Sweden is to extradite him to the US where GOOD FUCKIN' LUCK ASSANGE.

So until that threat is dropped, he's completely right to fight it as hard as he can.

If Sweden was actually serious about the rape charges they'd drop the extradition threat.

This is really not about the rape, at this point, so let's not pretend it is.
posted by unSane at 7:08 PM on August 15, 2012 [12 favorites]


It's about rape and pretending rape doesn't count when someone you like has done it.
posted by Artw at 7:11 PM on August 15, 2012 [12 favorites]


It's not hard to understand, but then I guess there are also people on here who feel it's okay to bomb a mosque because a suspected terrorist is inside.

For the record, I'm absolutely not such a person. I just don't think the claim that Assange is being politically targeted by Sweden has been sufficiently supported -- I don't see any evidence for the claim at all except "come on, we all just know it." The argument asserts a labyrinthine international conspiracy when, as others have noted, there's no reason why the US couldn't have extradited him out of British custody if they wanted him.
posted by gerryblog at 7:11 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]



I think 1,4, are most likely with 3 as a darkhorse.


Or how about the outcome that the first link in this thread leads to, where he gets asylum?
posted by gcbv at 7:11 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would be surprised to learn this is different in Sweden or Britain.
Prosecutors can make whatever kind of deal they want in order to get an extradition. The US routinely agrees not to seek the death penalty to get people in countries that forbid extradition to death penalty countries.

I wonder how many people who claim this is all really just about the sexual assault charges would be willing to put money on him not being extradited to the U.S?

I find it really difficult to believe people actually think that's not a possibility. The argument seems to be it doesn't matter for some reason, when obviously it matters a lot to Assange and his supporters (which includes the president of Ecuador)
posted by delmoi at 7:11 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Roman Polanski got an easier time moving away after being CONVICTED of far worse.

'Forget it, Jake, it's Switzerland.'
posted by Anything at 7:13 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


I just don't think the claim that Assange is being politically targeted by Sweden has been sufficiently supported
Why does it need to be supported? All that matters is whether or not Assange and the Ecuadorian government believe it's true. It's belief not the actual facts that are guiding their actions. After all, they have no way of knowing what the actual facts are.

I think there is enough evidence to say that they believe it's possible.
posted by delmoi at 7:14 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


At this point the best thing the US could do to destroy Assange is not to seek his extradition from Sweden.

That would make him and all his supporters look like complete and utter tools.
posted by ocschwar at 7:14 PM on August 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


Instead, it's the other way around.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:16 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


To be honest, even Naomi Wolf a while back said this stinks to high heaven. So can we maybe dispense with heavy-handed implications of rape support or "it's not RAPE rape" or whatever ugly things people are trying to stick onto folks who question the way this case has been handled? Thanks in advance for your cooperation.
posted by ubernostrum at 7:16 PM on August 15, 2012 [17 favorites]


I wonder how many people who claim this is all really just about the sexual assault charges would be willing to put money on him not being extradited to the U.S?

I put my proposal upthread. I was totally serious. I paid off my house via advantage gambling and I won $50 from a net.loser on Obama's election. Please give me an arbitrage opportunity, true believers. I have money and it is where my mouth is.
posted by localroger at 7:16 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


If Sweden was actually serious about the rape charges they'd drop the extradition threat.

Does it work that way, though? If you have an extradition treaty with another country, aren't you precisely agreeing to extradite if you take someone into custody and the other country follows the rules, in return for them saying the same thing?

The only exception I know of is when death penalty is a possibility. Which may very well be the case here.
posted by msalt at 7:16 PM on August 15, 2012


Again, Ecuador has not actually granted Assange asylum yet.
posted by gerryblog at 7:16 PM on August 15, 2012


Also, we should keep in mind that the Swedish government has plenty of reason to be personally angry at Assange without the US government itself pushing the issue. There were some embarrassing things about what the swedish government was doing in those leaks.
posted by delmoi at 7:17 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Conveniently that decision is to come later today.
posted by 2bucksplus at 7:17 PM on August 15, 2012


Does it work that way, though? If you have an extradition treaty with another country, aren't you precisely agreeing to extradite if you take someone into custody and the other country follows the rules, in return for them saying the same thing?

I was Googling this before. It looks as if Sweden is bound by treaty to extradite unless they determine that the motives are political or military in nature, in which case the executive can (should? must?) block it. I don't know that Sweden can make such a determination proactively, though -- what Assange is asking for might be impossible under the law.
posted by gerryblog at 7:18 PM on August 15, 2012


It's about rape and pretending rape doesn't count when someone you like has done it.

Evidence that anyone else has ever been placed on the Interpol Red List for alleged sexual assault with no charges laid? What could possibly be the reason for such special treatment? I guess it must have been an especially rapey rape!
posted by Jimbob at 7:18 PM on August 15, 2012 [11 favorites]


Or how about the outcome that the first link in this thread leads to, where he gets asylum?

Yeah, but what does that mean? Won't he still be subject to arrest once he steps foot outside the embassy? They can't say, "well he has asylum, he can go wherever the fuck he wants. He's going to tour Buckingham Palace and you can't touch him.. because he has asylum"
posted by Ad hominem at 7:18 PM on August 15, 2012


Am I the only one who finds it unusual that the US is basically North Korea as far as this thread is concerned? It sounds as if Assange will be thown into an Alaskan gulag the second he steps on US soil with out any due process.

I don't necessarily disagree with the general sentiment, but I do find it a bit alarming.
posted by jamincan at 7:18 PM on August 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


http://shop.wikileaks.org/donate

Credit card donations are (apparently) possible, thanks to French banks and net neutrality defense charities.
posted by anthill at 7:19 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I got that from justice4assange.com.
posted by gerryblog at 7:19 PM on August 15, 2012


It's about rape and pretending rape doesn't count when someone you like has done it.

So, we've gone over that a suspected murderer (you know, as in killed a dude) was allowed to skype an interview with the Swedish authorities. And that's all Sweden wants, right? An interview.

And then they refused to allow for the use of Skype. And then they refused to discuss possible extradition to the US under-God-knows-what charges of espionage.

So there's accusations (ACCUSATIONS) of rape being leveled and then there's a small, itty bitty story going on somewhere above (yes, above, as if the US is going to fucking wait for the rape trial to finish up) those accusations that's just a smidge relevant to the man who's looking down the barrel of US 'justice'.
posted by Slackermagee at 7:19 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Watching police inspector telling Assange supporter to move off road. Interestingly civil, calm exchange. Told them there is nothing to be worried about. Occupy livestream is asking for viewers to join the group at 9th Street Tube Station near Harrods ("bring coffee')
posted by Surfurrus at 7:19 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Let me make one thing clear - I do not believe that "No means No."

I believe, very firmly, that "Yes means Yes." Anything else is insufficient protection.

Without explicit, uncoerced consent, even if US law doesn't consider it rape, it's absolutely rape. I also believe that the accuser must be given the benefit of the doubt - the power, societally, psychologically, physically, is almost entirely on the assailant's side.

Now that I've made that clear... this stinks on ice. Swedish police have sent officers to interview suspects in Serbia for the convenience of the accused and local authorities, but have made no such effort here.

They have refused to agree not to extradite him to the US once he's in custody, which is the only demand Assanage has made of them.

Assanage's legal representation is Baltazar Garzón, the Spanish judge who was famous for going after criminal heads of state, like Pinochet, terrorist threats to public order, like ETA, and then disbarred on trumped up charges for declaring Franco's regime illegitimate and illegal. If that man smells smoke, there's fire.

So! If Sweden agreed, in writing, to not extradite him or otherwise put him in the custody of the US, and expresses that the alpha and the omega of this is a sexual assault case, he should be hauled out of there in shackles at gun-point, and given the frog-march-of-shame.

Sweden hasn't.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:19 PM on August 15, 2012 [21 favorites]


Mr. Rapey Rapey Rape
rapey rape


Stop with this bullshit.
posted by gerryblog at 7:20 PM on August 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


jamincan: " It sounds as if Assange will be thown into an Alaskan gulag the second he steps on US soil with out any due process."

No, just tortured and locked up forever in solitary confinement.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:21 PM on August 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


Am I the only one who finds it unusual that the US is basically North Korea as far as this thread is concerned? It sounds as if Assange will be thown into an Alaskan gulag the second he steps on US soil with out any due process.

Except that I haven't seen one bit of evidence that this is the case. it's all "they MUST be wanting to send him to the US, cause otherwise why would they care so much?" Might very well be true, but I'm seeing a lot more conjecture than evidence.
posted by msalt at 7:21 PM on August 15, 2012


So to clarify:

Famous guy who pissed off Western Democracy is an alleged rapist and getting extra special treatment from the authorities. Is he getting extra special attention from the authorities (interpol, etc) because he is:

a) A suspected rapist
b) A famous guy who is a suspected rapist
c) A famous guy who pissed off Western Democracy
posted by Slackermagee at 7:22 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


If Sweden agreed, in writing, to not extradite him or otherwise put him in the custody of the US

Are we certain Sweden can agree to this under its extradition treaty with the US? It seems as though (from the justice4assange link above) that they can only make these sorts of determinations once a request for extradition has been filed.
posted by gerryblog at 7:22 PM on August 15, 2012


Anyone here know London? Is it 9th St. Bridge or Knights Street Bridge? (hard to understand all the audio)
posted by Surfurrus at 7:23 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


mannequito: "ha! I had never actually looked at it that way until I started reading this thread and attempted to explain it to my gf - "He's Australian but holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in the UK, trying to avoid deportation to Sweden after pissing off the Americans - wait, what does this remind me of...?""

World War I?
posted by schmod at 7:24 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: Overly enthusiastic drive to completion
posted by Anything at 7:24 PM on August 15, 2012


Knight's Bridge, just beside Harrod's.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:25 PM on August 15, 2012


If Sweden was actually serious about the rape charges they'd drop the extradition threat.

There's extradition "threat" as the US hasn't sought extradition or charged Assange with anything. What they've refused to do is say categorically that they won't extradite Assange, and they're right to do.

The extradition treaty between the US and Sweden imposes affirmative obligations on the two countries. In the event that the US charges Assange with an extraditable offense and requests extradition, Sweden must extradite him, absent the existence of one of the exceptions listed in Article V of the treaty. Note all the "shalls" in the treaty. This isn't like a prosecutor declining to seek the death penalty; there's no discretion. If the request is for a qualifying offense, and isn't subject to an exception, they must extradite.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:25 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Knightsbridge.
posted by blurker at 7:25 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm kinda enjoying the idea of some sort of Ecuadorian equivalent of Murray Hewitt inside the ebassy panicking at the activities outside.

"Rickie Leeks? I dunno who he is..."
posted by ShutterBun at 7:26 PM on August 15, 2012


That should read that there's no extradition threat.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:27 PM on August 15, 2012


Diplomatic police have arrived.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:27 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


And I really don't get the belief that Sweden is any easier to sway than any other European country. Is there a single country in Europe who hasn't actually been guilty of looking the other way with extraordinary renditions or that couldn't have pressure put on it by the US?

The USG has a paper trail a mile long in their quest to lock up Assange and Bradley Manning for an eternity if they can't execute them in cold blood. I don't think anyone disputes this fact.

Now, I just want to pull a chunk of the BBC timeline in it's entirety, because I think it's important:
17 August 2010

Mr Assange reportedly has sex with a woman he met at the seminar on 14 August, identified as "Miss W".

Some time between 17 and 20 August, "Miss W" and "Miss A" - the woman who arranged his speaking trip - are in contact and apparently share with a journalist the concerns they have about aspects of their respective sexual encounters with Mr Assange.

18 August 2010

Mr Assange applies for a residence permit to live and work in Sweden. He hopes to create a base for Wikileaks there, because of the country's laws protecting whistle-blowers.

20 August 2010

The Swedish Prosecutor's Office issues an arrest warrant for Julian Assange. Karin Rosander, head of communications, says there are two separate allegations - one of rape and one of molestation.

Both women reportedly say that what started as consensual sex became non-consensual.

Wikileaks quotes Mr Assange as saying the accusations are "without basis" and that their appearance "at this moment is deeply disturbing". A later message on the Wikileaks Twitter feed says the group has been warned to expect "dirty tricks".

21 August 2010

The arrest warrant is withdrawn. "I don't think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape," says one of Stockholm's chief prosecutors, Eva Finne.

Ms Rosander says the investigation into the molestation charge will continue but it is not a serious enough crime for an arrest warrant.

The lawyer for the two women, Claes Borgstrom, lodges an appeal to a special department in the public prosecutions office.

31 August 2010

Mr Assange is questioned by police for about an hour in Stockholm and formally told of the allegations against him, according to his lawyer at the time, Leif Silbersky. The activist denies the charges.

1 September 2010

Swedish Director of Prosecution Marianne Ny says she is reopening the rape investigation against Mr Assange, eleven days after a chief prosecutor announced the arrest warrant had been dropped. Ms Ny is also head of the department that oversees prosecution of sex crimes in particular.

"There is reason to believe that a crime has been committed," she says in a statement. "Considering information available at present, my judgement is that the classification of the crime is rape."

Ms Ny says the investigation into the molestation claim will also be extended. She tells AFP that overturning another prosecutor's decision was "not an ordinary (procedure), but not so out of the ordinary either"
What caused the Swedish authorities to issue a warrant, retract it, and then let Assange go the day before they decided that they needed to arrest him? It could be internal bungling. It could be external political pressure. Honestly I was on the fence until the Interpol alert was issued — something they rarely do for any suspect. So how did Assange go from an uninteresting suspect to someone Sweden wanted so badly?

And now the UK is threatening to remove diplomatic immunity from an entire embassy just to extradite this same person.

I don't think it's far fetched to see outside actors at play in this case. If this case were about any other political dissident and any other world power I don't think it would be an outside view. But I do think that anyone who claims there is nothing odd about the prosecution of Julian Assange probably has a vested interest in keeping their head in the sand.

The middle ground, where I am near, is that Assange should be prosecuted in an international court, but only if he is guaranteed to serve time in his home country if convicted. That provides the opportunity for justice to be served for both parties, but that hasn't been offered by the Swedish or UK governments, and I don't wonder why.
posted by deanklear at 7:28 PM on August 15, 2012 [36 favorites]


Thank you dunkadunc and blurker ... I will retweet the corrected directions - Knightsbridge ! =-]
posted by Surfurrus at 7:28 PM on August 15, 2012


Whether the claims of British govt threats are accurate or exaggerated ( and based on the evidence of the letter presented by the Ecuador govt, it appears exaggerated; and embassies are not normally legally inviolable places anywhere as some people seem to think) , it is in the political interests of the Ecuadorian president and his party to make as big a noise as possible about this to polish their domestic political reputation ( they have a track record of aggressively suppressing media freedoms and there's always the rally around the flag effect )
posted by Bwithh at 7:29 PM on August 15, 2012


So, if Assange is asking for something that's actually impossible to grant under the treaty, does that change things for his defenders in this thread?
posted by gerryblog at 7:29 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not impossible to grant, since they can interview him remotely and not run afoul of any treaty obligations.
posted by mek at 7:31 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


gerryblog, I don't see anyone defending Assange - I do see many defending his right to justice.
posted by Surfurrus at 7:32 PM on August 15, 2012


It's about rape and pretending rape doesn't count when someone you like has done it.

It was actually about getting him to take an HIV test. The city police department investigated the complaint and cancelled the arrest warrant....
...Ten days later, the warrant was re-issued at the national level.

That's... odd. But not alarming... yet...

Then he's on Interpol's red list, then it's full-on extradition shit.
If you think it's about rape, you haven't been paying attention to rape.
posted by anonymisc at 7:34 PM on August 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


Report in the Guardian:

At a press conference on Wednesday, Patiño released details of a letter he said was delivered through a British embassy official in Quito, the capital of the South American country.

The letter said: "You need to be aware that there is a legal base in the UK, the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987, that would allow us to take actions in order to arrest Mr Assange in the current premises of the embassy."

It added: "We need to reiterate that we consider the continued use of the diplomatic premises in this way incompatible with the Vienna convention and unsustainable and we have made clear the serious implications that this has for our diplomatic relations."

posted by carter at 7:34 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Assanage's legal representation is Baltazar Garzón, the Spanish judge who was famous for going after criminal heads of state, like Pinochet...

This reminds me of my very brief career as a stand-up comic around the year 2000. I got up on stage and said: "General Pinochet had been indicted for crimes against humanity. He has just been released... on humanitarian grounds..."

Yes, the audience hated me.
posted by ovvl at 7:35 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not impossible to grant, since they can interview him remotely and not run afoul of any treaty obligations.

Upthread (and this seems to confirm) it was said that Swedish law requires an in-person interview. I think they ought to bend the rules, but apparently that's what's going on.

gerryblog, I don't see anyone defending Assange - I do see many defending his right to justice.

Okay, taking your split hair -- but his "right to justice" doesn't extend to things that are actually impossible to grant under the US-Sweden treaty, is what I'm suggesting.
posted by gerryblog at 7:35 PM on August 15, 2012


Or how about the outcome that the first link in this thread leads to, where he gets asylum?

That's not going to happen, given that there is no way of spiriting him out of UK territory without the UK government giving him (who is, after all, a fugitive from the law and wanted over sexual offences) safe passage. Even if there were a sympathetic government in power, giving safe passage in such circumstances would stink of impropriety.

Basically, this is checkmate.
posted by acb at 7:36 PM on August 15, 2012


Upthread (and this seems to confirm) it was said that Swedish law requires an in-person interview.

The opposite was also said. Metafilter: not exactly an authority on Swedish law.
posted by mek at 7:37 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


gerryblog: No, because in this thread the question is not 'should Assange have gone to Sweden', it's 'is Britain using excessive diplomatic 'force' to chase a suspected rapist out of the Ecuadorian embassy'.

Relevant questions: how has Britain reacted if a criminal has hidden behind diplomatic immunity/sheltered in an embassy in other cases? What are the 'normal' kind of incidents that would provoke a country to throw out another country's embassy? If this behaviour is unusual, what is motivating the UK?

Not relevant, in my opinion: was it 'rape rape'? Do you think he's actually guilty? Do you support rapists?
posted by jacalata at 7:38 PM on August 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


He fled internationally while suspected of a crime, and the equivalent of an international arrest warrant was issued? That's not exactly the OMG PROOF OF CONSPIRACY you seem to think it is. If he weren't a celebrity nobody would question that in the slightest.
posted by Artw at 7:39 PM on August 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


From the live stream: He can escape on a motorbike. That would be a cool way to do it. Like James Bond.
posted by unliteral at 7:40 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


He fled internationally while suspected of a crime, and the equivalent of an international arrest warrant was issued? That's not exactly the OMG PROOF OF CONSPIRACY you seem to think it is. If he weren't a celebrity nobody would question that in the slightest.

Don't worry, Artw. No one believes you will change your mind, regardless of the evidence.
posted by deanklear at 7:41 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Heh, this is getting so ridiculous that perhaps Assange should ask Marianne Ny for a sentence for his alleged crime if he were to plead innocent and be found guilty, and request that he be allowed to serve that time in a prison of [country].
posted by anonymisc at 7:41 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


If he weren't a celebrity nobody would question that in the slightest.

If he weren't a celebrity they wouldn't be chasing him.
posted by Jimbob at 7:41 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Funny tweet: "Did #Assange play role of pizza delivery guy to slip out of Embassy? Hmmm what a fantastic idea... "

We can hope.
posted by Surfurrus at 7:43 PM on August 15, 2012


If he weren't a celebrity they wouldn't be chasing him.

They would if he fled internationally. Unless they already caught him, due to his lack of high-profile supporters.
posted by acb at 7:44 PM on August 15, 2012


They would if he fled internationally.

No, they wouldn't.
posted by anonymisc at 7:46 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


He fled internationally while suspected of a crime, and the equivalent of an international arrest warrant was issued? That's not exactly the OMG PROOF OF CONSPIRACY you seem to think it is.

This is a complete straw-man, and I expect better of you.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:47 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Can someone please please please tell me why does he have to go to Sweden so the US can nab him?
posted by gertzedek at 7:49 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


gerryblog: No, because in this thread the question is not 'should Assange have gone to Sweden', it's 'is Britain using excessive diplomatic 'force' to chase a suspected rapist out of the Ecuadorian embassy'.

We were also talking about "is this a legitimate use of political asylum?" which entails questions about the legitimacy of the charges.
posted by gerryblog at 7:49 PM on August 15, 2012


No they can't, because if you really wanted to know you could look it up in one of the many previous threads. This is why breaking news controversy filter sucks, because it attracts lazy uninformed discussion, myself included.

On preview: no, that was the last thread, when he entered the Ecuadorian asylum. Another example of my point. I'm out, because what I was looking for here was actually informative discussion, not a rehash of everything about Assange ever.
posted by jacalata at 7:51 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


He fled internationally while suspected of a crime, and the equivalent of an international arrest warrant was issued? That's not exactly the OMG PROOF OF CONSPIRACY you seem to think it is.

This is a complete straw-man, and I expect better of you.


Hmm....

Evidence that anyone else has ever been placed on the Interpol Red List for alleged sexual assault with no charges laid? What could possibly be the reason for such special treatment? I guess it must have been an especially rapey rape!

and


It was actually about getting him to take an HIV test. The city police department investigated the complaint and cancelled the arrest warrant....
...Ten days later, the warrant was re-issued at the national level.

That's... odd. But not alarming... yet...

Then he's on Interpol's red list, then it's full-on extradition shit.
If you think it's about rape, you haven't been paying attention to rape.


So, no.
posted by Artw at 7:52 PM on August 15, 2012


obviously I meant he entered the Ecuadorian embassy looking for asylum, oops
posted by jacalata at 7:52 PM on August 15, 2012


gertzedek:

The US/UK extradition treaty gives them a choice, and the UK has chosen not to extradite people to the US before.

Sweden has never refused an extradition request from the United States.
posted by deanklear at 7:54 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Can someone please please please tell me why does he have to go to Sweden so the US can nab him?

The extradition treaty with Sweden is worded in such a way that they have to hand him over if requested. The UK has a more fine-grained extradition treaty... so the government would be laughed out of court if they tried it. The ensuing shenanigans in the UK are all quasi-legal, but it doesn't have to own up to the real reason for extradition to the US. Ship him off to Sweden for a non-political crime, where they are obligated to extradite for a political crime (my money's on conspiracy.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:54 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


The repeated desire to define the scope of this conversation so narrowly that there's no possible disagreement strikes me as very odd.

Yes, okay, in the absence of all other context, Britain shouldn't do the thing it didn't actually do and raid an embassy.

where they are obligated to extradite for a political crime

They're actually specifically exempted from the obligation to extradite with respect to political crimes.
posted by gerryblog at 7:55 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why does anyone argue that notions of political asylum shouldn't apply because rape isn't a political crime? If the claim is that he's facing trumped-up charges or disproportionate selective prosecution as part of political persecution, surely it doesn't matter what the nature of the trumped-up charges are.
posted by tyllwin at 7:57 PM on August 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


[This thread will be vastly improved if everyone dials the glib sarcasm back a notch. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 7:58 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


If the claim is that he's facing trumped-up charges or disproportionate selective prosecution as part of political persecution, surely it doesn't matter what the nature of the trumped-up charges are.

Of course. But there's been no actual evidence that the charges are trumped-up other than repeated assertions of a secret conspiracy between the US, the UK, and Sweden.
posted by gerryblog at 7:59 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry, there are no charges. He has not been charged.
posted by mek at 8:00 PM on August 15, 2012


Why does anyone argue that notions of political asylum shouldn't apply because rape isn't a political crime? If the claim is that he's facing trumped-up charges or disproportionate selective prosecution as part of political persecution, surely it doesn't matter what the nature of the trumped-up charges are.

I think you cut to the heart of the matter better than anyone else here has yet.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:01 PM on August 15, 2012


Just to elaborate on that: the claim of people in this thread is that Assange would be HAPPY to go back and interview / stand trial for the rape charges if he could be given a (seemingly impossible) guarantee that he will not be extradited to the US on charges that have not yet been filed and may never be filed. That's not compatible with a request for political asylum on the grounds of unjust prosecution.

disproportionate selective prosecution

This is not a category that is recognized by any treaty or legal authority I know of. If you committed a crime, the state can prosecute you for it, regardless of decisions they've made about other prosecutions. This is special pleading, not evidence in Assange's favor.
posted by gerryblog at 8:02 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


On livestream now, police officer and Assange supporters are exchanging good-humoured banter. No information; no drama.
posted by Surfurrus at 8:02 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ship him off to Sweden for a non-political crime, where they are obligated to extradite for a political crime (my money's on conspiracy.)

My gut feeling is that Assange is correct that the USA is pulling strings, but nabbing him from Sweden isn't the plan, at least not yet. My feeling is that this Swedish legal case is the least flimsy angle of attack, and that if the USA has to apply pressure and/or bend rules and twist arms to shred this guy, the USA would be delighted to have Assange in jail in Sweden for being a despicable monster, much more than on its own soil drawing attention to the USA stomping on a journalist.

But who knows, maybe the USA would like him to be convicted as a monster first, then far fewer people will notice or care years later when - after he serves out his time - he only then gets extradited to be stomped.
posted by anonymisc at 8:03 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


But there's been no actual evidence that the charges are trumped-up

Things do have a pretty funky smell about them, though, in regards to his accuser hanging out with Assange and partying with him after the alleged offense took place, in regards to the allegations that were withdrawn, then suddenly appeared again, in regards to his accuser penning a blog post in the past describing sexual assault allegations as being a great way to get back at men.
posted by Jimbob at 8:04 PM on August 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


Sorry, there are no charges. He has not been charged.

True enough, that was imprecise. He is refusing to be interviewed by police, pending a possible charge.

Though the fact that he hasn't been charged with anything actually flows in the direction that this is not a legitimate request for political asylum, I keep collapsing the two because it seems to me the charges will inevitably flow from the interview.
posted by gerryblog at 8:04 PM on August 15, 2012


Things do have a pretty funky smell about them, though, in regards to his accuser hanging out with Assange and partying with him after the alleged offense took place, in regards to the allegations that were withdrawn, then suddenly appeared again, in regards to his accuser penning a blog post in the past describing sexual assault allegations as being a great way to get back at men.

It's becoming me vs everybody so I should back off, but this is SOP to sow doubt in rape cases. Rape victims NEVER act "the way a person really would if they'd been raped." Their behavior is always suspect.
posted by gerryblog at 8:06 PM on August 15, 2012 [16 favorites]


in regards to his accuser penning a blog post in the past describing sexual assault allegations as being a great way to get back at men.

Link plz.

If it happened, it changes everything.
posted by ocschwar at 8:08 PM on August 15, 2012


Sovereign nation status at one's nations embassies and consulates. UK -- WTF don't you understand?
posted by ericb at 8:08 PM on August 15, 2012


It's becoming me vs everybody

I think your contributions have been great.
posted by anonymisc at 8:09 PM on August 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Assange will probably be lassoed under the following crime in the extradition treaty:
Robbery; burglary, defined to be the breaking into or entering either in day or night time, a house, office, or other building of a government, corporation, or private person, with intent to commit a felony therein.
Samuel Loring Morison was convicted of theft of government property via the Espianoge Act in the mid eighties for leaking secret government information to the press.

Even more interesting:
1. Extradition need not be granted for an offense which has been committed within the territorial jurisdiction of the requested State, but if the offense has been committed in the requested State by an officer or employee of the requesting State, who is a national of the requesting State, the executive authority of the requested State shall, subject to its laws, have the power to surrender the person sought if, in its discretion, it be deemed proper to do so.

2. When the offense has been committed outside the territorial jurisdiction [*7] of the requesting State, the request for extradition need not be honored unless the laws of the requesting State and those of the requested State authorize prosecution of such offense under corresponding circumstances.
If I read that correctly, it means that the suspect can be extradited even if accused of crimes not committed in the territory of the requesting state if the requested state has similar laws. I wonder if a similar clause exists in the US/UK treaty.
posted by deanklear at 8:13 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Link plz.

If it happened, it changes everything.


I remember seeing this at one point, I think, but the references I find now refer to a "since deleted" blogpost. That would be an important and perhaps determinative point for Assange in trial, certainly, but doesn't preempt the need to actually have one.
posted by gerryblog at 8:13 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not sure which is worse, the casual misogyny displayed in this MetaFilter thread, or the steady decline of the rule of law.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:13 PM on August 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Not sure which is worse, the casual misogyny displayed in this MetaFilter thread, or the steady decline of the rule of law.

Don't make me choose!
posted by gerryblog at 8:15 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


When did demand for a fair trial become casual misogyny?
posted by deanklear at 8:15 PM on August 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Rape victims NEVER act "the way a person really would if they'd been raped."

Indeed. There is no uniform way that rape victims (re)act. If you find yourself saying something along the lines of "If she were really raped, it's odd that she behaved thusly," then you are on the wrong track.

I don't know a lot about the facts of this case, so I'm not familiar with the circumstances under which charges might have been withdrawn and refiled, and I'm not familiar with any blog posts that may have been written. But I'll voice a strong objection to the notion that there is anything remotely "funky smell[ing]" about the fact that a woman may have socialized with a man subsequent to him raping her.
posted by cribcage at 8:16 PM on August 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


When did demand for a fair trial become casual misogyny?

I think he was talking about cutesy language like "kind of cadly" and "rapey rape."
posted by gerryblog at 8:17 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


mek: "Sorry, there are no charges. He has not been charged."

He hasn't been formally charged and that won't happen until he returns to Sweden, they have begun prosecution against him,
"... even if the court was constrained to determine whether someone was an accused by solely considering the question of whether the prosecution had commenced, we would not find it difficult to hold that looking at what has taken place in Sweden that the prosecution had commenced. Although it is clear a decision has not been taken to charge him, that is because, under Swedish procedure, that decision is taken at a late stage with the trial following quickly thereafter. In England and Wales, a decision to charge is taken at a very early stage; there can be no doubt that if what Mr Assange had done had been done in England and Wales, he would have been charged and thus criminal proceedings would have been commenced. If the commencement of criminal proceedings were to be viewed in this way, it would be to look at Swedish procedure through the narrowest of eyes. On this basis, criminal proceedings have commenced against Mr Assange."
From here.
posted by the_artificer at 8:17 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


When did demand for a fair trial become casual misogyny?

Also, and I swear I am walking away now, Assange has yet to have his fair trial because he fled bail and is currently hiding out to avoid interrogation and possible prosecution. The demand for a fair trial is coming from the other direction: the people who think he should return or be returned to Sweden.
posted by gerryblog at 8:20 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


When did demand for a fair trial become casual misogyny

Well, if we all want a trial we're all on the same page then, aren't we? Only one person stopping that.
posted by Artw at 8:22 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


She's ringing the doorbell!
posted by unliteral at 8:25 PM on August 15, 2012


No answer. "They're probably quite busy".
posted by unliteral at 8:26 PM on August 15, 2012


much more than on its own soil drawing attention to the USA stomping on a journalist.

Meanwhile President Correa of Ecuador must be laughing himself sick over the fact that he is being held up as a hero of freedom of speech by Assange's supporters while he ruthlessly suppresses journalists in Ecuador who enquire too closely into the operations of his government.

Odd bedfellows that Assange fellow does seek.
posted by yoink at 8:27 PM on August 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


The most critical element isn't whether he'll be investigated on sexual assault charges, but whether Sweden, once he is in their custody, will turn him over to the US for extradition.

I have yet to see a single clear, cited comment about A) whether Sweden has made any guarantees NOT to extradite him on unrelated charges, or B) whether Sweden can even make such guarantees and remain in compliance with their extradition treaty to the US.

Anyone done any research on this, or is this just going to be another thread of GRAR, while the Brits and Ecuadorians are playing their Diplomacy game?
posted by chimaera at 8:27 PM on August 15, 2012


Artw: you are aware of why he is hesitant to go to Sweden, right? It's not about the Swedish accusations. it's because he's afraid he will be handed off to the US to be prosecuted for his journalism.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:28 PM on August 15, 2012


All the stupid "rapey rape" comments, plus the comments about "not pulling out in the heat of the moment", and the other ones about "she didn't seem like a rape victim".

It has nothing to do Assange or whatever. Instead, it's shocking that people can make those sorts of comments here on MetaFilter. Ideally people could express their doubts about the allegations while showing a little more restraint.

That's all.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:28 PM on August 15, 2012 [15 favorites]


When did demand for a fair trial become casual misogyny?

There is a lot about the circumstances of the plaintiffs that is suspicious (more than has been mentioned in this thread), but which also could be incidental or coincidental. Because the plaintiffs could be victims, speculating on their motives or character isn't cool - rape plaintiffs have a long history of suffering this.

Furthermore, I don't actually think the plaintiff (or the legitimacy of their complaint) is relevant to questions of whether the legal proceedings swirling around the complaint are being corrupted for political reasons. So, better to stay classy and assume the best of the plaintiffs, and leave them out of it.
posted by anonymisc at 8:28 PM on August 15, 2012


gerryblog, you can't have possibly read this far and passed passed up the fact that Sweden regularly sends out officers to interview people in person in other countries. They sent a team to Belgrade to interview someone suspected of murder. If Sweden is interested in a quick and fair trial,

1) Why don't they offer a legally binding statement that Assange will not be extradited to the US?
2) In lieu of that, why not offer to try him in a third party nation and allow him to serve time in his home country if he's convicted?
3) If Sweden and the UK are finally taking sex crimes seriously, why haven't they issued any more Interpol Red Notices for any more suspects? Is Assange the only person accused of molestation and rape in the past two years who has left Sweden before they were tried?
posted by deanklear at 8:30 PM on August 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Meanwhile President Correa of Ecuador must be laughing himself sick

Ecuador is the bar for freedom that the USA prides itself on rising to?
You're making a straw man.
posted by anonymisc at 8:30 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


KokoRyu, I agree those comments are despicable.
posted by deanklear at 8:31 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Too many NancyGrace "convict him!" voices here - pitchforks out, faces contorted. The discussion of wikileaks/Assange and the significance of revealing the deceit of governments is completely overshadowed by those with personal knee-jerk agendas. I'd laugh if it weren't such a mirror of how serious issues get derailed in almost all venues these days.

Why did I think metafilter would be immune?
posted by Surfurrus at 8:33 PM on August 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Despicable, maybe, but the 'rapey rape' comment was clearly saying that (a) he may well be guilty of rape and (b) may well be an asshole. Try reading.
posted by unSane at 8:33 PM on August 15, 2012


This is kind of interesting:

Gary McKinnon (born 10 February 1966) is a Scottish[1] systems administrator and hacker who was accused in 2002 of perpetrating the "biggest military computer hack of all time,"
...
After a series of legal proceedings in England, McKinnon is currently fighting extradition to the United States.
...
McKinnon is accused of hacking into 97 United States military and NASA computers over a 13-month period between February 2001 and March 2002...


From here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_McKinnon

Is this at all relevant to the discussion of why the US might try to extradite from Sweden instead of the UK? Or is there something about Assange that would make things smoother like his nationality (or something about McKinnon that has drawn it out)?
posted by ODiV at 8:34 PM on August 15, 2012


...Uh, well, McKinnon's crimes were not committed in or against Sweden so it seems irrelevent.
posted by maryr at 8:36 PM on August 15, 2012


Despicable, maybe, but the 'rapey rape' comment was clearly saying that (a) he may well be guilty of rape and (b) may well be an asshole. Try reading.

You're a real man's man, bud.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:37 PM on August 15, 2012


gerryblog, you can't have possibly read this far and passed passed up the fact that Sweden regularly sends out officers to interview people in person in other countries.

Didn't you hear me say I left the thread!

In fact I responded to that the first time it was mentioned. According to the linked piece, Sweden sent someone to Serbia (a non-EU country) to interview someone being held in a jail there, who had was not going to challenge his extradition. The situations aren't at all compatible.

1) Why don't they offer a legally binding statement that Assange will not be extradited to the US?

Again, as best I can tell this is impossible under their treaty obligations to the US.

2) In lieu of that, why not offer to try him in a third party nation and allow him to serve time in his home country if he's convicted?

I am not aware of this being standard practice. Wouldn't this be part and parcel of the special treatment you think is unwarranted in these types of cases?

3) If Sweden and the UK are finally taking sex crimes seriously, why haven't they issued any more Interpol Red Notices for any more suspects? Is Assange the only person accused of molestation and rape in the past two years who has left Sweden before they were tried?

This is conspiracy theorizing, and moreover it's irrelevant to the legitimacy of pursuing Assange, as I mentioned. "You didn't prosecute those people, so you can't prosecute anyone ever" is not a defense that works in criminal courts, as far as I am aware.
posted by gerryblog at 8:38 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


In the Serbia case, Sweden went overseas to interview a suspect who was a) already jailed and thus could not travel to Sweden and b) suspected of murder and probably considered dangerous. Neither of those circumstances apply to Assange.

I don't see any sort of source on the Skype interview claims but again, it was a murder suspect who was likely considered dangerous.

In addition, both cases may have had domestic arrests/cases underway. Assange does not have any (strictly legal) reason he could not leave Britain (that I know of).
posted by maryr at 8:43 PM on August 15, 2012


This is conspiracy theorizing, and moreover it's irrelevant to the legitimacy of pursuing Assange, as I mentioned. "You didn't prosecute those people, so you can't prosecute anyone ever" is not a defense that works in criminal courts, as far as I am aware.

It doesn't take a theory (let alone a conspiracy) to see what Sweden is and isn't doing and shout, "FOUL! FOUL PLAY I SAY!"

They've interviewed people outside of Sweden for worse crimes previously. Now, all of a sudden, he's some kind of imminent threat and must be treated differently.
posted by Slackermagee at 8:44 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


That's not compatible with a request for political asylum on the grounds of unjust prosecution.

His claim is essentially that "the Swedish prosecution is entirely a trumped-up sham, part of a process to drag me to the US, where I will face indefinite detention and torture for political reasons." Reasonable people may disagree about whether that is or isn't true, but it's clearly a request for political asylum on the grounds of unjust prosecution. I personally think Ecuador and England should both deny it, but trying to say that it doesn't meet the requirements to be considered seems purposely obtuse to me.

disproportionate selective prosecution

This is not a category that is recognized by any treaty or legal authority I know of. If you committed a crime, the state can prosecute you for it, regardless of decisions they've made about other prosecutions. This is special pleading, not evidence in Assange's favor.

I think that'd be an interesting theoretical discussion, but my suggestion of it was motivated only by considering it as evidence that the extradition is, in fact, politically motivated rather than by normal operation of criminal law.
posted by tyllwin at 8:44 PM on August 15, 2012


Ideally people could express their doubts about the allegations while showing a little more restraint.

It's been made pretty clear here that it is apparently ethically impossible to express doubt about sexual assault allegations, despite the damage such allegations can do even without a guilty verdict. Indeed, even without a trial, or even charges. The sentiment has been implicitly expressed in this thread, multiple times, that Julian Assange is a rapist and therefore does not deserve our concern, and furthermore than anyone defending him is ignoring/dismissing/justifying rape.
posted by Jimbob at 8:45 PM on August 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Can someone please please please tell me why does he have to go to Sweden so the US can nab him?

That was never the case. Its the argument I would have made if I were his lawyer, though. Britain is far more likely to extradite him. They are our number one military ally.

As for why there's a red alert from Interpol or whatever, governments hate people of renown getting away with crimes.

Put another way, Assange is a suspected rapist. Are people arguing that he should be allowed to escape justice and trial because he published a lot of secrets that they wanted to see published? How is that right? Only a trial could tell if he's guilty or not.

I do not understand how he gets a get-out-of-jail card because people liked what he did before.

The people saying that the CIA somehow put two separate women up to this has always been pure speculation based on the fact they invited them to their homes. As if no woman has ever been date-raped in such a situation.

I've done sexual harassment cases and I've got a case right now where a client was sexually harassed and assaulted going to criminal trial quite soon--one in which the assaulter did it to multiple victims. I will say in this thread what I said in the thread when Herman Cain was accused of sexual issues and he dropped out of the race. When you see a second victim, it reduces the probablility that these are false claims.

You can still think Assange did the right thing with Wikileaks, and still also think that he should stand trial.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:45 PM on August 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


Plus why the fuck should they? They are under no obligation to meet special conditions before he stops evading justice.
posted by Artw at 8:46 PM on August 15, 2012


Ecuador is the bar for freedom that the USA prides itself on rising to?

A) What on earth does a dispute between the UK, Sweden and Ecuador have to do with the US?

B) I was laughing at the irony of Correa, of all people, setting himself up as a defender of freedom of expression. I don't see how that is a "straw man" by any possible definition of the term.
posted by yoink at 8:46 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait, sorry, a second victim makes it likely that the sexual harassment/rape claim is false? Or that the CIA claim is false?
posted by maryr at 8:46 PM on August 15, 2012


The situations aren't at all compatible.

Sweden regularly sends officers outside the country to interview suspects of crimes. Of course they are compatible.

Again, as best I can tell this is impossible under their treaty obligations to the US.

Well, that's convenient, isn't it?

I am not aware of this being standard practice. Wouldn't this be part and parcel of the special treatment you think is unwarranted in these types of cases?

Nothing in this case is standard practice. If the point is to get Assange to stand trial, those are the sort of arrangements that can be made, but they haven't even been offered. It seems getting Assange to trial is secondary to the effort of getting him to Sweden.

This is conspiracy theorizing, and moreover it's irrelevant to the legitimacy of pursuing Assange, as I mentioned. "You didn't prosecute those people, so you can't prosecute anyone ever" is not a defense that works in criminal courts, as far as I am aware.

Challenging the impartiality of a law is a regular defense in all kinds of legal systems. The point of law is to be applied equally to all citizens.
posted by deanklear at 8:47 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's been made pretty clear here that it is apparently ethically impossible to express doubt about sexual assault allegations, despite the damage such allegations can do even without a guilty verdict. Indeed, even without a trial, or even charges.

The only person preventing charges being laid or a trial being held is Julian Assange.

You can't simultaneously decry the effect of a false claim of rape without chance for redemption at trial or through questioning and release while also supporting the suspect's flight being the only thing preventing those things from occuring.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:49 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Again, as best I can tell this is impossible under their treaty obligations to the US.

Well, that's convenient, isn't it?


They didn't write the treaty with this in mind, no, if that's what you're implying. The treaty holds that Sweden can make determinations about whether particular extradition requests qualify for the exemptions carved out in the treaty. It doesn't allow them to proactively agree to refuse to extradite to the US. What Assange wants is impossible.

It seems getting Assange to trial is secondary to the effort of getting him to Sweden.

I don't understand how your proposed scheme would even work. They'd fly a Swedish judge and Swedish jurors to Noextraditionistan and run the trial there? Has that ever happened? Of course Sweden wants to get him to Sweden to stand trial; that's where the trial would happen.

Challenging the impartiality of a law is a regular defense in all kinds of legal systems.

That's quite different than arguing that the law has been selectively prosecuted, which is not a defense as far as I am aware. You can't get a case thrown out because someone else wasn't prosecuted for the same crime.
posted by gerryblog at 8:52 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait, sorry, a second victim makes it likely that the sexual harassment/rape claim is false? Or that the CIA claim is false?

Sorry got discombobulated there. It makes it more likely the assault claims are true.

What evidence is there that they were put up to it? And why won't Assange just submit to questioning? Swedish law requires questioning is Sweden. He is accused of criminal acts there. He made his arguments the prosecution was politically motivated, and lost. Now he is beyond the pale of law by trying to escape.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:56 PM on August 15, 2012


How much would you be willing to bet that the US doesn't extradite him from Sweden? Would you be willing to bet $10,000? $100,000? If not, how can you expect Asange to put his life on the line at the same odds you wouldn't risk mere bankruptcy on?
posted by Pyry at 9:04 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, Ironmouth, if you were facing charges you wished to defend in a country where you could be extradited to face charges you did not wish to defend, what would you do?
posted by unSane at 9:04 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


S. American responds, Equatorianos protestam em frente à embaixada britânica em Quito - Ecuadorians protest outside the British Embassy in Quito
posted by Surfurrus at 9:05 PM on August 15, 2012


Statement from Ecuadorian Embassy here
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 9:08 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


The only person preventing charges being laid or a trial being held is Julian Assange.
There exists no legal or procedural obstacle to the Swedish authorities taking the Appellant's evidence now by telephone, by video-link, in person at an Embassy, or in person via in the United Kingdom by means of Mutual Legal Assistance provisions, and ending the preliminary investigation. The Appellant has offered all of the above. The Swedish prosecutor has so far declined them all; without substantive reason.
Citation or concession.
posted by deanklear at 9:11 PM on August 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


How much would you be willing to bet that the US doesn't extradite him from Sweden

With specific respect to the rape accusation, I don't know or care if they do or don't. That's a total distraction from the legitimacy of the rape accusation and Assange's requirement to cooperate with Swedish authorities regarding it.

More generally, I think it's possible they might, though not a certainty, and I hope they don't. But I also think Assange must have known going in that he was likely to be prosecuted and face jail time for what he did if he were ever caught. I would have thought he'd made that choice to be a permanent fugitive deliberately -- so this ridiculous behavior in the face of what was always surely inevitable strikes me as very strange. Wouldn't we have imagined, before all this, a heroic Assange stoically going to the guillotine? What did he imagine would be the consequences of Wikileaks on his life? How did he think this would all end?
posted by gerryblog at 9:16 PM on August 15, 2012


from Wikileaks on FB:

"Police have blocked off a major Harrods loading bay along the side of the embassy. Vehicles carrying tomorrow's supplies turned away."
posted by gcbv at 9:19 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


What I do know is that even if he did that's magnitudes of times less offensive than the crimes he revealed to the world.

You and I normally agree with each other -- and we definitely agree about the crimes of the US government -- but we don't balance out "crimes committed" vs. "crimes exposed" and figure out if we should just call it even. It's possible for Assange to be both a exposer of US crimes and a criminal himself.
posted by gerryblog at 9:19 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


[If you absolutely need to call people trolls - concern or otherwise - do it in MetaTalk, please. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 9:20 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


What did he imagine would be the consequences of Wikileaks on his life? How did he think this would all end?

With him fighting until the last breath against impossible odds?

Given the grandstanding, your rhetorical question is an odd one :)
posted by anonymisc at 9:21 PM on August 15, 2012


Especially when something as serious as rape is at play. Fuck that noise.

Whose the one not taking rape seriously here?

You are proposing a get out of jail free card because this guy did something you like. The justice for the two women is just to be thrown aside.

You can call me any amount of "concern troll" names you want but this is a man accused of sexual crimes who attempted to avoid extradition through the justice system on a claim that the third country, which is not even allied with the US, will turn him over to the US to face charges that are nonexistent. He lost. He is legally bound to turn himself over.

Even stupider is the idea that if the US filed charges, he'd be safer in the UK? The UK its number one ally, the UK, won't turn him over?

The idea that we're not taking rape seriously because we think he shouldn't get a free pass on rape charges because he deserves a get out of jail free card because of the wonderful things he's done is rich.

People who think he deserves a get out of jail free card are the ones not taking rape seriously.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:23 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ironmouth, that's not actually what people here are saying. Stop making shit up.
posted by hattifattener at 9:25 PM on August 15, 2012 [12 favorites]


I'm sorry, that's just asinine. 'he knew what he was getting into, so he should go stoically to the guillotine' is not an argument. He practiced journalism, he embarrassed powerful people. He has rights. 'Facing the music' equals letting the bad guys win, and chilling all journalists who follow him.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:26 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


With him fighting until the last breath against impossible odds?

I guess. I just would have imagined -- when Wikileaks first erupted and seemed for that first moment to really have its shit together -- that he'd have known he'd eventually stand trial for it. It seems like the (noble) choice to create Wikileaks -- like other acts of civil disobedience -- entails a willingness to be jailed for it.

Fleeing bail and hiding in an embassy, pathetically waiting to be hauled away for unrelated crimes, doesn't comport with that imagination.
posted by gerryblog at 9:27 PM on August 15, 2012


I'm assuming that the UK has already removed anything from their embassy that they don't want to risk ending up on the streets of Quito.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:27 PM on August 15, 2012


People who think he deserves a get out of jail free card are the ones not taking rape seriously.

Those people don't exist.
posted by anonymisc at 9:27 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Its my understanding that the UK government feels that Ecuador has no right to keep him from justice within its embassy under the Vienna Convention because Assange is not under investigation for political crimes and that under the Consular Act of 1987 they can haul him off.

I suspect Ecuador will hand him over tomorrow. There is simply no way the UK will allow him to board an aircraft. Ecuador is not going to declare war on Great Britian and they have zero leverage here. Assange will go to Sweden.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:28 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


'he knew what he was getting into, so he should go stoically to the guillotine'

That isn't what I said. What I said is: he knew he would eventually have to go to the guillotine, so I'd have imagined he'd be prepared to do so stoically.
posted by gerryblog at 9:29 PM on August 15, 2012


You're a smart guy and a lwayer, Ironmouth. What would your advice to him be?

Bonus: What would you do in his situation?
posted by unSane at 9:31 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's possible for Assange to be both a exposer of US crimes and a criminal himself.

It's absolutely possible for him to be both. Frankly, I wouldn't be at all surprised. Which, do you think, would have the UK raiding a foreign embassy to get at him?

(This comment not applicable if it turns out they're not doing that. It looks like it now, but reports could be wrong/misleading.)

Ironmouth: Can you comment on the McKinnon situation I posted a link to above? Looks like the US has been trying to extradite a convicted hacker since 2005ish from the UK and been unsuccessful, which suggests that extradition between the two countries isn't necessarily smooth sailing. Would Assange's Australian nationality (or something else) prevent him from getting the same protection?
posted by ODiV at 9:31 PM on August 15, 2012


Fuck that. You fight, and you show the bad guys up for the evils they are. I think he's been doing damn well so far given the forces he's facing.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:32 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


People who think he deserves a get out of jail free card are the ones not taking rape seriously.

Those people don't exist.


The comment I'm responding to appears to have been deleted by the Mods. In it, it was stated that whatever crimes Assange may be charged with he had exposed many bigger crimes. That's saying that it doesn't matter what these women have accused him of, his exposure of larger crimes means that he should not have to face questioning in Sweden for sex crimes. I could not disagree more.

And if that was not meant, than what is the argument against him submitting to questioning in Sweden?
posted by Ironmouth at 9:33 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


That isn't what I said. What I said is: he knew he would eventually have to go to the guillotine, so I'd have imagined he'd be prepared to do so stoically.

I'm not sure what's more depressing, gerryblog -- that you believe that practicing real journalism entails the inevitability of execution by an international conspiracy of states or that you have a methodically worked out idea of how other people ought to be calmly submissive when subjected to this treatment.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 9:35 PM on August 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


That he would be extradited to the US, tortured, and locked in solitary for life/executed. Ironmouth.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:36 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ironmouth is right. Several comments were deleted, including one that was pertinent to what he said. It's not my place to paraphrase or interpret a comment that's been deleted by moderators, but it did appear to me that several of the people who responded to Ironmouth (e.g., "Those people don't exist.") didn't have the benefit of seeing every comment.
posted by cribcage at 9:37 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


what is the argument against him submitting to questioning in Sweden?

That Sweden has a record of ignoring the law when it comes to handing people over to U.S. custody.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:38 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


And if that was not meant, than what is the argument against him submitting to questioning in Sweden?

Ironmouth, there is clearly more to this situation than a simple non-charge for which Assange is wanted for questioning. There's an international conspiracy of powerful forces determined to silence him. Just as they are showing little respect for international embassy regulations (not to mention that whole torture and global assassination campaign thing...), what's to say that the "trial" (if it ever does get there) won't be similarly rigged?
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 9:39 PM on August 15, 2012


You fight, and you show the bad guys up for the evils they are. I think he's been doing damn well so far given the forces he's facing.

Alas, we disagree. I think both Assange and Wikileaks have looked ridiculous for years, with the organization in ruins and all their good work buried in the fallout from this scandal. He'd have done a much better job showing the bad guys up from a courtroom and writing from a prison cell -- if the US could even have successfully charged and convicted him of anything.

It's asking him to be a martyr, which is too much to ask of anyone -- but he chose that risk for himself. I'm just surprised he didn't have a plan sketched out for what happened after he poked the bear.
posted by gerryblog at 9:39 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


And if that was not meant, than what is the argument against him submitting to questioning in Sweden?

That under Swedish law it is unnecessary to do it in Sweden, and that doing it in Sweden exposes him to political risks that Sweden is either unable or unwilling to address.
He has offered to submit to the questioning in a manner that satisfies Swedish law, so what is the argument that he must also be exposed to unnecessary political risk?
Sweden has not explained why yes, Assuage has explained why no.
posted by anonymisc at 9:39 PM on August 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Fuck that. You fight, and you show the bad guys up for the evils they are. I think he's been doing damn well so far given the forces he's facing.

Those evil, evil Swedes and their filthy laws against rape.

You know, if he wants to show the US to have a corrupt judicial system, maybe he should wait until they actually, I dunno, charge him with something. Because then he could, for example, use the opportunity of a series of trials to make his case. Trials which would be freely reported upon by all the media in the US (though not, of course, in Ecuador--where freedom of the press is pretty much nonexistant).

I struggle to imagine what possible charge the US could bring against Assange at all, let alone what kind of capital charge anyone imagines could be brought.
posted by yoink at 9:41 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Alas, we disagree. I think both Assange and Wikileaks have looked ridiculous for years, with the organization in ruins and all their good work buried in the fallout from this scandal.

... except for all those things they've been releasing in the mean time? Syria? Stratfor? Tripwire? Ring a bell?

If it doesn't, you can just check the headlines this week, for instance: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/08/trapwire-strafor-biz/

Can we please not descend to this level of "Wikileaks-is-stupid" type analysis?
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 9:43 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth: Can you comment on the McKinnon situation I posted a link to above? Looks like the US has been trying to extradite a convicted hacker since 2005ish from the UK and been unsuccessful, which suggests that extradition between the two countries isn't necessarily smooth sailing.

From your link, it appears that McKinnon has lost every appeal and is on his final straw, that he is Autistic and can't stand trial. He lost at the Law Lords, he lost at the European Court of Human Rights and despite having a Judicial Inquiry opened up, he lost there. He's now before the Home Secretary on a medical claim.

He's lost again and again.

I think the argument that the UK wouldn't turn over a percieved national security threat to its number one ally, as opposed to massively liberal Sweden is the weakest part of Assange's claim. It doesn't hold up. They 2003 extradition treaty with the US doesn't require a showing of evidence by the US. If you'll note, McKinnon's appeals, according to your link, were all procedural and did not rely on the evidence against him, likely because the US doesn't have to show any. Sweden, on the other hand, had to show it had evidence against Assange. Its harder to extradite someone to Sweden than it is to the US.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:44 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure what's more depressing, gerryblog -- that you believe that practicing real journalism entails the inevitability of execution by an international conspiracy of states or that you have a methodically worked out idea of how other people ought to be calmly submissive when subjected to this treatment.

This is assuming a lot about what is going to happen to Assange after the US charges and tries him, which itself isn't certain. (And I don't believe what he did is a capital crime, much less inevitably so. I'm not convinced he committed any prosecutable crime at all.)

AGAIN, for the third time, I am not arguing that he or anybody else ought to be submissive, but simply that I would have assumed he would have resigned himself to a trial as a very likely outcome when he started Wikileaks in the first place. He seems totally unprepared for, and unwilling to face, something any one of us could have told him was nearly certain. I find this surprising.
posted by gerryblog at 9:44 PM on August 15, 2012


He'd have done a much better job showing the bad guys up from a courtroom and writing from a prison cell

Unfortunately, due to the sensitive nature of the materials under discussion, Mr. Assange's trial must be held behind closed doors and with no media access. Likewise, Mr. Assange will not be permitted to communicate with the media either in person or in writing, since he might try to reveal more information vital to the national security. We sincerely regret the inconvenience, but rest assured, this matter will come to a speedy resolution and justice will be served.
posted by Pyry at 9:46 PM on August 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Because then he could, for example, use the opportunity of a series of trials to make his case.

He'd have to be naive to bank on that. He's the opposite of naive; he's paranoid (which doesn't mean they're not out to get him :-))
posted by anonymisc at 9:49 PM on August 15, 2012


Ironmouth, you avoided this direct answer to your question:

That under Swedish law it is unnecessary to do it in Sweden, and that doing it in Sweden exposes him to political risks that Sweden is either unable or unwilling to address.
He has offered to submit to the questioning in a manner that satisfies Swedish law, so what is the argument that he must also be exposed to unnecessary political risk?


Would you mind taking a moment to address that so we can understand better where you're coming from? Thanks in advance.
posted by mediareport at 9:49 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pyry, that's a fine story, but it's totally speculative. And almost certainly (in my opinion anyway) it wouldn't have happened to a celebrity like Assange, especially if he made a show of submitting to trial. The US government disappears people you've never heard of -- they couldn't have taken Assange to a black site and hope everyone just forgot about him. His celebrity and notoriety would have protected him in that respect, I think.
posted by gerryblog at 9:50 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not convinced he committed any prosecutable crime at all.

Sure, but having committed no crime has not helped an awful lot of US prisoners and US war/poltical prisoners. The USA doesn't have a great track record right now.
posted by anonymisc at 9:52 PM on August 15, 2012


He'd have done a much better job showing the bad guys up from a courtroom and writing from a prison cell

Worked for Bradley Manning!
posted by moorooka at 9:56 PM on August 15, 2012 [10 favorites]


I think this thread has demonstrated that his celebrity would probably ensure wild celebrations and champagne if he was sent to a "black site."
posted by maxwelton at 9:56 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


In it, it was stated that whatever crimes Assange may be charged with he had exposed many bigger crimes. That's saying that it doesn't matter what these women have accused him of, his exposure of larger crimes means that he should not have to face questioning in Sweden for sex crimes. I could not disagree more.

What I said is that he may or may not be a rapist. My point was that frothing at the mouth for one accused rapist is asinine given the crimes the accused rapist has uncovered. Especially when many of those same people are the very ones who day in and day out play apologists for very same governments guilty of committing said crimes. If he is indeed a rapist he should face the consequences.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:56 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


That under Swedish law it is unnecessary to do it in Sweden

This claim appears to rest solely on one case which has been repeatedly cited in this thread and which is utterly incomparable to Assange's. The Swedish police do not simply wish to ask Mr Assange a few questions. Depending on the answers and other evidence he furnishes they will, in all probability, wish to press charges against him. It in no way at all satisfies their needs if he answers a few questions over Skype.

There seems to be an assumption in this thread that as soon as Assange speaks to the Swedish authorities, they'll realize that this whole rape thing is a silly misunderstanding (or, rather, admit that it was just a ruse to allow them to do the evil bidding of their US puppetmasters). From everything I have read it sounds much more as if the sole thing preventing them from formally filing charges and moving towards trial is the absence of Mr. Assange.

As for the repeated "why don't they just guarantee that they won't hand him over to the US?"--it's a self-evidently absurd question. No charges have been brought by the US. The US has made no claims whatsoever to which the Swedes can respond. You are asking the Swedes to declare, on the basis of no evidence at all, "there is no possible legitimate interest that the US could ever have or express in the prosecution of Mr Assange; no matter what facts are brought forward, no matter what evidence is martialled, we declare that any and every claim the US might henceforward make with regard to any illegal activity that Mr Assange may have committed is false and undeserving of due process or consideration." That is a simply absurd request. Hiw could any country ever say any such thing about any other country with which it has any kind of even half-way friendly relations?
posted by yoink at 9:57 PM on August 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


they couldn't have taken Assange to a black site and hope everyone just forgot about him.

They don't have to. People might remember the guy, and what he was accused of, but he's in some prison, awaiting some trial or appeal (that hasn't happened for years). There's been no updates or news in years, and when something happens the details are sealed anyway. He hasn't been disappeared or anything because he'll get his day in court, once he serves out his sentence.
posted by anonymisc at 9:58 PM on August 15, 2012


I think this thread has demonstrated that his celebrity would probably ensure wild celebrations and champagne if he was sent to a "black site."

maxwelton: Yeah, it is troubling... any serious defiance of the state sends ordinarily sane, tolerant, logical people into a bloodthirst. There are a few topics that seem guaranteed to do this (even on MF). Assange/Wikileaks is one of them.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 10:00 PM on August 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


As for the repeated "why don't they just guarantee that they won't hand him over to the US?"--it's a self-evidently absurd question.

not that absurd. US espionage law allows for the death penalty, and since 2001 the US has been an avid practitioner of torture. many countries do not allow extradition where torture and the death penalty can be reasonably expected.
posted by moorooka at 10:11 PM on August 15, 2012


That under Swedish law it is unnecessary to do it in Sweden, and that doing it in Sweden exposes him to political risks that Sweden is either unable or unwilling to address.
He has offered to submit to the questioning in a manner that satisfies Swedish law, so what is the argument that he must also be exposed to unnecessary political risk?


My understanding of the Swedish law in this matter, based on research conducted during earlier thread discussions is that a prosecutor cannot question him until he has been through the beginnings of criminal process on Swedish soil.

But let me ask you a question. Why does this one single person accused of a sex crime get all this additional rights that nobody else gets? Seems all in reverse to me.

Assange has never proven any risk. More importantly, the risk of another prosecution is immaterial to the analysis of whether or not he is to be legally extradited. Let's say he was charged with murder but is wanted for a political crime elsewhere. Is there any defense to the crime of murder that, gee, if you prosecute me for muder I may be politically prosecuted elsewhere? No. Simply no.

And when you game this out, you see the ridiculousness of this. So, two women accuse him of rape, but he gets political aslyum for crimes he wasn't charged with, heads off to Ecuador for the rest of his life and never sees the inside of a courtroom for the alleged rapes? Is this really the justice you guys see coming out of this? How is that legally or morally right? He lounges by the pool in the tropics for the 40 remaining years of his life and the rape charges be damned because he claimed he could be extradited for a crime he's never been charged with?

Finally, look at his behavior. After Manning was arrested, what did he do? Did he avoid the US at all costs? No. He came to the US and appeared on national television. But as soon as he's charged with sex crimes in Sweden(!), he can't go there to be tried because the US possibly, maybe will prosecute him? Has anyone asked themselves why, if he was so afraid of US prosecution, he came here, did Colbert, did Charlie Rose and gave interviews?
posted by Ironmouth at 10:12 PM on August 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


It seems that Assange has some very good reasons to be afraid of being extradited to the U.S.

WikiLeaks Stratfor Emails: A Secret Indictment Against Julian Assange?

Stratfor leak: US 'has secret indictment' of Julian Assange

And there's also this from a former attorney general of the United States:

Pressed by the Wall Street Journal‘s Paul Gigot to explain how the US could prosecute Assange and not the [NY] Times — the first US news source to publish the State Department cables — Mukasey said, “The distinction I’m drawing is that it is easier, from a policy standpoint, to prosecute Assange. There’s a clearer case with respect to Assange. With regard to the Times, I think, just as a matter of discretion, I would hold back.”

And then there was this from the guardian written by Assange's U.S. attorney:

Julian Assange is right to fear US prosecution
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:13 PM on August 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


oops here's the link to the Mukasey quote in my last comment.

any serious defiance of the state sends ordinarily sane, tolerant, logical people into a bloodthirst.

That's what 100 years of unchecked expansion of government power and propaganda the likes of which the world has never seen will do to a person.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:15 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


It in no way at all satisfies their needs if he answers a few questions over Skype.

He's offered a lot more than skype. His offer satisfies their (spoken) needs, if it does not satisfy their unspoken needs, that's on them. Or at least it is to this spectator - I don't have a lot of sympathy for policework based on deception, even though there are (ever-increasing) circumstances in which it is being made legal.
posted by anonymisc at 10:18 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


What I said is that he may or may not be a rapist. My point was that frothing at the mouth for one accused rapist is asinine given the crimes the accused rapist has uncovered.

So my argument is to be dismissed, not on its merits, but because you don't like my political positions?

Please, instead of this, address the substance of my arguments. Tell us why Assange is supposed to now avoid ever having to face prosecution in Sweden and can just sit in Ecuador for the next 40 years while the two women never get any justice? Why does he get extra special protections for some other risk, despite being under suspicion and wanted for questioning on two separate sexual assault charges.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:18 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth, rather than creatively assuming the worst of people concerned about this, why not apply that creativity to suggesting scenarios that you think would make everyone happy?
For example, Assange serving a Swedish sentence in a non-Swedish prison. There are cases of this sort of arrangement.
posted by anonymisc at 10:23 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I support Wikileaks; I think Assange would probably walk on the rape charges if prosecuted by Sweden; and I think would probably skate on U.S. espionage charges too (though I confess I'm much less certain about that).

I want to be very clear that I personally have absolutely no bloodthirst with respect to Julian Assange and do not want to see him tortured or killed (under any circumstances) or imprisoned unjustly (if he is innocent of the rapes). My interest in seeing him answer the accusations that have been leveled against him is in no way cover for my secret love of the military-diplomatic apparatus of U.S. global empire. Anyone who knows me knows I haven't cashed a check from the CIA in years.
posted by gerryblog at 10:25 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


despite being under suspicion and wanted for questioning on two separate sexual assault charges.

This doesn't sound like he's been charged with any actual CRIME. I mean, if a CRIME had been committed, they wouldn't need to interview the suspect to charge them, would they?

Innocent until proven guilty and all that.
posted by mikelieman at 10:26 PM on August 15, 2012


Julian Assange has a right to seek and to be granted asylum.

All people have this right. It is a matter of due process in international and (most) national law. This is true if they're accused of rape, murder, "political" crimes, national security issues and so on.
posted by ioerror at 10:26 PM on August 15, 2012 [12 favorites]


It seems that Assange has some very good reasons to be afraid of being extradited to the U.S.

Please explain why he gets extra rights to avoid questioning and arrest for rape because he fears extradition to the US?

This is all a giant logically fallacious argument: special pleading. Because of his other activities, he is to be made immune to criminal processes that all other criminal defendants have to face. Why? What gives him the right to this extra protection. Let's say there were charges in the US and Sweden extradited you if there was a request in crayon on the back of a chinese restaurant menu. Under what legal theory does that grant you any immunity from prosecution? There simply is none. And he presented these arguments and lost multiple appeals on them. Now he claims a legal right to be granted asylum and these women's charges never get heard as he lives in sunny Ecuador for 40 years? What kind of justice is that?
posted by Ironmouth at 10:27 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


1) Julian Assange sure seems like a creep to me.

2) The UK sure wants him more than they've ever wanted a creep like him before, ever.

3) Sweden's system seems to make "questioning" equivalent to laying charges, and Assange and his lawyers have said misleading and vaguely offensive things about Sweden's legal system.

4) The history of the case being revived at the federal level via political connections to certain parties involved is pretty wacky.

5) Sexual assault is a serious, awful thing.

6) Sexual assault is an excellent accusation to use to split a leftist support base.

7) This is a situation about which reasonable people can disagree.

8) How did Wikileaks become Julian Assange so completely that this is a threat to it?
posted by mobunited at 10:28 PM on August 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


Amen, ioerror.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:28 PM on August 15, 2012


So my argument is to be dismissed, not on its merits, but because you don't like my political positions?

I honestly don't care what you argument is because i don't really care what happens to Assange on way or another. My point is that Assange is a pointless distraction from real issues and problems. Like the one where we murdered close to a million people over a 10 year period and no one seems to really care. But if someone somewhere possibly may have raped a swede then they better watch the fuck out!!!
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:29 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Julian Assange has a right to seek and to be granted asylum.

All people have this right. It is a matter of due process in international and (most) national law. This is true if they're accused of rape, murder, "political" crimes, national security issues and so on.


Really? Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. A nation can just shelter any murderer it wishes in defiance of extradition treaties it signs? Gotta cite for that claim?
posted by Ironmouth at 10:29 PM on August 15, 2012


Ironmouth, Assange should face justice in Sweden when Sweden can guarantee that he won't be passed off to the custody of the United States. I welcome you to continue pretending that guarantees against third party extradition are outside the norm for international law. It will seal your complete lack of credibility and naked bias in this case.

Additionally, you have yet to cite the Swedish law that demands Assange give testimony in Sweden. Cite, concede, or continue pretending that you're here for any other reason than discrediting someone you perceive as a political enemy.
posted by deanklear at 10:31 PM on August 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_of_asylum
posted by mikelieman at 10:31 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


My point is that Assange is a pointless distraction from real issues and problems. Like the one where we murdered close to a million people over a 10 year period and no one seems to really care. But if someone somewhere possibly may have raped a swede then they better watch the fuck out!!!

So lets not bother interviewing and investigating rapists just because there's worse things happening in the world? Not really an argument.
posted by Hobo at 10:32 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


from NYT coverage: “Today we have received from the United Kingdom an explicit threat in writing that they could assault our embassy in London if Ecuador does not hand over Julian Assange,” Mr. Patiño said at a news conference in Quito, adding defiantly, “We are not a British colony.”

This comes across almost purely Ecudorian nationalist posturing and exaggeration from the Foreign Minister Patino
posted by Bwithh at 10:33 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Please explain why he gets extra rights to avoid questioning and arrest for rape because he fears extradition to the US?

This straw man can't be explained because few, if any, are suggesting it. What is being suggested is that the proceedings against him continue in ways that do not expose him to undue risk. Many many people consider that he is as risk for political reasons. Ignoring that is to ignore that justice should also be seen to be done when questioning and/or prosecuting him.
posted by anonymisc at 10:33 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth - are you really unaware of what asylum entails?

If so, you may enjoy this subsection of a well known Wikipedia page:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_of_asylum#Modern_political_asylum

posted by ioerror at 10:33 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Additionally, you have yet to cite the Swedish law that demands Assange give testimony in Sweden. Cite, concede, or continue pretending that you're here for any other reason than discrediting someone you perceive as a political enemy.


Additionally, you have yet to cite the Swedish law that allows Assange to give testimony outside of Sweden. Cite, concede, or continue pretending that you're here for any other reason than supporting someone you perceive as a political ally.
posted by Hobo at 10:34 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sweden's system seems to make "questioning" equivalent to laying charges, and Assange and his lawyers have said misleading and vaguely offensive things about Sweden's legal system.

Not just vaguely!

"Sweden is the Saudi Arabia of feminism." - Assange
posted by ODiV at 10:35 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is all a giant logically fallacious argument: special pleading.

Where have i made any argument that assange should not face prosecution? I think you need to take a reading comprehension course Ironmouth since this seems to be a reoccurring thing with you. You don't get to tell people what their arguments are and then explain why they are wrong and fallacious.

So lets not bother interviewing and investigating rapists just because there's worse things happening in the world? Not really an argument.

Where did I say we should stop investigating rape?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:37 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


... why not apply that creativity to suggesting scenarios that you think would make everyone happy?

Yes - such as, a sudden transformation of global policing due to universal political edicts demanding that we bring ALL rapists to justice -- armies of officers marching across borders to extradite and put all of the suspects on trial.

Or ...what Naomi Wolf said about rape and Assange's extradition.

Anyone who works in supporting women who have been raped knows from this grossly disproportionate response that Britain and Sweden, surely under pressure from the US, are cynically using the serious issue of rape as a fig leaf to cover the shameful issue of mafioso-like global collusion in silencing dissent. That is not the State embracing feminism. That is the State pimping feminism.
posted by Surfurrus at 10:39 PM on August 15, 2012 [17 favorites]


Not having charges laid in the USA is certainly not a precondition to being extradited (see "extraordinary rendition"). Sweden has extraordinarily rendered people to the USA. If extradited, Assange may never see a civil court of justice (see "enemy combatants"). Sweden can presumably not deny an extradition request unless it can show that the charges for which the extradition was requested are political.

Ergo, the USA may request an extradition that Sweden will not deny without the USA ever having laid charges, and Assange may well be subject to imprisonment without due process.

This is why he resists going to Sweden. To conflate avoidance of rape charges with a very real political persecution is disingenuous. They are separate, if related, issues. The man should stand trial for accused crimes and be given due process in Sweden. He should not do so when it would expose him to having due process denied in the USA.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 10:40 PM on August 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


My point was that frothing at the mouth for one accused rapist is asinine given the crimes the accused rapist has uncovered.

I honestly try to read comments charitably, but that was at least the third time you have posted that sentiment into this thread and it consistently sounds like you are minimizing and/or excusing rape. Here's my (different) opinion: If a person does a lot of good in his lifetime, uncovers crimes, saves lives, and then rapes a person, none of those first three things are relevant to the fourth.
posted by cribcage at 10:42 PM on August 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


mikelieman: "This doesn't sound like he's been charged with any actual CRIME. I mean, if a CRIME had been committed, they wouldn't need to interview the suspect to charge them, would they?"

Yes they would, that's the way Swedish law works. They issued a warrant for his arrest on allegations of sexual molestation, unlawful coercion and rape. In Sweden he won't be formally until shortly before a trial so he can't be charged until he returns to Sweden.
posted by the_artificer at 10:45 PM on August 15, 2012


Two things... why *haven't* the Swedes actually charged him with something. Why must they interview him on home soil first? Is it so that if he gets to Sweden, the US can charge him with something and extradite him without an actual Swedish prosecution case getting in the way?

So he's holed up in the embassy. Any reasonable chances/methods of him actually getting to Ecuador, or is his plan to live there for the rest of his life?
posted by panaceanot at 10:45 PM on August 15, 2012


Excuse me, "Having charges laid ... is not a precondition to being extradited".
posted by TheNewWazoo at 10:45 PM on August 15, 2012


"he won't be formally charged" that should read.
posted by the_artificer at 10:47 PM on August 15, 2012


panaceanot, the answer to your question is, essentially, "because that's how it works in Sweden, according to the spokespeople for the state". I'm not a lawyer and don't know anything about Swedish law, but apparently an interview of some sort is required for the prosecution to proceed normally. The details of when, where, and how are disputed.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 10:47 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not having charges laid in the USA is certainly not a precondition to being extradited (see "extraordinary rendition"). Sweden has extraordinarily rendered people to the USA. If extradited, Assange may never see a civil court of justice (see "enemy combatants"). Sweden can presumably not deny an extradition request unless it can show that the charges for which the extradition was requested are political.

Ergo, the USA may request an extradition that Sweden will not deny without the USA ever having laid charges, and Assange may well be subject to imprisonment without due process.


This claim bears almost no relationship to the actual treaty between the US and Sweden, linked upthread.

ARTICLE I

Each Contracting State undertakes to surrender to the other, subject to the provisions and conditions laid down in this Convention, those persons found in its territory who have been charged with or convicted of any of the offenses specified in Article II of this Convention committed within the territorial jurisdiction of the other, or outside thereof under the conditions specified in Article IV of this Convention; provided that such surrender shall take place only upon such evidence of criminality as, according to the laws of the place where the person sought shall be found, would justify his commitment for trial if the offense had been there committed.


ARTICLE V
Extradition shall not be granted in any of the following circumstances:

5. If the offense is regarded by the requested State as a political offense or as an offense connected with a political offense

posted by gerryblog at 10:47 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


To everyone saying that there is no evidence of US wanting to extradite Assange, what would this evidence look like if it existed? And if the US did want to extradite him, what evidence would necessarily or almost certanly have to be publicly visible?
posted by Gyan at 10:48 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, if Assange is asking for something that's actually impossible to grant under the treaty, does that change things for his defenders in this thread?
What question are you even trying to ask here?

I mean, it seems like some people are saying that the fact he doesn't want to go to Sweden proves he's guilty, or at least stands a good chance of conviction. But what he's claiming is that he doesn't want to go to Sweden because he thinks he'll be extradited to the U.S. for the diplomatic cable leaks.

So the question is just: is he telling the truth about what he believes?

If Sweden is capable of making that promise, but choses not too it's strong evidence that he's right.

But if Sweden isn't capable of making that promise, it isn't evidence that he's wrong, just a lack of evidence that he's right. But there is other odd behavior on Sweden's part as well, like refusing to interview him online, and so on.

Again, the issue is whether or not he believes he'll be extradited to the U.S. Not what the Swedish government is actually planning to do.
We were also talking about "is this a legitimate use of political asylum?"
Again, that's up to the government of Ecuador to judge. Obviously Assange would think it is, why wouldn't he?
But there's been no actual evidence that the charges are trumped-up other than repeated assertions of a secret conspiracy between the US, the UK, and Sweden.
No one has accused the UK of being involved in a conspiracy. If you can't be bothered to state the other side's position accurately it probably means you're not arguing in good faith.

The other thing, again, what matters is what he actually believes. And it doesn't need to be 100% either. If he thinks it's a possibility that he might get extradited to the US if he goes to Sweden, his behavior doesn't indicate he thinks he'll be convicted.

If he didn't think there was any chance of being extradited, he could have just gone to Sweden, pled guilty, gone to jail, and been released by now. So it seems really unlikely that he doesn't.
How much would you be willing to bet that the US doesn't extradite him from Sweden?
With specific respect to the rape accusation, I don't know or care if they do or don't. That's a total distraction from the legitimacy of the rape accusation and Assange's requirement to cooperate with Swedish authorities regarding it.
Then why have you spent so much time talking about it? talking about whether it's legal and so on, if you don't even care?

Again, doesn't really seem like you're arguing in good faith if you post a bunch of comments about something and then later say it doesn't even matter.

Actually it's a good example the fact that people claiming he's only trying to avoid charges in Sweden and isn't actually worried about being extradited to the us don't actually care about whether or not he would be extradited to the U.S. You're only making the claim in order to make him look bad, or derail the conversation, or whatever.
Ironmouth - are you really unaware of what asylum entails?
Apparently, he doesn't understand the difference between requesting asylum and granting it.
posted by delmoi at 10:50 PM on August 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Then why have you spent so much time talking about it? talking about whether it's legal and so on, if you don't even care?

I said I didn't care specifically with respect to the rape allegation. You quoted me saying that. The comment goes on after the part you quoted speaking more generally.
posted by gerryblog at 10:52 PM on August 15, 2012


I think this thread has demonstrated that his celebrity would probably ensure wild celebrations and champagne if he was sent to a "black site."

Seriously, Naomi Wolf is right: feminism is being pimped to take away people's rights, and Metafilter is going along with it, hook, line and stinker. Disgraceful. We will look back on this in disgust, especially when people like Pinochet and Kissinger can walk the streets of industrialized nations in freedom, while someone innocent-before-proven-guilty who is wanted for questioning gets labeled worse than war criminals who've murdered thousands. Disgraceful.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:53 PM on August 15, 2012 [31 favorites]


This claim bears almost no relationship to the actual treaty between the US and Sweden, linked upthread.
Again though: If you've said yourself you don't even care whether or not he's extradited to the U.S, why are you even talking about it?

I mean, it's fairly irrelevant. Assange claims, and seems to be, worried about being extradited to the U.S. So he'll only willingly go to Sweden if they promise not to do that. If they can't do that, then he won't willingly go.

Now, if you were trying to figure out if he'll actually be extradited to the U.S, it's somewhat relevant, and if Sweden can't make the promise then he's actually more likely to be extradited.

But you said yourself that you don't care. So what is the point here?
posted by delmoi at 10:56 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


and Metafilter is going along with it, hook, line and stinker. Disgraceful.
There are, like, 3 or 4 users doing that. Not that it isn't annoying.
posted by delmoi at 10:58 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


delmoi, please read the comments people write. You're mischaracterizing what I said because you seem to believe I have some sort of secret agenda and am arguing in bad faith.

What I said, as is quoted in your own long comment, is that with respect to the rape accusation it is irrelevant whether he'll be extradited or not. Obviously I find the subject interesting if I'm willing to waste this much time talking about it.
posted by gerryblog at 11:00 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think you're pretty optimistic, Yoink.

...Because then he could, for example, use the opportunity of a series of trials to make his case. Trials which would be freely reported upon by all the media in the US...

I don't believe there's much enthusiasm for a 'fair and speedy public trial' when teh Terrorz are involved.
posted by j_curiouser at 11:07 PM on August 15, 2012


Upon further analysis, the question of what Swedish law requires is moot. He has no right to avoid extradition due to potential third party extradition. In fact, he never even argued it in court because no such right exists under UK or EU law.
The main reason for the court ordering extradition was simply that a valid European Arrest Warrant (EAW) had been issued. If a valid EAW is correctly served on the correct person then, unless it can be shown that it is disproportionate, an abuse of process, or otherwise a violation of the defendant's human rights, a United Kingdom court is bound to order extradition, just as a Swedish court would be bound to order the extradition of a person requested by the UK government under an EAW.

It was contended by Assange's UK lawyers that it was not a valid EAW, for it had not been issued by a competent authority. This was always going to be a difficult submission, as the EAW had already been certified by the United Kingdom's Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA). But even if there was still doubt on this, Assange's own expert witnesses from Sweden confirmed that it had been validly issued. Once this fundamental question had been decided then it would have been exceptional had the EAW been refused on any other grounds.

It was submitted that the EAW had been issued too early in the criminal process: that it should not be used to aid an investigation but rather it should only be in respect of a formal charge. This was a stronger point for the Assange team to raise, and offers perhaps his best hope of a successful appeal. However, the court had the evidence of the Swedish prosecutor that Assange was not being sought to assist with inquiries but for the purpose of conducting criminal proceedings. The EAW was issued because "there was substantial and probable cause to accuse Julian Assange of the offences". In response to this, Assange relied on the evidence of two Swedish legal experts. However, their evidence on this and other key points was to be fatally undermined by Assange's own Swedish lawyer, Bjorn Hurtig.

In Hurtig's "proof" (or prepared) witness statement, he had said "astonishingly [the prosecutor] made no effort to interview [Assange] on the rape charge to get his side of the story" whilst Assange was still in Sweden. This was a highly important statement, but it was completely untrue. Indeed, in the sort of criticism rarely made by an English judge, it was held that Hurtig had deliberately sought to mislead the court on this point. The effect of this was catastrophic for the Assange case: not only did it discredit Hurtig, but the two key legal experts relied upon by Assange had wrongly based their expert evidence that the EAW should not have been issued on Hurtig's false claim.

By seeking to attack the credibility of the Swedish prosecutor, it appeared that Hurtig had provided evidence which, if retracted or disproved, had the effect of undermining any serious submission that the prosecutor had acted disproportionately in seeking Assange's extradition under an EAW. As District Judge Riddle concluded, it would have been a reasonable assumption for the prosecutor to make that Assange was deliberately avoiding interrogation.

Once the EAW was held to be valid, and any evidence as to disproportionality undermined by Assange's own Swedish witness, then the court had no difficulty in dealing with the many other points raised. Sweden is a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights and so Assange can rely on any engaged Convention rights once extradited; the Swedish court is better placed than the London court to deal with any alleged abuses of process; the legal arguments before the Swedish court will be in public, even if the Swedish courts take witness evidence regarding sexual offences and rape in private; and the offences alleged were also offences in UK law (which, of course, no serious person could doubt).
http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/david-allen-green/2011/02/assange-eaw-sexual-sweden

Essentially, under EU law, Assange has all the protections he would have in the UK in Sweden, so alleged human rights can't be a defense to extradition under EU law.

The whole the US will take me away bit is his publically professed reason for not being questioned, but it cannot be a valid reason to avoid extradition under EU law because he holds the same guarantees under EU law there as in Sweden.

So why should the Swedish prosecutor even allow him to avoid extradition--he's an obvious flight risk. As the article above shows, he avoided the prosecutor while there, fled to England, fought extradition for 2 years and then tried to get asylum after losing. You bet your ass they want him--they expect him to flee.

Listen, one way or another, by tomorrow night he will be in UK custody. He will be in Sweden by Friday.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:10 PM on August 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Sweden Violated Torture Ban in CIA Rendition

Attorney at firm representing Assange accusers helped facilitate CIA renditions in 2001

Wikileaks Cable Shows US Involvement in Swedish Anti-Piracy Efforts
posted by mek at 11:11 PM on August 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


The President of Ecuador is supposedly a good friend of Assange, but Ecuador's trade status with the US has just come up for review and there are some angry oil companies wanting the US to cut trade benefits. The US could use this as an excuse to put on some pressure on Ecuador.

It is interesting to see how this will all play out.
posted by eye of newt at 11:12 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Upon further analysis, the question of what Swedish law requires is moot. He has no right to avoid extradition due to potential third party extradition.

Of course. But all of your comment is also moot, because what matters is whether or not he has a right to political asylum, not whether he has a right to avoid extradition under EU law.
posted by mek at 11:14 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


So: There's a few core questions. In reverse order of complexity:

1) Does Assange (and, maybe, Ecuador) actually believe that he is be the target of an international conspiracy to punish him for Wikileaks?

2) Is there an international conspiracy to illegally and unjustly punish Assange for Wikileaks, or is this really only about the rape accusation?

3) Is Assange guilty of rape?

If the anser to #3 is "no", that tips question #2 very heavily towards "yes". I believe false rape accusations are pretty rare, and while it's possible false accusations could be otherwise motivated the most likely explanation would be that it was part of a plot to discredit and ultimately punish Assange for Wikileaks.

But the converse is not true. That is, if Assange is guilty, that by no means rules out conspiracy. It is plausible to me that upon learning about the accusations, the US government saw an opportunity to get at Assange to punish him for Wikileaks. But it is also possible that Sweden has some pretty solid evidence, and they don't like international news talking about how someone is avoiding arrest for real crimes.

I don't know whether Assange is guilty of rape. I think it is kind of likely, but I wouldn't really put it past the US to set him up. But either way it's hard for me to imagine Julian Assange, the reason I know about him being that he publicized numerous instances of the US government doing shocking, illegal, and unethical things, it's hard for me to imagine that he would assume that Sweden, the UK, and the US are acting in good faith, and that they aren't itching to do shocking, illegal, or unethical things to him.

And that's a lot scarier than facing Swedish justice for rape. I don't see any way he could face justice for the rape accusations (whatever that entails) without also exposing himself to the (real or perceived) risk of injustice by international conspiracy.

So now, I think 95% yes on question 1 (is he hiding from punishment for Wikileaks), 75% yes on 2 (are people conspiring to punish him for Wikileaks), and maybe 75% yes on 3 (did he rape anyone).
posted by aubilenon at 11:17 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


You're cute, Ironmouth, in not responding to questions that are difficult for you, but I'll ask you again,

(1) what would you do if you wished to answer charges in a country which could extradite you to a country where there were (possibly secret) charges against you you didn't wish to answer, and

(2) what would your advice be to a client in such a situation?e
posted by unSane at 11:22 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


with respect to the rape accusation it is irrelevant whether he'll be extradited or not.

Why? Unless you mean literally only with respect to the accusation and not the prosecution, that seems like a pretty hardline, even Kantian, position.
posted by ssg at 11:28 PM on August 15, 2012


delmoi, please read the comments people write. You're mischaracterizing what I said because you seem to believe I have some sort of secret agenda and am arguing in bad faith.
I don't think you have a secret agenda, but your arguments don't make that much sense.
What I said, as is quoted in your own long comment, is that with respect to the rape accusation it is irrelevant whether he'll be extradited or not. Obviously I find the subject interesting if I'm willing to waste this much time talking about it.
Well, like I asked: why does it even matter whether or not Sweden can make that promise, given the treaties it's signed? What conclusion are people supposed to draw? Why would it change anyone's opinion about Assange? It seems like a completely irrelevant side point.

I mean, Assange's behavior seems pretty straightforward: He doesn't want to get extradited to the U.S, and he thinks it's a realistic possibility if he goes to Sweden. So he's not willingly going to go to Sweden. He would do so if Sweden promised not to extradite him to the U.S. But, if they can't, so he's avoiding it. (on the other hand, if they were able to and chose not to, I guess that would be evidence they were intending to do it)

In fact, if it is the case that they can't make that promise, then it doesn't even matter if there is any kind of conspiracy between the US and Sweden, as the US doesn't even need make any plans ahead of time. Once Sweden gets him, the U.S. can choose to grab him any time they want.

So again, none of his behavior conflicts with what he's saying.

Like I said: If his only concern was the sexual assault allegation, he could have plead guilty and be out of jail by now. Swedish prisons are supposedly pretty cush, possibly nicer then being stuck in the Ecuadorian embassy.
posted by delmoi at 11:36 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


You're cute, Ironmouth, in not responding to questions that are difficult for you, but I'll ask you again,

(1) what would you do if you wished to answer charges in a country which could extradite you to a country where there were (possibly secret) charges against you you didn't wish to answer, and

(2) what would your advice be to a client in such a situation?


My advice has to be after losing the appeal to accept extradition. I'm prohibited by the Rules of Professional Responsibilty from advising a client to avoid a valid judgment of a court I practice before.

As for avoiding, my research showed that Sweden need not give rape suspects extra rights. And they shouldn't. He's a flight risk. As was proven in the UK courts, the Swedish prosecutor sought to question him and he fled. Then he lost his appeal and fled to the embassy. This is the definition of a flight risk.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:36 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


That is, if Assange is guilty, that by no means rules out conspiracy. It is plausible to me that upon learning about the accusations, the US government saw an opportunity to get at Assange to punish him for Wikileaks.

Even assuming US prosecutors were hoping to capitalize on this, it is simply not a legal defense to rape. That would mean I could avoid justice for one crime because someone else wanted me for another crime. There's no basis in law for this defense, and Assange's lawyers did not make this defense in court, because its isn't even allowed. Under EU law, Sweden's signatory status on the EU Declaration of Human Rights gives him the same rights in Sweden, so its never a defense to extradition. Read the above article.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:43 PM on August 15, 2012


ell, like I asked: why does it even matter whether or not Sweden can make that promise, given the treaties it's signed? What conclusion are people supposed to draw? Why would it change anyone's opinion about Assange? It seems like a completely irrelevant side point.

People were arguing that Sweden must secretly intend to extradite Assange to the US because it refuses to grant him a promise that he won't be extradited. As far as I can tell, that's a promise it literally can't grant under its treaty with the US, so the "conclusion people are supposed to draw" is that Sweden's refusal to grant Assange a promise he won't be extradited isn't actually evidence of its sinister, pro-US intent. Is that really so hard to understand?

with respect to the rape accusation it is irrelevant whether he'll be extradited or not.

If he's charged with rape, he's got to answer for it. The fact that he might be extradited afterwards doesn't bear on the need to answer to the rape accusation. That's how the rule of law has to work -- the alternative is an endless series of arbitrary ad hoc decisions.

Maybe that's unduly Kantian, but I don't think so.
posted by gerryblog at 11:47 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


The fact that he might be extradited afterwards doesn't bear on the need to answer to the rape accusation.

Except that's the entire basis of the claim to asylum!
posted by mek at 11:58 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Live stream - More police arriving, they just need some protesters now. [I am so going to get that Katy Perry album].
posted by unliteral at 11:59 PM on August 15, 2012


Let's say I am charged with speeding. For whatever reason, I believe I will be killed if I face the charge. By your logic, I must do so regardless.

That's a silly hypothetical and I don't think many would agree with the conclusion, but that's what you get with absolutism.

More seriously, I think the trouble here is that strict adherence to the rule of law only works if the laws are all perfectly just and perfectly applied. I don't think it would be a huge stretch to think that some injustice might occur if Assange is extradited to the US. We can disagree about the risk and severity of that potential injustice, but I don't see how we can just ignore it.
posted by ssg at 12:00 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


The fact that he might be extradited afterwards doesn't bear on the need to answer to the rape accusation.

Except that's the entire basis of the claim to asylum!


Right, and I don't accept Assange's claim to asylum and I think Ecuador should reject it. I've been pretty clear about that.
posted by gerryblog at 12:01 AM on August 16, 2012


An offer by Ecuador to allow Swedish investigators to interview Mr Assange inside the embassy was rejected.
posted by Surfurrus at 12:05 AM on August 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Right, and I don't accept Assange's claim to asylum

which is not surprising given that you "don't care" whether or not he gets extradited from Sweden to the US
posted by moorooka at 12:06 AM on August 16, 2012


Let's say I am charged with speeding. For whatever reason, I believe I will be killed if I face the charge. By your logic, I must do so regardless.

Well, my first response is that this collapses the difference between "believe" and "claim to believe," which is immediately problematic. But let's put that to one side and change the terms a bit.

Let's say I am charged with murder. For whatever reason, I believe I will be executed if I face the charge. By your logic, I must do so regardless.

Pretty much. That's the social compact in a nutshell, isn't it? We ask that people submit to the judicial process even if the consequences will be personally bad for them. We can't have people running off and refusing to stand trial whenever they think it's not going to have the results they want; that's why we make fleeing prosecution an additional crime as opposed to treating it as a natural part of the judicial process.

More seriously, I think the trouble here is that strict adherence to the rule of law only works if the laws are all perfectly just and perfectly applied. I don't think it would be a huge stretch to think that some injustice might occur if Assange is extradited to the US. We can disagree about the risk and severity of that potential injustice, but I don't see how we can just ignore it.

Putting the first part of this comment to one side, I see your point. I don't, of course, reject the idea of political asylum on the face of it -- obviously some prosecutions are just and other are unjust. But in this case, to say "I don't care if he is extradited" is to say that I personally find that the risk of Assange being extradited to the US doesn't override the need for him to face the rape accusation. Being anti-rape isn't something that we can just slough off whenever some countervailing interest gets in the way; we do too much of that as it is.
posted by gerryblog at 12:11 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


The fact that he might be extradited afterwards doesn't bear on the need to answer to the rape accusation.

Except that's the entire basis of the claim to asylum!


So an accused rapist gets away for 40 years?

Put another way, there's no factual basis for the claim that an extradition would be easier from Sweden. None.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:13 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


which is not surprising given that you "don't care" whether or not he gets extradited from Sweden to the US

Is that comment not displaying correctly for people? Here it is again:
With specific respect to the rape accusation, I don't know or care if they do or don't. That's a total distraction from the legitimacy of the rape accusation and Assange's requirement to cooperate with Swedish authorities regarding it.

More generally, I think it's possible they might, though not a certainty, and I hope they don't.
There was even more to that comment, but it already derailed the thread once and it seems pointless to open Pandora's Box a second time.
posted by gerryblog at 12:14 AM on August 16, 2012


Well, my first response is that this collapses the difference between "believe" and "claim to believe,"

meant to add: "as well as the difference between rational beliefs and irrational beliefs."

I do, honestly, think it is irrational to believe Assange would be murdered or tortured by the US if he were extradited, though obviously many people in this thread disagree with me.
posted by gerryblog at 12:18 AM on August 16, 2012


I do, honestly, think it is irrational to believe Assange would be murdered or tortured

Do you consider the use of long-term solitary confinement to be torture?
posted by andoatnp at 12:19 AM on August 16, 2012


Do you consider the use of long-term solitary confinement to be torture?

Yes. But I don't think Assange would get treated the way Bradley Manning has. As we've danced around a bit in the thread, it's not clear to me what law if any Assange broke, and he's celebrity enough that they couldn't just disappear him the way they have others. Again, I know people strongly disagree with me on this, which may account in part for this endless argument we've been having tonight.
posted by gerryblog at 12:23 AM on August 16, 2012


But in this case, to say "I don't care if he is extradited" is to say that I personally find that the risk of Assange being extradited to the US doesn't override the need for him to face the rape accusation. Being anti-rape isn't something that we can just slough off whenever some countervailing interest gets in the way; we do too much of that as it is.

I think this is actually a fairly difficult assessment to make, given that everyone has their own interpretation of the facts, giving different probabilities for Assange's guilt w/r/t/ the Swedish charges and extradition to the US if Assange returns to Sweden, and also what is likely to happen to Assange personally if he is extradited to the US (not to mention the chilling effects that prosecution of Assange in the US would have).

I don't think we should be surprised that people are doing their own moral calculus, based on their own assessments, and ending up with very different conclusions. I don't think anyone is arguing that we shouldn't care about rape, but it is very possible that for some the other side of the equation dwarfs the rape side.
posted by ssg at 12:24 AM on August 16, 2012


I think it's pretty clear that the USA is prepared to illegally detain and torture people when it wants to. It may not be clear to us now what law Assange broke, but there is plenty of evidence that a secret grand jury can be prepared to charge Assange with whatever they think will stick. And many politicians have stated publicly to similar effect. Frankly, it's naive to think otherwise. The USA is prosecuting much lower profile whistleblowers for espionage as we speak.
posted by mek at 12:26 AM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yes. But I don't think Assange would get treated the way Bradley Manning has.

And those that aren't so sure about that, you consider to be "irrational"?!
posted by anonymisc at 12:27 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


And those that aren't so sure about that, you consider to be "irrational"?!

Not every person, but certainly some. There have been a lot of very hyperbolic claims in this thread about the terrible things that will definitely happen if Assange is extradited. A lot of this seems to me to be overblown to the point of irrationality.

It's getting quite late in my time zone and I may be speaking with less care than I'd like, given the high-octane emotions some people have on this subject. Sincere apologies if I've offended you or anyone else.
posted by gerryblog at 12:33 AM on August 16, 2012


I know people strongly disagree with me on this, which may account in part for this endless argument we've been having tonight.

You flatter yourself. Tonight people have recommended that you read previous mefi threads re: Assange and rape charges; have given links to Naomi Wolf's commentary, "Sweden, Britain, and Interpol Insult Rape Victims Worldwide"; and have corrected your legal assertions. Meanwhile, you have repeated (only) one point over and over: Assange has to be held responsible for answering the rape accusations. No one has disagreed with you on that point.

I am having trouble believing you have been arguing in good faith.
posted by Surfurrus at 12:36 AM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Goodnight everybody!
posted by gerryblog at 12:38 AM on August 16, 2012


The one constant when it comes to international politics is the law of unintended consequences.

England diplomatically telling Ecuador about an obscure law that would let them take Assange out of the embassy has had the opposite effect than what they intended. Ecuador's Foreign Minister now publicly accuses Britain of threatening to “assault our embassy”, and "We are not a colony of Britain and colonial times have finished." I'm sure stirring up ancient anti-colonial anger was not their intention. I wouldn't be surprised if this affects UK relations with all of South America. Ecuador may now have to give him asylum just to save face.

Likewise, if the US were to somehow grab Assand and put him on trial in the US, they would instantly turn Assand into an international martyr and symbol for anti-US rebellion throughout the world. They really should just let him go on trial in Sweden and be done with him.

It is almost as though these things have to happen though, as though they were pre-ordained.
posted by eye of newt at 12:39 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seriously, Naomi Wolf is right: feminism is being pimped to take away people's rights, and Metafilter is going along with it, hook, line and stinker. Disgraceful.

Naomi Wolf's claim is that none of the alleged actions constitute rape in the first place, that the women were enthusiastically consenting the whole time - that "she said yes", that "he didn't have sex with that woman while she was asleep", and that the women just set Interpol on him because they were jealous he was interested in other women and he didn't call them the day after.

This not correct. This is wrong. What he is being accused of is rape. It is not "condom breaking during sex", or "being a cad". It is rape, and it is rape in the UK as well as in Sweden, as was necessary to establish for extradition. Now, I don't know whether he is actually guilty of all he's been accused of - although, if it is indeed true that his lawyers have admitted some of the claims, then that's pretty disturbing - but Naomi Wolf is totally wrong on what the accusations are.

Where she's also wrong is in claiming that because rape is not usually taken seriously by society or by judicial systems, it is insulting to rape victims and to feminism to take these allegations seriously. Which is bullshit. I shouldn't really need to elaborate on why it's bullshit to say "if you really cared about rape, you wouldn't take rape allegations seriously when they're made about someone I otherwise admire!", but it seems she's gone totally off the rails on this one.

I say this as a longterm feminist, and fan of her earlier books, and someone who was very disappointed when she started speaking on this case so dismissively and inaccurately. But she doesn't get any special claim to truth on this one by virtue of being a feminist writer, any more than we should have let Oprah off the hook with "it wasn't rape rape" re: Polanski because Oprah's done a lot to support women in other areas.
posted by Catseye at 12:46 AM on August 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


That's not even close to an honest reading of Wolf's writing.
posted by mek at 12:51 AM on August 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Those are direct quotes from Wolf's writing.

I will admit to paraphrase in "if you really cared about rape, you wouldn't take rape allegations seriously when they're made about someone I otherwise admire!" - but she is indeed saying that the correct thing to do if you care about rape is to object to Sweden pursuing Assange for this one.
posted by Catseye at 12:55 AM on August 16, 2012


(Sorry, that should be 'if you care about allegations of rape').
posted by Catseye at 12:57 AM on August 16, 2012


Please give links, Catseye. I don't see ANY of your quotes/interpretations in the link submitted above -- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/naomi-wolf/jaccuse-sweden-britain-an_b_795899.html
posted by Surfurrus at 12:59 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Just watching the live feed here, apparently, someone keeps sending taxicabs to the Ecuadorean embassy to pick up Julian Assange to go to the airport. Internet jokesters.)
posted by taz at 1:00 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Taxis keep arriving outside the Ecuadorian Embassy with "Julian Assange" cards in their window.
posted by panaceanot at 1:00 AM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


You seem to miss the entire point of her writing then, which is not to belittle the claim of rape, but to point out that even accepting the legitimacy of the allegations, the response is disproportionate in a way which belies the motivation of the prosecutors. Which is not to say the response is not appropriate; it's just to say that the vast majority of rapists are not given the Assange Treatment, and those who argue the case purely on the basis of the rape allegations are being willfully blind.
posted by mek at 1:00 AM on August 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Interpol as "dating police" in her first HuffPo article on the subject;

That his alleged actions wouldn't constitute rape,that he didn't have sex with a sleeping woman (although "she was half-asleep"), and that the women said "yes" (specifically "yes, yes, yes, that's go ahead") in this debate with Jaclyn Friedman on Assange.

And yes, she does believe that it's disproportionate in a way that's insulting to rape survivors and belittling to their experiences. But 'disproportionate' partly comes from what she's claiming the allegations are, which is factually wrong, and partly comes from the apparent belief that the best way to respect the experiences of people whose allegations weren't taken seriously is to not take other allegations seriously either, which is just bizarre.
posted by Catseye at 1:41 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


And I'm going to step back from this debate now, because I promised myself I wouldnt get into lengthy Assange debates on MeFi. Just wanted to point out that Naomi Wolf is not the pinnacle of informed feminist opininion on this particular case.
posted by Catseye at 1:45 AM on August 16, 2012


Bizarre is watching the UK threaten an international incident at the Ecuadorean embassy -- over an allegation of rape. That illustrates pretty much what Naomi Wolf is saying about the 'disproportion' of the response.
... This is not about rape.
posted by Surfurrus at 2:00 AM on August 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


The extraordinary quality of this threat would would at least makes Assange's asylum claim of political persecution seem much more credible. And as much as I hope that we continue to go after domestic and foreign rapists with equal fervour in the future I very much doubt the UK government will continue this pattern for the less politically important people. Plus you have the whole saving face angle too. England stand to lose a lot more by embarrassing themselves internationally with a move like that than Ecuador do by letting Assange chill out in South America. Plus you know, if he's in Ecuador surely arranging for him to be quietly assassinated in a horrible automobile accident is going to be much easier?

I kind of doubt that Sweden will ultimately end is Assange's extradition to the US but I also think the way this case is being managed is evidence of political persecution regardless of what a rapey douchebag he is.

Yes Assange should probably be in Sweden professing his innocence in front of a judge by now but while the UK (and presumably the USA) keep failing at dealing with the politics of this situation is a sensible manner it's just going to work in favour of Assange's freedom, if not his political focus.

If anything I think it would have worked out better for Assange if he'd just gone straight to Sweden, spent a few years in a relatively nice prison and then come out repentent and got on with his life. Now he just looks like a paranoid lunatic and has thrown away the little political good will he did have with a lot of people.
posted by public at 2:05 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ecuador's President Rafael Correa got both his Master's and PhD (in economics) from the University of Illinois.

(That's not really relevant or anything; I just thought it was kind of an interesting tidbit.)


A more relevant and interesting tidbit is that, at the time, Correa's father was caught smuggling drugs in the US and thrown into prison. He committed suicide after his release. This has left Correa with a lifelong grudge against the US in general and the criminal justice system in particular.

You really didn't think Assange chose Ecuador by chance, did you?
posted by Skeptic at 2:17 AM on August 16, 2012


The extraordinary quality of this threat would would at least makes Assange's asylum claim of political persecution seem much more credible. And as much as I hope that we continue to go after domestic and foreign rapists with equal fervour in the future I very much doubt the UK government will continue this pattern for the less politically important people.

I think otherwise. It is quite extraordinary for any country to allow the extraterritoriality of its embassies to be abused to shelter an alleged criminal, any alleged criminal. It isn't surprising that Britain has found it necessary to point this out quite forcefully to Ecuador: can you imagine what precedent this would create?

In any other case, the whole issue would long have been discreetly solved by unceremoniously kicking the unwanted guest out of the embassy. But this is Julian Assange, so high drama was to be expected.
posted by Skeptic at 2:26 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


What gives you the idea criminals have ever been rare in embassies, Skeptic? ;)
posted by Jimbob at 2:35 AM on August 16, 2012


I will bet you one thousand dollars, right here and right now, that if Assange ever touches ground in Sweden he will end up in the US. I'd bet you ten thousand except that I'm not Mitt Romney and even a thousand is a lot of money to me. But I am about as sure of this as I am that the Sun will rise tomorrow and that this year's Arctic ice melt will break all records.
posted by localroger at 20:12 on August 15 [6 favorites +] [!]


Do you really think so?

in regards to his accuser penning a blog post in the past describing sexual assault allegations as being a great way to get back at men.

Link plz.

If it happened, it changes everything.


I don't have a link, but I remember reading it when it first came out. Something about her having ties to the CIA as well - but I'm pretty sure the blog got wiped when it started to pop up a lot more.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:37 AM on August 16, 2012


I think otherwise. It is quite extraordinary for any country to allow the extraterritoriality of its embassies to be abused to shelter an alleged criminal, any alleged criminal.

I'm not sure these are mutually exclusive. To Ecuador he is there as an asylum seeker, allegations of criminal activity are pretty routine things for asylum seekers to have, so I imagine it's not hugely relevant to them. What is relevant in his claim to political asylum is how much they believe he's likely to end up getting locked up in the US if they refuse him asylum. The actions of the British government clearly aren't doing anything to dissuade them of that opinion.


In any other case, the whole issue would long have been discreetly solved by unceremoniously kicking the unwanted guest out of the embassy. But this is Julian Assange, so high drama was to be expected.


Obvious troll is obvious.
posted by public at 2:37 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


If he's charged with rape, he's got to answer for it.
My understanding is that he's being accused of crimes (and not with rape, specifically, but something more like sexual assault) that carry about a 1.5 year prison sentence. And he's already been under house arrest for longer than that.
The fact that he might be extradited afterwards doesn't bear on the need to answer to the rape accusation. That's how the rule of law has to work -- the alternative is an endless series of arbitrary ad hoc decisions.
Sure, okay, you can argue that we should uphold the rule of law and he should go back to Sweden and face punishment. Not everyone favors the rule of law if it yields seemingly unjust outcomes.

An example would be people who have been imprisoned even though DNA evidence might exhonerate them. The "rule of law" says that if they've been convicted, you can only get a new trial if there was some problem with the initial one. New evidence isn't enough. That's consistent with the law, but obviously unjust.

I don't have a problem with Assange going to trial in Sweden and possibly spending a year or two in jail, especially since if he doesn't he'll likely spend more time under house arrest or stuck in an embassy or whatever.
Let's say I am charged with murder. For whatever reason, I believe I will be executed if I face the charge. By your logic, I must do so regardless.-- ssg
Pretty much. That's the social compact in a nutshell, isn't it? Yeah, I was going to make the same analogy. Let's try to make it a little more concrete:

Suppose you have a serious traffic ticket, can't pay the fine and as a result get a 5 day jail sentence.
Suppose, additionally you were a snitch who ratted out some gang members earlier, who are now in that same jail, which has a lot of trouble with inmate violence, and you think there's a very good chance if you do go to jail you'll be killed by the people you ratted out.

Now, should you go to jail in that situation? Obviously not. And it seems fairly obvious that you would do everything you could to avoid going to jail, including fleeing the country.
That's the social compact in a nutshell, isn't it
So you're like literally a hobbsian? Social compact theory has been obsolete for centuries.
Social contract theories were eclipsed in the nineteenth century in favor of utilitarianism, Hegelianism, and Marxism, and were revived in the twentieth, notably in the form of a thought experiment by John Rawls.
If you're going to base your argument on philosophical ideas that are hundreds of years out of date, you can't expect people to agree with you.
posted by delmoi at 2:41 AM on August 16, 2012


I don't have a link, but I remember reading it when it first came out. Something about her having ties to the CIA as well - but I'm pretty sure the blog got wiped when it started to pop up a lot more.
I remember that as well. If you know the accusers name it's pretty easy to google for.
posted by delmoi at 2:45 AM on August 16, 2012


You really didn't think Assange chose Ecuador by chance, did you?
I'm pretty sure it was because the president publicly offered him asylum when this whole thing was getting started.
posted by delmoi at 2:47 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


To Ecuador he is there as an asylum seeker, allegations of criminal activity are pretty routine things for asylum seekers to have, so I imagine it's not hugely relevant to them.

public, likewise, the only way for a common-or-garden criminal to be granted asylum is by alleging political persecution, so he would do so, wouldn't he?

In my opinion, there is nothing "extraordinary" about Britain's reaction. The extraterritorial status of embassies is a privilege granted by the host country. If the host country feels that this is being abused to evade its own justice, it usually gets rather angry, regardless of whether the charges are politically motivated or otherwise.

In any other case, the whole issue would long have been discreetly solved by unceremoniously kicking the unwanted guest out of the embassy. But this is Julian Assange, so high drama was to be expected.

Obvious troll is obvious.


What trolling? You can be sure that the Ecuadorian Foreign Affairs Ministry, never mind the diplomats in place at the embassy, are less-than-thrilled about this whole matter.
posted by Skeptic at 2:48 AM on August 16, 2012


"The UK government is presenting the most extreme version of its position, and Ecuador is doing the same. This is a negotiating tactic, nothing more. Nobody seriously thinks the police would storm the embassy -- not even Ecuador thinks that. They just say they do to rile people up. Look how well that worked!"

This isn't even wrong, of course this is what the Ecuadoran Foreign Service is doing, imagine how fucked up it would be if it didn't work.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:53 AM on August 16, 2012


What trolling? You can be sure that the Ecuadorian Foreign Affairs Ministry, never mind the diplomats in place at the embassy, are less-than-thrilled about this whole matter.
Right, because obviously they agree with you. Couldn't possibly appreciate a little excitement in what would otherwise be a pretty boring post.
posted by delmoi at 2:54 AM on August 16, 2012


public, likewise, the only way for a common-or-garden criminal to be granted asylum is by alleging political persecution, so he would do so, wouldn't he?

Certainly and I'm sure Ecuador were kicking themselves that he actually took them up on their crazy offer. They obviously think there's something to actually be decided here and they seem to believe that kicking out foreign embassies over a little criminal allegation or two is ridiculous.

When it comes to Assange's current situation it's the opinions are motivations of the Ecuadorian and British diplomats and politicians that are interesting here not yours.
posted by public at 2:58 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here's what the Guardian's diplomatic editor says about the missive from UK to the Ecuador embassy (quote of a quote from their live blog):
The document raises British concern about the reports that the
president is considering offering asylum. It says London's preferred
course, even if asylum is offered, is to continue discussions on a
mutually acceptable outcome.

However the note did point out that the foreign secretary had the power to go to court to seek the right for UK police to enter the Ecuadorean embassy to arrest Assange. He would have to prove that international law had been broken and that Ecuador was in contravention of its Vienna Convention obligations in harbouring Assange.

The foreign office is confident these conditions would be met. It says the embassy would have a week's notice of the action and the police would not look at or remove any embassy documents and the diplomatic immunity of Ecuadorean diplomats would not be affected.


A foreign office spokesman said that the UK government realised this
would be a serious step, but added 'it is not as serious as ending
diplomatic relations'. He said the UK saw its paramount obligation
was the legal duty to extradite Assange.
So even the Brits didn't quite say that they'd storm the embassy, merely that they can and will get a court order to enter the embassy.
posted by the cydonian at 2:59 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


of course this is what the Ecuadoran Foreign Service is doing

Nope, this is what the minister, an appointed politician, is claiming. The rolling of eyes among his subordinates must be something to behold.

They obviously think there's something to actually be decided here and they seem to believe that kicking out foreign embassies over a little criminal allegation or two is ridiculous.

It isn't over a "little criminal allegation or two". It is about a breach of the Vienna Convention which regulates diplomatic relations. The very same Vienna Convention on which the extraterritoriality of embassies is based.
posted by Skeptic at 3:03 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Skeptic: What trolling?

It's trolling because you're pretending not to be able to tell the difference between a garden-variety criminal and a famous journalist who is wanted by officials of the world's most powerful military empire for leaking millions of their confidential files revealing the depths of their international war-crimes. There's a reason why the latter would have a request for political asylum seriously considered while the former wouldn't. Obviously. Pretending that you're too dumb to see the obvious difference is trolling.
posted by moorooka at 3:03 AM on August 16, 2012 [11 favorites]


They would if he fled internationally.

No, they wouldn't.


I wonder what the CIA's beef with Polanski was.
posted by acb at 3:05 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


you're pretending not to be able to tell the difference between a garden-variety criminal and a famous journalist who is wanted by officials of the world's most powerful military empire for leaking millions of their confidential files revealing the depths of their international war-crimes

Famous journalist can also be a garden-variety criminal. As acb points out, famous movie director, Holocaust survivor and widow of serial killer victim was also a garden-variety criminal.
posted by Skeptic at 3:07 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, but the point is that without the "famous journalist" bit, they wouldn't be having their asylum application considered. Still pretending you can't figure this out?
posted by moorooka at 3:11 AM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Nah. Embassy "law" is... customary, more than anything else.

...Vienna Convention says no. You're a lawyer!
posted by jaduncan at 3:16 AM on August 16, 2012


Yes, but the point is that without the "famous journalist" bit, they wouldn't be having their asylum application considered.

As you can read yourself, in the bit which you read as "trolling", I wrote : "But this is Julian Assange, so high drama was to be expected."

Of course that the (in)famous journalist bit matters. But Julian Assange could be the inventor of sliced bread, I still wouldn't want him to evade justice if he had raped someone. And that's what he's wanted for by the Swedish justice.
posted by Skeptic at 3:20 AM on August 16, 2012


It is about a breach of the Vienna Convention which regulates diplomatic relations. The very same Vienna Convention on which the extraterritoriality of embassies is based.

No it's specifically not that. We are threatening them with a little known piece of legislation which we came up with after someone in the Libyan embassy shot a police officer to death and injured a bunch of protesters in the 80's.

Better informed and more experienced opinion than my own seems to think that this situation probably doesn't qualify as that and a that the high court would probably not consider as having been intended for the situation we currently find ourselves in.
posted by public at 3:26 AM on August 16, 2012


For me, the primary consideration is whether or not Assange has a reasonable basis to believe, from the manouverings in legal and diplomatic terms since the allegations of sexual assault were first made, that the consequences of his surrendering himself for extradition far outweigh the likely sentence associated with successful prosecution. I don't think you have to have an overactive imagination to conclude that he does. Sending the police to a sovereign embassy is pretty extreme. Secondarily, he has made - as far as I understand - an honest attempt to cooperate and provide video testimony to assist the Swedish courts. I can't see how he could have acted more reasonably in ALL the circumstances. I hope the Ecuadorian government grants him asylum and he manages to smuggle himself out of the UK somehow. I also hope that a serious attempt be made to prosecute the Swedish case though and he should be asked to participate via skype or similar.
posted by peacay at 3:29 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Libya murdered a british police officer via their embassy. Russia murdered one of their own. We let all the people in the Libyan embassy leave and basically just ignored that whole Polonium thing. And you think diplomatic relations with Ecuador are already so fraught that we'd kick them out for harbouring an asylum seeking alleged rapist?
posted by public at 3:30 AM on August 16, 2012


And you think diplomatic relations with Ecuador are already so fraught that we'd kick them out for harbouring an asylum seeking alleged rapist?

Of course not. That appears to be only the Ecuadorian minister's opinion.
posted by Skeptic at 3:37 AM on August 16, 2012


Also, public, do you think that the UK wouldn't at least issue the proverbial strongly-worded statement and eventually take some sort of mild diplomatic reprisal if Ecuador or any other country sheltered an alleged rapist in its embassy?
posted by Skeptic at 3:42 AM on August 16, 2012


public : No it's specifically not that. We are threatening them with a little known piece of legislation

"Little known" because it exists solely as UK law, not international.

Sorry,but they already signed the treaty. They don't get to renegotiate after the fact without completely pulling out and restarting the process.
posted by pla at 3:45 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


And, from what I'm reading, both the British and Ecuadorian diplomats seem to be currently pitching for some kind of "negotiated solution". Which, I suspect, will ultimately mean Assange taking up residence at the embassy indefinitely until he gets tired of it and/or decides to make some headlines again. Which should take 6 months, tops.
posted by Skeptic at 3:46 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, public, do you think that the UK wouldn't at least issue the proverbial strongly-worded statement and eventually take some sort of mild diplomatic reprisal if Ecuador or any other country sheltered an alleged rapist in its embassy?

No. I think they'd do it if the person was of particular political interest for reasons beyond their alleged criminal activity, and only then.
posted by public at 3:47 AM on August 16, 2012


I think they'd do it if the person was of particular political interest for reasons beyond their alleged criminal activity, and only then.

Well, since you are starting from that (in my opinion, ridiculous) premise, and also from the (in my opinion, equally ridiculous) premise that the rape allegations are merely a plot involving (at least) the US, UK and Sweden to get Assange into US custody (despite Swedish and EU law and despite the fact that this would inadvertently give Assange that which he craves most, publicity), I don't think there's a point in me arguing enymore.
posted by Skeptic at 4:01 AM on August 16, 2012


Also, public, do you think that the UK wouldn't at least issue the proverbial strongly-worded statement and eventually take some sort of mild diplomatic reprisal if Ecuador or any other country sheltered an alleged rapist in its embassy?

"The most serious case involves a man from Sierra Leone's High Commission, who was arrested for rape."

Not prosecuted, you'll notice. Because Sierra Leone refused permission. Not even issued with some public form of particular diplomatic censure. So yes, embassies shelter accused rapists without PNG status being applied willy-nilly to everyone contained within.
posted by jaduncan at 4:07 AM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


(that said, I'd be astonished if the Sierra Leonean in question hasn't been quietly PNGed).
posted by jaduncan at 4:08 AM on August 16, 2012


jaduncan: All the embassies in that article are still open.
posted by public at 4:12 AM on August 16, 2012


So yes, embassies shelter accused rapists without PNG status being applied willy-nilly to everyone contained within.
Seems somewhat different to me, because the individuals in question had immunity courtesy of their positions in diplomatic services of their respective nations, and no doubt it's something that crops up regularly down the years; you'd suspect the procedures existed to first ask for immunity to be waived and in the few cases where it wasn't the individual to be expelled or whatever. In no case was the embassy premises and its special status itself providing asylum for a non-national third party, which is far rarer I'd suppose, and thus why a different response has been forthcoming.
posted by Abiezer at 4:19 AM on August 16, 2012


Abiezer: States my extend diplomatic protection to any person they deem worthy of it. Although I don't believe they've nominated Assange an official diplomat of Ecuador quite yet :)
posted by public at 4:23 AM on August 16, 2012


The US has more leverage over Sweden than the UK, and Sweden has already participated in extraordinary renditions.
They have more leverage over Sweden than over their most important European ally? Sure. The UK has done rather a lot more than just participate in extraordinary renditions.
This is what gets me. Nobody in their right mind doubts that the UK will do anything the US asks, so why go through all these hurdles and not just extradite him directly? The UK is pretty much wholly supine to the US, so it doesn't make sense.
posted by Jehan at 4:25 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thought this worth posting from the cached version of Craig Murray's website (ex British ambassador to Uzbekistan who was fired for raising human rights issues). His main website appears to be down for some reason:


America’s Vassal Acts Decisively and Illegally
I returned to the UK today to be astonished by private confirmation from within the FCO that the UK government has indeed decided – after immense pressure from the Obama administration – to enter the Ecuadorean Embassy and seize Julian Assange.

This will be, beyond any argument, a blatant breach of the Vienna Convention of 1961, to which the UK is one of the original parties and which encodes the centuries – arguably millennia – of practice which have enabled diplomatic relations to function. The Vienna Convention is the most subscribed single international treaty in the world.

The provisions of the Vienna Convention on the status of diplomatic premises are expressed in deliberately absolute terms. There is no modification or qualification elsewhere in the treaty.

Article 22

1.The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving State may not enter
them, except with the consent of the head of the mission.
2.The receiving State is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises
of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the
mission or impairment of its dignity.
3.The premises of the mission, their furnishings and other property thereon and the means of
transport of the mission shall be immune from search, requisition, attachment or execution.

Not even the Chinese government tried to enter the US Embassy to arrest the Chinese dissident Chen Guangchen. Even during the decades of the Cold War, defectors or dissidents were never seized from each other’s embassies. Murder in Samarkand relates in detail my attempts in the British Embassy to help Uzbek dissidents. This terrible breach of international law will result in British Embassies being subject to raids and harassment worldwide.

The government’s calculation is that, unlike Ecuador, Britain is a strong enough power to deter such intrusions. This is yet another symptom of the “might is right” principle in international relations, in the era of the neo-conservative abandonment of the idea of the rule of international law.

The British Government bases its argument on domestic British legislation. But the domestic legislation of a country cannot counter its obligations in international law, unless it chooses to withdraw from them. If the government does not wish to follow the obligations imposed on it by the Vienna Convention, it has the right to resile from it – which would leave British diplomats with no protection worldwide.

I hope to have more information soon on the threats used by the US administration. William Hague had been supporting the move against the concerted advice of his own officials; Ken Clarke has been opposing the move against the advice of his. I gather the decision to act has been taken in Number 10.

There appears to have been no input of any kind from the Liberal Democrats. That opens a wider question – there appears to be no “liberal” impact now in any question of coalition policy. It is amazing how government salaries and privileges and ministerial limousines are worth far more than any belief to these people. I cannot now conceive how I was a member of that party for over thirty years, deluded into a genuine belief that they had principles.

posted by numberstation at 4:25 AM on August 16, 2012 [12 favorites]


jaduncan: All the embassies in that article are still open.

Yeah, don't think there was ever a question of Ecuador's embassy being asked to close shop. The only threat was for British police to enter the embassy grounds and arrest Assange. Now whether that's permissible by international law or an unprecedented escalation is matter of opinion - I'm personally leaning on the first - but I don't think there is a question of breaking diplomatic links. The Ecuadorean government is plainly posturing.

(Also, this was mentioned earlier, but Assange is entirely different from Chen Guancheng for one very simple reason: Chen wasn't accused or wanted by China's legal system. He escaped _extra-judicial_ custody that was illegal under China's own laws. )
posted by the cydonian at 4:26 AM on August 16, 2012


I understood that in fact the UK would have to accept their credentials as a diplomat before they got that immunity, hence the old thing of ambassadors presenting their credentials. A formality in the usual run of mill appointments but again different if they offered it to our Julian. No special knowledge and am just speculating idly I do admit though
posted by Abiezer at 4:26 AM on August 16, 2012


I understood that in fact the UK would have to accept their credentials as a diplomat before they got that immunity

This is correct. If people are curious I can probably answer questions here; I have a shelf full of international law texts as a result of graduating with an LLM (Cantab).
posted by jaduncan at 4:35 AM on August 16, 2012


As you can read yourself, in the bit which you read as "trolling", I wrote : "But this is Julian Assange, so high drama was to be expected."

Of course that the (in)famous journalist bit matters. But Julian Assange could be the inventor of sliced bread, I still wouldn't want him to evade justice if he had raped someone.
See Skeptic, this is why you're being called a troll: because you're pretending that you can't tell the difference between being the inventor of sliced bread and being a famous journalist who's published millions of classified documents and enraged a superpower when it comes to whether there are reasonable grounds to request political asylum.

The basis of his claim for political asylum is the belief that Sweden will hand him to the US on espionage charges. Whether that is true or not - it does not apply to the inventor of sliced bread. Without the "famous journalist" bit - there wouldn't be reasonable grounds to consider the asylum request, and Ecuador wouldn't be considering the request. That's the difference between this guy and someone else charged with the same thing who is not also the founder of Wikileaks.

Only a troll would pretend that they needed something this obvious explained. I'm done feeding you.
posted by moorooka at 4:36 AM on August 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


This is what gets me. Nobody in their right mind doubts that the UK will do anything the US asks, so why go through all these hurdles and not just extradite him directly? The UK is pretty much wholly supine to the US, so it doesn't make sense.

Quite. Especially since Assange was looking to move himself and Wikileaks to Sweden before the alleged crimes. If Sweden is so acquiescent to the US, why was he trying to base himself there?
posted by outlier at 4:39 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is what gets me. Nobody in their right mind doubts that the UK will do anything the US asks, so why go through all these hurdles and not just extradite him directly? The UK is pretty much wholly supine to the US, so it doesn't make sense.

This is the question that never gets a decent answer.

People seem to believe that the UK is quite happy for the extradition to Sweden to go ahead because it washes their hands of the whole affair, or that it's easier to extradite from Sweden, but neither is the case.

This is the relevant framework document for the EAW, and it states:

a person who has been surrendered pursuant to a European arrest warrant shall not be extradited to a third State without the consent of the competent authority of the Member State which surrendered the person.

Which means that if the US tries to extradite Assange from Sweden, they still need explicit authorisation from the UK government. And if that's the case, then it's a lot simpler to go to the UK government directly.
posted by daveje at 4:47 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


The basis of his claim for political asylum is the belief that Sweden will hand him to the US on espionage charges. Whether that is true or not

This is not only not true, but not even reasonable, as outlier and others point out. So, reasonable grounds for asylum? Nope, unless one joins the cult of St. Julian.

I don't need anything "explained", thank you very much.

Also curious that nobody has yet pointed out that Rafael Correa is an unlikely champion of freedom of speech. And that Assange has gladly provided him with ammunition for his attacks on local journalists through his gig at Russia Today (another fine bastion of journalistic integrity).
posted by Skeptic at 4:56 AM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


This totally snuck up on me. Anyone who's been here care to da a little "while you were sleeping" summary of what has or hasn't happened? Much appreciated.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 4:59 AM on August 16, 2012


Which means that if the US tries to extradite Assange from Sweden, they still need explicit authorisation from the UK government. And if that's the case, then it's a lot simpler to go to the UK government directly.

The trick here is that in addition to the extradition arrangements between the two countries, Sweden apparently has a special "temporary surrender" agreement with the US that may or may not count as extradition. More on that here:
The concern in the Assange camp has always been that temporary surrender may allow a rapid transfer of Assange from Sweden to the US with no due process or appeal rights. That can't happen under the extradition agreements between the US and the UK.

So if Carr is suggesting that it is credible to maintain that Assange may be safer from extradition to the US in Sweden than the UK, he's simply wrong. If he'd said that there's a view that temporary surrender comes with the same appeal rights and due process that regular extradition has, then he'd have been on far safer ground, because some credible lawyers do maintain (and I understand it's the DFAT view as well) that there's nothing special about temporary surrender compared to ordinary extradition processes. The only problem has been, Assange would be gambling on that issue with his life if he went to Sweden.
(Bob Carr is the Australian Foreign Minister and DFAT is the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, by the way.)
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 5:00 AM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


There were more extraordinary renditions from Sweden with more direct assistance from the Swedish secret service than from the U.K., daveje. I suspect the U.S. cannot realistically extradite him from either country, but Sweden would be more willing to simply hand him over illegally.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:03 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Two Egyptians who were forcibly deported to Egypt from Sweden by CIA agents in 2001 have blamed the US spy agency for the torture they received in their home country.

According to Al Zery and Agiza, they were taken to Bromma Airport, a small airport near Stockholm, after being arrested by agents from Swedish security service Säpo and informed of the deportation.

At the airport, an American plane with seven CIA agents and two people from the Egyptian security service were waiting for them as they were escorted by Säpo officers.

The nine people from the plane were dressed in civilian clothing and were all masked.

Al Zery and Agiza were taken into the small police station at Bromma airport where their clothes were cut off them, their hands and feet were chained, and they were blindfolded before they were taken onto the waiting plane...

Once the two men had arrived in Egypt they were isolated from each other for months, despite being kept only a few metres apart.

Both were kept in solitary confinement with their eyes covered at all times. The only objects in the cells were a cement slab, a water bottle, and a bottle to urinate in.

According to the two men, their interrogations would commence in the evening and go on until dawn, night after night.

Al Zery told SVT that he was systematically beaten and hung from the ceiling by his feet.

Electric shocks were also part of the routine.

”They take your clothes off, you are blindfolded, your hands are tied behind your back and your feet are chained up. Then you are put on a wet mattress. The interrogator sits down – and then he begins,” Al Zery said.


Not hard to see why anyone would want to avoid extradition to Sweden, only to be handed over to the United States authorities for torture and worse.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:04 AM on August 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is what gets me. Nobody in their right mind doubts that the UK will do anything the US asks, so why go through all these hurdles and not just extradite him directly? The UK is pretty much wholly supine to the US, so it doesn't make sense.

I agree, this is the weird bit. The Swedish angle seems to have taken on a life of its own. The reasoning at the time was that once he was in Swedish custody, the Swedes would allow him to be extradited to the US. So he came to the UK to avoid that, but was arrested here, and nothing happened.

However, just because Assange might be a bit paranoid, it doesn't mean that they are not out to get him. In terms of the Swedish charges, this is a ridiculous overkill operation for the HM Gov and the Met, although the allegations of Craig Murray, if true, supply an alternate explanation.
posted by carter at 5:06 AM on August 16, 2012


What Craig Murray has stated pretty much seals the deal - what more do you want? The British to directly say they're doing what Obama says and that they want to help hang Julian?
posted by ioerror at 5:08 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


The UK doesn't really export physical goods to the US, however flat-packing Assange in a box with a blue and yellow ribbon?
posted by panaceanot at 5:11 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


There were more extraordinary renditions from Sweden with more direct assistance from the Swedish secret service than from the U.K.

But we're not talking about rendition, and particularly not rendition of two brown-skinned people three months after 9/11. This is a Australian with a huge media profile, and powerful and wealthy friends.
posted by daveje at 5:11 AM on August 16, 2012


So even the Brits didn't quite say that they'd storm the embassy, merely that they can and will get a court order to enter the embassy.

It's pretty clear storming the embassy is the unwritten threat, though. It's not like the police make a weekly application to the courts to do some random thing and 'enter the Ecuadorean embassy' was this week's lucky winner.
posted by hoyland at 5:12 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also curious that nobody has yet pointed out that Rafael Correa is an unlikely champion of freedom of speech. And that Assange has gladly provided him with ammunition for his attacks on local journalists through his gig at Russia Today (another fine bastion of journalistic integrity).
Read elsewhere that this is a bit of a political free gift to Correa - knows full well any offer of asylum is doomed to failure but he gets to play the anti-colonialist card familiar to Latin American elites down the years, always handy for covering up domestic failings. Not the core issue here and again no expert on Ecuadorian politics, but struck me as a reasonable explanation for their role in proceedings thus far.
posted by Abiezer at 5:13 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is what gets me. Nobody in their right mind doubts that the UK will do anything the US asks, so why go through all these hurdles and not just extradite him directly? The UK is pretty much wholly supine to the US, so it doesn't make sense.

Also, it appears that even if Assange was cleared of all charges, the UK would not extend his visa and he'd be deported to Australia, who (if comments by PM Julia Gillard, and the precedent of the Howard government surrendering Australian citizen and jihadist David Hicks to extraordinary rendition and ordering Australia's diplomats to withhold consular representation are anything to go by) would hand him over to the US on request. So why not wait for him to be packed onto a plane at Heathrow and then send a light plane over to pick him up at Melbourne/Sydney airport?

Unless, of course, the Obama campaign needs a shackled, orange jumpsuited Assange in front of a Virginia courtroom to boost its national security credentials before November.
posted by acb at 5:15 AM on August 16, 2012


ioerror: An optimist might say that they just want him out of the way for a couple of years. (Perhaps while they work out how to discretely silence him more permanently.) It took ages for Russia to get around to murdering Litvinenko after all.
posted by public at 5:16 AM on August 16, 2012


Also, it appears that even if Assange was cleared of all charges, the UK would not extend his visa

This won't be an issue if asylum is granted, since absent a warrant he'd be sunning in Ecuador.
posted by jaduncan at 5:17 AM on August 16, 2012


This is a Australian with a huge media profile, and powerful and wealthy friends.

Who's also one long-haired cat away from being a Bond villain in certain circles. He'd make an excellent trophy for a presidential campaign seeking to shore up its national security credentials, especially if Israel bombs Iran and all of a sudden the Republicans look like the hawks of the moment.

Manuel Noriega also had a high profile, and ended his days in the Colorado supermax penitentiary.
posted by acb at 5:18 AM on August 16, 2012


It's totally possible for Assange to be both a freedom fighter on the run from oppressive and corrupt governments and a rapist. Unfortunately, people don't neatly sort themselves into "good" and "evil".
posted by Zarkonnen at 5:21 AM on August 16, 2012 [11 favorites]


Who's also one long-haired cat away from being a Bond villain in certain circles. He'd make an excellent trophy for a presidential campaign seeking to shore up its national security credentials, especially if Israel bombs Iran and all of a sudden the Republicans look like the hawks of the moment.

What about the Swedish elections? The Swedish government may have got away with rendition of two Egyptians. I can't even begin to imagine the domestic shitstorm that would ensue if it suddenly shipped Assange off to the US.
posted by Skeptic at 5:21 AM on August 16, 2012


Manuel Noriega also had a high profile, and ended his days in the Colorado supermax penitentiary.

I get your point, but Manuel Noriega is alive and in Panama serving time for human rights violations.

I also think the point is that if Assange ever finds himself in United States custody it will be as a high profile prisoner in standard custody facing trial in a traditional court. He's not disappearing to some CIA black site; he's too high profile. The fact that we arrested and tried Noriega doesn't really convince me otherwise.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:25 AM on August 16, 2012


Libya murdered a british police officer via their embassy. Russia murdered one of their own. We let all the people in the Libyan embassy leave and basically just ignored that whole Polonium thing. And you think diplomatic relations with Ecuador are already so fraught that we'd kick them out for harbouring an asylum seeking alleged rapist?
Russia is obviously a more important relationship then Ecuador, though. The UK might feel more comfortable pushing around a small country then one of the world's nuclear powers.
This is what gets me. Nobody in their right mind doubts that the UK will do anything the US asks, so why go through all these hurdles and not just extradite him directly? The UK is pretty much wholly supine to the US, so it doesn't make sense.
Right, obviously everyone who disagrees with you "isn't in their right mind". Apparently the knowledge that the UK has denied US extradition requests in the past causes people to go insane, or something. Extraditions to the US actually a politically sensitive issue in the U.K. There's no guarantee that the UK will extradite someone just because we ask.
See Skeptic, this is why you're being called a troll: because you're pretending that you can't tell the difference between being the inventor of sliced bread and being a famous journalist who's published millions of classified documents and enraged a superpower when it comes to whether there are reasonable grounds to request political asylum.
Yeah exactly. Pretending that Assange is just a run of the mill criminal, that his political activities are irrelevant to his asylum application and arguing from there isn't going to convince anyone of anything, it's just a waste of everyone's time.

A lot of people in this thread seem to have taken the position that we should evaluate the situation only with respect to the sexual assault accusations and only with the potential for being convicted for them in Sweden, and that any other potential problems are totally irrelevant to whether or not he gets asylum.
Quite. Especially since Assange was looking to move himself and Wikileaks to Sweden before the alleged crimes. If Sweden is so acquiescent to the US, why was he trying to base himself there?


Stupidity? I mean, He could have avoided all of this by agreeing to get an STD test before the girls ever even went to the police.
posted by delmoi at 5:27 AM on August 16, 2012


FYI, If I'm hearing this stream right, Ecuador just granted Assange asylum.
posted by public at 5:28 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


But it's awfully waffely, perhaps he's not quite got to that part yet...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19281396
posted by public at 5:29 AM on August 16, 2012


There seem to be four kinds of people participating in this thread:
1. People who think that normal laws shouldn't apply to Assange because he thought of Wikileaks and pissed off the US, and that Rafael Correa is a champion of freedom and justice

2. People who look at the whole saga (e.g. as summarised here) and conclude that the way the case against Assange has been handled has been so ridiculously overwrought that the likelhood of it ceasing to be ridiculously overwrought if he is extradited to Sweden is small

3. "Move along, nothing to see here"

4. People who think any allegation of a crime involving sex should carry with it an assumption of guilt, and that the accused should never be able to rely on any evidence other than the accused's own testimony
I haven't seen any posts by anyone in group 1, but I am constantly assured that they exist so maybe I just skimmed over them all by accident. 4 misunderstands the way that the rights of a defendant are balanced against the oppressive powers of the state in a criminal trial, perhaps deliberately. 3 is fair enough if you think Assange is too blond to stay free or something, I guess. So I'm left with 2.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 5:29 AM on August 16, 2012 [10 favorites]


and the precedent of the Howard government surrendering Australian citizen and jihadist David Hicks to extraordinary rendition

I don't think we surrendered Hicks to the US. He was picked up in Afghanistan, I believe. Howard just let him rot in Guantanamo without even trying to bring him home. It's a minor point, but I don't take it as a given that the Australian government would hand Assange over to the US if he was on Australian soil, Gillard's early remarks notwithstanding. The political fallout would be significant. So long as Assange is in another country, however, the Australian government is free to wash their hands of him.
posted by kisch mokusch at 5:30 AM on August 16, 2012


Pretending that Assange is just a run of the mill criminal, that his political activities are irrelevant to his asylum application and arguing from there isn't going to convince anyone of anything, it's just a waste of everyone's time.

Fine strawman you've found there.

a) I haven't even pretended Assange is a criminal. Only that he's alleged to be one.
b) I haven't pretended that he's "just" an alleged common criminal either. Indeed, I've made the point that, if he had been, he would have been unceremoniously kicked out of the embassy a long time ago.
c) My point is that it is up to the person claiming political asylum to provide some evidence that he's being politically persecuted in either Britain or Sweden. In my eyes, the evidence suggests otherwise.

My point is that being, St. Assange, a Very Important Person, the Provider of Truth to the Masses, or even the Absolute Cure to All Evil In the World shouldn't enable anyone to evade rape charges by claiming political asylum unless there was some kind of evidence that those charges are bogus, or that he's going to be treated differently than another alleged rapist. Period/
posted by Skeptic at 5:39 AM on August 16, 2012


Assange is citizen of Ecuador.
posted by de at 5:40 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ecuador is granting political asylum, says Guardian.
posted by daveje at 5:41 AM on August 16, 2012


FYI, If I'm hearing this stream right, Ecuador just granted Assange asylum.

To paraphrase, he's been granted asylum and citizenship, apparently because the Ecuadorian government believes that it is reasonable to expect that Assange would be delivered to American authorities after being extradited to Sweden.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:41 AM on August 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is what gets me. Nobody in their right mind doubts that the UK will do anything the US asks, so why go through all these hurdles and not just extradite him directly? The UK is pretty much wholly supine to the US, so it doesn't make sense.

My wholy unfounded conjecture is that the US knows he will be convicted if tried in Sweden - either because he's actually guilty or because they can influence the proceedings, this is irrelevant. This weakens public support for him and destroys his image, making the process of extradition to the US and trial for terrorism much easier.
posted by Dr Dracator at 5:42 AM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


An Australian has become an Ecuadorean citizen, after claiming asylum in the UK after avoiding extradition to Sweden because of the threat of rendition to the US, because he supposedly (amongst other things) helped start the arab spring in Tunisia (Northern Africa).
posted by panaceanot at 5:47 AM on August 16, 2012 [9 favorites]


I also hope that a serious attempt be made to prosecute the Swedish case though and he should be asked to participate via skype or similar.
posted by peacay at 11:29 AM on August 16 [+] [!]


What if he is charged? Will he attend the trial via Skype?

What if he was convicted? Would he serve his sentance by sitting in front of his own computer with a webcam running to make sure he is there?

It is unreasonable that a suspect be allowed to dictate the conditions of the investigation of his own alleged crime, especially when he has already skipped out on bail once.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 5:47 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm curious.
What now? How can get get him out of the embassy and onto a plane?
I assume there is some protection of diplomatic cars and jets, but not on the tarmac and streets.
Would that be correct?

(Sorry, the thread is hellisly long, but this is now a thing that will happen, not simply conjecture.)
posted by Mezentian at 5:51 AM on August 16, 2012


Stupidity? I mean, He could have avoided all of this by agreeing to get an STD test before the girls ever even went to the police.

If we're invoking stupidity to explain his idea of moving to (acquiescent, US-lapdog) Sweden, might we also use it to explain his other actions and beliefs? Such as his fear of an all-encompassing yet invisible transnational conspiracy that is out to get him, one that is obvious and blatant despite the lack of any evidence? And his allegations of a feminist conspiracy against him? And that the granting of extradition to Sweden by UK courts, which was carried out lawfully and correctly, is only due to US pressure?

You're right - stupidity is a better explanation.
posted by outlier at 5:52 AM on August 16, 2012


Now that Julian Assange has been granted asylum by Ecuador... Perhaps this will convince some of the naysayers in this thread that they didn't/don't actually know everything about international law and his case?
posted by ioerror at 5:55 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


What now? How can get get him out of the embassy and onto a plane? I assume there is some protection of diplomatic cars and jets, but not on the tarmac and streets.

Apparently the police could stop a diplomatic car on the way to the airport and remove and arrest him. So this Ecuadorean citizenship won't help him if the cops just decide to wait.
posted by outlier at 5:55 AM on August 16, 2012


Mezentian: What now? How can get get him out of the embassy and onto a plane?

Now that he's a citizen, can't the Ecuadorians give him diplomatic status...?
posted by gman at 5:58 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


however flat-packing Assange in a box with a blue and yellow ribbon?

Heh, I look forward to the the new range of Assånge filing cabinets ...
posted by carter at 5:58 AM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


That Ikea is Swedish just made me snort wine.

Assånge filing cabinets ... they might fuck you while you sleep and leak your secrets, but they won't .... be ignored.
posted by Mezentian at 6:02 AM on August 16, 2012


Clearly the Assånge would be some kind of colander, or perhaps a home-assembled urinal.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 6:04 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Now that he's a citizen, can't the Ecuadorians give him diplomatic status...?

Not without the consent of the Foreign Office.
posted by jaduncan at 6:06 AM on August 16, 2012


Not without the consent of the Foreign Office.

To be clear, that's the British FO I'm referring to. The diplomat of the home state must request recognition of diplomatic status by the state they wish to be recognised in.
posted by jaduncan at 6:07 AM on August 16, 2012


Now that Julian Assange has been granted asylum by Ecuador... Perhaps this will convince some of the naysayers in this thread that they didn't/don't actually know everything about international law and his case?

What has Ecuador's sovereign (and political) decision have to do with international law (or his case, for that matter?).

That wouldn't change anythin. See Art. 38.1 of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations:

"Except insofar as additional privileges and immunities may be granted by the receiving State, a diplomatic agent who is a national of or permanently resident in that State shall enjoy only immunity from jurisdiction, and inviolability, in respect of official acts performed in the exercise of his functions."


Life isn't like "Lethal Weapon".
posted by Skeptic at 6:09 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Huh. From SMH: Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa last year expelled the US ambassador to Quito, Heather Hodges, over allegations she made in a classified diplomatic cable that he knowingly appointed a corrupt police chief. The cable was published by Wikileaks.
posted by kisch mokusch at 6:10 AM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


jaduncan: Not without the consent of the Foreign Office.

Really? It has to be run by the Brits even if he's not a diplomat to Britain? Ecuador doesn't have the sovereign right to make someone a diplomat on their own territory? And if he wasn't a diplomat to Britain, that wouldn't have any effect on his immunity, would it?
posted by gman at 6:10 AM on August 16, 2012


I think Ecuador can give him diplomatic status. Britain can then just declare him persona non grata.
posted by Skeptic at 6:13 AM on August 16, 2012


4. People who think any allegation of a crime involving sex should carry with it an assumption of guilt, and that the accused should never be able to rely on any evidence other than the accused's own testimony

The following quote from Assange's own lawyers is making it hard for me not to tend towards guilt in my assumptions:

[The complainant] was lying on her back and Assange was on top of her … [she] felt that Assange wanted to insert his penis into her vagina directly, which she did not want since he was not wearing a condom … she therefore tried to turn her hips and squeeze her legs together in order to avoid a penetration … [she] tried several times to reach for a condom, which Assange had stopped her from doing by holding her arms and bending her legs open and trying to penetrate her with his penis without using a condom. [She] says that she felt about to cry since she was held down and could not reach a condom and felt this could end badly.

That being said, this one quote is hardly the whole story, which is why I'd like there to be a trial please. And again, why can't it be both? Why can't he be a freedom fighter and a rapist? Why can't it be both true that he must stand trial and that the US and others are trying to silence him? The situation is, simply put, a mess.
posted by Zarkonnen at 6:14 AM on August 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


That is what A Thousand Baited Hooks's number 2-s have been saying this whole thread, Zarkonnen. The problem is that the number 4-s then went on to declare that anyone who thinks that this is a mess and it's both are rape enablers and justifiers.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 6:20 AM on August 16, 2012


From the Guardian's diplomatic editor:

Julian Borger, our diplomatic editor, has some interesting background on the "threat" issued by Britain. He writes that, after reports that Ecuador might consider giving Assange asylum, a British diplomat from the embassy in Quito went to the foreign ministry and delivered the UK position, leaving an 'aide-memoire' with the main points on it. This is the letter Patino is talking about, says Borger.

The document raises British concern about the reports that the
president is considering offering asylum. It says London's preferred
course, even if asylum is offered, is to continue discussions on a
mutually acceptable outcome.
However the note did point out that the foreign secretary had the power to go to court to seek the right for UK police to enter the Ecuadorean embassy to arrest Assange. He would have to prove that international law had been broken and that Ecuador was in contravention of its Vienna Convention obligations in harbouring Assange.
The foreign office is confident these conditions would be met. It says the embassy would have a week's notice of the action and the police would not look at or remove any embassy documents and the diplomatic immunity of Ecuadorean diplomats would not be affected.

A foreign office spokesman said that the UK government realised this
would be a serious step, but added 'it is not as serious as ending
diplomatic relations'. He said the UK saw its paramount obligation
was the legal duty to extradite Assange.


The UK govt may or may not be very wrong in the letter's intentions here, but it's about going to the courts and arguing the international law, not "storming" the embassy. ( and if the UK govt was somehow actually about to send in the SAS and storm the embassy, the early polite yet very vaguely and circumspectly worded notice to the foreign capital would a pretty weird obviously counterproductive way of going about it )


Also see this legal opinion blog ( longer version of a piece reprinted in the Guardian)
posted by Bwithh at 6:22 AM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Zarkonnen, I am not a lawyer, but what Assange's lawyers said, reading around the statement of "facts/allegations", is an admission of nothing. Even if he pleased guilty to some crime, it is not a guarantee that he accepts the statement of facts as a whole.

And that website, appears to be axe-grindy.

There can only be a trial if there is sufficient evidence, and there is no reason to require him to return to Sweden to be questioned.
posted by Mezentian at 6:24 AM on August 16, 2012


Who are those "number-4s", Pyrogenesis?

I think everybody agrees that this is an enormous mess.
posted by Skeptic at 6:25 AM on August 16, 2012


The UK govt may or may not be very wrong in the letter's intentions here, but it's about going to the courts and arguing the international law, not "storming" the embassy.
And as far as I can tell, the fact that Ecuador has now granted asylum doesn't change that in any substantive way. Does look like this is going to end up with Assange in custody and then on a plane to Sweden sooner or later.
posted by Abiezer at 6:25 AM on August 16, 2012


The following quote from Assange's own lawyers is making it hard for me not to tend towards guilt in my assumptions:


I have no idea if Assange is or isn't a rapist, but to be clear when his lawyer said that he was trying to show that even if Assange had done those things they weren't criminal under British law. He was rehearsing the allegations against him, not vouching for their accuracy or giving the defence's account of them.
posted by unSane at 6:26 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can't believe I hit refresh on this horrible thread when I woke up, but Pyrogenesis, the argument/analogy that was being shouted at me when I went to sleep was that rape is like a traffic ticket.
posted by gerryblog at 6:26 AM on August 16, 2012


Really? It has to be run by the Brits even if he's not a diplomat to Britain? Ecuador doesn't have the sovereign right to make someone a diplomat on their own territory? And if he wasn't a diplomat to Britain, that wouldn't have any effect on his immunity, would it?

I think the question there is: Do you have diplomatic immunity in a country other than the country to which you are a diplomat? I can't get a firm answer to that from Googling, other than to say that the Vienna Convention says that third countries do have to grant immunity to diplomats traveling to or from their posts, which would seem to mean that if Ecuador could get Assange made a diplomat to somewhere other than the UK, he would then have immunity to take up his new post, but I think the new country would still have to approve him as diplomat.

That said, I find the question interesting so I'm curious if anyone has a firm answer.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:27 AM on August 16, 2012


Really? It has to be run by the Brits even if he's not a diplomat to Britain? Ecuador doesn't have the sovereign right to make someone a diplomat on their own territory? And if he wasn't a diplomat to Britain, that wouldn't have any effect on his immunity, would it?

A quick international law dive:

Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961
Article 1

(e) A “diplomatic agent” is the head of the mission or a member of the diplomatic staff of the
mission;

(i) The “premises of the mission” are the buildings or parts of buildings and the land ancillary
thereto, irrespective of ownership, used for the purposes of the mission including the residence of the head of the mission.
Assange could be made a diplomatic agent by Ecuador, yes. If recognised, all that could happen is that he gets PNGed, due to Article 29:
The person of a diplomatic agent shall be inviolable. He shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention. The receiving State shall treat him with due respect and shall take all appropriate steps to prevent any attack on his person, freedom or dignity.
and Article 31
1. A diplomatic agent shall enjoy immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the receiving State.
He shall also enjoy immunity from its civil and administrative jurisdiction, except in the case of [real estate sale/commercial undertaking issues which aren't relevant].
and, crucially in this case
2. A diplomatic agent is not obliged to give evidence as a witness.
However, this all doesn't apply to Assange due to Article 39:

1. Every person entitled to privileges and immunities shall enjoy them from the moment he enters the territory of the receiving State on proceeding to take up his post or, if already in its territory, from the moment when his appointment is notified to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs or such other ministry as may be agreed. [emphasis added by me]

It therefore doesn't legally make a difference what Ecuador say without FO approval, no.

Ecuador could make him a protected member of the Ecuadorian government such as the Foreign Minister, but that seems unlikely.
posted by jaduncan at 6:34 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Basically, the brits screwed up by threatening too soon. Ecuador was indecisive, weighing its options. Once it became a slap in the face, either you kneel and lick their jackboots*, or you slap back and say "now it's on, bitch."

* Not in a sexy way, idiot. Jackboots aren't the sexy kind of boots. Wait, am I being heteronormative again?
posted by syntaxfree at 6:34 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also: people have said that the US might bring terrorism charges against Assange, but is that really possible? Has the definition of terrorism expanded to include republishing leaked US military secrets?
posted by acb at 6:34 AM on August 16, 2012


Who are those "number-4s", Pyrogenesis?

Luckily this angle seems to have motly died down by now, so perhaps no point in dragging it up again. I should've stayed quiet myself. But upthread it is occasionally pretty grotesque...
posted by Pyrogenesis at 6:36 AM on August 16, 2012


Basically, the brits screwed up by threatening too soon. Ecuador was indecisive, weighing its options.
Other way round from what I've read - the UK presents its letter in Quito once it becomes clear that Ecuador is on the point of offering asylum.
posted by Abiezer at 6:38 AM on August 16, 2012


Assange has been granted asylum by the Ecuador government, but asylum does not equal immunity from prosecution. Assange still can't leave the embassy without being arrested by the police officers waiting outside. The police can't enter the embassy as it's a diplomatic premises, and despite all the posturing, it seems highly unlikely the UK government would revoke it's diplomatic status.

Here's where it gets interesting. Embassy vehicles are protected by law from police searches. So if he gets into an Ecuadorian car the police would have no grounds to stop or search it, he could drive around London, or indeed the rest of the country all he wants. But of course, at some point he will have to get out of the car again, so leaving the country is going to be pretty much impossible.

There is previous form in attempting to smuggle someone out of the UK. In 1984 the Nigerian embassy tried to smuggle someone out of the UK in the "diplomatic pouch". However, the "pouch" (which was in fact a large crate) containing Umaru Dikko was intercepted at the airport. Their plan may well have succeeded had the crate had the correct paperwork, however, it didn't and so customs officers were permitted to open and search it at the airport.
posted by bap98189 at 6:42 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Abiezer: you could be right. I was kind of going by game theory*.


* Not the creepy technique to get sexy time, you idiot. That's not even a theory, just a set of parlor tricks.

posted by syntaxfree at 6:44 AM on August 16, 2012


I think the question there is: Do you have diplomatic immunity in a country other than the country to which you are a diplomat?

Absolutely not except in a few cases, as then you're only covered by the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties Article 2 if you're the following:
In virtue of their functions and without having to produce full powers, the following are considered as representing their State:

(a) Heads of State, Heads of Government and Ministers for Foreign Affairs, for the purpose of performing all acts relating to the conclusion of a treaty [this is interpreted widely, because of state immunity];

(b) heads of diplomatic missions, for the purpose of adopting the text of a treaty between the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties accrediting State and the State to which they are accredited;

(c) representatives accredited by States to an international conference or to an international organization or one of its organs, for the purpose of adopting the text of a treaty in that conference, organization or organ.
posted by jaduncan at 6:45 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


It therefore doesn't legally make a difference what Ecuador say without FO approval, no

except the text you bolded doesn't say what you think it does. It says the Foreign Office must be notified, not that they must approve. The 'agreed' at the end of the sentence refers to a consensus about which office deals with diplomatic matters. It has nothing to do with them 'agreeing' to treat someone as a diplomat.
posted by unSane at 6:46 AM on August 16, 2012



Here's where it gets interesting. Embassy vehicles are protected by law from police searches. So if he gets into an Ecuadorian car the police would have no grounds to stop or search it, he could drive around London, or indeed the rest of the country all he wants. But of course, at some point he will have to get out of the car again, so leaving the country is going to be pretty much impossible.


So if Britain wasn't an island, he could cross the border to a friendly country? That's fascinating.
posted by syntaxfree at 6:46 AM on August 16, 2012


I don't know much about diplomatic immunity, but I'm guessing that appointing Assange as an Ecuadorean diplomat would be such a significant breach of protocol that the UK would feel entirely comfortable breaching protocol right back at them.

The idea of disguising him as the motorbike pizza delivery guy was much better (who knows? maybe that's exactly what happened).
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 6:49 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just joining in the madness here for brainstormin' fun: if he'd be fine in the car, couldn't the car be driven directly onto a ferry or boat?
posted by curious nu at 6:49 AM on August 16, 2012


So if Britain wasn't an island, he could cross the border to a friendly country? That's fascinating.
posted by syntaxfree at 14:46 on August 16 [+] [!]


I wonder what the Republic of Ireland's stance would be. Could he take the car ferry there?
posted by jonnyploy at 6:50 AM on August 16, 2012


So if Britain wasn't an island, he could cross the border to a friendly country?

Last I heard it was quite possible to drive between Britain and France.
posted by localroger at 6:51 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


So if Britain wasn't an island, he could cross the border to a friendly country? That's fascinating.

SO, if he could get in a diplomatic car, he could get on a channel ferry (in car?), and all the way to a French airport, and he'd be home free?
posted by Mezentian at 6:51 AM on August 16, 2012


Julian. If someone knocks on the door and says, "Land Shark," do not open the door.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:51 AM on August 16, 2012


Other way round from what I've read - the UK presents its letter in Quito once it becomes clear that Ecuador is on the point of offering asylum.

Come to think of it, it should have been clear to the FO that invoking the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987 would be counter-productive and ensured this indignant reply.

Maybe this was their intention all along? Now Assange becomes Ecuador's problem, rather than the UK's. At the same time, you could hardly think up of a better scheme to damage Assange's image than having him being holed up in the embassy of a country that can be reasonably depicted as a "banana republic", in order to escape rape charges, and after having licked its president's derrière on Putin TV.

Maybe they're opening the champagne at the FO right now, for all we know...
posted by Skeptic at 6:51 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Absolutely not except in a few cases, as then you're only covered by the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties Article 2

I'll be honest, now I'm hoping for this to end with Assange being granted total diplomatic immunity by dint of being elected President of Ecuador. A distant second is that Ecuador names Assange its official representative to the UN.
posted by Copronymus at 6:53 AM on August 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


Maybe they're opening the champagne at the FO right now, for all we know...
I'm torn between the general incompetence of the present UK administration and the tradition of cunning plans executed by the FO. Wonder who was driving these particular exchanges. As you say, they ought to have expected the threat to provoke a response.
posted by Abiezer at 6:54 AM on August 16, 2012


Maybe they're opening the champagne at the FO right now, for all we know...

So the FO is playing 11th dimensional chess now too, eh?

Occam's razor suggests more plausible explanations.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 6:54 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pyrogenesis/A Thousand Baited Hooks: Oh, I was agreeing with you in a roundabout way. But I think the problem here is that the number-twos have been rather too silent on the "but he sounds like an asshole no matter what", and the number fours too loud on the "we're tired of excuses made for powerful men".

Mezentian: Sorry, I wasn't commenting on the legal situation. A lot of horrible things are nevertheless legal. What I mean is that the facts as stated by Assange's lawyer read like a pretty typical case of one of those "it wasn't rape because it didn't involve jumping out of the bushes" type of excuses.

In summary, based on what has been established as fact, I wouldn't shake Assange's hand. But that doesn't mean I don't think there's lots of people out there rubbing their hands with glee at a chance to discredit Wikileaks through this mess.
posted by Zarkonnen at 6:55 AM on August 16, 2012


SO, if he could get in a diplomatic car, he could get on a channel ferry (in car?), and all the way to a French airport, and he'd be home free?
posted by Mezentian at 14:51 on August 16 [+] [!]


Actually, there are probably safety regulations which prevent you from staying in the car whilst the ferry is at sea which would just end up moving the stalemate to the car deck of the ferry in question.
posted by jonnyploy at 6:56 AM on August 16, 2012


Pyrogenesis/A Thousand Baited Hooks: Gah. That is to say, I think there's much less difference in opinion, but a lot of people seeing different emphases and extrapolating from there.
posted by Zarkonnen at 6:57 AM on August 16, 2012


except the text you bolded doesn't say what you think it does. It says the Foreign Office must be notified, not that they must approve. The 'agreed' at the end of the sentence refers to a consensus about which office deals with diplomatic matters. It has nothing to do with them 'agreeing' to treat someone as a diplomat.

Sorry, I should have mentioned Article 9 and 43:

Article 9:

1. The receiving State may at any time and without having to explain its decision, notify the sending State that the head of the mission or any member of the diplomatic staff of the mission is
persona non grata or that any other member of the staff of the mission is not acceptable. In any such case, the sending State shall, as appropriate, either recall the person concerned or terminate his functions with the mission. A person may be declared non grata or not acceptable before arriving in the territory of the receiving State.

2. If the sending State refuses or fails within a reasonable period to carry out its obligations under
paragraph 1 of this article, the receiving State may refuse to recognize the person concerned as a member of the mission.

Article 43:

The function of a diplomatic agent comes to an end, inter alia:

(a) On notification by the sending State to the receiving State that the function of the diplomatic
agent has come to an end;

(b)

On notification by the receiving State to the sending State that, in accordance with paragraph 2 of article 9, it refuses to recognize the diplomatic agent as a member of the mission.
posted by jaduncan at 6:57 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just joining in the madness here for brainstormin' fun: if he'd be fine in the car, couldn't the car be driven directly onto a ferry or boat?

Which could be stopped by the police boarding the ferry and preventing it from leaving, or the Navy/coastguard blocking its passage out of port. They'd just need to prevent the ferry from leaving long enough for the Ecuadorians to give up and drive back out and to their embassy.
posted by acb at 6:59 AM on August 16, 2012


Didn't someone mention that the Ecuadorian embassy doesn't take up that whole building, hence the plod inside? Which means he'll have trouble getting in a car to begin with you'd think.
posted by Abiezer at 6:59 AM on August 16, 2012


Stressing the following:
In any such case, the sending State shall, as appropriate, either recall the person concerned or terminate his functions with the mission. A person may be declared non grata or not acceptable before arriving in the territory of the receiving State.
I strongly suspect the police officers/diplomatic staff in the Ecadorian embassy have a letter in their pocket, if they have not already passed it over.
posted by jaduncan at 6:59 AM on August 16, 2012


I'll be honest, now I'm hoping for this to end with Assange being granted total diplomatic immunity by dint of being elected President of Ecuador.

Foreign minister would probably be a better choice (not that this will happen).
posted by jaduncan at 7:01 AM on August 16, 2012


Folks you do not have to put the car on a ferry to get it to France. They rather famously finished a tunnel under the English channel some time back.
posted by localroger at 7:01 AM on August 16, 2012 [8 favorites]


So the FO is playing 11th dimensional chess now too, eh?

Occam's razor suggests more plausible explanations.


The FO has a long and illustrious tradition of doing just that (cf. "perfidous Albion"). It also has a long and illustrious tradition of egregious bumbling. And quite often, it has been awfully difficult to tell apart the cunning scheming ended from the egregious bumbling. At the end of the day, I can certainly see British diplomats high-fiving each other and saying "Dam bastard's off our hands now! Cheers!"
posted by Skeptic at 7:02 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Right, obviously everyone who disagrees with you "isn't in their right mind". Apparently the knowledge that the UK has denied US extradition requests in the past causes people to go insane, or something. Extraditions to the US actually a politically sensitive issue in the U.K. There's no guarantee that the UK will extradite someone just because we ask.
No, it means that there is either a reason--like the one you stated, or others have stated--for extraditing him to Sweden first, or the US isn't involved at all. I'm agnostic on the issue of who is involved and how, but not on that fact that the UK government would do anything the US asked. I agree that an extradition from the UK to the US would be politically-charged, moreso given the atrocious law they passed some years ago. But I don't doubt that such an extradition would be politically-charged in any country.
posted by Jehan at 7:03 AM on August 16, 2012


Folks you do not have to put the car on a ferry to get it to France. They rather famously finished a tunnel under the English channel some time back.

Which requires that you put the car on a train. There's no road tunnel under the channel. So, same problem.
posted by outlier at 7:04 AM on August 16, 2012


WANTED: Car that turns into a submarine. Must fit diplomatic plates and be capable of trans-Atlantic voyage. Contact J Assange c/- Embajada del Ecuador.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 7:06 AM on August 16, 2012 [9 favorites]


All these flee-across-the-channel and similar ideas are only a good strategy for Assange if the destination country doesn't feel like extraditing him, as well.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 7:07 AM on August 16, 2012


Foreign minister would probably be a better choice (not that this will happen).

Easier and more likely, sure. But not better.

WANTED: Car that turns into a submarine. Must fit diplomatic plates and be capable of trans-Atlantic voyage. Contact J Assange c/- Embajada del Ecuador.

He should just get one of these babies.
posted by Copronymus at 7:10 AM on August 16, 2012


'Here's where it gets interesting. Embassy vehicles are protected by law from police searches. So if he gets into an Ecuadorian car the police would have no grounds to stop or search it, he could drive around London, or indeed the rest of the country all he wants. But of course, at some point he will have to get out of the car again, so leaving the country is going to be pretty much impossible.'

I'm not sure it is this simple. Surely if it is that straightforward he would get in an embassy car and drive to the coast where there would be an Ecuadorian Navy Ship or Ecuadorian Registered Vessel and the UK would have no right to stop the ship unless it was breaking the law? Then it can squirrel him back to Ecuador? Jobs a good 'un.

From BBC Q&A

So in practical terms could he get out?
Assuming Julian Assange evaded arrest outside the embassy, he could get into a diplomatic car. These vehicles enjoy protection in international law from "search, requisition, attachment and execution".

That could lead to the curious legal position of the Met having the power to stop the car - but no power to search it for Julian Assange.

Even if he got away, at some point he would have to get out of it into an aircraft - at which point the risk of arrest would return.
posted by numberstation at 7:10 AM on August 16, 2012


So our intern is completely out of the loop re: the Assange thing. What's a good link with summary information to send her?
posted by syntaxfree at 7:15 AM on August 16, 2012


Even if he got away, at some point he would have to get out of it into an aircraft - at which point the risk of arrest would return.

If the plane was intercepted by USAF jets and forced to land at, say, a US airbase in the UK (or, for that matter, Germany or Greenland or somewhere), would US law apply?
posted by acb at 7:18 AM on August 16, 2012


It's OK: they're going to dress up a lot of people to look like him and they'll all head off in different directions while he flies off on Hagrid's bike.
posted by Segundus at 7:20 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


If only Sweden hadn't handed over innocent people for torture by the CIA and Egypt. They would have had a cleaner human rights record and could have made a reasonably stronger guarantee of refusal of rendition to the United States or other hostile countries. The criminal allegations could have been addressed and all of this would have been unnecessary. Too bad.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:21 AM on August 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


except the text you bolded doesn't say what you think it does. It says the Foreign Office must be notified, not that they must approve.

All diplomats must have their credentials approved. This is stock and trade. A host country is not required to accept a diplomat's credentials.

He's not a diplomat under the Vienna Convention and won't be named one.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:22 AM on August 16, 2012


So our intern is completely out of the loop re: the Assange thing. What's a good link with summary information to send her?

This CNet article isn't bad.
posted by vacapinta at 7:25 AM on August 16, 2012


Sorry, that was Harry Potter. What's actually going to happen is that he'll be grabbed by the police but it will turn out that under the Human Rights Act they weren't allowed to touch him and they'll have to pay him six million pounds compensation, give him a council house, and let him bring all of his wives and children into the UK.

No, wait, that was the Daily Mail...
posted by Segundus at 7:26 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


So our intern is completely out of the loop re: the Assange thing. What's a good link with summary information to send her?

How much do you like your intern? If the answer is "not very much" you could send her a link to this thread.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 7:27 AM on August 16, 2012 [11 favorites]


If only Sweden hadn't handed over innocent people for torture by the CIA and Egypt. They would have had a cleaner human rights record and could have made a reasonably stronger guarantee of refusal of rendition to the United States or other hostile countries.

His rights are defined by EU law. He has the same rights there as in the UK. That's why he couldn't present that defense in court. And gee, didn't the UK render suspects too? His entire defense is for public consumption only and was never argued in court. I mean really? He's concerned the Swedes would turn him over but the UK wouldn't? The entire position is contrary to the law on the matter and makes zero practical sense. Thus, his claim for aslyum because mean Sweden is gonna hand him over to a non-existent prosecution is also flawed. He has no extra rights to avoid that in the UK.

And at what point are we to consider the rights of the alleged victims? Justice delayed is justice denied. Why does he get to have all of these special assurances? In the eyes of the law every man is the same.

Also wanted to point out that I like the focus on the Vienna Convention and UK law. These discussions are so much more valuable when the actual facts and controlling law guide them.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:31 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


In the eyes of the law every man is the same.

Ah, yep.

Yepperdoodles.
posted by Wolof at 7:34 AM on August 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm torn between the general incompetence of the present UK administration and the tradition of cunning plans executed by the FO.

Come to think of it, incompetence at the political level is not just compatible with Whitehall deviousness, but even traditionally complementary to it. I can perfectly see a Sir Humphrey Appleby type wondering how to get rid of the Assange problem, suggesting the idea of threatening Ecuador with the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987, and watching contentedly as William Hague innocently took the bait.
posted by Skeptic at 7:35 AM on August 16, 2012


So our intern is completely out of the loop re: the Assange thing. What's a good link with summary information to send her?

Metafilter: where the frigging Interns discover where their frigging Bosses get the a clue on international diplomacy.
posted by elpapacito at 7:35 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


In the eyes of the law every man is the same.


This is the flashback line in a movie where the young, naive kid realizes how young and naive they
were for believing it.
posted by gcbv at 7:36 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why does he get to have all of these special assurances? Why does he get to have all of these special assurances? In the eyes of the law every man is the same.

I think the answer is that he gets to have special protections that others do not because he has a well-founded fear of indefinite detention and torture that others do not have, and is thus eligible for protection until that's no longer the case. I don't assert that that his fear is, in fact, well-founded, but that's the the "why."
posted by tyllwin at 7:37 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why does he get to have all of these special assurances?

Given what happened to Bradley Manning, as well as the not-so-secret grand jury the US has convened to put Assange away, along with Sweden's collusion with the United States in human rights violations, when you add all that up, he seems to have reasonable concerns about his safety.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:41 AM on August 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


That could lead to the curious legal position of the Met having the power to stop the car - but no power to search it for Julian Assange.
Even if he got away, at some point he would have to get out of it into an aircraft - at which point the risk of arrest would return.

Drive it onto a cargo plane. I mean, if we really want to be James Bond stupid about this.
posted by jaduncan at 7:41 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


That could lead to the curious legal position of the Met having the power to stop the car - but no power to search it for Julian Assange

Hmm, would that really be the case? Would they have the power to surround it and simply sit there until Assange is driven out by (or dies of) thirst or hunger?
posted by tyllwin at 7:46 AM on August 16, 2012


As to your other point, Ironmouth, that he has the same rights in Sweden that he has in the UK, granted, but that brings up the question of whether he would actually be accorded all of those rights, or summarily handed over to US agents. One may be able to keep consideration of that question out of a courtroom, but it can't be excluded from the purely political question of asylum.
posted by tyllwin at 7:49 AM on August 16, 2012


Sweden apparently has a special "temporary surrender" agreement with the US that may or may not count as extradition.

Is there any summary on why temporary surrender would not "count as extradition". There are no special provisions for treating it as anything other than extradition in the extradition treaty.

Now that Julian Assange has been granted asylum by Ecuador... Perhaps this will convince some of the naysayers in this thread that they didn't/don't actually know everything about international law and his case?

I don't know everything. But I put considerably much more trust in the judicial system of Sweden than the political system of Ecuador. In general, Ecuador is considered vastly more corrupt than Sweden.
posted by Authorized User at 7:51 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Given what happened to Bradley Manning, as well as the not-so-secret grand jury the US has convened to put Assange away, along with Sweden's collusion with the United States in human rights violations, when you add all that up, he seems to have reasonable concerns about his safety.

'We have a sealed indictment on Assange. Pls protect.' The news, if true, was a bombshell."

"if true" is not the same as "not so secret".
posted by outlier at 7:52 AM on August 16, 2012


"if true" is not the same as "not so secret".

Glenn Greenwald: As WikiLeaks Reveals Syria Files, Assange Remains in Ecuador Embassy Seeking Asylum

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Glenn Greenwald, your comments on these developments, both of the new files—the files about to be—or being released right now and Julian Assange’s current situation?

GLENN GREENWALD: So, as far as his current situation is concerned, I think everybody agrees that the allegations that have been made in Sweden, they’re not—he’s not been charged with any crime, these are just allegations, they’re obviously unproven—are serious ones and deserve to be taken seriously. And the hope of everybody is that he will be able to go there and vindicate his claims of innocence or have a judicial process ultimately adjudicate them.

The problem is, is that the United States has given every indication that it is actively seeking to prosecute him. There’s some evidence, not overwhelmingly reliable, that there’s already a sealed indictment. But there’s definite proof that there’s an active grand jury. The Justice Department has confirmed there’s ongoing criminal investigations. Dianne Feinstein, yet again, called for the prosecution, the criminal prosecution, of WikiLeaks under espionage statutes. And the concern is that going to Sweden will enable the United States much more easily to extradite him to the United States and charge him with crimes for which he would end up in prison for life, if convicted, under very oppressive conditions. Sweden has a history of complying with the United States’s lawless requests. The U.N. found them in violation of the law in cooperation with the CIA’s rendition program. Sweden is a small country.
(emph. added)
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:59 AM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is what gets me. Nobody in their right mind doubts that the UK will do anything the US asks, so why go through all these hurdles and not just extradite him directly? The UK is pretty much wholly supine to the US, so it doesn't make sense.

I linked to the Wikipedia article on McKinnon above. Apparently it's taken seven years since the initial request for extradition from the US and McKinnon is still in the UK (though he's gone through all his options at this point?). Would Sweden extradite faster (or more discreetly)?

Some people, in this thread and elsewhere, have said that extradition from Sweden is easier. I wonder if there's a list of extraditions from both places to the US so we could compare. Though a part of these claims is that Sweden has participated in secret extraditions. And I don't even know how you'd go about getting a list of those (or any from the UK).
posted by ODiV at 8:00 AM on August 16, 2012


WikiLeaks Grand Jury investigation widens

Last month, I reported that the FBI had served a Cambridge resident with a subpoena compelling his testimony in the active Grand Jury investigation into WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, and that the subpoena revealed a very broad scope to the criminal investigation. A similar subpoena has now been served on David House — one of the founders of the Bradley Manning Support Network who helped publicize the oppressive conditions of Manning’s detention and who then had his laptop seized by the government without a warrant — compelling his testimony before the Grand Jury next Wednesday. The subpoena and accompanying documents received by House can be viewed here and here.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:01 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is there any summary on why temporary surrender would not "count as extradition". There are no special provisions for treating it as anything other than extradition in the extradition treaty.

You're right, it looks like "temporary surrender" is just a special type of extradition that only applies if a normal extradition request has already been granted. I should know better than to trust media reporting on any kind of legal issue.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 8:05 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


4. People who think any allegation of a crime involving sex should carry with it an assumption of guilt, and that the accused should never be able to rely on any evidence other than the accused's own testimony

I read most of this thread, and I didn't see any comments that I felt fit this characterization. If you did, so be it; it's a long thread and maybe I missed things.

I did see comments (deleted or not) explicitly saying that rape accusations should be taken less seriously if the accused rapist has done other, good things in his lifetime. I did see comments that drew analogies between sexual assault and traffic offenses.
posted by cribcage at 8:08 AM on August 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


If only Sweden hadn't handed over innocent people for torture by the CIA and Egypt. They would have had a cleaner human rights record and could have made a reasonably stronger guarantee of refusal of rendition to the United States or other hostile countries. The criminal allegations could have been addressed and all of this would have been unnecessary. Too bad.

In your opinion, what more should Sweden do to wrong that right. Because it's really impractical for Sweden if it's somehow determined that extraditions to Sweden are denied because it's possible that the extraditees might be renditioned to the US?
posted by Authorized User at 8:09 AM on August 16, 2012


this is all making me queasy as hell. If he gets as royally screwed as it looks like he is about to be - are we about to watch him be martyred? And my trepidation over his martyrdom has less to do with him as an individual than him as a figure-head. I don't think many positive things about him personally but governments stooping down below the letter of the law to cream him. Isn't Guantanamo/ Bradley Manning shameful enough?
posted by From Bklyn at 8:14 AM on August 16, 2012


There’s some evidence, not overwhelmingly reliable, that there’s already a sealed indictment. But there’s definite proof that there’s an active grand jury. The Justice Department has confirmed there’s ongoing criminal investigations.

So there's a Grand Jury into ... something. And for evidence, Greenwald cites his own articles. Within one of which he makes the interesting aside:

"Notably, the Subopena explicitly indicates that the Grand Jury is investigating possible violations of the Espionage Act (18 U.S.C. 793), a draconian 1917 law under which no non-government-employee has ever been convicted for disclosing classified information."

Yup. That's a "not so secret" attempt to "put Assange away".
posted by outlier at 8:20 AM on August 16, 2012


So there's a Grand Jury into ... something.

If that "something" is not Assange, that would be pretty surprising. There's enough data floating around that I'm going with Occam's razor on this one.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:22 AM on August 16, 2012


the Grand Jury is investigating possible violations of the Espionage Act (18 U.S.C. 793), a draconian 1917 law

So a draconian jury is considering violations of a draconian act. How appropriate.
posted by kisch mokusch at 8:28 AM on August 16, 2012


I don't think many positive things about him personally but governments stooping down below the letter of the law to cream him.

Your unease is well earned ... but thus far, no government has stepped below the letter of the law. The basis of the accusations in Sweden may be dubious but that is to be decided in court. The Swedes have conducted their investigation within the law. They've requested extradition in line with the law, so he can be charged in a lawful way. The UK deliberated and granted extradition in line with the law. The UK is seeking entry into the Ecuadorean embassy in line with UK law. We might speculate about the ultimate motives and result, but the process? It's all legal.
posted by outlier at 8:28 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


All this talk of Sweden's complicity in extraordinary renditions etc. is a red herring. Extradition is not "extraordinary rendition." You don't ask a Grand Jury to examine a case in preparation for squirrelling someone away in a secret CIA black site. If Assange is extradited from anywhere to the US it will be as a result of charges being laid publicly and those charges being conveyed to the competent authorities in whatever country he is extradited from. Once here, he would face public trial in an ordinary criminal court, with all the usual rights of appeal etc. Again, there is simply no relevant comparison to the Gitmo detainees or anything like that; he would not be charged with terrorism; there is no question that he would be regarded as or defined as an "enemy combatant," and nor is there any complicating history of extrajudicial detention and abuse to cloud the case.

If the US wanted to pursue extrajudicial actions against Assange, it has had ample occasion to do so. It would, of course, be momumentally stupid for it to do so, and I can think of no comparable case in modern times when the US has done anything similar. None of the Estraordinary Rendition cases under the Bush adminstration involved world famous people from first-world allied nations and karge followings of enthusiastic supporters both domestically and abroad. If the US does move against Assange (which I consider a pretty big if--it's hard to imagine any prosecutor feeling confident about the case; and pretty much impossible to imagine a capital case being brought) they would know from the outset that they would be doing so under a white hot glare of intense press scrutiny. They would want to dot every possible i and cross every possible t of judicial protocol so as to avoid doing themselves far more damage in the eyes if the world than Assange ever caused them.
posted by yoink at 8:31 AM on August 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


The UK is seeking entry into the Ecuadorean embassy in line with UK law.

But not necessarily in line with international law, which the UK subscribes to as a signatory to an international treaty. A treaty, it should be noted, which also happens to protect the sovereignty of UK's own embassies abroad.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:33 AM on August 16, 2012


OK, hypothetical here. Sweden decides to question him on British soil. They charge him with rape and two counts of sexual molestation as indicated in the statement of charges. Then what? Assange just goes to Sweden to have a trial? Because if Sweden allegedly will extradite him where Britian will not (explicitly not true) don't the same conditions still exist? So he still avoids Sweden and the charges. At what point does Julian Assange not get a "get out of jail free card?" Because whether or not he's questioned on UK soil means nothing if he's indicted. The same conditions exist. So as an accused rapist, does he get to avoid the charges because of the other stuff?

Nobody's gamed this out?
posted by Ironmouth at 8:33 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hadn't known the embassy has a dance floor, via The Pirate Bay.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:34 AM on August 16, 2012


All this talk of Sweden's complicity in extraordinary renditions etc. is a red herring.

Pickled herring.
posted by notyou at 8:35 AM on August 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


I hadn't known the embassy has a dance floor, via The Pirate Bay.

You'd think they have like, balls or something like that there.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:40 AM on August 16, 2012


Time to marvel on what a ridiculous irrelevant shithole Ecuador is, going through this sort of stunt and dragging the country's reputation in the mud just so Correa can have his Chavez moment.
posted by falameufilho at 8:40 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not really sure that living in a room in an embassy for the rest of your life counts as a 'get out of jail free' card, but so long as there is a risk of extradition to the US from whichever country, his optimum strategy is to avoid delivering himself into custody. Once the threat of extradition/rendition to the US is lifted we can get on our moral high horse.

Of course the rape allegations should be answered and adjudicated. What's making that impossible currently is the very strong likelihood that if Assange attempts to answer them, he faces massive jeopardy unrelated to the rape charges. I don't see why this is so hard to understand.

If YOU had been charged with rape, but faced extradition to another country where you faced life imprisonment for another alleged crime if you attempted to answer the rape charges, and where it was very unlikely you would get what you consider a fair trail, what would you do?

My answer would be Assange's, whether I was guilty or not.
posted by unSane at 8:43 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you're going to base your argument on philosophical ideas that are hundreds of years out of date, you can't expect people to agree with you.--delmoi

This is the first I've heard that philosophical ideas have expiration dates, like produce in a grocery store. If they are 'out of date' will they go bad and rot your brain?
posted by eye of newt at 8:43 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Time to marvel on what a ridiculous irrelevant shithole Ecuador is, going through this sort of stunt and dragging the country's reputation in the mud just so Correa can have his Chavez moment.

No, it really isn't.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:45 AM on August 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


falameufilho: "Time to marvel on what a ridiculous irrelevant shithole Ecuador is, going through this sort of stunt and dragging the country's reputation in the mud"

If you think Ecuador is offering Assange a chance at not getting run through a US kangaroo court and locked up for good/executed, it's pretty heroic.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:46 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you think extradition from Sweden is easy, consider how the US could just sneak into Ecuador and take him. The CIA, DEA and FBI snatch drug lords and other unsavory types from down there all the time. They also have a network of spies and informants who can just kill him in a robbery gone bad, or kidnap him. Ecuador is a trap.
posted by humanfont at 8:47 AM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is the first I've heard that philosophical ideas have expiration dates, like produce in a grocery store.

No, it is less like produce more like fashion. Myself? I am reading the Gucci 2012 Fall Men's Ethics Collection published by Verso Books.
posted by TwelveTwo at 8:49 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


From today's NYT:

But when Mr. Assange arrived at the embassy, he issued a statement saying that Mr. Correa had invited him to seek asylum in Ecuador during an interview for Mr. Assange’s TV show on Russia Today, an English-language cable channel financed by the government of Vladimir V. Putin.

In the end there's probably no better punishment for Assange than a long stay in Ecuador, being used as a puppet for the most unsavory characters in world politics, who Assange has no option but to please, because after all this is Ecuador and, you know, accidents happen.
posted by falameufilho at 8:53 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of course the rape allegations should be answered and adjudicated. What's making that impossible currently is the very strong likelihood that if Assange attempts to answer them, he faces massive jeopardy unrelated to the rape charges. I don't see why this is so hard to understand.

No. What's making it impossible is Assange's refusal to go into custody. He lacks a legal right to avoid prosecution for rape now that he has lost his appeals. You seek to provide him a get out of jail free card.

And justice delayed is justice denied. With every passing moment, the memories of witnesses fade and these two accusers are denied justice. All because Assange thinks he has an extra right that others do not get.

You create for him a right that does not exist at law. He has no right to avoid prosecution because of a potential prosecution threat anywhere else. Please point out in any law anywhere where an accused rapist may avoid any and all prosecution because he may be charged with another crime. If the US applies for extradition, he can challenge that in a Swedish court. But he has no right to avoid justice.

Only in his head does he have that right. He may challenge any extradition in Sweden. But he lacks any legal right to not face the charges of rape. There is no law supporting his fake argument.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:57 AM on August 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ironmouth: "You create for him a right that does not exist at law."

Yes, he does.

Read Jacob Applebaum's post.

Everyone has the right to asylum, if they can convince a country that they are being persecuted.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:59 AM on August 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


Here's a young man being extradited from the UK to the US for something that isn't even illegal in the UK.

I don't know that Sweden would be much more accommodating, and I have to say I'm morbidly curious.

I guess we'll have to see how it all shakes out. I really hope we find out, one way or another, whether Assange is indeed being sought by the US, but I wouldn't be surprised if we just never find out.
posted by ODiV at 8:59 AM on August 16, 2012


And not many people do so if they think they might have to spend the rest of their days in an embassy. But Assange believes that option would be better than what the US would do to him.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:00 AM on August 16, 2012


Nobody's gamed this out?

Ironmouth, stop with the nonsense. If you want justice to be served, start a campaign to get the USG to issue a legally binding statement that they will not extradite Assange from Sweden so the trial can continue.

You keep pretending that the only possibility is that Assange is guilty and doesn't want to serve. He's already been in two sorts of prisons for nearly two years which will not count if he is convicted. It seems pretty clear that Assange is willing to testify, and even willing to surrender his freedom, but not if that means he's within the grasp of a nation that has spent the last decade inventing laws that circumvent basic legal rights and then using those laws to murder people or put them in prison for an eternity.

The USG has spent the last two years subjecting a former soldier to what most of the international community considers to be torture. The USG has continually demonstrated a total disregard for basic legal norms in order to put leakers and whistleblowers in prison. The USG has also colluded with Sweden in very recent history to illegally extradite suspects — not convicts, suspects — and flown them to Egypt to be tortured by our friends in the Mubarak regime.

Nobody is buying your feigned ignorance of the difference between the way the Assange case has been handled compared with someone else accused of the same crime, except for the people who have a vendetta against Assange. Yes, he should absolutely stand trial, but only in a place where he can be expected to have a fair trial that has something to do with the crimes he is accused of. That's a just and reasonable expectation for any person.

This is what happens when the USG decides to sacrifice a lot of credibility for a little bit of safety. They have rendered and tortured thousands of people, and publicly stated to the rest of the world that they consider the Geneva Conventions "quaint". You can only tell the lie that what is Legal is implicitly Just so many times before everyone figures out that you're full of shit.
posted by deanklear at 9:03 AM on August 16, 2012 [35 favorites]


Incidentally, don't ask me why, but the narrative that British diplomats over-played their cards and sort of forced Ecuador into making a defiant response just doesn't pass the smell-test for me.

In fact, I believe the exact opposite to be true; the Ecuadoreans, for whatever reason, decided to give asylum to Assange and then played this letter up as a PR strategy. The timing is way too convenient.
posted by the cydonian at 9:04 AM on August 16, 2012


Eh, Ironmouth, you keep pounding the law but we're talking realpolitik here. I think that's where the disconnect is. The stakes in this game are much higher than the rape allegations, serious as they are. Getting all frothy about his failure to deliver himself up to answer those charges is really missing the point. You only have to look at what happened to Bradley Manning to see that Assange would have to be a complete idiot to surrender at this point. That he's acting outside the law is irrelevant.
posted by unSane at 9:04 AM on August 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


The USG has spent the last two years subjecting a former soldier to what most of the international community considers to be torture.

While I personally believe solitary confinement to be torture indeed, and do wish they'd stop doing this to Manning, I don't think there's any uniform agreement among various jurisdictions on this. In fact, if I'm not wrong, there are a few OECD nations, England and Wales come to my mind, still prescribe solitary confinement as punishment, albeit to a lesser extent than the US.
posted by the cydonian at 9:08 AM on August 16, 2012


You keep pretending that the only possibility is that Assange is guilty and doesn't want to serve.

Not in one place in this thread have I said this. Please review my statements. Consistently, I have used "alleged" time and time again.

Also the fact that some hacker dude said in a Metafilter thread that he has a right to avoid rape charges via asylum, like, dude, does not make it true.

He's not even a lawyer or legal expert or professor. He's just some guy.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:11 AM on August 16, 2012


Yeah, I don't find the blinkered rigidity of your argument persuasive Ironmouth. If Assange had been convicted of a crime and was using asylum as a means to avoid punishment I'd be on board, but he has a valid fear that cooperation now will lead to consequences that go far beyond the severity of a court sentence for the alleged sexual assault charges. All the witnesses can give testimony. Assange has offered to answer questions.
posted by peacay at 9:12 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Eh, Ironmouth, you keep pounding the law but we're talking realpolitik here. I think that's where the disconnect is. The stakes in this game are much higher than the rape allegations, serious as they are. Getting all frothy about his failure to deliver himself up to answer those charges is really missing the point.

Got it, if you happen to feel that you were raped by a person who has international connections and supporters everywhere, you should not expect to have your case heard in court. So these women just have to realize, that the "stakes in this game are much higher" than the fact that these women feel they were violated and they have to set aside their petty little concerns about crimes against their person.

Just listen to yourself for one second. I know we don't do rape well here, but wow.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:14 AM on August 16, 2012


You seek to provide him a get out of jail free card.

More like a "stay out of the US card."
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:15 AM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


The stakes in this game are much higher than the rape allegations, serious as they are.

That is...not my favorite sentence I have seen on MetaFilter.
posted by cribcage at 9:18 AM on August 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I don't find the blinkered rigidity of your argument persuasive Ironmouth. If Assange had been convicted of a crime and was using asylum as a means to avoid punishment I'd be on board, but he has a valid fear that cooperation now will lead to consequences that go far beyond the severity of a court sentence for the alleged sexual assault charges. All the witnesses can give testimony. Assange has offered to answer questions.

But wait, let's say he answers the questions in the UK and is indicted? Does he then have to turn himself over? The conditions remain the same. Where's the point where he faces the charges?

That's all swell that Assange has a "valid fear" of other consequences. Unfortunately not a defense to extradition. He didn't even argue it in court.

Put another way, let's say there's no political anything. Just a guy who committed a crime in America and is afraid that his extradition to Sweden will allow the US to extradite him back. Where, in any law, is his right to say "sorry, but I'm afraid the US will extradite me, so I'm not gonna allow myself to be extradited." There is none. zero.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:18 AM on August 16, 2012


You seek to provide him a get out of jail free card.

More like a "stay out of the US card."


He's really looking for a stay out of Sweden card, actually.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:19 AM on August 16, 2012


So these women just have to realize, that the "stakes in this game are much higher" than the fact that these women feel they were violated and they have to set aside their petty little concerns about crimes against their person.

Just listen to yourself for one second


Those are your words, not mine.
posted by unSane at 9:19 AM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Something else that just occurred to me wrt the idea that Assange's extradition from Sweden to the US is so easy.

According to the timeline posted above, Assange applied for Swedish residence on the 18th August 2010, which is after the release of the Iraq documents. And he made this application on the basis that Swedish law would protect him as a whistelblower. Therefore, at least on than date and for some time afterwards, he was confident that Sweden would refuse any extradition request from the US.

The allegations of rape should not have altered that situation in any way. The only things that has changed legally are the rape allegations, the EAW and his failures in UK court to fight extradition to Sweden. Now, of course, he's claiming a corrupt Swedish legal system, and a Sweden that has a government supine enough to hand him over the US at a moment's notice.

Sorry, I'm still not buying this argument.

On preview, I'm inclined to agree with Ironmouth here - Assange wants a stay out of Sweden card.
posted by daveje at 9:22 AM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


metafilter: we don't do rape well here, but wow
posted by localroger at 9:23 AM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Got it, if you happen to feel that you were raped by a person who has international connections and supporters everywhere, you should not expect to have your case heard in court. So these women just have to realize, that the "stakes in this game are much higher" than the fact that these women feel they were violated and they have to set aside their petty little concerns about crimes against their person.

Just listen to yourself for one second.


That first sentence was something you yourself just wrote, then immediately implied an opponent just said it. That is disgraceful and pathetic.

Ironmouth your quasi-legalistic argument of "I personally think he's guilty of rape but as a lawyer I won't say so, however I'll certainly make every comment an allusion to the moral superiority and validity of my opinion because of it" is really getting annoying, no more so than how much damage it's doing to the credibility of your argument. I strongly suggest a nap.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:23 AM on August 16, 2012 [11 favorites]


The problem is, is that the United States has given every indication that it is actively seeking to prosecute him.

Cool. I hope they get him and try him.
posted by ambient2 at 9:24 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, no news in the past 10 hours then?
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:28 AM on August 16, 2012


The stakes in this game are much higher than the rape allegations, serious as they are.

That is...not my favorite sentence I have seen on MetaFilter.


Yeah, I'm sorry, it was very poorly put. What I meant by it was that the stakes for Assange are much higher than the rape allegations, in the sense that he faces life imprisonment or even, according to some, the death penalty, in the US, but probably much lower penalties in Sweden even if he were found guilty on all of the rape charges.

That obviously wasn't clear and I apologize.
posted by unSane at 9:29 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth, I guess you could say when I use the words "blinkered" and "rigidity" in referring to your arguments here, I'm suggesting that law in the modern international world is an inadequate instrument in such a complicated set of affairs as those facing Assange. By that I mean that the way the US and many of its allies have operated since 911 gives rise to serious concern that Assange wont' be adequately protected if he allows extradition to proceed. You'll say where do we draw the line and I'll say it's case by case. You'll say what about justice for Assange's accusers and I'll say that the Swedish government should try to negotiate with Ecuador to achieve some cooperative arrangement in the matter.
posted by peacay at 9:29 AM on August 16, 2012


Start digging a tunnel. Pop up somewhere behind Harrod's and have the Ecuadorians arrange for a disguise. Be driven to Oban, Scotland where under the cloak of darkness a speed boat will whisk you to a Hebridean island. There a plane awaits you. Board and fly to Ecuador. Problem solved.

Oh, and Sean Connery will later say on Jeopardy: "This looks like it's my lucky day. I'll take 'The Rapists' for 200, Alex."
posted by ericb at 9:29 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Time to marvel on what a ridiculous irrelevant shithole Ecuador is, going through this sort of stunt and dragging the country's reputation in the mud just so Correa can have his Chavez moment.

Whereas this, naturally, is a sparkling addition to the mefi comment thread. I shall not point out the irony further.
posted by jaduncan at 9:30 AM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Anyone who thinks this is even vaguely about rape allegations doesn't understand politics at all. Sorry, but it's true. This is a case where an investigation is being used to target, harass and try to detain Assange for transparently political reasons, and whatever the truth of the allegations, there is absolutely no chance of a fair trial at this point. Hell, there are no charges, just allegations and an investigation.

I don't know whether Assange did or didn't do what he is accused of doing. But treating this judicial farce seriously is extremely dangerous as it helps the people who are trying to shut up a person who put a spotlight on the way they try to secretly run the world. I find that disgraceful.
posted by graymouser at 9:30 AM on August 16, 2012 [14 favorites]


Hell, there are no charges, just allegations and an investigation.

Sweden has a different legal system. If it were the UK or the US system that was pursuing him, he would have been charged by this point.
posted by ODiV at 9:33 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'm sorry, it was very poorly put. What I meant by it was that the stakes for Assange are much higher than the rape allegations, in the sense that he faces life imprisonment or even, according to some, the death penalty, in the US, but probably much lower penalties in Sweden even if he were found guilty on all of the rape charges.

Realistically, the odds of a US court sentencing Assange to death are zero. What extradition treaties with the EU and Australia don't cover, his profile does.

Now the odds of him meeting with an accident on the way to court, however, may be a different matter. After all, he could possibly embarrass a lot of powerful parties, and a fortuitous plane crash or undiagnosed heart condition may be a less troublesome alternative to a Cheney-era military tribunal or an open courtroom.
posted by acb at 9:34 AM on August 16, 2012


Put another way, let's say there's no political anything. Just a guy who committed a crime in America and is afraid that his extradition to Sweden will allow the US to extradite him back. Where, in any law, is his right to say "sorry, but I'm afraid the US will extradite me, so I'm not gonna allow myself to be extradited." There is none. zero.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:18 AM on August 16
The right is at the point where your sentence continues, "...where the US may well torture or execute me, or deny me due process of law, as they have done to dozens of people in the very recent past."
posted by TheNewWazoo at 9:35 AM on August 16, 2012


According to the timeline posted above, Assange applied for Swedish residence on the 18th August 2010, which is after the release of the Iraq documents. And he made this application on the basis that Swedish law would protect him as a whistelblower. Therefore, at least on than date and for some time afterwards, he was confident that Sweden would refuse any extradition request from the US.

The allegations of rape should not have altered that situation in any way. The only things that has changed legally are the rape allegations, the EAW and his failures in UK court to fight extradition to Sweden. Now, of course, he's claiming a corrupt Swedish legal system, and a Sweden that has a government supine enough to hand him over the US at a moment's notice.


Without respect to the accused's guilt or innocence:

The above makes sense if you assume Assange's guilt.

If you assume Assange is not guilty, then the Swedish legal system's dogged pursuit of the accused would certainly have changed Assange's views about the reliability of that system.
posted by notyou at 9:35 AM on August 16, 2012


"If it were the UK or the US system that was pursuing him, he would have been charged by this point."

He was charged and then the charges were mysteriously withdrawn, signaling a legal system already under enormous outside influence, for those capable of connecting dots.
posted by airing nerdy laundry at 9:41 AM on August 16, 2012


Realistically, the odds of a US court sentencing Assange to death are zero

Want to give odds on a sentence of life without parole, served in solitary confinement with special conditions to "mitigate suicide risk?"
posted by tyllwin at 9:42 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


He was charged and then the charges were mysteriously withdrawn, signaling a legal system already under enormous outside influence, for those capable of connecting dots.

WAKE UP SHEEPLE. THEY LIVE, WE SLEEP.
posted by acb at 9:43 AM on August 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


The above makes sense if you assume Assange's guilt.

I'm not assuming anything wrt to his guilt or innocence. I'm just pointing out that Assange's faith in the Swedish legal system and government has changed completely since the rape allegations.

Innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately for Assange, both the Swedish and UK legal systems have determined that there's a possible case to answer.
posted by daveje at 9:43 AM on August 16, 2012


Wow. Have any of the "these women were raped!!" read the investigation report? it's on flashback.org and the women themselves have pulled out of it. The wording in the report makes the case that subsequent sexual acts after the first initiated act, is not consentual. (no, there were no implications during the intercourse that told of either females saying something to the effect of "no" "stop" "verboten sheisskopf" etc. it was by and large, having sex, falling asleep, waking up, having sex, making breakfast, chatting, then leaving)

There are far wider implications at work here. The threats of voiding extraterritorial rights of a sovereign state being one of them. the other being that Assange is sought in regards to an allegation, to which an European Arrest Warrant was issued.

Hint: neither of those two have ever been issued in correlation with an alleged crime and certainly never in conjunction with a sexcrime.

This is ugly politics, this is the game you fail to grasp the mechanics of.
posted by xcasex at 9:45 AM on August 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


If you assume Assange is not guilty, then the Swedish legal system's dogged pursuit of the accused would certainly have changed Assange's views about the reliability of that system.

This reads like a rather weak argument to me - Assange was not born yesterday, he's supposed to be a paranoid mastermind of international intrigue: one would expect him to have an opinion on wether this kind of thing is at least theoretically possible before deciding to move his entire operation to Sweden.
posted by Dr Dracator at 9:47 AM on August 16, 2012


if you happen to feel that you were raped by a person who has international connections and supporters everywhere, you should not expect to have your case heard in court.

As much as I wish it were otherwise, it doesn't seem like a person needs nearly anywhere close to "international connections and supporters everywhere" to avoid being prosecuted for rape. A strong community presence and spotless attendance in church has been enough in the past.

If this is the start of Sweden and the rest of the international community being much tougher on rape and other sexual assault, then I'm all for it.

I'm not entirely sold on that reading of the situation, though. I wouldn't, however, be surprised if Sweden and the UK were pursuing this with such vigor simply because of the lengths he's going to avoid it and his profile.

He was charged and then the charges were mysteriously withdrawn...

When was this? This article the Guardian says "Assange, who was released on bail on Thursday, denies the Swedish allegations and has not formally been charged with any offence."

It's possible they charged him after this and I missed it.
posted by ODiV at 9:48 AM on August 16, 2012


Does anyone know why the FCO reply goes on and on about diplomatic asylum instead of the thing Assange was actually granted and that we do accept, political asylum?

http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/news/latest-news/?view=News&id=800710782
posted by public at 9:48 AM on August 16, 2012


When was this?

From Wikipedia
On 20 August 2010, Swedish police began an investigation into allegations concerning Assange's behaviour in separate sexual encounters involving two different women.[225][226] Assange has described all the sexual encounters as consensual.[227][228] The arrest warrant was canceled on 21 August 2010 by one of Stockholm's chief prosecutors, Eva Finne, as the investigation was downgraded to only cover lesser charges, and re-issued by Swedish Director of Prosecution Marianne Ny on 1 September 2010 who considered that the allegations could be classed as rape.[229] In December 2010, Assange, then in Britain, learned that the Swedish authorities had issued a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) to extradite him to Sweden for questioning.
posted by unSane at 9:50 AM on August 16, 2012


It's really weird how Sweden of all countries is being portrayed as some sort of benighted running-dog lackey state, while Ecuador is a beacon of freedom and enlightenment.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:50 AM on August 16, 2012 [9 favorites]


acb: "Realistically, the odds of a US court sentencing Assange to death are zero. "

I suggest anybody who is so dead sure that Sweden won't extradite Assange consider taking localroger up on his bet.

If you're not willing to put your money where your mouth is, how can you expect Assange to put his life on the line?
posted by dunkadunc at 9:51 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Assange was not born yesterday, he's supposed to be a paranoid mastermind of international intrigue: one would expect him to have an opinion on wether this kind of thing is at least theoretically possible before deciding to move his entire operation to Sweden.

Even paranoid masterminds of international intrigue make mistakes.

Else how would Bond ever survive?
posted by notyou at 9:51 AM on August 16, 2012


Want to give odds on a sentence of life without parole, served in solitary confinement with special conditions to "mitigate suicide risk?"

Which is not what Assange's lawyers mentioned as a reason for him not to go to Sweden.

Anyway, how long could the US keep him in such conditions? Amnesty International would raise a fuss, and the Free Julian movement would dwarf the Free Mumia movement. Some kind of deal would end up being done.

If the US wanted to destroy Assange, they'd do precisely nothing. He'd have been dragged kicking and screaming to Sweden, only for it turn out that the allegations having been exactly the pro forma inquiries they purported to have been. Meanwhile, his reputation as a level-headed actor will be in ruins, and he'll be permanently barred from a number of countries, including the UK. There'd be reports of a faded alcoholic Assange hanging around bars in wherever he ended up, telling anyone who cared to listen about his exploits as a black-hat hacker and international guerilla freedom fighter.
posted by acb at 9:51 AM on August 16, 2012


ODiV if you're this ignorant of the situation, why are you commenting so heavily?

There's a lot of clutter in this thread from people who don't know much and are defending the extradition as some sort of precedented legal procedure.

Y'all are keeping others from gleaning insight and info.
posted by airing nerdy laundry at 9:51 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Something just came to mind for me which took a decent bit of thought to verify in myself:

Cutting away a lot of the ambiguous nature of this for a moment, is having to face a probability of torture and possibly execution a just sentence for rape? (The probability, of course, depends on who you ask)

There's the sense of {rule of law, must see justice carried out}, but there's also the sense of {nothing justifies torture or execution}.

On the other hand though, I don't know that there's really a path through this that will be just, short of the US promising not to extradite him, Assange testifying and allowing the prosecution to proceed (Assuming for a moment that the prosecution and evidence gathering can be done justly), and his sentence being carried out without interference from external powers. And I really don't think that's a likely path.

If it's really just about rape, I'm all for justice being found. And if it were just about rape to the interested parties, all they would have to do is state that. Going "Hey, we aren't going to do anything" and letting the courts do their thing would be tremendously damaging to Assange if he were convicted. Justice is performed, and all countries involved show that they aren't as quick to black-bag dissidents as was claimed.
posted by CrystalDave at 9:53 AM on August 16, 2012


FWIW, which isn't much, I think the allegations of sexual assault against Assange are entirely consistent with the various stories circulating about his general behaviour from people who've had to deal with him up close. I'm not a big fan of either Wikileaks or Assange. I think it's going to end badly for him one way or the other -- between Ecuador and the US, it's not much of a choice.

But that last phrase is really the point, isn't it?
posted by unSane at 9:53 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


"It's really weird how Sweden of all countries is being portrayed as some sort of benighted running-dog lackey state, while Ecuador is a beacon of freedom and enlightenment."

KokoRyu, Sweden's record of cooperating with US rendition has been linked about 4x in this thread.

If you're not going to respond to this other than to say how "weird" it is that Sweden is being presented as a lackey state, what are you adding?
posted by airing nerdy laundry at 9:55 AM on August 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


Does anyone know why the FCO reply goes on and on about diplomatic asylum instead of the thing Assange was actually granted and that we do accept, political asylum?

Diplomatic asylum is what is granted when you turn up at an embassy; it isn't actually foreign soil, there's merely a treaty obligation for the host state not to enter. It is therefore controversial, given that asylum normally requires the applicant to be on the full territory of the state receiving the asylum claim.
posted by jaduncan at 9:55 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Amnesty International would raise a fuss, and the Free Julian movement would dwarf the Free Mumia movement.

Umm, would either President Obama or President Romney care?
posted by tyllwin at 9:56 AM on August 16, 2012


Going "Hey, we aren't going to do anything" and letting the courts do their thing would be tremendously damaging to Assange if he were convicted. Justice is performed, and all countries involved show that they aren't as quick to black-bag dissidents as was claimed.

True enough, CrystalDave.

But they would also be showing that an accused's surrender to governmental authorities is negotiable rather than compulsory.
posted by notyou at 9:56 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


airing nerdy laundry: That was my polite way of saying that I don't believe he has been formally charged and was asking for a cite, allowing for the possibility that I'm wrong. There is no need to call me ignorant. News outlets have been reporting there are no formal charges and that Sweden needs to have him in for questioning first. Wikipedia says both that he has been charged and that there have been no formal charges.
posted by ODiV at 9:57 AM on August 16, 2012


Umm, would either President Obama or President Romney care?

IMHO it would be red meat for the right wing of either party, it's hippie punching and USA! USA! throwing weight around all at once.
posted by jaduncan at 9:57 AM on August 16, 2012


If you're not willing to put your money where your mouth is, how can you expect Assange to put his life on the line?

Because I don't give a shit what happens to Assange, as long as it's bad?
posted by gertzedek at 10:00 AM on August 16, 2012



airing nerdy laundry: That was my polite way of saying that I don't believe he has been formally charged and was asking for a cite, allowing for the possibility that I'm wrong. There is no need to call me ignorant. News outlets have been reporting there are no formal charges and that Sweden needs to have him in for questioning first. Wikipedia says both that he has been charged and that there have been no formal charges.

In the Swedish system, charging comes at a late stage. He has not been formally charged, but the UK high court concluded that extradition could continue as he would have been formally charged in the UK at this stage were the investigation here and so he should be treated in the UK as if he had been.

You're not ignorant; it's a complex question and there's quite a lot of confusion.
posted by jaduncan at 10:00 AM on August 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


The need to call you ignorant is that you're misleading others by making bald, authoritative assertions on how differences between Swedish and UK/US law apply to this case, all while being totally unaware of basic info. about this case that was widely reported at the time - Assange was initially charged and then the charges were dropped.

The courtesy of providing you a cite is not extended b/c 1. it's easily found and 2. you haven't done the courtesy of doing any basic homework before making authoritative assertions on the matter.
posted by airing nerdy laundry at 10:02 AM on August 16, 2012


gertzedek: "Because I don't give a shit what happens to Assange, as long as it's bad?"

Then you should bet, because if you are right you stand to make a lot of money. Go on, true believer.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:02 AM on August 16, 2012


As far as I can tell an arrest warrant was issued for Assange, to bring him in for questioning, and then withdrawn. He was never charged.
posted by ODiV at 10:03 AM on August 16, 2012


Because I don't give a shit what happens to Assange, as long as it's bad?

This, also, is a sparkling addition to the thread. I thank you for your input and your commitment to human rights and the rule of law.
posted by jaduncan at 10:04 AM on August 16, 2012 [5 favorites]



Hint: neither of those two have ever been issued in correlation with an alleged crime and certainly never in conjunction with a sexcrime.


Uh?! European Arrest Warrants are in fact issued quite often, for all sorts of crimes, including sex crimes.
posted by Skeptic at 10:05 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth your quasi-legalistic argument of "I personally think he's guilty of rape but as a lawyer I won't say so, however I'll certainly make every comment an allusion to the moral superiority and validity of my opinion because of it" is really getting annoying, no more so than how much damage it's doing to the credibility of your argument. I strongly suggest a nap.

I literally do not know whether or not he is guilty. I never said a single word even remotely approaching that.

If you follow my comments in criminal law threads, I point out repeatedly that we have no direct knowledge of the case, only what the documents say and what the news reports say. Usually I will point out that people who think they know someone is not guilty or is guilty is substituting their opinion for those of twelve jurors who sat in the courtroom day after day and looked at the evidence, unlike the posters in those threads

I'm talking about process here. I don't think that Assange should get special rights above and beyond others and I don't think his fear that he might be prosecuted can outweigh the interests of the accusers and the Swedish state in seeing justice done.

Finally, Assange has lied repeatedly in the case and in the press. In order to gin up support for his claim that this was a political prosecution, he claimed that the prosecutor never attempted to contact him until five weeks after the allegations, making it appear that the prosecution was an after-the-fact, politically motivated action.

This was not true. His own Swedish lawyer admitted it on that stand and stated he had been in error in his own sworn statement before the court:
In cross-examination the Swedish lawyer confirmed that paragraph 13 of his proof of evidence is wrong. The last five lines of paragraph 13 of his proof read: “in the following days [after 15th September] I telephoned [Ms Ny] a number of times to ask whether we could arrange a time for Mr Assange’s interview but was never given an answer, leaving me with the impression that they may close the rape case without even bothering to interview him. On 27thSeptember 2010, Mr Assange left Sweden.” He agreed that this was wrong. Ms Ny did contact him.

A specific suggestion was put to him that on 22nd September he sent a text to the prosecutors saying “I have not talked to my client since I talked to you”. He checked his mobile phone and at first said he did not have the message as he does not keep them that far back. He was encouraged to check his inbox, and there was an adjournment for that purpose. He then confirmed that on 22nd September 2010 at 16.46 he has a message from Ms Ny saying: “Hello – it is possible to have an interview Tuesday”. Next there was a message saying: “Thanks for letting me know. We will pursue Tuesday 28th at 1700”. He then accepted that there must have been a text from him. “You can interpret these text messages as saying that we had a phone call, but I can’t say if it was on 21st or 22nd.” He conceded that it is possible that Ms Ny told him on the 21st that she wanted to interview his client. She requested a date as soon as possible. He agrees that the following day, 22nd, she contacted him at least twice.
Repeatedly this was asserted in Assange-related threads. The statement was designed to make it look like it was an after-the fact prosecution. The statement was false.

What really happened was that Julian Assange left Sweden the day before his scheduled meeting with the prosecutor.
The Swedish system emphasises the importance of early interrogation (Mr Alhem). Ms Ny contacted Mr Hurtig and asked to interrogate his client. Mr Hurtig cannot say for certain whether that was on 21st(as Ms Ny says in her written information) or 22nd September. The 28th September was suggested as a date for interrogation.
The findings of fact are particularly devastating. The the judge accuses Assange's lawyer of lying about these key facts:
13. I have not heard from Mr Assange and do not know whether he had been told, by any source, that he was wanted for interrogation before he left Sweden. I do not know whether he was uncontactable from 21st–29th September and if that was the case I do not know why. It would have been a reasonable assumption from the facts (albeit not necessarily an accurate one) that Mr Assange was deliberately avoiding interrogation in the period before he left Sweden. Some witnesses suggest that there were other reasons why he was out of contact. I have heard no evidence that he was readily contactable.

14. I am sure that constant attempts were made by the prosecuting authorities to arrange interrogation in the period 21st– 30th September, but those attempts failed. It appears likely (transcript p.107) that enquiries were made by the authorities independent of his lawyer. The authorities believed Mr Assange would be in Sweden to give a lecture in early October. They asked Mr Hurtig to be available on the evening of 6th October. It appears that either the rumours were false, or Mr Assange changed his mind. In any event he was not apprehended or interrogated then.

15. Mr Hurtig said in his statement that it was astonishing that Ms Ny made no effort to interview his client. In fact this is untrue. He says he realised the mistake the night before giving evidence. He did correct the statement in his evidence in chief (transcript p.83 and p.97). However, this was very low key and not done in a way that I, at least, immediately grasped as significant. It was only in cross-examination that the extent of the mistake became clear. Mr Hurtig must have realised the significance of paragraph 13 of his proof when he submitted it. I do not accept that this was a genuine mistake. It cannot have slipped his mind. For over a week he was attempting (he says without success) to contact a very important client about a very important matter. The statement was a deliberate attempt to mislead the court. It did in fact mislead Ms Brita Sundberg-Weitman and Mr Alhem . Had they been given the true facts then that would have changed their opinion on a key fact in a material way.

Assange and his lawyers were found to have repeatedly lied about the circumstances of his departure from Sweden. Now he wants to have special rights no one else gets to avoid prosecution, because he might be prosecuted elsewhere. I do not think this overrides the rights of the alleged rape and sexual molestation victim and the other sexual molestation victim.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:06 AM on August 16, 2012 [8 favorites]


If you're not going to respond to this other than to say how "weird" it is that Sweden is being presented as a lackey state, what are you adding?

What is this? "Dress up and pretend to be a junior mod"? Do you get a special little hat or t-shirt or something?
posted by KokuRyu at 10:07 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


This might be more MetaTalk territory, but goading people into placing bets as a way to determine if they're sincere in their positions is not really meaningful or useful conversation.

If you want to debate what evidence there is for or against a particular prediction about the future, go ahead, but being willing to place money on something isn't really evidence of anything other than your own personal assessment of the probabilities and how willing you are to gamble.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:08 AM on August 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


If you want to debate what evidence there is for or against a particular prediction about the future, go ahead, but being willing to place money on something isn't really evidence of anything other than your own personal assessment of the probabilities and how willing you are to gamble.

It's also not conclusive proof of the willingness to pay, since gambling debts aren't legally enforcible within the UK.
posted by jaduncan at 10:09 AM on August 16, 2012


Okay, news outlet wording can be vague.

Here is the first result for "Assange timeline". It says:

"August 2010: A Swedish court issues an arrest warrant for Assange on charges of rape made by two Swedish women, who were also former employees of Wikileaks but then decides to postpone the warrant until November. "

"November 2010: Swedish prosecutor re-issues European arrest warrant for Assange. Ten days later, Wikileaks releases classified US diplomatic cables, revealing assessments of American officials on a range of issues together with views of other governments."

It seems to me as if either he was either charged once, it was postponed, and then he was charged again or he was never charged.

I'm going through other timelines as well. I would love a cite that says he was charged and the charge was withdrawn. Not that a warrant was issued that was withdrawn.
posted by ODiV at 10:11 AM on August 16, 2012


Sweden has a different legal system. If it were the UK or the US system that was pursuing him, he would have been charged by this point.

Yes, Swedish procedure requires suspects to be interviewed in person before charged are made, as I understand it
posted by Bwithh at 10:11 AM on August 16, 2012


I don't think he was ever charged. I think they are using 'charges' to mean 'allegations'. An arrest warrant was issued and then withdrawn. That's all.
posted by unSane at 10:13 AM on August 16, 2012


Now he wants to have special rights no one else gets to avoid prosecution, because he might be prosecuted elsewhere.

Political asylum is not a special right and it is disingenuous to keep claiming this. You are being disingenuous here, and trying to harp on legalities when anyone with two political brain cells knows that this case would not be pursued at all if not for the specific political ramifications of accusing and incarcerating Julian Assange.
posted by graymouser at 10:14 AM on August 16, 2012 [9 favorites]


", although embassy premises are legally inviolable, general international law does not recognise a right of diplomatic asylum.  Even if Ecuador does grant Assange asylum, the UK will not be obliged to grant him safe passage out of the country"
posted by Bwithh at 10:14 AM on August 16, 2012


Uh?! European Arrest Warrants are in fact issued quite often, for all sorts of crimes, including sex crimes.

yes, read through the whole post again. threats to void diplomatic relations are seldom made in conjunction with an EAW.
posted by xcasex at 10:15 AM on August 16, 2012


I don't think he was ever charged. I think they are using 'charges' to mean 'allegations'. An arrest warrant was issued and then withdrawn. That's all.

Nope.
The investigation was then reopened, but by the time another arrest warrant was issued, Assange had fled Sweden.
posted by Skeptic at 10:15 AM on August 16, 2012


threats to void diplomatic relations are seldom made in conjunction with an EAW.

No such threat has been made.
posted by Skeptic at 10:17 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nope he had been charged or nope he hadn't?

That BBC link says "The Supreme Court rules that he should be extradited to Sweden to face the charges against him." which is a little odd if he isn't facing charges.

Even the news outlets are inconsistent on this.
posted by ODiV at 10:17 AM on August 16, 2012


Oh, and there's also the possibility that I'm way ignorant in legal terminology and "facing charges" and "arrested on charges" has nothing to do with actually being charged with something. Still, you have to admit that the wording is unclear.
posted by ODiV at 10:19 AM on August 16, 2012


That BBC link says "The Supreme Court rules that he should be extradited to Sweden to face the charges against him." which is a little odd if he isn't facing charges.

Again: He isn't charged.

The SC stated that he should be treated in English law as if he had been, since the formal act of charging comes later in the Swedish process. Applying the English model, he would already have been charged, so the English authorities should act as if he had been and extradite.
posted by jaduncan at 10:20 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


He has never been formally charged and maybe airing nerdy laundry should dial back the accusations of ignorance and do a little more research before making authoritative assertions on the matter.
posted by the_artificer at 10:22 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why Ecuador's Embassy Stand-Off With the U.K. Might Not Actually Be About Protecting Julian Assange
posted by Artw at 10:25 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nope he had been charged or nope he hadn't?

Nope, that isn't all. Another warrant was issued.

The whole point about "charges" is pretty moot. Sweden's legal system is a civil law system, not a common law system. It works differently.
posted by Skeptic at 10:25 AM on August 16, 2012


Skeptic, oh really? http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/08/16/wikileaks-assange-ecuador-idINL2E8JFH5K20120816 "Under British law we can give them a week's notice before entering the premises and the embassy will no longer have diplomatic protection," that's voiding diplomatic relations by the act alone.
posted by xcasex at 10:26 AM on August 16, 2012


xcasex: I think the distinction might be withdrawing diplomatic recognition of a particular building, vs. terminating diplomatic relations overall between the two countries.
posted by msalt at 10:42 AM on August 16, 2012


that's voiding diplomatic relations by the act alone

No, it isn't. It would be a breach of diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention, but not "voiding diplomatic relations". Also:

a) the British argue that, by sheltering Assange, Ecuador is itself breaching the Vienna Convention;
b) that purported "week notice" declaration doesn't seem to be backed by any other source, apart from a Sky News tweet. Certainly, nothing like that appears in the official statement by the British foreign secretary. Reuters seems to have jumped the gun.

In its letter to Ecuador, what the FO appears to threaten is to (eventually...) start legal proceedings to withdraw the diplomatic immunity of the grounds of the embassy of Ecuador. Not voiding diplomatic relations, not even entering the embassy directly.
posted by Skeptic at 10:44 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Under British law we can give them a week's notice before entering the premises and the embassy will no longer have diplomatic protection,"

Which only goes to show that between nations, "law" is a courtesy. Who here imagines that they'd dare to push this notion if the embassy belonged to Putin or the Chinese?
posted by tyllwin at 10:45 AM on August 16, 2012


Have any of the "these women were raped!!" read the investigation report? it's on flashback.org and the women themselves have pulled out of it.

First, I'll take exception to that hyperbolic quotation with its double exclamation marks, just like the several comments in this thread that have used "froth" as an adjective to describe people who think that accusations of rape are a serious matter. It's tiring. My concern in this thread is less with whether Assange is or isn't brought to Sweden and/or the United States, which I suspect is foregone, but rather with the fact that a significant portion of MetaFilter seems incapable of discussing the subject without perpetuating "rape culture" in some really blatant and offensive ways.

Second, it is not uncommon for complaining witnesses to retract their accusations. There are myriad reasons for this that may or may not involve truthfulness, especially in cases of rape. Consequently in criminal proceedings, we (in the United States; I don't know about Sweden) do not necessarily terminate a prosecution just because a victim recants.
posted by cribcage at 10:45 AM on August 16, 2012 [9 favorites]


Assange and his lawyers were found to have repeatedly lied about the circumstances of his departure from Sweden. Now he wants to have special rights no one else gets to avoid prosecution, because he might be prosecuted elsewhere. I do not think this overrides the rights of the alleged rape and sexual molestation victim and the other sexual molestation victim.

It's quite obvious that you are focused on your argumentative victory being the case that Assange should be tried for rape, and so your stamping insistence is now all about how Assange's claims to have any right to seek political asylum on matters past the case you care about are invalid. As you are a lawyer, I understand why you want to dismiss evidence that hurts your own case but in the context of a discussion forum it's the same act that annoys many people here over and over again, only moreso in that Assange's attempts to acquire asylum and avoid extradition to the U.S. are, in fact, the topic of the thread.

"He wants special rights" has become your "where are the votes?" of this topic. Stop it.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:46 AM on August 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


Even if we accept Ironmouth's "special rights" argument as-is, he has now been granted those special rights. So it's now completely irrelevant as to whether or not those rights are "special" or universal.
posted by mek at 10:53 AM on August 16, 2012


cribcage, agreed there's a lot of internalizing going on here & everywhere in society as a whole. And as someone who has a personal relation to one of the women in question, I know a bit more about the when and why's of how this led to a judicial matter.

Skeptic, thanks for clarifying, I'm now inclined to agree with you on that point. (and damn, a forum where i'm not called something insultingly affectionate or lambasted, I need to spend more time here)
posted by xcasex at 10:55 AM on August 16, 2012


cribcage, to be fair, the offensive and hostile comments regarding the 'rape issue' have been in response to deliberative, focused trolling that began early on. A few poster here have been repeatedly asked to NOT move the discussion away from the topic of the fpp. This does not excuse the vitriol or ignorance of the 'rape culture' few, but it may explain some who have just frustratedly misspoke.

As has been stated (over and over above), the rape discussion has been discussed in GREAT detail previously in other mefi threads. You who feel a need to continue this could always call for yet one more rape discussion in metatalk.
posted by Surfurrus at 10:59 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


An interesting and possibly relevant section of the Vienna Convention:

Article 44

The receiving State must, even in case of armed conflict, grant facilities in order to enable persons enjoying privileges and immunities, other than nationals of the receiving State, and members of the families of such persons irrespective of their nationality, to leave at the earliest possible moment. It must, in particular, in case of need, place at their disposal the necessary means of transport for themselves and their property.


According to this, if Assange were a UK citizen, they might find some way to getting hold of him without violating the convention.

But as it is, he might simply be designated as an "ad hoc courier", as per Article 27, section 5, and there is nothing the UK would be able to do about it within the framework of the convention.
posted by Cironian at 11:09 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


a) the British argue that, by sheltering Assange, Ecuador is itself breaching the Vienna Convention;
b) that purported "week notice" declaration doesn't seem to be backed by any other source


Ecuador is not currently breaching the Vienna Convention, but Britain has claimed the current situation is "incompatible with" the Convention and "not sustainable." (These are not statements of legal import.) Britain's letter to Ecuador suggested they believe they could use the DCPA Act to revoke the Ecuador embassy's status and then arrest Assange, but pretty much everyone agrees that would definitely be a violation of Vienna, as well as an unprecedented action. Britain can just nab him at the airport anyway without violating Vienna, so there is no reason to do anything so extreme.

There seems to be a lot of consensus here: not only would using the DCPA be a radical reinterpretation of that law, it would also be a clear violation of Vienna by Britain.
posted by mek at 11:26 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'll laugh when China eventually uses Britain's own interpretation against the British embassy in China regardless.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:08 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


gerryblog: "I do, honestly, think it is irrational to believe Assange would be murdered or tortured by the US if he were extradited, though obviously many people in this thread disagree with me."

I agree that it would be irrational to think that he would be murdered by the US. It is also irrational to think that he won't be tortured by the US should he be extradited. Thinking that torture is off the table flies in the face of common practice with regard to those viewed as a threat to national security.

daveje: "Now, of course, he's claiming a corrupt Swedish legal system, and a Sweden that has a government supine enough to hand him over the US at a moment's notice. "

Now? Sure. And previously, ever since the whole thing blew up how many years ago now? It's not as if Assange has been inconsistent on this issue. He may be lying when he said he would go to Sweden if there were no threat of extradition to the US, but he has said that. And Sweden, being a sovereign nation, could (regardless of treaty text) assure him that he will not be extradited to the US without first having the opportunity to depart for another country.

If they do that and Assange still refuses to go to Sweden to face the charges, I will consider that strong evidence that he is just a garden variety scumbag who has been using his position to avoid prosecution. As it stands, I think his fears are reasonable, as are the assurances he has requested.

If the guy actually raped those women, I hope he is punished for that. I do not think he should have to risk torture to answer the charges, however. Torture is wrong, period. We (the US) are a country of torturers. I refuse to condemn a person for refusing to submit to torture. Clearly, others differ on that point, but if it were really about the rape, why all the argument about special privileges and all that?

Here in the US, we make accommodations for certain criminal defendants on a fairly regular basis. It's not as if the man is asking for unprecedented treatment.
posted by wierdo at 12:12 PM on August 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


And Sweden, being a sovereign nation, could (regardless of treaty text) assure him that he will not be extradited to the US without first having the opportunity to depart for another country.

Would that be in keeping with the letter of Sweden's extradition treaty with the US? Some states will decline to extradite their own nationals (Russia and Israel, I believe, fall into this camp), but obviously this is not the case here.
posted by acb at 12:16 PM on August 16, 2012


deliberative, focused trolling

I've been at MeFi long enough, and been in enough heated discussions here, to know that leveling this accusation is against the rules. No matter how much you think a particular poster may be BEGGING for it.

It is also irrational to think that he won't be tortured by the US should he be extradited. Thinking that torture is off the table flies in the face of common practice with regard to those viewed as a threat to national security.

I said it above, but my take is that the US is torturing (and murdering) people, but it's disempowered people you've never heard of. They're not torturing world-famous celebrities who have been on Colbert and will someday have the chance to tell their story publicly to a huge global audience. I honesty disagree with the consensus here insofar as I think the fear for Assange's physical safety is significantly overblown. I have absolutely no love for the US security state or the war on terror, but I honestly think HE PERSONALLY would be treated quite well by the US authorities. No trollin'.
posted by gerryblog at 12:19 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


gerryblog: They're not torturing world-famous celebrities who have been on Colbert and will someday have the chance to tell their story publicly to a huge global audience.

Once they had him and charged him with, say, aiding the enemy or torture, why would you think that they'd allow for a public trial that would certainly be humiliating for them? The US isn't exactly a bastion of human rights these days. If they managed to get their bloodstained hands on him, I don't think we'd ever be hearing his side of the story.
posted by gman at 12:31 PM on August 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Since he's not a US citizen, Assange's 'rights' once he's in US hands are far less than those of, say, Bradley Manning. I agree that a public criminal trial in the US is vanishingly unlikely.
posted by unSane at 12:36 PM on August 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


Once they had him and charged him with, say, aiding the enemy or torture, why would you think that they'd allow for a public trial that would certainly be humiliating for them? The US isn't exactly a bastion of human rights these days. If they managed to get their bloodstained hands on him, I don't think we'd ever be hearing his side of the story.

This objection has been raised to me repeatedly and all I can say is that the US is an aggressive neoimperial security state, not some science-fictional dystopia. The cost-benefit analysis of disappearing Assange is totally different then it is for disappearing someone randomly picked up on a battlefield -- and unless Assange is going to be totally and permanently disappeared, he won't be tortured, because eventually he'll be able to speak to a worldwide audience.

I respect that people may disagree with this analysis, but "the US is evil now" isn't much of a counterargument from where I'm standing. US state actors are brutal realists; if they're evil, they're neutral evil, not chaotic evil. They're not out to hurt people for its own sake, even when it will hurt themselves and their global reputation.

Assange's celebrity and the nebulous nature of these still-unarticulated changes against him puts him into a completely different category than either Guantanamo prisoners or Bradley Manning. He wouldn't be treated the same.
posted by gerryblog at 12:42 PM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Bradley Manning was a soldier who (from the perspective of the US) committed treason. He's under a completely different code of law than Assange would be.
posted by gerryblog at 12:43 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nobody here knows what code of law Assange will be tried under in the United States, as it's a secret. But he could certainly be held at Guantanamo and tried by a military court, there is plenty of precedent for that. The USA has done as much to Canadian citizens captured as children.
posted by mek at 12:51 PM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


acb: "Would that be in keeping with the letter of Sweden's extradition treaty with the US?"

It doesn't actually matter. The treaty is only as binding as the parties make it. We're talking national governments here, not contracts between private companies that can be enforced in the courts, whose decisions aren't that well enforced (internationally), anyway.

gerryblog, what part of "the US tortures people" don't you get. We torture citizens, we torture noncitizens, we torture. Their high profile or lack thereof seems not to matter when it comes to national security. There's no evidence that Assange would be treated differently because he's personally been on TV. Besides, it's completely irrelevant. Assange claims to believe that if he is extradited to the US he will be tortured. The simple solution, just as we might grant someone immunity to compel their testimony against someone we want more, would be to grant him immunity from extradition to the US.

As I said before, if that is done and he still fails to submit to Swedish justice, that will prove his insincerity, and I'll be happy to join you in condemning his actions in that regard. As it stands, he professes to have what I evaluate as a perfectly reasonable fear. How can I not think it's reasonable? After all, it's not terribly uncommon these days that I think twice before posting anything that might get my government's eyes turned on me. Isn't Manning still in solitary?
posted by wierdo at 12:54 PM on August 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


ODiV - you're right that reporting uses inconsistent language on "charges," and I could cite some that use "charges" in support of what I said, but I'll apologize instead for taking a run at you.

The intent behind my comment was that on my understanding charges in the US/UK more closely align with issuing an arrest warrant in Sweden (which is why some reporting referred to that incident with "charges"), which was temporarily issued but then withdrawn.

If that's right, it's less obvious that charges in the US/UK sense would've been filed than you're making it sound.

But again my apologies, and on review you actually haven't been someone who from my perspective has been muddying the waters here, but rather someone who was at the end of a long, frustrating thread.
posted by airing nerdy laundry at 12:55 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Their high profile or lack thereof seems not to matter when it comes to national security?

Who is the high profile person you are thinking of -- a celebrity like Assange or someone similar -- that has been tortured by the US?

The simple solution, just as we might grant someone immunity to compel their testimony against someone we want more, would be to grant him immunity from extradition to the US.

Again, as far as I can tell, that's not something Sweden can actually offer under the terms of the treaty. I argued this at length last night, quoting the text of the treaty directly, and no one has made any counterargument other than "No, I bet they can if they want." Most people just ignored those comments and went on asserting that Sweden has refused to give Assange something it can't.
posted by gerryblog at 12:59 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


This objection has been raised to me repeatedly and all I can say is that the US is an aggressive neoimperial security state, not some science-fictional dystopia. The cost-benefit analysis of disappearing Assange is totally different then it is for disappearing someone randomly picked up on a battlefield -- and unless Assange is going to be totally and permanently disappeared, he won't be tortured, because eventually he'll be able to speak to a worldwide audience.
Unless of course, they never release him. Which they may never do, once he's blackholed. Don't forget, there are still people at GTMO being held after having been cleared of charges. I'll posit they're being held because the USG doesn't want anyone to know what they have to say.
Assange's celebrity and the nebulous nature of these still-unarticulated changes against him puts him into a completely different category than either Guantanamo prisoners or Bradley Manning. He wouldn't be treated the same.
posted by gerryblog at 12:42 PM on August 16
But that's the thing - we don't know what category he'd be put in. He's not a US citizen, and therefore not entitled to the protections of the US constitution. He's not a foreign military soldier, so he's not entitled to the protections of the Geneva conventions. By what, then, is he protected? The good will of the United States Government?

I wouldn't take those odds.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 1:01 PM on August 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


By what, then, is he protected?

Global opinion is still a thing. Neither Sweden nor UK is going to be happy with the US if their extradition treaty is illegally abused to disappear Assange, nor is anybody else. The treaty with Sweden requires charges to have been filed before extradition can happen. He's really not going to wind up in limbo.
posted by gerryblog at 1:05 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


If Mr. Assange ever gets into a car to take him anywhere, he will be promptly captured. Diplomatic cars are not immune from traffic laws and checks for drunk driving etc. All that the British police need to do is to direct every car coming out of the building into a dead-end alley (for traffic management reasons). Then surround it and wait till the driver agrees to a search, or Mr. Assange steps out to pee.
posted by vidur at 1:05 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


He's not a US citizen, and therefore not entitled to the protections of the US constitution

Is this true? A legal alien, or tourist, has no constitutional rights ? I'm surprised we get any visitors at all.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:05 PM on August 16, 2012


Is this true? A legal alien, or tourist, has no constitutional rights ? I'm surprised we get any visitors at all.

No, that's absolutely not true. Among others, all people in the US, citizens or not, have the right to due process under the 14th amendment.
posted by neal at 1:08 PM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is this true? A legal alien, or tourist, has no constitutional rights?

That's not actually true in the main. Glenn Greenwald link.
posted by gerryblog at 1:08 PM on August 16, 2012


It's a long and tortured question (pdf), with SCOTUS basically deciding on a line-by-line basis.
posted by mek at 1:10 PM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I stand corrected, then. He is theoretically afforded the protection of the US Constitution. I do not think it matters, as the US has a now decade-long history of holding people in secret both on US territory and not, and denying them public trials. What good is due process when nobody is around to watch it proceed?
posted by TheNewWazoo at 1:13 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


LIVE FROM GUAYAQUIL IT'S THE WIKILEAKS SHOW ON PUTIN TV, WITH YOUR HOST JULIAN ASSANGE!

Today's guests: Bashar Al Assad! Noam Chomsky! Robert Mugabe!

We begin with Hugo Chavez and a look at the week's news. Take it away, Hugo!
posted by falameufilho at 1:16 PM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Does it change anyone's thinking if instead of just being the recipient he helped Manning with advice and logistical support? Does it change anything if a reporter is telling a source how to steal files?
posted by Ad hominem at 1:17 PM on August 16, 2012


gerryblog: Global opinion is still a thing.

The US doesn't give.a.fuck. If they did, they wouldn't be the sole country to veto resolutions condemning Israel; Guantanamo wouldn't exist; the war in Iraq wouldn't have happened; torturing in the name of security would be something only "uncivilized" countries did, and so on, and so on, and so on.
posted by gman at 1:21 PM on August 16, 2012 [13 favorites]


It's certainly possible that the USA simply wants to interrogate him to get him to confess something along those lines, ad hominem. Of course, after months of torture, what value remains in a confession?
posted by mek at 1:22 PM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Diplomatic cars are not immune from traffic laws and checks for drunk driving etc.

While they are expected to obey them, what would they police do with a diplomat driver who - knowing that the UK might try some trickery - just travels along main roads and does not obey any traffic stops? Surrounding the vehicle with armored cars in broad daylight seems like a bad idea which would clearly violate the treaty obligations of the UK.

Besides, as per my quote above, it would seem that while nation A can not just extend protections to a citizen of host country B to smuggle him out of B, the Vienna Convention does not prevent this in the case of a citizen of a third country C.

Now, of course, they could just ignore all the laws of diplomacy on the basis of might makes right. But I have a feeling that such an act would severely hamper the international interests of the UK for years. Unless you are already loathed on a North Korean level, I doubt any nation would just do that.

Much more likely that some nation is going to bribe Ecuador with a giant pile of money and/or weapons soon.
posted by Cironian at 1:22 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not mine, Ad hominem.

Both Manning and Assange are heroes wrt the data release and publication.

Jury's still out on other matters.
posted by notyou at 1:25 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not quite the right cliche, there.

How about, "Jury hasn't yet been impaneled on other matters"?
posted by notyou at 1:27 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ad hominem: Biden thinks so.
posted by ODiV at 1:30 PM on August 16, 2012


Is this true? A legal alien, or tourist, has no constitutional rights ? I'm surprised we get any visitors at all.

No, that's absolutely not true. Among others, all people in the US, citizens or not, have the right to due process under the 14th amendment.


Within the United States. Outside the United States, the Fourth does not apply. United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, 494 U.S. 259 (1990). Since states are rarely involved in overseas seizures, the question of the Fourteenth rarely comes up for overseas cases. In terms of application of the Fourth to U.S. Citizens overseas, the question remains undecided.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:30 PM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Does it change anyone's thinking if instead of just being the recipient he helped Manning with advice and logistical support? Does it change anything if a reporter is telling a source how to steal files?

I'm assuming that would be the basis of the case. Mere publication might be illegal, but it is rare for criminal prosecution to occur, although it is Constitutional. There are questions of whether the U.S. would have jurisdiction over a mere publication case.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:32 PM on August 16, 2012


Bradley Manning was a soldier who (from the perspective of the US) committed treason. He's under a completely different code of law than Assange would be.

Manning is not charged with and did not, as far as I can tell, commit treason. It requires two eyewitnesses regardless.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:33 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Even if we accept Ironmouth's "special rights" argument as-is, he has now been granted those special rights. So it's now completely irrelevant as to whether or not those rights are "special" or universal.

Ecuador says he has. The UK disagrees. Eventually, they will win the argument one way or another.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:35 PM on August 16, 2012


While they are expected to obey them, what would they police do with a diplomat driver who - knowing that the UK might try some trickery - just travels along main roads and does not obey any traffic stops? Surrounding the vehicle with armored cars in broad daylight seems like a bad idea which would clearly violate the treaty obligations of the UK.

Jumping red lights is a violation of law, and the diplomatic registration will not protect the car from being chased, stopped and surrounded. No need for armored cars to immobilize the vehicle, regular police patrol cars will do, and the police can puncture the tyres anyway.

Now, of course, they could just ignore all the laws of diplomacy on the basis of might makes right. But I have a feeling that such an act would severely hamper the international interests of the UK for years. Unless you are already loathed on a North Korean level, I doubt any nation would just do that.

The thing is, UK has already gone beyond the kind of scenarios we are talking about (cars being stopped and such). What UK is saying, in essence, is that they care so much about this one person having to face "justice" that they are willing to break diplomatic ties with Ecuador. Now, Ecuador may be a small country and may not even be relevant to UK's national interests, but this is not a light step. It is a huge, huge deal and entirely without any real precedent.

Car being stopped, utilities being cut, fake fire alarm being sounded.. all these things may sound more dramatic, but the threat to cut diplomatic ties (which is what UK essentially did) is actually far more serious. It is strategic rather than tactical. And I wonder if the British FCO has done the calculations right about this being a strategic issue. It creates precedents that should worry every democratic country with Embassies around the world in different kinds of regimes.
posted by vidur at 1:35 PM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ecuador says he has. The UK disagrees. Eventually, they will win the argument one way or another.

The UK doesn't disagree that Ecuador has granted him political asylum. They just haven't granted him political asylum themselves. There is no disagreement, the UK just still has the power to detain him when he appears in public.
posted by mek at 1:37 PM on August 16, 2012


The UK doesn't disagree that Ecuador has granted him political asylum. They just haven't granted him political asylum themselves.

William Hague has asserted that the UK does not recognise diplomatic asylum:
The United Kingdom does not recognise the principle of diplomatic asylum. It is far from a universally accepted concept: the United Kingdom is not a party to any legal instruments which require us to recognise the grant of diplomatic asylum by a foreign embassy in this country.
posted by acb at 1:43 PM on August 16, 2012


As much as I might think hacking and leaking documents is cool, I think he may have helped manning, as opposed to being the recpient of a leak. It is up to the court to decide if it is a crime.

I read through the Llamo/Manning chat logs and Manning makes it clear that he was in touch with Assange through the CCC XMPP server before he took the documents, so he was in communication with Assange before the event. This isn't a case of Assange finding an anonymous upload to wikileaks.com.

Let's not forget that Assange is a world famous hacker, he wrote the first port scanner that saw widespread use.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:43 PM on August 16, 2012


Does it change anything if a reporter is telling a source how to steal files?

Making a journalistic outlet available to a whistleblower to report on criminal behavior could be argued to be 'telling' in the hands of the right government lawyer, in that a journalist or media entity could be charged with violating the Espionage Act, as happened with the Pentagon Papers.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:47 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


So if the opinion is that there really is no distinction between putting the files up on Wikileaks.com and advising manning on how to smuggle files out of out of the office and maybe how to try and cover his tracks I can accept that.

Obviously this is all conjecture on my part. Reading through the Llamo/Manning chat logs it does not appear to me that Manning is a conscientious whistleblower. He wanted to gain respect from Llamo and Poulsen. He tells Llamo that he is in touch with Assange through the CCC in germany, this ups his status quite a bit as Llamo didn't know how to get in touch with Assange himself. I really see all this as random hacker games, Manning grabbing files to feed to Assange as bona fides. Exchanging information as proof of how leet you are is pretty standard.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:58 PM on August 16, 2012


The UK doesn't disagree that Ecuador has granted him political asylum. They just haven't granted him political asylum themselves.

William Hague has asserted that the UK does not recognise diplomatic asylum:
The United Kingdom does not recognise the principle of diplomatic asylum. It is far from a universally accepted concept: the United Kingdom is not a party to any legal instruments which require us to recognise the grant of diplomatic asylum by a foreign embassy in this country.


diplomatic asylum is the use of an embassy to provide asylum. political asylum is the use of a country. Note that Ecuador is only allowing him to stay in the embassy.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:03 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Again, as far as I can tell, that's not something Sweden can actually offer under the terms of the treaty. I argued this at length last night, quoting the text of the treaty directly, and no one has made any counterargument other than "No, I bet they can if they want." Most people just ignored those comments and went on asserting that Sweden has refused to give Assange something it can't.

I disagree. There are plenty of cases where trials based on law X have been set up on soil Y because of issues much less strange than these. I don't think it's especially telling whether Sweden does or doesn't have the ability to take extradition to the USA off the table, Swedish prosecutors still have a vast array of tools that offer ways around their problems.

My suspicion is that they don't want the headache of going outside their standard methods, but if Assange's bid for asylum isn't broken, they can either take his fears seriously, or give it up. If the asylum isn't broken, I imagine the results will be a case like Polanksi - they stop pouring resources into him, but a warrant remains active indefinitely, just in case he makes a mistake 20 years later. Assange doesn't want that, he wants the charges resolved, so the most likely outcome is lose-lose, with Assange simply losing less than he fears he might.
posted by anonymisc at 2:05 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


The nature of the criminal charges in Sweden is not very relevant. The important point is that they are serious enough that both Swedish and UK criminal courts have determined the accusations to be severe and credible enough to investigate thoroughly. There has been a detaining order issued by a criminal court in Sweden. That means that the court has determined that there is probable cause.. The UK courts have determined that this is the equivalent of the term being charged. Translation of relevant Swedish code, for those few who have not yet bothered to read it.

A criminal court has determined that there is probable cause to detain Julian Assange. On the other hand, it would certainly be preliminary at this point to present an application of summons to the court. The prosecutor previously offered to question Assange without detention, however he declined this opportunity by fleeing the country.

Assange has both failed to appear to an agreed meeting with the prosecutor and skipped bail in the UK. He is very clearly a flight risk. It seems likely that the United States is going to want to have him extradited. Both Swedish and English courts are generally determined to be fair and he would have a chance to defend himself against this extradition.

I have seen no legal arguments presented (certainly none by Assange) that would protect him from extradition to Sweden based on a hypothetical extradition request by the US. The 2001 case of extraordinary rendition by Sweden happened under very different circumstances and quite relevantly public policy in Sweden has since then considerably shifted against extraordinary rendition. Similarly I haven't seen any well-formed arguments that legal extradition from Sweden to the US is substantially easier than extradition from the UK to the US.

The decisions made in Sweden and the UK, largely by criminal courts, regarding this case have been made in an open and law-abiding manner and following the laws of both countries and the European Union. The decision made in Ecuador regarding asylum has been made by politicians and not according to any laws that I know of.

The release of the diplomatic cables was a heroic deed and a superb piece of civil disobedience. I feel that the likely penalties Assange would face in the US would be unduly harsh. I also think that both UK and Sweden would be likely to agree to an extradition request by the US, regardless of any criminal charges or conviction in Sweden. It is extremely unfortunate that the big issue has so totally eclipsed the small issue and I hope that the US manages to get it's house in order so people don't have to be unduly afraid of them.
posted by Authorized User at 2:14 PM on August 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


I have seen no legal arguments presented (certainly none by Assange) that would protect him from extradition to Sweden based on a hypothetical extradition request by the US.
That's because, until he is secreted off to Syria to await an ostensible trial by military tribunal for being an enemy combatant - or, equally likely, arrested and held in New York City for charges of Espionage, and tried publicly in a civil court of law - it's not a legal question because he doesn't have standing. Discussion of what may or may not happen is a purely political question, and seeking asylum is a political recourse.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 2:26 PM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Again, as far as I can tell, that's not something Sweden can actually offer under the terms of the treaty

Sweden can offer anything it wishes. What it offers, and whether it chooses to honor the terms of the treaty or not is up them. They can always make promises that would violate existing treaties if kept. But what difference would such a promise make? How could Assange hold them to it?

Discussion of what may or may not happen is a purely political question, and seeking asylum is a political recourse.

Exactly!
posted by tyllwin at 2:32 PM on August 16, 2012


Also, the message the US is sending by politically pressuring the relevant countries to "throw the book" at Assange is quite powerful by itself.

"If you piss us off and you screw up even in a little anywhere in the world, we will make your life very hard."
posted by Authorized User at 2:35 PM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


As a practical matter, is Assange now a resident of that tiny embassy until he either manages to sneak out of the UK, Ecuador gives him up, or the UK enters the embassy and gets him?
posted by Area Man at 2:48 PM on August 16, 2012


Global opinion is still a thing.
Opinion polls showed that the population of nearly all countries opposed a war without UN mandate, and that the view of the United States as a danger to world peace had significantly increased. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan described the war as illegal, saying in a September 2004 interview that it was "not in conformity with the Security Council." Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said that the invasion "disrespects the United Nations" and failed to take world opinion into account.

Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, called the US's attitude five months before the invasion a "threat to world peace". He said they were sending a message that "if you are afraid of a veto in the Security Council, you can go outside and take action and violate the sovereignty of other countries"; a message which "must be condemned in the strongest terms."
American indifference to global opinion isn't a "thing," it's a fact. It's similar to our indifference to world opinion on Iran, and our continued insistence that despite all of the treaties, all of the agreements, and all of the precedents from the last decade of the complete and undeniable failure of US foreign policy, we will not take invasion off of the table. Even when our allies in Israel decide to assassinate scientists in Iran, Iran lacks the political clout to win the smallest condemnation from the UN because they know we will veto the mildest warnings for international terrorism — at least when it's "our team" with their finger on the trigger.

Even when regional stability and hundreds of thousands of lives are at risk, the United States openly declares that we don't care what the rest of the world thinks. Do you honestly believe opinion polls about one man are going to outweigh a decade of relevant policy which declares that we do whatever we want, regardless of the law or the consequences?
posted by deanklear at 2:52 PM on August 16, 2012 [9 favorites]


Or until he fails to manage to sneak out, and gets caught :)
posted by anonymisc at 2:52 PM on August 16, 2012


William Hague has asserted that the UK does not recognise diplomatic asylum

Diplomatic asylum != political asylum.

Diplomatic asylum appears to be an idiosyncratic Latin American concept, developed there in the XIX and early XX century to help deal with the then-frequent headache of deposed strongmen seeking sanctuary in foreign embassies. It isn't generally recognised or accepted outside of those countries...
posted by Skeptic at 2:56 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


The U.S. let Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty live in its Budapest embassy for 15 years after the Hungarian uprising was crushed in 1956. Also, I believe some Russian Seventh Day Adventists lived in the U.S.'s Moscow embassy for years, so I don't think the concept of diplomatic asylum can be fairly described as just a Latin American concept.
posted by Area Man at 3:05 PM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think the concept of diplomatic asylum can be fairly described as just a Latin American concept.

Agreed, but I think legally speaking, in the context of Int'l law, it can. The law wouldn't apply to the UK, without them having a treaty about it, if it were Customary with a capital C. Which requires it to be long-standing practice with very few exceptions, and a belief by the UK (and probably a number of other states, to be honest) that it is a requirement of Int'l law. It's a high bar to hurdle.
posted by Lemurrhea at 3:13 PM on August 16, 2012


Political asylum in Ecuador? Not if you're fleeing an actual dictator.
posted by Skeptic at 3:46 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, the message the US is sending by politically pressuring the relevant countries to "throw the book" at Assange is quite powerful by itself.
Pardon my ignorance, but is there any actual evidence that the US is politically pressuring the relevant countries? If so, could you please link to it? Thanks.
posted by Flunkie at 4:08 PM on August 16, 2012


Aren't these claims of the US's absolute lawlessness self-discrediting? After all, the US and its allies currently know exactly where Assange is, and yet they haven't gone to get him either openly or secretly. If the US truly didn't give a fuck, as is claimed, why would they feel the need to wait for any legal justification at all?

In fact, it's actually the case that global hegemons want to preserve at least the veneer of legitimacy and the rule of law. Global opinion does matter. And the same forces that keep the US from sending Seal Team Six into British soil to get Assange are going to keep them from disappearing him altogether once the Swedes have turned him over and everyone is still watching. If you ask me.
posted by gerryblog at 4:22 PM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


The evidence that there is pressure being applied doesn't really indicate where the pressure is coming from, but the USA seems a natural suspect (means, motive, opportunity, etc). Do you think there is reason to think it's coming from somewhere that doesn't include the USA?
posted by anonymisc at 4:30 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


If the US truly didn't give a fuck, as is claimed, why would they feel the need to wait for any legal justification at all?

Lets be clear. Under the Constitution, the US could have seized Assange anywhere outside of the US through all this time. That's the law and its been done--remember the Pakistani guy who shot two people in front of the CIA HQ in Virginia and then calmly got on a plane? With Pakistan's help, the CIA showed up and just seized him in Pakistan, no warrant, no nothing--under Verdugo-Urquidez it is 100% constitutional.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:53 PM on August 16, 2012


That's because, until he is secreted off to Syria to await an ostensible trial by military tribunal for being an enemy combatant

the AUMF and the subsequent modifications of that law would not allow that. The military tribunal would lack jurisdiction. An entirely new law, made before any arrest would have to be drafted. A third-grader with a crayon could write that habeus petition.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:56 PM on August 16, 2012


The evidence that there is pressure being applied doesn't really indicate where the pressure is coming from
OK, let me amend my question:

Pardon my ignorance, but is there any actual evidence that pressure is being applied? If so, could you please link to it? Thanks.
Do you think there is reason to think it's coming from somewhere that doesn't include the USA?
This question presumes that I know what evidence you're talking about. Which is exactly what I'm asking about.
posted by Flunkie at 4:56 PM on August 16, 2012


From the Wikipedia Article on Diplomatic law:

Diplomatic asylum

A right of diplomatic asylum is not established in international law. The International Court of Justice has emphasised that in the absence of treaty or customary rules to the contrary, a decision by a mission to grant asylum involves a derogation from the sovereignty of the receiving state. The Organization of American States agreed a convention in 1954.

posted by Ironmouth at 4:59 PM on August 16, 2012


And perhaps I should be more clear with respect to my amended question: I'm aware that there is obviously "pressure being applied" in the sense that the UK is talking about revoking immunity or whatever. But the context of my question was in response to a rather specific assertion that the US was exerting pressure, specifically pressure on (presumably) the UK and/or Sweden, specifically to "throw the book" at Assange, and that the (asserted) "fact" that the US is supposedly doing so "is quite powerful by itself".

So yeah, obviously the UK is exerting pressure on Ecuador, and obviously Sweden is exerting at least some minimal form of pressure on the UK (asking for extradition). But I'm asking about evidence of externally applied pressure - which the person I responded to implicitly claimed existed, and that the US is behind it, and that this is (apparently) so surely true that the (asserted) "fact" that the US is doing this "is quite powerful by itself".
posted by Flunkie at 5:07 PM on August 16, 2012


Why did Hillary Clinton go to Sweden (first such visit in a long time) just four days after the UK court ruled Assange would be extradited? I'm certain it wasn't for the knäckebröd.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:17 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why did Hillary Clinton go to Sweden (first such visit in a long time) just four days after the UK court ruled Assange would be extradited? I'm certain it wasn't for the knäckebröd.
I get the feeling that you think I'm arguing a certain stance, rather than asking for evidence of the assertion that US exerting pressure to throw the book at Assange. Why are you asking me why Hillary Clinton did something? I didn't even know she did. That's why I'm asking. Am I expected to give some reason for it Hillary Clinton doing that? Because, apparently, I'm arguing against you? Why not just (as I asked) please link to any evidence that you have?

With that said, am I to understand that the evidence behind the assertion that the US is applying pressure to throw the book at Assange is that Hillary Clinton visited Sweden four days after UK decided to extradite?
posted by Flunkie at 5:22 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Under the Constitution, the US could have seized Assange anywhere outside of the US through all this time....under Verdugo-Urquidez it is 100% constitutional

And right there, Ironmoth, in one paragraph, you have outlined exactly why I completely support Assange and Wikileaks and anything they do to stir things up and cause chaos. Because your comment didn't once mention what other countries constitutions or laws might have to say about the legality of that.
posted by Jimbob at 5:23 PM on August 16, 2012 [8 favorites]


gerryblog: If the US truly didn't give a fuck, as is claimed, why would they feel the need to wait for any legal justification at all?

It would also be a lot more efficient for them to nuke the tribal areas of Pakistan and Yemen, but there are limits to the belligerent aggression they'll display publicly. So, instead, they use an unmanned weapon that is inexplicably acceptable to many Americans due to its video game-like properties. Unfortunately, we all know that torturing people and locking them up indefinitely is well within their own fucked up boundaries.
posted by gman at 5:32 PM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Flunkie - this made a compelling case to me that there are a lot of things that are extremely problematic to explain without the presence of externally applied pressure. There is also a bunch of stuff from the USA showing the lengths various actors has tried to go to, to find ways to discredit and attack wikileaks, which other people might find to be the more compelling evidence, but for me, the piece I linked to, and occam's razor, make a pretty strong case that not everything is out in the daylight.
posted by anonymisc at 5:35 PM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth is very consistent - he's into the rule of law and thats the position he argues from. Perhaps there is some flaw in his argument and so by all means challenge him, but try not to get so angry with him.

re: Timing: When Assange went into the Embassy two months ago it seemed like a crazy move. Now that he's got what he was asking for, it doesn't seem so crazy. In retrospect, I suspect he had been given assurances a while back that it would probably go his way. It would appear that Ecuador was waiting for the Olympics to finish before kicking up a stink.

I wonder if he is going to voluntarily let the UK police arrest him and send him to Sweden soon. The granting of asylum is a bit of a vindication for him, and has got everyone talking about the US extradition risk. So perhaps he'd feel slightly safer going there now. I don't see what else he can do, and I agree that his accusers there should have their case heard.
posted by memebake at 5:39 PM on August 16, 2012


mrbill: "They just need one REALLY BIG diplomatic pouch..."

However outlandish this scenario, it just occurred to me that the notion of a man who violated the sacrosanct immunity of diplomatic communications being saved through the sacrosanct immunity of diplomatic communications would be supreme delicious irony.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:43 PM on August 16, 2012 [14 favorites]


It is boiling up inside and it has to come out. I'll try not to ramble too much.

First of all, Assand doesn't like to wear a condom and is a total douchebag about it.

Here's an article from a couple of years ago that goes into the details.

In case 1. Sarah asked for him to use a condom, and he agreed, and they had sex.
The condom broke.
In case 2. Jessica asked for him to use a condom, and he agreed. Later, she woke up to find him having sex with her, without a condom.

Later Sarah and Jessica met, and shared stories. They went to the police to try to force Assand to indicate whether or not he had any diseases, considering he just had sex with them without protection.

Now I don't know if you've seen that video by the guy pushing condom use who showed how strong they are by taking a condom and opening it up so wide he could put it over his whole head without it breaking. I'm a follower of Occam's Razor, and while you can't use it in court, you can certainly use it to form your own opinions, and therefore, I believe Assand got what he wanted on purpose. Again, that's not enough for a court, but it is how I appears to me. Douchebag.

There's no forced sex here, but there is possibly tricked unprotected sex--actually I'm not sure the best way to word it. The initial prosecutor questioned Assand and decided there was no rape and therefore no charges (it is in Swedish law details I am ignorant about that would explain whether or not there was actually any charges in the first place). The women got a high-powered attorney who convinced the prosecutor's office to assign the case to a prosecutor who specializes in sex crimes and he was asked to be questioned again. I don't know the details from here, but obviously he left Sweden and ended up in the UK and the rest is pretty much well known.



Second of all, Assand is an enormous narcissist and he's got everyone playing his game, and they should all just stop!

Sweden could have ignored the fact that he's an internationally known and loved/hated character and had him questioned with Skype, as they've done with other cases. Heck, they could have even tried him in absentia if he refused to come to Sweden. Roman Polanski was sentenced in absentia.

But no. They have to play his game, responding to his publicity game of being threatened by an international conspiracy by treating him as a high-class criminal and issuing a 'Wanted person' request to Interpol. This sounds like a purely emotional/pride move on Sweden's part and it played right into his hands. And the Ecuador President has to identify with him as a fellow US-persecuted and become his friend and allow him to stay in the embassy. And then the UK has to go so far as to threaten Ecuador's embassy--all over questioning a man over a possibly purposely broken condom.

And the US starts secret programs to press charges against him (if links above are to be believed), giving Assand credence to his conspiracy theory.

What makes a narcissist is that everything has to be about them, and they are not just a victim, but a very important victim. And everyone, every country, has given him exactly what he wants. They are treating him like an international high-crime criminal and they are all acting like there really is a big conspiracy against him.

Think about it: if no one had played his game none of this would have happened. Everyone, every nation, is playing the emotional, macho, high-visibility game and giving him proof to his allegations, not to mention lots of international attention.

No one is playing chess. I guess chess is too boring for most people.
posted by eye of newt at 5:54 PM on August 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


mrbill: "They just need one REALLY BIG diplomatic pouch..."

However outlandish this scenario, it just occurred to me that the notion of a man who violated the sacrosanct immunity of diplomatic communications being saved through the sacrosanct immunity of diplomatic communications would be supreme delicious irony.


Somebody tried this in london. But there was a problem with the bill of lading and the police got called. I read it while researching for this thread.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:55 PM on August 16, 2012


Ironmouth is very consistent - he's into the rule of law and thats the position he argues from. Perhaps there is some flaw in his argument and so by all means challenge him, but try not to get so angry with him.

His stream of straw-men and obnoxious mischaracterization of people then trying to shout them down, is deserving of ridicule. I wish we could have the half that occasionally interjects an interesting pertinent fact or opinion, without the slimy one. Much like Assange I guess - a good side and a bad side.
posted by anonymisc at 5:57 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


In my experience, "narcissist" is code for "better-looking and smarter than you".
posted by dunkadunc at 6:00 PM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


the AUMF and the subsequent modifications of that law would not allow that. The military tribunal would lack jurisdiction. An entirely new law, made before any arrest would have to be drafted. A third-grader with a crayon could write that habeus petition.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:56 PM on August 16
But, and I ask this in all seriousness, what good is a petition if the 4th Am. does not apply? You seem to be arguing from a position of rule of law being paramount, and that's admirable, but the USA has shown that it is not always bound by same. This is a government that has summarily executed its own citizens without substantial political fallout.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 6:09 PM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here's a bit more, higher level rambling.
With the world economy in the mud after lots of bankers played high-stakes poker with our money and somehow lost it all, and now there is massive unemployment and debt, and lots of people are wondering how the bankers stayed out of jail and they got bailouts and the rest of us are stuck paying off the debt, and with the increased secretive and powerful security and reduced rights of formerly open democracies, I think people are looking for a hero. And Assand and his Wikileaks punctured right through this secretive government game. We want the little narcissist hero to succeed. And by going after him the governments are proving his case and making him into a hero.

It's just too bad he's such a jerk.
posted by eye of newt at 6:16 PM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, the political ops in the White House must be salivating at the thought of Julian Assange in US prison just before the November election. I'm not making any accusations that they're applying any sort of pressure on their UK counterparts, oh no, that would be unsupported speculation, but that they're salivating at the thought of it actually happening?

Come on. They've probably got spit buckets strapped under their chins.
posted by mediareport at 6:16 PM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Who the fuck is Assand?
posted by gman at 6:18 PM on August 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


There's no forced sex here, but there is possibly tricked unprotected sex--actually I'm not sure the best way to word it.

Having sex in a manner that is not consented to is rape. And that's what he's charged with.

However we do not know if what those women said is true. Assange may not be guilty of those crimes. We do not know. The key is let the justice system run its course. And it will--i predict that the Home Secretary will move to disqualify the use of the premises as consular ground. Ecuador will move to block it, first in UK courts and then in international courts. Since the International Court of Justice has ruled that diplomatic asylum is a derogation of the host country's soverignty, Ecuador will lose. Once the final papers are put into place but before the actual decomissioning of the building occurs, the Ecuadorians will hand him over to the UK who will extradite him to Sweden.

As for Assange being turned over to the US, the evidence I've seen says the US doesn't have a case. My memory is that Adrian Lamo's chats with Manning indicated that Manning had not gotten advice or programs from Assange. This would make a prosecution for conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act difficult.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:18 PM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Assand/Assange
Sorry, that's what you get when you post with thoughts boiling over in your head.
posted by eye of newt at 6:20 PM on August 16, 2012


Ironmouth: As for Assange being turned over to the US, the evidence I've seen says the US doesn't have a case.

Not having a case really doesn't seem to effect whether or not the United States apprehends someone or how long they hold them.
posted by gman at 6:23 PM on August 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


the US doesn't have a case...This would make a prosecution for conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act difficult.

How difficult would it be for them to just hold him in prison for a while? Without a trial? As difficult as a prosecution might be, you think?
posted by mediareport at 6:25 PM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


How difficult would it be for them to just hold him in prison for a while? Without a trial? As difficult as a prosecution might be, you think?

Uh, they have to arraign him. How are they gonna make a showing that there is probable cause for the arrest? They would not be able to hold him.

And why would they? Its just an embarassment to charge him and drop the charges.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:32 PM on August 16, 2012


Assange may not be guilty of those crimes. We do not know. The key is let the justice system run its course.

Which he has claimed he is willing to do, as long as he doesn't face extradition to the US. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a way to test that (that the US will agree to.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:37 PM on August 16, 2012


And why would they?

The mind boggles. Seriously? You can't see any reason why the US would want to get Assange in custody before November? None at all?
posted by mediareport at 6:41 PM on August 16, 2012


There seems to be a lot of confusion and continued misinformation about Julian Assange going around on Twitter.  I'm not an expert, but here are eight points that I think are worth making
posted by Artw at 6:41 PM on August 16, 2012


1. People who think that normal laws shouldn't apply to Assange because he thought of Wikileaks and pissed off the US, and that Rafael Correa is a champion of freedom and justice

2. People who look at the whole saga (e.g. as summarised here) and conclude that the way the case against Assange has been handled has been so ridiculously overwrought that the likelhood of it ceasing to be ridiculously overwrought if he is extradited to Sweden is small
I don't have a problem with him getting a fair trial in Sweden. There are a bunch of questions regarding that, though: Whether or not this is a "normal" application of the law and how good is Sweden's judicial system when dealing with politically charged cases? In the U.S. at least, with regards to someone who wasn't famous, a case with the same facts would probably not even be brought to trial, and if it was it probably wouldn't get a conviction. But I don't really know much about Swedish law.

But the problem here is that that's obviously overshadowed by the other political intrigue. The behavior of various governments is obviously driven by wikileaks and not the actual charges.

The other side, as I see it, just doesn't like Assange and actually does want him to be extradited to the U.S. For whatever reason, they just don't want to come out and say that, so they instead make all kinds of nonsense arguments about whether or not it's moral for him to request asylum(seriously, what?) or how it's irrelevant to whether or not he'll be extradited. For example:
My point is that being, St. Assange, a Very Important Person, the Provider of Truth to the Masses, or even the Absolute Cure to All Evil In the World shouldn't enable anyone to evade rape charges by claiming political asylum ... unless there was some kind of evidence that those charges are bogus -- Skeptic
The problem is, it's up to the government of Ecuador, not random posters on Metafilter. Obviously people disagree about how 'bogus' or 'trumped up' the charges actually are.
Such as his fear of an all-encompassing yet invisible transnational conspiracy that is out to get him, one that is obvious and blatant despite the lack of any evidence?
He's never said that there is an 'all-encompassing yet invisible transnational conspiracy'. He's said he's afraid of being Extradited to the U.S. If Sweden's extradition treaty to the U.S. allows them to extradite anyone they want, there doesn't even need to be any conspiring for that to happen.

Secondly, there is obvious evidence that the U.S. government has a lot of interest in him, and many US officials have come out and called for his arrest, and so on. The U.S. government has never claimed that they don't want to extradite him. And there isn't any evidence that they won't.

Like I said, a lot of this just seems to be from people who don't like Assange and want to see him tried in the U.S, but, for whatever reason don't actually want to bother making that argument.
Also: people have said that the US might bring terrorism charges against Assange, but is that really possible? Has the definition of terrorism expanded to include republishing leaked US military secrets?
He'd be charged with espionage, not terrorism.
I can't believe I hit refresh on this horrible thread when I woke up, but Pyrogenesis, the argument/analogy that was being shouted at me when I went to sleep was that rape is like a traffic ticket.
A DUI can carry a longer prison sentence then what a normal person would get in Sweden for what happened, if that normal person was charged at all. It's very unlikely that someone would be convicted of rape in the U.S. or most countries in a fair trial. He might be guilty of some other crime under Swedish law.

But the position of people in this thread seems to be that if you've been accused of a sex crime, then you have a moral responsibility to surrender for trial, even if by doing so you'd put yourself in grave danger.

That was the point of the analogy: Would you go to jail for 5 days over an unpaid parking ticket, even if you had been a police informant who was sure you'd be killed by prison gangs if you went?

The supposed position is that you should, and it would be unjust not to do it, and any additional consequences are totally irrelevant. No one has claimed that it's different if it's a sex crime, or whatever. Nominal "Justice" needs to be satisfied no matter the cost or consequences.

In any event, it's a completely absurd position. I don't really believe anyone actually holds that view, especially since it correlates 100% with people who hate Assange and do want him extradited to the U.S.
I'm agnostic on the issue of who is involved and how, but not on that fact that the UK government would do anything the US asked. -- Jehan
Well. What difference does it make how you feel about the U.S/UK relationship? The U.K has defied US extradition requests in the past, so there is no guarantee it would work.
Ironmouth, stop with the nonsense. If you want justice to be served, start a campaign to get the USG to issue a legally binding statement that they will not extradite Assange from Sweden so the trial can continue.
He's admitted in another thread he actually doesn't even understand formal logic. Arguing with him is a total waste of time. He hates Assange and wants to see him tried in the U.S. He wants him to go to Sweden so that can happen. The claim about this great injustice is just a way to avoid the actual discussion while appealing to inflammatory rhetoric.

Again, arguing with him is just a waste of time.
posted by delmoi at 7:25 PM on August 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


And why would they?

The mind boggles. Seriously? You can't see any reason why the US would want to get Assange in custody before November? None at all?


November? There's no way he could be extradited before November. When Sweden gets him they will investigate first, then possible charges and trial. They won't extradite him first. And unless Ecuador caves, it will be months for the legal process of revoking the right of Ecuador to use their embassy is over.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:28 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


This, from Artw's link, is disingenuous at best:

There has not, to the best of my knowledge, been any request to extradite him to the US made to either the UK or to Sweden.

So the US waits until he's in custody to make the extradition requestion.

Finally, both the United Kingdom and Sweden are prohibited from extraditing anyone who faces the death penalty under the European Convention of Human Rights.

So the US promises only to try to imprison him for life. More importantly, and aimed squarely at the folks above who seem to be living in some kind of dream world where countries like Sweden act only according to international law, is the following claim from an Assange support site:

Sweden has in the recent past violated international treaties in relation to surrendering foreign nationals into US custody to be interrogated and tortured (case of extraordinary rendition, Agiza v. Sweden at the European Court of Human Rights). Furthermore, Amnesty International and the UN Committee against Torture criticised Sweden because it rendered two refugees to the CIA who were then tortured under the Egyptian regime of Hosni Mubarak. (A documentary with the testimony of tortured refugees who had been granted asylum and then rendered to the CIA by Sweden was aired on Swedish television on 5 October 2011.

The site also has a section dealing directly with the question Wouldn’t the UK be more likely to extradite Assange than Sweden? Worth a read, at least.
posted by mediareport at 7:38 PM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


There's no way he could be extradited before November.

Fair enough. I'll take your word on that point. Not in US custody, then. Still plenty of political benefit - and lots of room for domestic posturing - before the election. You'd have to be a fool to think that wasn't part of the calculus in the minds of the folks in the White House who are paid to, you know, have minds like that.
posted by mediareport at 7:40 PM on August 16, 2012


Ironmouth:
November? There's no way he could be extradited before November.
Wait, didn't just yesterday you say:
Listen, one way or another, by tomorrow night he will be in UK custody. He will be in Sweden by Friday.
posted by Staggering Jack at 7:43 PM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oops got my extraditions screwed up -I suppose he could be in Sweden soon but not in the U.S. for a while...
posted by Staggering Jack at 7:54 PM on August 16, 2012


IronMouth, you don't think there's any chance the charges could be dropped or the prosecution fail prior to November? Or a chance he's just renditioned before any trial? I grant that a rendition is not likely, but I think it's within the realm of possibility. The former seems 50/50 to me.

In any event, it'll be interesting to see how it all plays out.
posted by wierdo at 8:01 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that sloppy mess would be a total electoral boon and would have no posibility Of backfire Congratulations on that highly inprobably and entirely fictional Democratic party flack.
posted by Artw at 8:10 PM on August 16, 2012


*shrug* My cynical take on party flaks is a side issue, for sure. You don't have to believe it yourself to recognize that insisting Sweden will surely strictly follow the letter of international law is at least as hand-wavey.
posted by mediareport at 8:35 PM on August 16, 2012


I think wierdo raises an interesting question, too: if Sweden decides to drop the charges/investigation after Assange is in custody, would that then clear the way to a quick extradition to the US?

I'd love to know the answer to that.
posted by mediareport at 8:37 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Surrounded only by figurative black helicopters when what he needs is a literal black helicopter on the embassy rooftop...
posted by anonymisc at 8:45 PM on August 16, 2012


THAT's why they installed the missiles on London rooftops.

I'm half serious.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:48 PM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Outside the United States, the Fourth does not apply.
Under the Constitution, the US could have seized Assange anywhere outside of the US through all this time.

We're talking about seizure of persons, not property. Verdugo-Urquidez covers property. Julian Assange is a person.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:54 PM on August 16, 2012


If it doesn't, you can just check the headlines this week, for instance: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/08/trapwire-strafor-biz/

Speaking of which: Anonymous sets sights on TrapWire
posted by homunculus at 8:58 PM on August 16, 2012


Pardon my ignorance, but is there any actual evidence that the US is politically pressuring the relevant countries? If so, could you please link to it? Thanks.

I have none and I was foolish to make such a statement without having any. I am sorry.

Would you go to jail for 5 days over an unpaid parking ticket, even if you had been a police informant who was sure you'd be killed by prison gangs if you went?

No. I would argue for protection under the following:

THE SWEDISH CODE OF JUDICIAL PROCEDURE CHAPTER 24 SECTION 4
If it may be feared that detention will cause serious harm to a suspect by reason of his age, health status or similar factor, detention may only take place if adequate supervision of the suspect outside of detention cannot be arranged

As far as I know Assange did not do that when his detention order was being decided on.

Sweden has in the recent past violated international treaties in relation to surrendering foreign nationals into US custody to be interrogated and tortured

Recent past is not very accurate. This happened 10 years ago under a very different political climate. The Swedish government has since then made some very strong steps against extraordinary rendition (including boarding US aircraft) and has admitted to misdoings in regards to Agiza and al-Zery, paying reparations. In my opinion there are no substantial differences in difficulty between extradition from Sweden and from the UK. Should Assange be charged with aiding Manning in the US, I find it likely that he would be extradited either from the UK or Sweden.
posted by Authorized User at 11:15 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


If it may be feared that detention will cause serious harm to a suspect by reason of his age, health status or similar factor, detention may only take place if adequate supervision of the suspect outside of detention cannot be arranged
You do understand the point of an analogy, right? In the Analogy the person fears being killed by prison gangs, in this situation it's Assange fearing extradition. There's probably no risk of him being hurt in Swedish prison, the problem is if he's extradited, in which case it won't matter if he's in Swedish prison, or in some other secure location.
posted by delmoi at 11:26 PM on August 16, 2012


Ars Technica: Assange has asylum, but his options are still limited
Ecuador has granted Julian Assange asylum, kicking off an epic diplomatic standoff. While he sits inside the Ecuadorian embassy, British police have to stand by outside and wait. If they go inside (or "storm" it, as one official claimed the police threatened to do), they'd be violating one of the most fundamental diplomatic rules between nations, and would endanger British embassies around the world by setting a needless precedent.

The Foreign Office has tweeted a statement making it clear that they still intend to extradite Assange. It said, "We are still committed to reaching a mutually acceptable solution. Under our law, with Mr Assange having exhausted all options of appeal UK authorities are under binding obligation to extradite him to Sweden. We shall carry out that obligation. The Ecuadorian Government's decision this afternoon does not change that." So, where does that leave Assange?

He always knew that he would be arrested if he left the embassy—he's violated his bail conditions, after all. Now, though, he knows that if he can get to Ecuador he won't have to answer the rape allegations in Sweden. That means he has to find a way out of the United Kingdom, but there's absolutely no reason to expect the British authorities to allow that to happen.

It's important to make it clear here that what he's been accused of is definitely rape by British law, too—this isn't something that only the Swedes prosecute, no matter what Assange may think. As others have noted (like Anna North at Jezebel), it's deeply depressing that so many people have automatically assumed that the women allegedly raped in this case must have some secret, ulterior motive.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:26 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


The site also has a section dealing directly with the question Wouldn’t the UK be more likely to extradite Assange than Sweden? Worth a read, at least.

The very first line
(The UK’s extradition treaty does not have the temporary surrender (’conditional release’) clause. )
is a lie.

Extradition Treaty between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the United States of America
Washington, 31 March 2003


ARTICLE 14
Temporary and Deferred Surrender

As far as I can tell it's pretty much the same as Article VI of the Sweden-US extradition treaty
posted by Authorized User at 11:32 PM on August 16, 2012


You do understand the point of an analogy, right? In the Analogy the person fears being killed by prison gangs, in this situation it's Assange fearing extradition.

It is not a very good analogy then. Would I surrender myself over for a lesser crime if it would mean I would be at risk for being prosecuted for a bigger one? Maybe not, but I wouldn't expect to be anything other than a fugitive.
posted by Authorized User at 11:36 PM on August 16, 2012


"But to live outside the law, you must be honest." -- Bob Dylan
posted by msalt at 1:12 AM on August 17, 2012


It is not a very good analogy then. Would I surrender myself over for a lesser crime if it would mean I would be at risk for being prosecuted for a bigger one? Maybe not, but I wouldn't expect to be anything other than a fugitive.
This doesn't really make that much sense. First of all, your failure to understand the concept of an Analogy doesn't make any particular analogy a 'bad' one. features aren't supposed to match up exactly, they're just supposed to be analogous.

Arguing about analogies is mostly a waste of time. They're only meant to illustrate, not make actual points. But if you think the analogy is incorrect, that doesn't mean there is anything wrong with it, it just means you disagree. It's not supposed to illustrate your point.

Right now there's a mefite in prison in Iran, specifically for his blog posts. Now, he chose to travel to Iran, there wasn't an extradition or anything.

But, if someone had written negative things about Iran online, and now wanted to avoid Iran at all costs, would that make them a fugitive? What if they were charged with some moderate crime in Iraq or Syria and wanted to avoid going because they wanted to avoid extradition to Iran. The only difference here is the names of the countries.

Now, obviously most people would say they shouldn't go, because they think Iran's laws against blogging are themselves unjust.

There are lots of people who think that prosecuting Assange over wikileaks would also be unjust, and therefore should be avoided. I don't think it violated U.S. law and even if it did Assange isn't an American. People who are not Americans and not in America are not obligated to protect the US's classified secrets, anymore then everyone else is obligated to not say bad things about the Chinese or Iranian government.

I bet 99% of the posters calling for Assange's head would be outraged at the idea of extraditing people like Dick Cheney or whoever to 3rd party countries for war crimes.
posted by delmoi at 4:44 AM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


People who are not Americans and not in America are not obligated to protect the US's classified secrets, anymore then everyone else is obligated to not say bad things about the Chinese or Iranian government.

There's a distinction between not actively protecting a secret and actively assisting in the dissemination of it. The distinction is the crucial one of active agency, as in the trolley problem.
posted by acb at 4:49 AM on August 17, 2012


But, if someone had written negative things about Iran online, and now wanted to avoid Iran at all costs, would that make them a fugitive?

No, unless this person was avoiding some other unrelated criminal charge in order to achieve it. Like for example sexual assault. Assange is a fugitive from Swedish justice.

There are lots of people who think that prosecuting Assange over wikileaks would also be unjust, and therefore should be avoided.

I agree. Or at least agree that the whistleblowing aspect of this should result to a not guilty verdict or a very light sentence. This does not apply to being prosecuted for unrelated crimes in Sweden.

People who are not Americans and not in America are not obligated to protect the US's classified secrets, anymore then everyone else is obligated to not say bad things about the Chinese or Iranian government.

Certainly. But if he actively helped Manning to commit a crime in the US, this would be different. I don't know whether this is the case and certainly Assange has not been charged with this, but I gather that this is the angle that would enable the US to prosecute him.
posted by Authorized User at 5:05 AM on August 17, 2012


Certainly. But if he actively helped Manning to commit a crime in the US, this would be different. I don't know whether this is the case and certainly Assange has not been charged with this, but I gather that this is the angle that would enable the US to prosecute him.

Or if the running of Wikileaks is determined to be a non-state act of asymmetrical warfare against the US, making Assange an unlawful combatant.
posted by acb at 5:14 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


What if they were charged with some moderate crime

Look, can we just stipulate that rape is a serious crime when we're trying to construct these silly analogies? It would save us a lot of time.

delmoi, the central problem with the claim you're making here is that its logic applies to every single person who is charged with a crime, none of whom wants to go to prison (a dangerous, unpleasant place) and so all of whom are justified in doing anything they can to avoid it. We require that people submit to the authority of the law so that the legal system can function; people accused of crimes don't get veto power over whether or not they think their prosecution is legitimate or proportionate. How could the system function if they did? And so why, under these specific circumstances, should Assange be special in this regard?

(This is not Hobbesianism, by the way. I'm a socialist, and, as I have said, a Wikileaks supporter.)

Now of course there are genuine gray areas in these things, and the Assange situation obviously falls into such a gray area or we wouldn't all still be arguing about it. I would feel differently if someone accused of a traffic violation was being sent to Iran to stand for heresy charges, sure. But, as is clear, I personally think rape is a sufficiently serious accusation that it merits Assange being sent back to Sweden to answer it, regardless of whether or not he's going to be extradited to the US afterwards. As has been drawn out in the hundreds of comments since the one you're hung up on, I also happen to think his risk of mistreatment by the US is by virtue of his celebrity status and by the fact that he's committed no crime as far as anyone can tell significantly lower than some other people in the thread think, who are doing the calculus differently than I am.

So from both a absolutist deontological perspective and from a consequentialist level I think he has to go back.

People disagree about stuff. It happens. But only one side of this equation is running around with its hair on fire casting aspirations on the good-faith disagreement of the other side and calling them all Cheneyite cryptofascists. Just relax and have the conversation.
posted by gerryblog at 5:17 AM on August 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


The very first line (The UK’s extradition treaty does not have the temporary surrender (’conditional release’) clause. ) is a lie.

Yep, looks to my amateur eyes that you're right. They look the same. Thanks.
posted by mediareport at 5:22 AM on August 17, 2012


Yep, looks to my amateur eyes that you're right. They look the same. Thanks.

There are no criminal proceedings against Assange in the UK, only in Sweden. I think that's the point--it doesn't matter if the UK treaty has a temporary surrender section because it doesn't apply in this situation.

What that means in the broad scheme of things, I have no idea, but I assume that's why people are going on about the provision of the Swedish treaty and not the British one.
posted by hoyland at 5:42 AM on August 17, 2012


I bet 99% of the posters calling for Assange's head would be outraged at the idea of extraditing people like Dick Cheney or whoever to 3rd party countries for war crimes.

Firstly, I don't think anybody here is calling for Assange's head. I do want him to face trial in Sweden, regardless of the trial's outcome. Because, you know, justice.

For that same reason, I'd love to see Dick Cheney face the music in a country with a legal system like Sweden's.
posted by Skeptic at 5:49 AM on August 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Now of course there are genuine gray areas in these things, and the Assange situation obviously falls into such a gray area or we wouldn't all still be arguing about it.

What's grey about it? He's under investigation for possible rape, he leaves the country the day before his scheduled interview with the prosecutor, Sweden issues an IAW, he fights it in every court he can, he loses every case, he breaks his bail agreement, and claims political asylum. This is someone who's twice over a fugitive from justice, from two of the cleanest legal jurisdictions you can find, and he tries to find shelter in a country with such a poor record as Ecuador?

Honestly, you couldn't make this up, or the fact that people are defending his behaviour. Utterly bizarre.
posted by daveje at 6:01 AM on August 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


daveje, you're pissing on my olive branch.
posted by gerryblog at 6:02 AM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just adding valuable nutrients.
posted by daveje at 6:22 AM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


from two of the cleanest legal jurisdictions you can find

Not really.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:58 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


US in pursuit of Assange, cables reveal

The declassified diplomatic cables, released under freedom of information laws, show Australia's diplomatic service takes seriously the likelihood that Assange will eventually be extradited to the US on charges arising from WikiLeaks obtaining leaked US military and diplomatic documents.
Advertisement
This view is at odds with Foreign Minister Bob Carr's repeated dismissal of such a prospect.

posted by dunkadunc at 9:05 AM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Honestly, you couldn't make this up, or the fact that people are defending his behaviour. Utterly bizarre.

I find your certainty pretty strange in this situation. Do you know something that the newsmedia, diplomats, and some anti-rape activists aren't aware of? People seem to be falling on all sides of the "US is seeking to extradite Assange and is probably exerting pressure on Sweden in some fashion" issue. I won't even pretend to know enough to form an opinion one way or another (and I think I've been pretty clear on this), but to say that it is "utterly bizarre" that people might defend him makes me think you have access to some information that you don't.
posted by ODiV at 9:19 AM on August 17, 2012


er, that the rest of us don't.
posted by ODiV at 9:20 AM on August 17, 2012


He's under investigation for possible rape, he leaves the country the day before his scheduled interview with the prosecutor

The day after he was interviewed by another Swedish official...

Sweden issues an IAW

Sweden has only issued two Red Notices for suspects of sex crimes. One was for a convicted pedophile and repeat offender. The other was Assange, who was wanted for questioning. As far as I am aware, there has never been another time in Interpol history where a Red Notice was issued for a person wanted for questioning for sexual assault.

he fights it in every court he can

Because he claims, and has evidence of, sealed indictments against him from a nation with a long sordid history of locking people away without due process...

he loses every case, he breaks his bail agreement, and claims political asylum.

Which, apparently, are rights you lose when you are accused of sexual assault...

This is someone who's twice over a fugitive from justice, from two of the cleanest legal jurisdictions you can find

Is this the same UK installing CCTVs on every street corner? Kettling protestors and suppressing freedom of expression (albeit with softer methods than used in Ecuardor)? Installing missile defense systems in downtown London? Fabricating evidence that Iraq is seeking nuclear weapons in order to partner up with their masters in DC for an illegal war? The same UK that has flown individuals for torture through Diego Garcia? Or glorious untouchable Sweden, that has already admitted they sent two innocent (because they never received a trial) men to Egypt for torture? Yes, two countries with impeccably clean records of justice in partnership with the United States in the War On Terror.

and he tries to find shelter in a country with such a poor record as Ecuador?

Ecuador has awful problems with freedom of speech and expression, but so far, has not colluded with government entities in the United States to illegally torture people and deny them due process.

Honestly, you couldn't make this up

You just did. That line of bullshit was a mile long and ten feet wide.

Again, if you're interested in justice for the two victims of the alleged crimes, get a legally binding agreement from the USG that they will not, under any circumstances, extradite Assange from Sweden. Assange gets some reassurance that Sweden won't capitulate, again, to pressure from the United States, and the two alleged victims get reassurance that they have received their day in court.

And a day in court is (usually) what justice is. There are only three parties involved in this case that have consistently and repeatedly denied due process by placing individuals in limbo through legal inventions and loopholes to avoid court altogether: Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
posted by deanklear at 9:24 AM on August 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


There are only three parties involved in this case that have consistently and repeatedly denied due process by placing individuals in limbo through legal inventions and loopholes to avoid court altogether

Come on, Assange skipped bail and hid in an embassy. Can't we say there are four parties?
posted by gerryblog at 9:27 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


from two of the cleanest legal jurisdictions you can find

Not really.


No, really.

There's a World Bank table of ethics indices, which contains a specific index for judicial/legal effectiveness. The linked page is a little out of date, but a visual scan reveals that Denmark does best, with Sweden in 2nd place, and the United Kingdom 3rd (tied with Finland).

Alternatively, there's Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index. Sweden is in 4th place, the UK tied at 16th. Ecuador is in 116th position, btw.
posted by daveje at 9:27 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Come on, Assange skipped bail and hid in an embassy. Can't we say there are four parties?

This is a fair point, but Assange has stood for trial in Australia and, to my knowledge, has only once placed himself in limbo to avoid what he claims would be an unjust trial. The number of individuals the United States has denied due process, with the help of their allies in the UK — and to a small extent in Sweden — numbers in the hundreds.
posted by deanklear at 9:32 AM on August 17, 2012


I'm pretty annoyed that if a person believes JA is justified in pissing off away from the extradition then they automatically must be diminishing the seriousness of sexual assault or providing some sort of solidarity to rape culture and the like. I fucking hate all levels of rape and sexual assault and wish for this Swedish case to be successfully completed, but at the same time, because I'm an adult and I can hold somewhat opposing points of view, I think that it's totally NOT bizarre to think that JA has some level of justification in avoiding extradition and seeking asylum.

It's not because I think the women are lying. It's not because I want to support the guy getting off in any way possible from these serious allegations and potential charges. It's because I think there's ample reason for him to believe that cooperating will result in a much worse custodial outcome from US/UK/Swedish collaboration than would result from the most extreme sentencing for the particular crimes for which he's wanted for questioning.
posted by peacay at 9:38 AM on August 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Alternatively, there's Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index. Sweden is in 4th place, the UK tied at 16th. Ecuador is in 116th position, btw.

Why don't we sort by body count from denial of due process in the War on Terror? That actually has something to do with the subject we're discussing.
posted by deanklear at 9:38 AM on August 17, 2012


That line of bullshit was a mile long and ten feet wide.

Except that it was 100% accurate.

The day after he was interviewed by another Swedish official...

He's interviewed about possible rape charges, and leaves the country the next day? How does this help your argument?

Again, if you're interested in justice for the two victims of the alleged crimes, get a legally binding agreement from the USG that they will not, under any circumstances, extradite Assange from Sweden.

Under *any* circumstances? That's a ridiculous thing to expect, either from the US or from Sweden. Why should Assange get such special treatment?
posted by daveje at 9:41 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


If the grand jury in Alexandria issues an indictment against Assange; then the US is within its rights to seek extradition and Assange can contest the extradition. It does not seem unreasonable to wait until such an indictment is issued or the grand jury concludes its work before concluding that the indictment was not justified.
Furthermore there is no evidence that Assange has been denied any due process in this case. To the contrary the UK seems to have gone out of its way to give him extraordinary opportunities to contest the extradition. The accusation that he will be denied due process is contrary to observations in this matter.
posted by humanfont at 9:44 AM on August 17, 2012


Why should Assange get such special treatment?

We've been over Sweden's history. Scroll up-thread.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:04 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Daniel Ellsberg congratulates Ecuador for standing up for Assange
posted by dunkadunc at 10:27 AM on August 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ellsberg suspects that the NDAA could be used against Assange.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:32 AM on August 17, 2012


It's because I think there's ample reason for him to believe that cooperating will result in a much worse custodial outcome from US/UK/Swedish collaboration than would result from the most extreme sentencing for the particular crimes for which he's wanted for questioning.

This is precisely my point, and well put.

I'm defending Julian Assange, not because I agree with everything he has done, or because I think he's innocent or guilty, or because I think the CIA is behind the allegations, but because a system of justice is only as good as how it treats the weak against the powerful. (Frankly, the CIA angle is a bit ridiculous, and while certainly possible, far less likely than simple diplomatic pressure from DC.)

Let's hypothetically say that Assange was guilty, and convicted: I would still support his legal request to serve the time Swedish law has prescribed for the crime he committed without the possibility of the United States using legal machinations to charge him for crimes that the United States claims he is under the jurisdiction of.

If the United States is successful in their attempt to continue claiming legal jurisdiction over the entire earth for whatever they want, it's one more nail in the coffin of national sovereignty and the sanctity of law. Sure, it's all fine and dandy when the supposed free world is in charge, but enlightened despotism is a huge step back for our societies worldwide. Law can only have meaning when we follow the basic principles in every single case. The concept of due process, which is a cornerstone of our legal system, falls apart when it is selectively applied, and in my opinion, the strange way this case has been handled seems to indicate that very powerful entities want Assange in Sweden, for the purpose of dragging him into the US legal system where he will almost assuredly be denied due process.

Now, there is the chance that justice will not be served for the two alleged victims, and that is truly a shame. I hope the USG will do the right thing and work within the international framework to ensure that Assange does stand trial without the possibility of extradition to the United States. All of the bullshit about being bound by treaties is obvious nonsense. We break and modify treaties all of the time, and if there's a loophole to drag Assange into a legal blackhole in the United States, there's also one where he can stand trial after being guaranteed that he won't be extradited.

What is more shameful, and what honestly surprises me every time I see this case come up, is that rawness of western bubble thinking that is on display. On one side of the scale we have the possibility that two women were sexually assaulted and will not get the justice they deserve by seeing their attacker tried. On the other, we have the reality that hundreds of thousands of people have already lost their lives and livelihoods, not to mention the countless sexual assaults committed in the instability introduced in our worldwide wars, because there has been no limit placed on the jurisdiction of America's campaign of violence.

(I want to restate this to avoid confusion... I am saying that the lack of international oversight of American power has already resulted in injustices across the world that are horrific in scope and depravity, and that's the issue at hand: the limitations of American power according to international law.)

Not only that, we're expected to believe that the head of one of the few entities that has dared to completely expose the War on Terror — the corruption, the lies, and and all of the injustice it has caused for millions of people — has no reason to fear three parties that have already colluded to torture people after denying them due process. The same someone who has been called a "high tech terrorist" by the Vice President, while the President was signing documents to allow for the assassinations of US Citizens in foreign lands without so much as a warrant, has no plausible reason to seek asylum — or so we're told.

The reality seems crystal clear to me, but even if you are on the other side of the argument, hopefully you fully understand where some of us are coming from. If international law can't protect an Australian holed up in the United Kingdom who is being transferred to Sweden from the possibility of extraordinary rendition to the United States, who can it protect?
posted by deanklear at 10:33 AM on August 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's because I think there's ample reason for him to believe that cooperating will result in a much worse custodial outcome from US/UK/Swedish collaboration than would result from the most extreme sentencing for the particular crimes for which he's wanted for questioning.

I guess the point we're making is that it isn't his choice. That's why he is a fugitive from justice now--after breaking the conditions of bail, he's also a criminal in the UK.

Listen, like it or not, if a person is accused of a crime, our laws say he must go through the process of trial. And, like it or not, that means that regardless of his extradition fears, Assange, has to go through the process. His fears are not allowed to be taken into account by law, otherwise every garden-variety criminal defendant would make special pleading claims like this.

And, like it or not, supporting Assange's escape from justice regarding these allegations is denying justice to these two women, both who claim he sexually assaulted them. On one level or another, you are saying it is more important that Assange not go to Sweden than it is for two women who accused him of sexual crimes against him to have justice. It is your right to make that value judgment.

What I'm saying is that I make the opposite judgment. I think that regardless of any potential threat of extradition, Julian Assange has absolutely zero right to avoid prosecution due to these fears.

I also think that this is a massive red herring Assange has put out there because the plain fact of the matter is that there is zero evidence that he's any more likely to be extradited from the UK than Sweden--and there is no current US indictment.

I think this is an attempt by Assange to avoid prosecution in Sweden. From the evidence up thread, we've learned two things--much of the extradition treaty language is the same, and any human rights concerns regarding extradition are controlled by the same law--the European Convention on Human Rights. Accepting Assange's fears of U.S. extradition as the reason for avoiding extradition to Sweden on these charges requires us to believe that he is less concerned with facing looming charges for rape and sexual molestation that are already on the table than he is with a potential and unknown prosecution from a third country. Somebody upthread mentioned Occam's razor. I'm going to apply it here and suggest that he's more concerned with actual criminal process that's being lodged against him now than a potential one later. It is far more likely he's just trying to avoid being charged with rape. That's the actual charge that's likely to be laid.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:49 AM on August 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


A lot of people in this thread are throwing around charges about the US torturing people (which I read "waterboarding"), sending them to Guantanamo, rendition, etc. But, you know, George Bush is not president any more. It's not reasonable to blame a country for previous governments (otherwise, you know, Germany.)

Is there any evidence that these things have happened under Obama?
posted by msalt at 10:50 AM on August 17, 2012


Ironmouth, msalt, please wise up, for all our sakes.
posted by de at 10:56 AM on August 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is there any evidence that these things have happened under Obama?
Law experts, human rights groups, and advocates for civil liberties and international law are expressing outrage and concern just days after the Obama administration's chief prosecutor, Attorney General Eric Holder, publicly outlined and defended the US government's program to target and kill, without trial, individuals who it determines are affiliated with al Qaeda or deems a threat to national security.
Notice that clause "or deems a threat to national security." That roughly translates to, "We kill whomever we choose, whenever we like, for whatever reasons we care." As an added bonus, under national security laws, they don't have to say who they killed or for what reasons until they deem that information safe to be declassified.

In essence, it's a program with virtually zero judiciary or journalistic oversight for assassinations of enemies of the United States that we, as US citizens who pay for all of this, don't have the right to know about.
posted by deanklear at 10:59 AM on August 17, 2012


Ironmouth: "What I'm saying is that I make the opposite judgment. I think that regardless of any potential threat of extradition, Julian Assange has absolutely zero right to avoid prosecution due to these fears."

If Ironmouth embarrassed a lot of very important people and found himself accused of rape in Sweden, he would turn himself in, even though he was convinced doing so would lead to torture, life imprisonment, or his execution.

Wow.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:02 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ellsberg suspects that the NDAA could be used against Assange.

Can't be used. First, let's get our terms straight. The NDAA is the garden variety authorization for the entire DOD every year. It keeps the lights on, appropriates funds for missiles and authorizes the DOD to take actions.

The NDAA 2012 in part, modifies another law, the law that allows for military detention of certain persons. That law is the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists also known as AUMF. The only persons that are authorized to be pursued by the military in that context are:

persons who "planned, authorized, committed or aided" the September 11th attacks, or who harbored said persons or groups."

Assange has done none of these things. Even if he had literally broken into the DOD computers himself, none of what he did constituted him "planning, authorizing, committing or aiding the September 11th attacks", which took place 11 years ago. Unless he was in Al Qadea back then or has been keeping Al Qaeda terrorists in his home, he's not authorized to be detained by the military.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:03 AM on August 17, 2012


Ironmouth: "What I'm saying is that I make the opposite judgment. I think that regardless of any potential threat of extradition, Julian Assange has absolutely zero right to avoid prosecution due to these fears."

If Ironmouth embarrassed a lot of very important people and found himself accused of rape in Sweden, he would turn himself in, even though he was convinced doing so would lead to torture, life imprisonment, or his execution.


So, wait a minute. Its okay for accused rapists to flee? No matter what, If I was an accused rapist and after losing all of my extradition appeals I jumped bail, I would expect people to say "gee somebody catch that accused rapist who is trying to escape."

But a lot of people are comfortable with accused rapists jumping bail here.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:06 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


If Ironmouth embarrassed a lot of very important people and found himself accused of rape in Sweden, he would turn himself in, even though he was convinced doing so would lead to torture, life imprisonment, or his execution.

Why is that so surprising? You forget that Assange turned himself in in London after the Interpol red notice was issued.
posted by daveje at 11:06 AM on August 17, 2012


Also, Assange cannot be executed if he is extradited from Sweden. The European Convention on Human Rights prevents extradition of anyone facing the death penalty. The US always signs an agreement not to seek the death penalty. Happens all the time.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:07 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lots of asylum seekers are accused of crimes. Assange is no different.

Just drop it, Ironmouth.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:11 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Somebody upthread mentioned Occam's razor. I'm going to apply it here and suggest that he's more concerned with actual criminal process that's being lodged against him now than a potential one later.

You may have that backwards - my understanding is that the potential sentence he might face in Sweden is less than the actual sentence he has imposed on himself to date to avoid Sweden, and less than the actual sentence he is, today, in the process of imposing on himself for the foreseeable future.
posted by anonymisc at 11:26 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Listen, like it or not, if a person is accused of a crime, our laws say he must go through the process of trial.

So support him going to trial without going to Sweden.
posted by anonymisc at 11:32 AM on August 17, 2012


You may have that backwards - my understanding is that the potential sentence he might face in Sweden is less than the actual sentence he has imposed on himself to date to avoid Sweden, and less than the actual sentence he is, today, in the process of imposing on himself for the foreseeable future.

I think that's right. Also, prison in Sweden is probably nicer than living on an air bed in the spare office at Ecuador's embassy (here's an article with photos of a Swedish prison.) If this was just about the Swedish charges, Assange would probably turn himself in, get extradited, and see what happens in Sweden.

I'm not arguing that Assange's fears are well-grounded (I think he's mistaken on several points), but that doesn't mean they aren't genuine.
posted by Area Man at 12:00 PM on August 17, 2012


Also, Assange cannot be executed if he is extradited from Sweden. The European Convention on Human Rights prevents extradition of anyone facing the death penalty.

If that's true, then Sweden should have no problem giving guarantees that Assange would not be extradited to the US, with the PM facing a tribunal in The Hague if Sweden breaks its word. If that assurance is made and Assange still does not go in for questioning willingly, then that's another story. But I think we both know that Sweden will not make that promise given its past and current status as, in deed if not legal word, a vassal state to the US.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:00 PM on August 17, 2012



Also, Assange cannot be executed if he is extradited from Sweden. The European Convention on Human Rights prevents extradition of anyone facing the death penalty.

If that's true, then Sweden should have no problem giving guarantees that Assange would not be extradited to the US, with the PM facing a tribunal in The Hague if Sweden breaks its word. If that assurance is made and Assange still does not go in for questioning willingly, then that's another story. But I think we both know that Sweden will not make that promise given its past and current status as, in deed if not legal word, a vassal state to the US.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:00 PM on August 17 [+] [!]


Of course it won't give that assurance. As they have no idea what he may end up being accused of and what evidence they will be presented with. (putting aside the question of whether treaty obligations would even allow such an assurance).

And would it even matter? Surely Assange would just claim that the USA would snatch him off the streets with Sweden turning a blind eye rather than go through a formal extradition.

Once you allow for the idea that a superpower is involved in a conspiracy to take you into custody and punish in any number of extra-legal and inhumane ways what possible good could a promise from Sweden do?
posted by Reggie Knoble at 12:08 PM on August 17, 2012


On one side of the scale we have the possibility that two women were sexually assaulted and will not get the justice they deserve by seeing their attacker tried. On the other, we have the reality that hundreds of thousands of people have already lost their lives and livelihoods, not to mention the countless sexual assaults committed in the instability introduced in our worldwide wars, because there has been no limit placed on the jurisdiction of America's campaign of violence.

This is wrong on so many levels.

First of all, trying and, if appropriate, sentencing a rapist is not *only* about justice for his victims and as long as we view it in that light, we are not taking rape seriously enough. It is partly about justice for his victims but it is also about justice for everybody. One person raping another is not a simple personal offense like a tort you'd sue for; it hurts the entire social fabric. There is a reason that crimes are persecuted by the government and its representatives rather than by their victims.

Second,

You've set it up so that its two women against a world of suffering, but what? How is the litany of bad things you related going to be at all improved, or even addressed, by Assange's trial in Sweden or even by his extradition to the United States? Those things will still have happened, just this one Australian will be safe.

The fight for limits on "the jurisdiction of American violence" will *not* be won by 'saving' Assange. The best it could possibly do would be a symbol. From a practical perspective, protecting Assange from extradition to Sweden does nothing as long as America is (as you imply it is) ready to pick up its targets from wherever whenever it chooses - the US can hang on and snatch him out of Ecuador. From a symbolic perspective, a blanket preemptive promise is much less meaningful than if Sweden, after trying Assange, heard an American request for extradition and refused it. But if you don't trust Sweden to refuse an unjustified American request for extradition, why would you expect it to give a preemptive promise?

And even if what is really important to you is a symbolic line in the sand - here? Really? For a privileged powerful media-savvy white guy who probably did rape at least two people? That will meaningfully help the hundreds of thousands who have lost lives and livelihoods?

Look, I don't think the US should even ask for Assange's extradition and I don't think Sweden should grant it if they do. But you are making some really questionable rhetorical claims that are potentially really hurtful to people whose side I would think you'd want to be on; and without, I believe, actually advancing in anyway towards your goal of redress or repair or truth and reconciliation for the harm that you are using rhetorically.
posted by Salamandrous at 12:12 PM on August 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I really really don't think he fears that the USA will send in special ops to snatch him off a street like some Hollywood movie. He's no bin Laden. He fears that the regular boring legal or legal-appearing tools available to the USA are entirely up to the job.
posted by anonymisc at 12:19 PM on August 17, 2012


How WikiLeaks Blew It: The sad downfall of Julian Assange and his empire of secrets.
posted by homunculus at 12:37 PM on August 17, 2012


I really really don't think he fears that the USA will send in special ops to snatch him off a street like some Hollywood movie. He's no bin Laden.

How about Timothy Leary?
posted by localroger at 12:48 PM on August 17, 2012


And even if what is really important to you is a symbolic line in the sand - here? Really? For a privileged powerful media-savvy white guy who probably did rape at least two people? That will meaningfully help the hundreds of thousands who have lost lives and livelihoods?

Assange "probably" raped "at least" two people? I'm going to bet you are "probably" biased.

Getting back to the actual argument, my point is exactly that if a high profile WASPy whistleblower can't get any guarantees from the international community that they won't immediately hand him over to the US government, the rest of the world's populace has zero chances of ever seeking justice from the same legal environment.

And you almost got the real meat of the argument: the international legal community, including Sweden and the UK, are perfectly willing to endanger their case against Assange in Sweden if they are allowed to keep the option of extraordinary rendition on the table. If they want Assange in Sweden to stand trial for his alleged crimes, all they have to do is guarantee him immunity from US extradition — which, according to all of the people in this thread can't possibly happen anyway — and the single issue the Assange legal team has with his extradition to Sweden will disappear.

Again, if you're interested in justice for the two alleged victims, you should be pressing for Assange's immunity from extraordinary rendition to the United States. Bonus points for extending that immunity from his rendition to any other blacksite where we are currently torturing people who have not received due process.
posted by deanklear at 12:50 PM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Me: Is there any evidence that these things (torture, sending people to Guantanamo) have happened under Obama?

De: Ironmouth, msalt, please wise up, for all our sakes.

In other words, you've got nothing.

deanklear: the Obama administration's chief prosecutor, Attorney General Eric Holder, publicly outlined and defended the US government's program to target and kill, without trial, individuals who it determines are affiliated with al Qaeda or deems a threat to national security.

So you've got nothing except the drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen? I suppose it's conceivable Obama could send a drone strike on Assange in London, or Sweden, or Ecuador, but it seems like quite a stretch. I mean, for all the talk here, the Obama Administration hasn't charged Assange with any crimes, or even publicly accused him of breaking any laws, right?
posted by msalt at 12:53 PM on August 17, 2012


I mean, for all the talk here, the Obama Administration hasn't... accused him of breaking any laws, right?

You would agree that VP Biden is part of the Obama Administration, right? Because it sure seems like he is accusing Assange of being a terrorist, which as far as I know is "illegal enough" in the US to get a drone launched at you overseas. Or extralegal, depending on how the lawyers argue over semantics.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:00 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


If that's true, then Sweden should have no problem giving guarantees that Assange would not be extradited to the US,

This doesn't follow. It would be trivial for the DoJ to guarantee they wouldn't seek the death penalty during an extradition process. The Federal Penitentiary system isn't so full they wouldn't look for life imprisonment instead (if an extradition attempt is made).

I would be surprised if charges against Assange were brought that carried a death sentence, anyway.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:20 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


US intends to chase Assange, cables show
posted by CrystalDave at 1:27 PM on August 17, 2012


Again, if you're interested in justice for the two alleged victims, you should be pressing for Assange's immunity from extraordinary rendition to the United States.

Oh please, a legal extradition procedure is not the same as extraordinary rendition. Inflammatory rhetoric like that simply isn't useful to the discussion. Same goes for any talk that includes torture or the death penalty. That simply won't happen to someone like Assange.
posted by daveje at 1:31 PM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I agree. Or at least agree that the whistleblowing aspect of this should result to a not guilty verdict or a very light sentence. This does not apply to being prosecuted for unrelated crimes in Sweden.
But it obviously factors in to his decision to avoid Sweden at all costs, and Ecuador's decision to grant him amnesty. In practice the two issues can't be separated, unless some kind of guarantee can be put in place to prevent his extradition from Sweden to the U.S.

Some people seem to be approaching this from some kind of abstract legalistic world, which, while it may be easier for people to understand, isn't actually relevant to anything in the real world.
delmoi, the central problem with the claim you're making here is that its logic applies to every single person who is charged with a crime, none of whom wants to go to prison (a dangerous, unpleasant place) and so all of whom are justified in doing anything they can to avoid it.
No, that's what I'm arguing against. Some people are saying that everyone accused of any crime in any country needs to go to that country for a trial in order for 'justice' to be served, regardless of the consequences. And I am saying that's not correct and also kind of stupid.

If the 'logic' doesn't apply to every case, then people need to apply to this case, which they're not doing. Rather than discussing the details of this case and why Assange, in particular should be extradited, not granted asylum, whatever they are just arguing from so-called "principles" that they made up on the spot because it would give them what they want in this case if it was applied.

I'm pointing out what would happen in other situations if you applied the same principles.

And as I said, I'm almost certain these people would be opposed to people like Dick Cheney or perhaps the CIA agents involved in kidnapping people in foreign countries being extradited to face charges there

(For example, Some CIA agents, for example, have been convicted in absentia with kidnapping in Italy for extraordinary rendition. I don't see any of these people calling for their extradition, even though their so-called 'principle' would demand it)

One person said he "didn't care what happened to Assnage, as long as it was bad." Skeptic just said he hopes he goes to Sweden regardless of what happens afterwards. The people making the argument either don't have a problem with extradition to the US or want it to happen. They are apparently incapable of understanding that something being unimportant to them doesn't make it unimportant to everyone else. Or else they're pretending not to understand in order to shift the argument away from the facts and to bogus 'principles' they don't actually believe anyway.
posted by delmoi at 1:51 PM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh please, a legal extradition procedure is not the same as extraordinary rendition. Inflammatory rhetoric like that simply isn't useful to the discussion. Same goes for any talk that includes torture or the death penalty. That simply won't happen to someone like Assange.

I would also think so. The aim is to punish and to render irrelevant, not to validate.
posted by jaduncan at 2:04 PM on August 17, 2012


Is there any evidence that these things (torture, sending people to Guantanamo) have happened under Obama?

Obama has already assassinated two Americans in Yemen, and has presided over the procedural torment of Bradley Manning for two years. He's also upheld laws that state that the government can continue denying due process to anyone while maintaining complete secrecy and minimal judicial oversight. There could be hundreds or thousands of people in detention centers around the world, but the Obama Administration doesn't have to tell us who they are or where they are. (Much like Mitt Romney's tax returns, we are supposed to trust the source whose sole incentive is to lie to us.)

Furthermore:
Under executive orders issued by Obama recently, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States.
the Obama Administration hasn't charged Assange with any crimes, or even publicly accused him of breaking any laws, right?
AUSTRALIAN diplomats have no doubt the United States is intent on pursuing Julian Assange, Foreign Affairs and Trade Department documents obtained by the Herald show.
...
Senator Carr has repeatedly dismissed suggestions that the US has any interest in prosecuting and extraditing Assange. In June, Senator Carr also told the ABC Insiders program: “I've received no hint that they've got a plan to extradite him . . . I would expect that the US would not want to touch this."

However, the Australian embassy in Washington reported in February that “the US investigation into possible criminal conduct by Mr Assange has been ongoing for more than a year”.
So, internally, the Australian embassy in Washington told their colleagues in Australia that the US investigation has been ongoing for more than a year. Are we to believe that the US has been building a case against WikiLeaks and Assange for 18 months without intending to do anything?

I'll agree with the other poster: any claims that 1) the US government isn't seeking Assange and 2) that there is no reason for Assange to believe he will be denied due process once rendered are, at this point, unsupported assertions and nothing more. Cite or concede.

(Just as an aside, I will be voting Obama this year. I am capable of cognitive dissonance, and my criticism of the US government is limited to the murderous, illegal, and unjust parts of our foreign policy.)
posted by deanklear at 2:20 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


delmoi: "But it obviously factors in to his decision to avoid Sweden at all costs,"

Funny how he didn't seem all that concerned about avoiding Sweden until he was accused of rape. Seems odd he would request residency there if they're so eager to extradite him to the US.
posted by the_artificer at 2:31 PM on August 17, 2012


Oh please, a legal extradition procedure is not the same as extraordinary rendition. Inflammatory rhetoric like that simply isn't useful to the discussion. Same goes for any talk that includes torture or the death penalty. That simply won't happen to someone like Assange.

If this was about any other topic, the continued assertion that a government with a documented history of ignoring due process will suddenly start following rules because A Guy Is Famous would be discarded for what it is: wishful wishing.
posted by deanklear at 2:33 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Funny how he didn't seem all that concerned about avoiding Sweden until he was accused of rape. Seems odd he would request residency there if they're so eager to extradite him to the US.

What? Let's say you visit Norway, and you like it, so you apply for citizenship. Then there is a accusation of rape, from people you claim to have had consensual sex with, and you begin to hear rumors of a plan to extradite you a country with a documented history of torture and denial of due process. How is Assange acting outside of this expected behavior?
posted by deanklear at 2:37 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the middle of the embassy siege, the New York Times accuses Assange of not flushing a toilet.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:39 PM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Speaking of renditions: Poland peels back layers on secret CIA prison for suspected terrorists
posted by homunculus at 2:39 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


deanklear: Obama has already assassinated two Americans in Yemen, and has presided over the procedural torment of Bradley Manning for two years.

Once again, you've got nothing to show that Obama's administration is torturing anyone, sending anyone to Guantanamo Bay, or involved in extraordinary renditions. In 11 paragraphs, all you can point to is "Obama could be doing stuff, he's secretive" and -- as proof that the US intends to charge and extradite assange -- an Australian cable that “the US investigation into possible criminal conduct by Mr Assange has been ongoing for more than a year”. Tons of long investigations don't result in charges, especially in politically charged cases.

I don't love the various government attacks on Assange, but there's a lot of heated rhetoric here that just doesn't seem to be backed up by anything solid.
posted by msalt at 2:46 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


deanklear: "How is Assange acting outside of this expected behavior?"

He's not. He's acting like a pretty typical fugitive. Lucky for him he's got so many people that will fund and justify his flight from prosecution.
posted by the_artificer at 2:52 PM on August 17, 2012


You would agree that VP Biden is part of the Obama Administration, right? Because it sure seems like he is accusing Assange of being a terrorist

Not really. He was asked a stupid question -- "Do you think Assange is closer to a high-tech terrorist, or to the Pentagon Papers [leaker, Daniel Ellsberg]?". He answered, closer to a high tech terrorist. That's about a hundred steps removed from al-Awlaki coaching and organizing terrorist attackers from Yemen.

Say what you will about Julian Assange, but he is no Daniel Ellsberg.
posted by msalt at 2:52 PM on August 17, 2012


He answered, closer to a high tech terrorist.

Okay, good, you watched it. And what does the United States do with people it calls terrorists, these days? And what is AG Holder — as much a part of the Obama Administration as the Vice President — on record as saying what the Obama Adminstration does to terrorists, these days? And where is the direction for the FBI's subpoenas coming from? You keep saying there's "nothing to show", which is all well and good except that everything we keep telling you is all a matter of public record, now.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:00 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


If that's [you can't extradite someone to face the death penalty--added for clarity] true, then Sweden should have no problem giving guarantees that Assange would not be extradited to the US, with the PM facing a tribunal in The Hague if Sweden breaks its word.

Uh... no. You can't extradite someone to face the death penalty. You can extradite someone for a capital charge if you obtain assurances that death penalty is off the table. (What happens if you get double-crossed, I don't know.)

Now, granted, it's probably all but a matter of time until someone convinces the ECHR that conditions in US prisons are such that you can't extradite to the US, but it hasn't happened yet.
posted by hoyland at 3:21 PM on August 17, 2012


And what does the United States do with people it calls terrorists, these days? And what is AG Holder — as much a part of the Obama Administration as the Vice President — on record as saying what the Obama Adminstration does to terrorists, these days? And where is the direction for the FBI's subpoenas coming from?

I asked for evidence, not questions. My concern is that Assange's advocates are relying on speculation and conspiracy theories rather than evidence -- and one of the classic techniques of conspiracy types is asking questions without providing evidence.

No one in the administration called Assange a terrorist, as I just explained. And under Obama, the US does not torture terrorists anyway, or send them to Guantanamo, or send them off for torture in extraordinary renditions (as far as I can see, and I'm still waiting for the slightest bit of evidence to the contrary.)
posted by msalt at 3:56 PM on August 17, 2012


I'm sure the USA would be happy to promise no death penalty... indefinite solitary confinement is arguably a worse fate.
posted by anthill at 4:06 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


msalt: "Say what you will about Julian Assange, but he is no Daniel Ellsberg."

Daniel Ellsberg sure seems to think so.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:12 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I asked for evidence, not questions.

The evidence is that the US kills people overseas without due process, VP Biden called Assange a terrorist on television, the Attorney General put all of this policy into writing, and there is an active process to put Assange in jail that is ongoing and documented.

All of this is on record, so while you're welcome to your opinions, you're not welcome to your own facts. It's abundantly clear that you are not acting in good faith in this discussion. Good luck.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:17 PM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Daniel Ellsberg sure seems to think so.
posted by sulphur at 4:21 PM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Daniel Ellsberg seems to think so.

Not exactly. He sees the wikileaks release an analogous to the Pentagon Papers in that he thinks it reveals the lack of justification for the Afghan War. But he also says " I expected to go to prison for the rest of my life, and I thought the risk was worth taking...." and "In this case, there are questions that can be raised by such a large-scale disclosure. It’s not something I would advise in general – to put out information they haven’t had the opportunity to read entirely and judge themselves as I was able to do with the Pentagon Papers."
posted by msalt at 4:26 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


One person said he "didn't care what happened to Assnage, as long as it was bad. Skeptic just said he hopes he goes to Sweden regardless of what happens afterwards.

delmoi, please, don't do this. You are misrepresenting what I wrote, which was that I wanted him to stand trial in Sweden, regardless of the outcome. The reason for this is that he stands accused of rape. The Swedish prosecutors appear to believe that these accusations are substantiated. This is just what the justice system is for. Assange should stand trial, in Sweden, so that:
a) his accusers can put forward their case,
b) he can present his defence.

And the outcome? I really don't care, as long as justice is served. If he's proven to be guilty, then he should face the appropriate punishment. If he can't be proven to be guilty, then he should be held innocent.

As for Cheney and those CIA agents? Well, as I've already made it quite clear, I feel exactly the same.
posted by Skeptic at 4:37 PM on August 17, 2012


Cheney? I think pretty much every MeFite on both sides of this issue would be happy to see him extradited for war crimes (if those charges were brought). I know I would.
posted by msalt at 4:44 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Taxi for Julian Assange?
posted by homunculus at 4:46 PM on August 17, 2012


If I were Julian Assange I would order a lot of white and brown wigs and clothes, and would have everyone who visits him dress up like they are him pretending to be someone else (white wig under the brown wig, etc), and then suspiciously sneak out of the embassy.

He could even have his Mom dress like she was Assange pretending to be his mother.
This would put the police on ultra alert for an escape attempt.

The fun part is that he would never actually try to sneak out.

The British need a little needling for raising this case to the level they have (threatening to close down an embassy??!!)
posted by eye of newt at 4:52 PM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Once again, you've got nothing to show that Obama's administration is torturing anyone,

Once again, you're arguing in bad faith, and either desperately feigning ignorance or desperately ignorant.

From 2010:
A legal charity has named two men who ended up in the infamous "dark prison" at Bagram in Afghanistan after being handed to US forces by members of the SAS. The men were held in Afghanistan after being seized by the British in Iraq.

The charity Reprieve said it was suing the Ministry of Defence for refusing officially to identify the men, who are from Pakistan. The MoD argues that if it released their names, even to their families, it would be in breach of the Data Protection Act.

The director of Reprieve, Clive Stafford Smith, accused the ministry of "rank hypocrisy" for refusing to give the prisoners their rights while at the same time claiming it was upholding the rule of law.

David Davis, the former Conservative shadow home secretary, who has also taken up the case, described the ministry's refusal to release the names as an "insult". "If they are bad people, tell us who they are. I think the reason we are not being told is because it is politically embarrassing. They deserve a trial. We deserve to know what the truth is."
From 2011:
Barack Obama has abandoned a commitment to veto a new security law that allows the military to indefinitely detain without trial American terrorism suspects arrested on US soil who could then be shipped to Guantánamo Bay.

Human rights groups accused the president of deserting his principles and disregarding the long-established principle that the military is not used in domestic policing. The legislation has also been strongly criticised by libertarians on the right angered at the stripping of individual rights for the duration of "a war that appears to have no end".

The law, contained in the defence authorisation bill that funds the US military, effectively extends the battlefield in the "war on terror" to the US and applies the established principle that combatants in any war are subject to military detention.

The legislation's supporters in Congress say it simply codifies existing practice, such as the indefinite detention of alleged terrorists at Guantánamo Bay. But the law's critics describe it as a draconian piece of legislation that extends the reach of detention without trial to include US citizens arrested in their own country.

"It's something so radical that it would have been considered crazy had it been pushed by the Bush administration," said Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch. "It establishes precisely the kind of system that the United States has consistently urged other countries not to adopt. At a time when the United States is urging Egypt, for example, to scrap its emergency law and military courts, this is not consistent."

There was heated debate in both houses of Congress on the legislation, requiring that suspects with links to Islamist foreign terrorist organisations arrested in the US, who were previously held by the FBI or other civilian law enforcement agencies, now be handed to the military and held indefinitely without trial.

The law applies to anyone "who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaida, the Taliban or associated forces".
From 2012:
This was the enemy, served up in the latest chart from the intelligence agencies: 15 Qaeda suspects in Yemen with Western ties. The mug shots and brief biographies resembled a high school yearbook layout. Several were Americans. Two were teenagers, including a girl who looked even younger than her 17 years.
...
...Mr. Obama has placed himself at the helm of a top secret “nominations” process to designate terrorists for kill or capture, of which the capture part has become largely theoretical. He had vowed to align the fight against Al Qaeda with American values; the chart, introducing people whose deaths he might soon be asked to order, underscored just what a moral and legal conundrum this could be.

Mr. Obama is the liberal law professor who campaigned against the Iraq war and torture, and then insisted on approving every new name on an expanding “kill list,” poring over terrorist suspects’ biographies on what one official calls the macabre “baseball cards” of an unconventional war. When a rare opportunity for a drone strike at a top terrorist arises — but his family is with him — it is the president who has reserved to himself the final moral calculation.
...
In interviews with The New York Times, three dozen of his current and former advisers described Mr. Obama’s evolution since taking on the role, without precedent in presidential history, of personally overseeing the shadow war with Al Qaeda.

They describe a paradoxical leader who shunned the legislative deal-making required to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, but approves lethal action without hand-wringing. While he was adamant about narrowing the fight and improving relations with the Muslim world, he has followed the metastasizing enemy into new and dangerous lands. When he applies his lawyering skills to counterterrorism, it is usually to enable, not constrain, his ferocious campaign against Al Qaeda — even when it comes to killing an American cleric in Yemen, a decision that Mr. Obama told colleagues was “an easy one.”
You can find these sources yourself. I'm hoping it helps with your desire to know the truth instead of burying your head in false rhetoric.

In 11 paragraphs, all you can point to is "Obama could be doing stuff, he's secretive"

Obama is having people assassinated without giving them a chance at due process, and he's proud of it. Let that sink in for a moment. Our President, sworn to protect our right to due process, has made himself The Decider of who lives and who dies, based not on a trial or even a tribunal, but when he decides America is better off when those people are dead. Even if they're American citizens. Even if they're on American soil. Even if they're surrounded by children. He's alright demonstrated his Assassination Doctrine on half the planet, and he called it "easy" to make the decision to kill an American in Yemen.

Your argument that I have nothing to show as evidence that the Obama Administration is torturing anyone is without any basis in what the rest of us call reality. He's torturing, detaining, and assassinating, and proudly declaring his success in doing two of those things, because for some reason in our fucked up society, a thousand dead bodies is called "collateral damage" instead of "tortured and then killed."

Hell, maybe you believe that experiencing the end of your life through extreme violence isn't torture, but I would say it fucking qualifies.

as proof that the US intends to charge and extradite assange -- an Australian cable that “the US investigation into possible criminal conduct by Mr Assange has been ongoing for more than a year”. Tons of long investigations don't result in charges, especially in politically charged cases.

So, in your opinion, a long investigation, and the consistent request of Australian diplomats to be notified when charges are filed is proof that the US doesn't intend to charge and extradite Assange?

I'm starting to wonder if you've stopped reading your own words.
posted by deanklear at 4:53 PM on August 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


If I were Julian Assange I would order a lot of white and brown wigs and clothes, and would have everyone who visits him dress up like they are him pretending to be someone else (white wig under the brown wig, etc), and then suspiciously sneak out of the embassy.

Ocean's 14?
posted by ODiV at 5:33 PM on August 17, 2012


deanklear: "Obama is having people assassinated without giving them a chance at due process, and he's proud of it. Let that sink in for a moment. Our President, sworn to protect our right to due process, has made himself The Decider of who lives and who dies, based not on a trial or even a tribunal, but when he decides America is better off when those people are dead."

Yes, I find it absolutely infuriating that I have to choose between bullshit like this and bullshit like this plus a side helping of "turn the US into a third world country".

T'would be awesome if we could knock some sense into the Republican party and get the Tea Party wing to stand up for the liberty that is actually being stripped from us. Shit is so crazy that people are making up even crazier things to froth at the mouth about so they don't have to think about the stuff that's actually happening.
posted by wierdo at 5:35 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Funny how he didn't seem all that concerned about avoiding Sweden until he was accused of rape. Seems odd he would request residency there if they're so eager to extradite him to the US.
Only if you assume people can see into the future, which given the level of illogical arguments in this thread wouldn't surprise me.
Not really. He was asked a stupid question -- "Do you think Assange is closer to a high-tech terrorist, or to the Pentagon Papers [leaker, Daniel Ellsberg]?". He answered, closer to a high tech terrorist. That's about a hundred steps removed from al-Awlaki coaching and organizing terrorist attackers from Yemen.

Say what you will about Julian Assange, but he is no Daniel Ellsberg.
Of course, the actual Daniel Ellsberg has compared Bradly Manning to himself and supports Assange's asylum (as posted linked too in this thread). But apparently you know more about who is and isn't like Daniel Ellsberg then Daniel Ellsberg.
delmoi, please, don't do this. You are misrepresenting what I wrote, which was that I wanted him to stand trial in Sweden, regardless of the outcome. The reason for this is that he stands accused of rape. ... And the outcome? I really don't care, as long as justice is served.
None of what you just wrote contradicts my characterization of what you wrote at all. You don't care whether or not he's extradited to the U.S, and you don't claim to care whether he's extradited to the U.S Which is exactly what I said. How you feel about the final disposition of the rape charges is totally orthogonal. He could be found guilty and extradited to the U.S, or he could be found innocent and still extradited to the U.S, or he could very well be extradited to the U.S. before there's even a trial on those charges. The fact that you don't even mention it indicates you don't think it's important at all, or even worth mentioning, which is how I characterized your views.
posted by delmoi at 5:48 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of course, the actual Daniel Ellsberg has compared Bradly Manning to himself and supports Assange's asylum

Is Manning more Daniel Ellsberg or Julius Rosenberg?
posted by acb at 5:54 PM on August 17, 2012


Nothing in those paragraphs represents evidence of torture. a military prison at bahram airbase. A law that was signed along wit signing statement wherein the president asserted his view that the particular clause was unconstitutional.
posted by humanfont at 6:18 PM on August 17, 2012


delmoi: "Only if you assume people can see into the future"

A lot of people in this thread seem to be able to see into the future to know that he will be nabbed and disappeared if he returns to Sweden.

Personally I don't believe that his fear of theoretical extradition to the US justifies his flight from actual charges. Maybe fight the battle in front of you and deal with the potential battle if and when it materializes.

Honestly I think the US would be stupid to try and extradite him and put him on trial. The best outcome they could hope for would be sending him to prison for life and creating a hacker martyr that others could rally around. They should let him return to Sweden to face the current charges. If he's convicted, let him serve his sentence and ignore him. If he's not convicted, publicly ignore him and find ways to feed him false information.

If the US does try to extradite him I will happily make donations to his defense, but right now he looks to me like a fugitive trying to avoid a rape prosecution.
posted by the_artificer at 7:46 PM on August 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


A lot of people in this thread seem to be able to see into the future to know that he will be nabbed and disappeared if he returns to Sweden.
One thing is predictable given the current information, another might not have been predictable given the information available at the time.

Interestingly, some of the wikileaks cables show that the Swedish government prosecuted some of the people ran the pirate bay because the US demanded it.

So we do know that the Swedish government will prosecute people for various crimes if the US government demands it.

If Assange had read those cables before hand, he might have reconsidered moving to Sweden. But, if he hadn't read them, he might not have realized how in bed the two countries are.
posted by delmoi at 8:46 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't want to get into the argument over Assange. But, regardless of the outcome of all this, and regardless of whether or not he's guilty (of anything), I think we're seeing in this discussion a reflection of the effects of the US Government's contempt for the rule of law over the last decade.
posted by junco at 8:54 PM on August 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Twenty years ago we could have heard exactly the same America is the evil empire or we've lost our way narrative. The voices on the other side would be there as well. It will never be argues to the satisfaction of one side or the other.
posted by humanfont at 9:12 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hit my favorites limit in this thread. Never done that before. Anyone who thinks that Assange will not be hustled over to the US tout de suite to face charges, "enhanced interrogation" and a secret trial after he goes to Sweden is simply denying the current state of realpolitik in the world.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 10:19 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Correct, and Australia won't have his back. We're too busy scratching America's.
posted by de at 10:37 PM on August 17, 2012


The voices on the other side would be there as well. It will never be argues to the satisfaction of one side or the other.

There are only two sides? Oh, you Americans.
posted by mek at 11:53 PM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Anyone who thinks that Assange will not be hustled over to the US tout de suite to face charges, "enhanced interrogation" and a secret trial after he goes to Sweden is simply denying the current state of realpolitik in the world.

If that happened, the next Swedish Prime Minister would be from the Pirate Party. Seriously, you appear to believe that Sweden is some kind of appendage to the Department of State, rather than a quite lively democracy. "Realpolitik" doesn't mean what you think it means.
posted by Skeptic at 1:02 AM on August 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Deanklear: Once again, you're arguing in bad faith, and either desperately feigning ignorance or desperately ignorant. ... ... burying your head in false rhetoric. ... Your argument that I have nothing to show as evidence that the Obama Administration is torturing anyone is without any basis in what the rest of us call reality. ...I'm starting to wonder if you've stopped reading your own words.

Your name-calling is not persuasive, or a substitute for the evidence you still can't provide (and I'm not sure why the mods aren't bothered by it.)

You still have no evidence of torture, extraordinary rendition or new prisoners sent to Guantanamo by the Obama administration. Here's what you offered:
"From 2010" -- the article was written that year, but it describes "two men who were taken by the SAS in Iraq in 2004." Five years before Obama became president.
"From 2011" - discussing the NDAA amendment, which according to your article "allows the military to indefinitely detain without trial American terrorism suspects arrested on US soil who could then be shipped to Guantánamo Bay." That provision was amended and its final meaning is in dispute, but even if you're right, a law allowing something is not proof that the something happened.
"From 2012" - describes the drone killings, which are not in dispute -- but don't have anything to do with torture or Guantanamo (or Julian Assange.)

3 times zero = zero.

So, in your opinion, a long investigation, and the consistent request of Australian diplomats to be notified when charges are filed is proof that the US doesn't intend to charge and extradite Assange?

It's not proof that the US doesn't intend to charge and extradite him, but it's certainly not proof that it does. Keep yelling and calling names all you want, but you still have no proof to back up your claims. And THAT is reality.
posted by msalt at 1:09 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


but it's certainly not proof that it does.
It's evidence that it does. There is never going to be any definitive proof of this or anything else in the Universe. You can't even prove you exist. Epistemology is not the issue here.

More relevantly, you don't have any proof that Assange sexually assaulted anyone, just accusations.

You also don't seem to understand the concept of probability. It's possible that things might be true even if you can't prove it. What Assange wants is proof that he won't be extradited to the US. A lack of proof that he will is irrelevant.

Until there's clear proof he won't be, it remains a possibility. One that doesn't seem that unlikely, given the currently available evidence.
posted by delmoi at 1:58 AM on August 18, 2012


LRB blog: Why Haven't They Asked For Him?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:39 AM on August 18, 2012


There is never going to be any definitive proof of this or anything else in the Universe.
What Assange wants is proof that he won't be extradited to the US.

Well, according to you, Assange's conditions can never be met.

Look, it's certainly possible, even likely, that the US is preparing an indictment. It's also possible, though far less likely imo (because I don't think they have a case), that if Assange goes to Sweden, the US will attempt to extradite him from there. (Notwithstanding the fact that no-one has come up a convincing argument why the US would do it there rather than the UK.)

What needs to stop is this ridiculous fantasy that Assange's civil rights would be trampled on, that the US wouldn't have to go through a standard, legal (and lengthy) extradition process, that Assange wouldn't be able to exercise all the rights he has in Swedish law to challenge the extradition, and that the US would automatically win. This is a high-profile Westerner, a high-profile case, an advanced Western democracy, and everyone involved will have to observe all the legal niceties.

Assange has fought his extradition to Sweden in magistrate's court, the Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court, in a process that's taken 18 months, and the UK government and legal system have scrupulously observed all legal obligations, domestic and international. I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that if Assange ends up in Sweden, whatever follows will be done to the same standard.

Justice has to be done, but in this case, it absolutely has to be seen to be done.
posted by daveje at 2:43 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Daniel Ellsberg clarifies matters
posted by jeffburdges at 2:47 AM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


What needs to stop is this ridiculous fantasy that Assange's civil rights would be trampled on, that the US wouldn't have to go through a standard, legal (and lengthy) extradition process, that Assange wouldn't be able to exercise all the rights he has in Swedish law to challenge the extradition, and that the US would automatically win
Well, as other people have pointed out 1) Sweden has never refused extradition to the U.S. and 2) the treaty they have doesn't actually even allow them to refuse (Unless it's for a death penalty case)
Well, according to you, Assange's conditions can never be met.
Well, to be specific Assange has asked them for a promise not to extradite, obviously they can't prove they won't break their promise in the future. Obviously there is a difference between a promise and proof that a promise will be kept, as the latter is impossible to give. He is asking for a promise, not proof.

If Sweden isn't legally allowed to do that, then a promise from the U.S. not to seek extradition from sweden would also suffice.

The point I was making was that msalt was asking for "proof" of something or other, as if the lack of solid, 100% proof meant that something was impossible or couldn't even be considered as a possibility.

If you're worried about something, you look at the evidence and make a determination about how likely it is. That's how people operate, in general.
posted by delmoi at 3:15 AM on August 18, 2012


Well, as other people have pointed out 1) Sweden has never refused extradition to the U.S. and 2) the treaty they have doesn't actually even allow them to refuse (Unless it's for a death penalty case)

The first point isn't true. It seems that Sweden actually refused an extradition in 2000, for one thing. For another, there's a case detailed here and here from 1992, where the US attempted to extradite a former CIA officer who had defected to the Soviet Union. He was released by the Swedish government on the grounds that the extradition request was based on political grounds.

The second point isn't true either. According to Justice4Assange, the Swedish executive can refuse extradition on political or military grounds.

Assuming Assange is extradited to Sweden and the US makes its own extradition request, I would be extremely surprised if Assange's lawyers didn't push the political angle very strongly when appealing, and if necessary, such appeals could even make their way to the European Court of Human Rights. Though I hope that in such an eventuality, Assange would receive better legal counsel than the lawyer who was accused by the UK judge of deliberately misleading him.
posted by daveje at 4:22 AM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


If that happened, the next Swedish Prime Minister would be from the Pirate Party. Seriously, you appear to believe that Sweden is some kind of appendage to the Department of State, rather than a quite lively democracy. "Realpolitik" doesn't mean what you think it means.

That's resting on the assumption that, if such a crisis occurred (Sweden renditioning a high-profile figure and the government falling), democracy would be allowed to prevail without being managed into a state amenable to the stakeholders.
posted by acb at 5:04 AM on August 18, 2012


acb, even if one was to contemplate the possibility of a coup-d'état in one of the world's most stable and transparent democracies (and we are in deep consparanoia territory there), we would have to assume that the "stakeholders" really care that much about Assange. Come on, they already have him holed up in a windowless room, a fugitive of British and Swedish justice, discredited in the eyes of much of the world, and at the mercy of a notoriously volubile South American politician. He's already put himself pretty much where his worst enemy would like to have him.
posted by Skeptic at 5:28 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not a coup d'etat in the Latin American sense; a fudge behind the scenes. I'm sure they could arrange things in a more sophisticated way; perhaps fudge crucial votes in just the right points and make sure that they have their own radical protest candidate waiting in the wings to take power, rather than some loose cannon they don't control.

There is a long-standing hypothesis (fictionalised in Robert Harris' The Ghost Writer, though predating it) that Tony Blair, the former British PM from the once left-wing Labour Party, who proved himself loyal to the PNAC neocons in the Iraq war, was groomed by the CIA from his university years and put into place as a US Trojan horse on the British Left. It could be that this (cultivating sleeper agents on sides of politics traditionally hostile to US interests, subtly giving them the resources to prevail and deploying them when needed. (Australia's Julia Gillard could be another candidate.) If this is an established doctrine and the CIA haven't been grooming people in the world's Pirate Parties (especially after their recent showing in German state elections), someone at the CIA has been sleeping on the job. If Sweden were to rendition Assange and the Pirates were to sweep to power in the next election, the US would want to ride that wave, and with some assets in the right places, may be able to do so, to let the chaos take its course and, when it stabilises, reassert the Washington Consensus.
posted by acb at 5:48 AM on August 18, 2012


Owen Jones: There should be no immunity for Julian Assange from these allegations
Again, his supporters query why Sweden has not charged Assange. But that is not how the Swedish legal system works. Defendants are not charged until very late into proceedings, and just before prosecution. He cannot be charged until he is arrested, which can only take place in Sweden. The country is a democracy with an independent legal system, and it is a signatory to the European Convention of Human Rights. But Assange's supporters argue that, if he is sent to Sweden to face his allegations, he will be extradited to the US. This is particularly puzzling. As leading QC Francis FitzGibbon has pointed out, under Section 58 of Britain's Extradition Act, Sweden would have to gain the consent of the British Home Secretary first. As signatories of the ECHR, neither country can extradite a suspect to a country where they will face the death penalty or "inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment".
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:24 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


acb, sure, the Pirate Party and even Assange himself could be in the conspiracy, while we're at it. You still haven't answered my main point, which is: why would anybody give themselves so much trouble about him?!
posted by Skeptic at 6:27 AM on August 18, 2012


I don't know whether they would (that's speculation); I'm just saying that, if the USA brazenly snatched Assange off the streets of Stockholm or the government handed him over to a CIA ghost flight and claimed "national security privilege" or something, the expected aftermath might not be unmanageable, even if it doesn't blow over after a few raucous street protests.
posted by acb at 6:31 AM on August 18, 2012


2) the treaty they have doesn't actually even allow them to refuse (Unless it's for a death penalty case)

Right, just to clarify, the claim that some of us have even making in the thread is that the treaty forbids Sweden to refuse proactively, ie, absolutely, before charges are filed and a request has been made. Because they are required to turn over anyone who fits the standards for extradition who does not qualify for one of the listed exemptions, they can't promise Assange they won't turn him over under any circumstances. The treaty requires them to evaluate an extradition request in its specifics before refusing.
posted by gerryblog at 6:37 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Your name-calling is not persuasive, or a substitute for the evidence you still can't provide (and I'm not sure why the mods aren't bothered by it.)

Stating than a person is ignorant about this topic is not name calling. In this case, I think it's a self-evident fact.

You still have no evidence of torture, extraordinary rendition or new prisoners sent to Guantanamo by the Obama administration.

Let's get back to your original claim:
A lot of people in this thread are throwing around charges about the US torturing people (which I read "waterboarding"), sending them to Guantanamo, rendition, etc. But, you know, George Bush is not president any more. It's not reasonable to blame a country for previous governments (otherwise, you know, Germany.)

Is there any evidence that these things have happened under Obama?
I think I see the problem here. You just can't bring yourself to believe that Obama would have the same foreign policy as Bush, which is understandable, but also a faith-based reality that is unsustainable if you're interested in the truth.

Here's what you offered:
"From 2010" -- the article was written that year, but it describes "two men who were taken by the SAS in Iraq in 2004." Five years before Obama became president.
Those two individuals are still being held at Bagram and being denied due process by the Obama Administration, along with countless others, since it's illegal to know that information due to laws also upheld by the Obama Administration. So let's look at a prison opened up by "not George Bush":
Nestled in a back corner of Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport is a sprawling walled compound run by the Central Intelligence Agency. Set on the coast of the Indian Ocean, the facility looks like a small gated community, with more than a dozen buildings behind large protective walls and secured by guard towers at each of its four corners. Adjacent to the compound are eight large metal hangars, and the CIA has its own aircraft at the airport. The site, which airport officials and Somali intelligence sources say was completed four months ago, is guarded by Somali soldiers, but the Americans control access. At the facility, the CIA runs a counterterrorism training program for Somali intelligence agents and operatives aimed at building an indigenous strike force capable of snatch operations and targeted “combat” operations against members of Al Shabab, an Islamic militant group with close ties to Al Qaeda.

As part of its expanding counterterrorism program in Somalia, the CIA also uses a secret prison buried in the basement of Somalia’s National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters, where prisoners suspected of being Shabab members or of having links to the group are held. Some of the prisoners have been snatched off the streets of Kenya and rendered by plane to Mogadishu. While the underground prison is officially run by the Somali NSA, US intelligence personnel pay the salaries of intelligence agents and also directly interrogate prisoners. The existence of both facilities and the CIA role was uncovered by The Nation during an extensive on-the-ground investigation in Mogadishu. Among the sources who provided information for this story are senior Somali intelligence officials; senior members of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG); former prisoners held at the underground prison; and several well-connected Somali analysts and militia leaders, some of whom have worked with US agents, including those from the CIA. A US official, who confirmed the existence of both sites, told The Nation, “It makes complete sense to have a strong counterterrorism partnership” with the Somali government.
...
According to former detainees, the underground prison, which is staffed by Somali guards, consists of a long corridor lined with filthy small cells infested with bedbugs and mosquitoes. One said that when he arrived in February, he saw two white men wearing military boots, combat trousers, gray tucked-in shirts and black sunglasses. The former prisoners described the cells as windowless and the air thick, moist and disgusting. Prisoners, they said, are not allowed outside. Many have developed rashes and scratch themselves incessantly. Some have been detained for a year or more. According to one former prisoner, inmates who had been there for long periods would pace around constantly, while others leaned against walls rocking.
...
According to the former fellow prisoner, Hassan told him that his captors took him to Wilson Airport: “‘They put a bag on my head, Guantánamo style. They tied my hands behind my back and put me on a plane. In the early hours we landed in Mogadishu. The way I realized I was in Mogadishu was because of the smell of the sea—the runway is just next to the seashore. The plane lands and touches the sea. They took me to this prison, where I have been up to now. I have been here for one year, seven months. I have been interrogated so many times. Interrogated by Somali men and white men. Every day. New faces show up. They have nothing on me. I have never seen a lawyer, never seen an outsider. Only other prisoners, interrogators, guards. Here there is no court or tribunal.’”
Under the Obama Administration, at least one secret prison was built and is being funded and operated by the United States to render suspects to an underground prison in Mogadishu for interrogations that, by every account available to us, denies due process and is unchallenged evidence of the continuation of the illegal practice of extraordinary rendition. Deny that fact again and I won't bother responding.

That provision was amended and its final meaning is in dispute, but even if you're right, a law allowing something is not proof that the something happened.

You are right: there are instances in which the government passes laws for the express purpose of not using them. Let us reflect on the earnest strides Obama has made since he announced his candidacy to pass Laws in order to not use them. Writing in Foreign Affairs in 2007:
To build a better, freer world, we must first behave in ways that reflect the decency and aspirations of the American people. This means ending the practices of shipping away prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far-off countries, of detaining thousands without charge or trial, or maintaining a network of secret prisons to jail people beyond the reach of the law.
And then he signed three executive orders that he claimed would end that practice. Well, not really:
It is important to note, however, that it remains possible for US forces to continue their involvement with rendition, secret detention and torture whilst also remaining within the legal parameters set out by Obama’s Executive Orders. Specifically:
"From 2012" - describes the drone killings, which are not in dispute -- but don't have anything to do with torture or Guantanamo (or Julian Assange.)

Alright. So I can safely say that msalt, being of sound mind, believes that the targeted assassination of American citizens without due process celebrated by the Obama Administration is not evidence of the Obama's Administration's support of torture, or of denial of due process?

3 times zero = zero.

Well, there's your problem. When you multiply anything by zero, you get zero. The problem isn't the three articles I have referenced that completely support my argument. The problem is that your faith based reality multiplies facts by zero.

It's not proof that the US doesn't intend to charge and extradite him, but it's certainly not proof that it does. Keep yelling and calling names all you want, but you still have no proof to back up your claims. And THAT is reality.

I stand by my statement: your position is one of ignorance, feigned or otherwise.
posted by deanklear at 6:47 AM on August 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Julian Assange is watching you masturbate.
posted by Wolof at 6:57 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I oppose drone strikes and think Obama (like every other American president since God knows when) would almost certainly be a war criminal if that label was applied objectively -- but the constant reference to drones, rendition, etc. in this thread is purely emotive and has nothing to do with what might or might not happen to Assange. (It may be true from a certain angle to say that drone strike victims are tortured before they are killed, but this is not how the word is normally used in this context). The point that's been made that has never been answered in all these not-relevant linkdumps about US GWOT war crimes is that they don't apply to Assange, a high-profile Western journalist who has been apprehended in a European country through the normal legal channels, which as others have said have all been scrupulously upheld throughout the whole thing. The idea that the US is going to throw out the law it has been working through all this time the second it has Assange is an article of faith for which there is no evidence -- despite repeated requests, no one has pointed to any parallel situation in which the US tortured or disappeared a high profile Western celebrity. The battlefield and covert actions of the US are repugnant but they're in a totally different category than complex extradition requests within the EU, and attempts to blur all these distinctions into one big giant pot of evil are emotional rather than logical appeals.
posted by gerryblog at 7:10 AM on August 18, 2012


despite repeated requests, no one has pointed to any parallel situation in which the US tortured or disappeared a high profile Western celebrity

No, you don't get to restate the arguments made so far.

1) Supporting evidence shows that the US government has been pursuing Assange through sealed grand jury proceedings.

2) Supporting evidence shows that the Obama Administration has continued the policies of torture and denial of due process without many modifications, and has in fact expanded the power of the Executive to ignore international law and declare anyone, at any time, an enemy of the United States. Under that declaration, the Executive also reserves the right to execute or indefinitely detain that person without due process.

3) Assange claims political asylum due to facts 1 and 2.

4) Individuals are trying to discredit facts 1 and 2 in order to justify their opinion that he can't possibly be afraid of the US government, so he must be guilty of rape and simply trying to avoid jail.
posted by deanklear at 7:22 AM on August 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Can you answer that request, then? What precedent exists for someone like Assange, with Assange's background and celebrity, caught up in the normal legal system, to be tortured or disappeared by the US -- and all in the full light of day, with the full backing of the EU's courts? There must be many such cases given how certain you are that it will happen.
posted by gerryblog at 7:36 AM on August 18, 2012


A CIA snatch and grab operation could just as easily be done in the UK. In fact it would be easier than Sweden because of the special relationshi. Easier still would be to do it in Ecuador.


The US policy makers who want Assange out of business are probably happy to see him cool his healed for a few years in Swedish prison.

Fleeing to the embassy was a mistake. Now if he ends up in Swedish or British custody he will be in jail until his trial as it will be difficult to get bail. Furthermore once he's resolved his Swedish legal problems, he will have a few more British ones to deal with. After all this plays out the US can issue an Interpol warrant and seek his extradition. Since he's a flight risk this means more jail time. He can fight extradition for a couple years in Sweden if he wants to. US policy makers will be happy to let him drag it out as long as possible.

Even the current situation where he is cooling his heels at the embassy is pretty good from an American perspective. It is easy to keep an eye on him when he can't move around and we can watch all his visitors.

I will now predict the future. Ecuador will propose sneaking him out of the UK. He will agree. The Brits will intercept them enroute. He will then have another few rounds in British court before going to Sweden. Ecuador will get to yell about western imperialism; but not have to worry about actually having Assange around. The British will boast about their awesome spy raft in foiling the plan.
posted by humanfont at 7:53 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


There must be many such cases given how certain you are that it will happen.

Current reality is always without precedent. No one can predict the future, and that's what you're asking for. It's an unreasonable demand. What I have been saying is that it is very likely, and certainly likely enough to warrant Assange's actions so far. Given that, I think it's also reasonable to demand some sort of protection in order for his trial in Sweden to move forward. Offering immunity from extradition is a common practice, and despite all the claims otherwise, everyone knows the claim that Sweden and the US are bound by the treaties is plainly horseshit. If Obama can issue an executive order to kill Americans without a trial, he can certainly issue one stating that Assange shall not be extradited from Sweden under any circumstances. And we'll just have to hope that he's not lying about that as well.

The best opposing argument that can be made is that the Obama Administration has never tortured or killed a famous white person, unless you consider years of solitary confinement to be torture, which I do. Is that evidence that someone like Assange is going to get a fair trial? I don't see how that argument can seriously be made. Perhaps he'll get some softer version of a kangaroo court, but it will be a kangaroo court nonetheless.

A sort of similar situation happened in Russia, actually. Journalists critical of the Russian government are regularly murdered by Putin's henchmen, so when Pussy Riot was charged with a crime, did you expect them to get a fair trial because Putin had never murdered pretty famous white girls?

I'll state again that if this were any other nation and any other dissident, there would barely be an argument. I understand it's hard to escape the cultural context of America and Obama being Good and accept that our government has publicly declared that is free to ignore basic human rights like due process, but that's the reality.
posted by deanklear at 7:56 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I will now predict the future. Ecuador will propose sneaking him out of the UK. He will agree. The Brits will intercept them enroute.

I'm not so sure about that. After Chen Guangcheng entered the US embassy in China, the Chinese authorities allowed him to leave the country. I don't know that UK wouldn't want to set such a precedent.
posted by daveje at 7:58 AM on August 18, 2012


Current reality is always without precedent. No one can predict the future, and that's what you're asking for.

Isn't your slogan "cite or concede"? If you can't point to a single incident of someone being extradited out of Europe using this long-established legal process and subsequently being tortured or disappeared by the US government -- much less someone of Assange's celebrity status -- how can we accept your conclusion that it is "very likely" this will happen? You're claiming an event without precedent is inevitable.

Perhaps he'll get some softer version of a kangaroo court, but it will be a kangaroo court nonetheless.

You slip here from the claims of inevitable torture and denial of due process that you have said justify the asylum request to an assertion that no possible legal proceedings in the US against Assange could ever be legal no matter how fairly he is treated. Is that your new claim?
posted by gerryblog at 8:05 AM on August 18, 2012


In the Chen case the Chinese got a good deal. Chens stature was diminished and he was sent to exile where he can't make as much trouble for them. Ecuador needs a face saving way out of the situation. They don't necessarily need Assange to come to Ecuador.
posted by humanfont at 8:09 AM on August 18, 2012


how can we accept your conclusion that it is "very likely" this will happen? You're claiming an event without precedent is inevitable.

You're trying too hard. "Very likely" does not mean "inevitable."

You slip here from the claims of inevitable torture and denial of due process that you have said justify the asylum request to an assertion that no possible legal proceedings in the US against Assange could ever be legal no matter how fairly he is treated. Is that your new claim?

Actually, my claim is that the United States has no legal right to claim worldwide jurisdiction in order to apprehend, try, jail, torture, or murder people just because they are labeled as terrorist suspects, or suspects of supporting terrorism. The Obama Administration explicitly claims that right, and has already assassinated people under that claim.

This claim is based on a fair amount of citations and research. My understanding is that no one can expect humane treatment or due process from the United States, because the United States has repeatedly claimed and demonstrated that humane treatment and due process can be thrown out at their whim.

So, on one hand we have a pile of bodies of terrorism suspects, those adjacent to terrorism suspects, the indefinite detention and torture of terrorism suspects, the indefinite detention and inhumane treatment of Bradley Manning, the continued policies of torture and rendition, and the statements made by the United States that all of that is legal because they said so. Not to mention their belief that all of that should be classified, because National Security.

On the other hand, we have the assertion that Assange should expect a fair trial because I have no proof that he will be mistreated. Because you said so.

You can disagree with my argument, but continuing this head-in-the-sand nonsense is reaching beyond the norms of rational discourse.
posted by deanklear at 8:21 AM on August 18, 2012


I will now predict the future. Ecuador will propose sneaking him out of the UK. He will agree. The Brits will intercept them enroute. He will then have another few rounds in British court before going to Sweden. Ecuador will get to yell about western imperialism; but not have to worry about actually having Assange around. The British will boast about their awesome spy raft in foiling the plan.

Everyone's a winner then.

(Except possibly for Assange. Though maybe even him, if his goal was to enter the history books. Even if he spends the rest of his days in a supermax cell in solitary confinement, it'll be in the knowledge that he has ascended to a plane of rebel icons alongside Guy Fawkes and Ned Kelly, and that troublemakers of all stripes will be using pseudonyms based on his name for centuries to come.)
posted by acb at 8:25 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Very likely" does not mean "inevitable."

Okay, then, you think an event without precedent is very likely. You think this is a point in your favor?

Actually, my claim is that the United States has no legal right to claim worldwide jurisdiction in order to apprehend, try, jail, torture, or murder people just because they are labeled as terrorist suspects, or suspects of supporting terrorism. The Obama Administration explicitly claims that right, and has already assassinated people under that claim.

Again, drones, assassinations, etc are emotional appeals -- they have nothing to do with Assange's request for asylum from Sweden on the grounds that he might possibly be extradited to the US afterwards. We are not talking about the legality of a drone strike against Assange; we are talking about a legal process that long predates the war on terror, which the UK and Sweden (and the US, if you believe they're involved behind the scenes) have adhered to scrupulously.

Talking about torture and drones and "a pile of bodies of terrorism suspects" is waving the bloody shirt. I oppose both vigorously, but they're not relevant to evaluating Assange's situation.

My understanding is that no one can expect humane treatment or due process from the United States, because the United States has repeatedly claimed and demonstrated that humane treatment and due process can be thrown out at their whim.

I would quibble with the "at their whim" language -- in fact the US has repeated claimed to have legal justification for what they're doing and sort global support for their actions, though often with little success. The United States does not claim it can act anywhere and do anything without restraint; rather, it claims that everything it does is legal. This distinction matters because if you accept that the US is concerned about global opinion and being perceived to be a legitimate actor, to any extent, it becomes much more difficult to accept that they're going to burn down centuries of international law surrounding extradition just to have the chance to disappear Assange. This is why I believe and have repeatedly argued that the Europeans turn him over, he'll be treated in an aboveboard fashion.

On the other hand, we have the assertion that Assange should expect a fair trial because I have no proof that he will be mistreated.

The claim was that you had no proof someone in Assange's position had been previously mistreated. As best I can tell you still don't.
posted by gerryblog at 8:30 AM on August 18, 2012


Good objective analysis of the diplomatic/legal situation - "Why haven't [the UK govt] asked for [Assange]?"
posted by Bwithh at 8:34 AM on August 18, 2012


just to clarify:

rather, it claims that everything it does is legal is not "the US claims everything it does is legal because it's the sovereign and can do what it wants." Rather, the US claims that what they do is legal under long-established international law.

It would not be possible to claim that extraditing Assange from Sweden and then torturing him, or never trying him, or doing whatever thing you think they'll do is legal under long-established international law. Thus, abusing Assange would severely weaken or destroy the ability of the US to extradite people from Europe in the future, which they do not want.

US hegemony is served by the rule of law with respect to extradition. If you think it's "very likely" that they'll abuse the extradition process in a hugely public and likely permanent way, you need to provide some sort of evidence for this claim other than your gut feelings.
posted by gerryblog at 8:35 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I will now predict the future. Ecuador will propose sneaking him out of the UK. He will agree. The Brits will intercept them enroute.

I predict that after the Ecuadorian govt has extracted as much propaganda value from this business as they like, behind the scenes horse trading will be done with the Americans and the EU, with the result that the Brits end up intercepting Assange en route with the secret help of the Ecuadorian govt
posted by Bwithh at 8:38 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Okay, let's play your game. What person has been in Assange's position?

If the answer is no one, why are you continuing to demand proof of the USG's treatment of a similar case? I think the answer is that a false logical loop is the only place where your argument can possibly stand up to basic scrutiny.
posted by deanklear at 8:41 AM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


What person has been in Assange's position?

Can you name anyone who was extradited out of Europe under the terms of the US-Sweden extradition treaty (or any other EU nation) who was subsequently tortured or disappeared by the US government? Was that person white, famous, a journalist? What are the relevant precedents that meaningfully parallel this situation in your mind? Not drones, not Guantanamo -- when has the extradition process been abused in the way you're afraid of?
posted by gerryblog at 8:51 AM on August 18, 2012


In other words, how can I make the argument that Assange is not likely to receive a fair trial if I can't reference the last ten years of history?

You're right. I can't make my argument unless I'm allowed to refer to reality.

Good news though. I have just received word that a North Korean activist has been detained in China, but since they are well known and white, their extradition to Pyongyang isn't going to be contested, because Pyongyang has never tried a white activist and he is therefore expected to receive a fair trial.
posted by deanklear at 9:07 AM on August 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Asking you to make distinctions between obviously different categories of state action is not the same as asking you to deny reality. We're not talking about a drone strike on Assange, or kidnappimg Assange, or illegally invading the sovereign nation of Assange. We're talking about what is likely to happen to a famous white journalist with millions for his defense after a hypothetical extradition from Sweden. "Cite or concede" some evidence that a person in that context is likely to be abused.
posted by gerryblog at 9:20 AM on August 18, 2012


I predict that after the Ecuadorian govt has extracted as much propaganda value from this business as they like, behind the scenes horse trading will be done with the Americans and the EU, with the result that the Brits end up intercepting Assange en route with the secret help of the Ecuadorian govt

For extra points: the Ecuadorians should provide him with the most absurd disguise imaginable.
posted by acb at 9:22 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Your disguise is as convincing as a giraffe wearing dark sunglasses trying to get into a polar bear's only golf club."
posted by Dumsnill at 9:49 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


A bit of speculation:
If the US wanted to extradite Assange quickly (i.e., in time for a pre-election trophy photo-op, and considerably before British and Swedish judicial processes would take to run their course), and wanted to keep the option of capital punishment (for him or Manning) open, wouldn't it make sense for them to arrange for the Ecuadoreans to “rescue” him from EU jurisdiction and then somehow pick him up on the other side? They could do this by either doing a back-room deal with the Ecuadorean government (who would just need to save face and appear to have stuck it to the yanqui imperialists) or by bribing/compromising a few key officials and spiriting him out (it's not like the CIA don't have old hands at covert operations in South America).

If the British government either suddenly changes its tone on safe passage to South America or ends up dropping the ball by inexplicably ordering officials to look the other way for a key window of time on one specific route out, then perhaps we'll know that something's afoot.
posted by acb at 10:17 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


deanklear: Thank you for finally providing some evidence (of the Obama administration supporting torture and rendition). That's very disturbing and not widely known.

I don't understand why it took you several attempts and a mountain of snottiness to respond to a simple question. Asking someone to tell you something you don't know is not ignorance, "feigned or otherwise." In fact, it's the cure to ignorance. You should try it some time.
posted by msalt at 10:29 AM on August 18, 2012


Fascinating that so many on Metafilter are willing to give Assange's persecutors a pass on tyranny.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:32 AM on August 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Russia issues warning to Britain over Assange
posted by homunculus at 10:37 AM on August 18, 2012


How exactly is Assange being persecuted? He seems to be getting extraordinarily lengthy consideration for a self confessed date rapist. If he was some average bloke in the UK fighting extradition for similiar charges while on holiday he'd be in jail now. The imaginary martyrdom of Jullian Assange is just a PR smokescreen.

Jullian Asaange once advocated for any traceable assasination marketplace on the cypherpunkd mailing list.
posted by humanfont at 10:58 AM on August 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Fascinating that so many on Metafilter are willing to give Assange's persecutors a pass on tyranny.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:32 PM on August 18 [+] [!]


And how Assange seems to give his new protector a pass on the same
posted by Reggie Knoble at 11:08 AM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


We're talking about what is likely to happen to a famous white journalist with millions for his defense after a hypothetical extradition from Sweden.

Well, simply put there is nobody like Assange. He's "St. Assange," after all. He is not really a journalist nor a hacker, but a little of both. I'd argue Bradley Manning is the most comparable - and we know how he's being treated - but obviously you don't accept that comparison, given Manning is military personnel. There's no shortage of white hackers that the States has extradited and locked up, and there's no shortage of citizens of Western democracies that have been the victims of extraordinary rendition and torture.

Unfortunately, I'm struggling to even think of another white hacker journalist international celebrity. If you could maybe suggest some historical Assange equivalents we could then look at how the American legal system has treated them.
posted by mek at 11:25 AM on August 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Mitnick?

Wikipedia:

Mitnick served five years in prison — four and a half years pre-trial and eight months in solitary confinement — because, according to Mitnick, law enforcement officials convinced a judge that he had the ability to "start a nuclear war by whistling into a pay phone".
posted by bukvich at 11:41 AM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


mek: it depends a lot on what you mean by "hacker." Assange has put himself forth as a neutral conduit for secrets, not unlike a journalist (but without the judgment and investigation.) If he's a hacker in the sense of breaking into systems himself, or coaching people like Manning in how to do so, then his position is a lot less defensible.
posted by msalt at 11:42 AM on August 18, 2012


Right, I'm using a broader and more fluid definition (as US authorities are wont to do). I'd suggest Ellsberg is the closest equivalent to Assange, though he prefers to compare himself to Manning. Obviously he was charged with espionage and faced 115 years in prison, but was cleared of all charges due to gross misconduct by prosecutors. For some reason people think the same can't happen to Assange?
posted by mek at 11:46 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Let's see, how about someone who was This has all happened before, and it will all happen again.
posted by localroger at 11:47 AM on August 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Ya I think Leary is a much better analog than Mitnick.
posted by bukvich at 11:49 AM on August 18, 2012


Dangit, I should have used that Battlestar Galactica squib in the Romney thread.
posted by localroger at 11:49 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is no way Sweden would send him to the US. Maybe back to Australia, where there is also no way they would send him to the US. Countries which don't have the death penalty are really fussy about not extradicting anyone at all who are in any way in risk of such a verdict. Even if they are known terrorists. Equador is probably a far more dangerous place for Assange.
posted by mumimor at 11:55 AM on August 18, 2012


1) Sweden has a history of extraditing to the USA (legally and extralegally).
2) Extraordinary rendition can be performed en route, as it has been many times before.
3) The USA can wait until Sweden is done with him, when he has no legal protection from anyone.
posted by mek at 11:57 AM on August 18, 2012


mek: it depends a lot on what you mean by "hacker." Assange has put himself forth as a neutral conduit for secrets, not unlike a journalist (but without the judgment and investigation.) If he's a hacker in the sense of breaking into systems himself, or coaching people like Manning in how to do so, then his position is a lot less defensible.

Julian Assange was charged with 31 counts of hacking and relate crimes in 1994. In May 1995 he plead guilty to 25 charges of hacking and paid a fine of $2,100 Australian.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:03 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the best analogy, aside from the lack of fame, would be Gary McKinnon, the British hacker who the US has been trying to extradite for 10 years for breaking into lots of US military computers. Leary is kind of a silly comparison.
posted by msalt at 12:17 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth: I know Assnage has a history of hacking, I meant "is he hacking as part of his Wikileaks work?"

I'm curious -- if it was demonstrated that Assange was actively hacking into the computers or giving Bradley Manning technical instructions, would that change anyone's mind on whether he should be charged by, and extradited to, the U.S.?

In other words, is anyone really arguing that the U.S. should not be able to prosecute people who are actively breaking into its computers? I kind of suspect yes, but how exactly do you see that working?
posted by msalt at 12:22 PM on August 18, 2012


The USA has a long history of extraditing and prosecuting hackers (and filesharing types) with full cooperation of governments. That's not at all what is under discussion, though, and it only relates to Assange insofar as you want to imagine it does. You might as well propose the hypothetical "what if Assange ate a baby, would that change anyone's mind?"

If the USA has evidence linking Manning to Assange it is welcome to present it in court and actually charge Assange. Given that they have been investigating him for over a year, it seems unlikely they have a very strong case linking him to Manning, and it is certain that whatever case we do have, they aren't inclined to make it public. To reply to your hypothetical: if they did have such a case it would greatly affect public opinion, yes. But they probably don't.
posted by mek at 12:33 PM on August 18, 2012


Leary is kind of a silly comparison.

You are looking at it from the perspective of what Assange did or didn't do, either in the small picture of the crime he's formally accused of or in the large picture of what he really did to piss off the authorities.

If you look at it from the perspective of what those authorities will do to someone who pisses them off, what measures they will take, what tricks and tactics they will employ and what concern they have for international law, Leary is a nearly exact comparison.
posted by localroger at 12:52 PM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


What Julian Assange and Mordechai Vanunu have taught me:

If I ever do something to piss off the big and powerful, do NOT fall in love with or have sex with anybody.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:55 PM on August 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


If everyone agrees that the American government will not hesitate to do any of the following to anyone considered an "enemy":

(a) murder/assassinate
(b) kidnap and hold without trial
(c) kidnap and prosecute on bogus charges
(d) kidnap and prosecute on legitimate charges
(e) apply pressure to any foreign government for extradition so that they can do any of the above
etc etc

then I still don't see how it follows that Assange is right to evade charges of rape in Sweden. Rather, the logical conclusion is that Assange is a dead man walking, because no matter where he goes and what he does, nothing can protect him from the USA. I don't see why he is in greater danger in Swedish custody than he is anywhere else. It is a peculiar American lawlessness that needs the UK to extradite Assange to Sweden to achieve its goals.
posted by leopard at 12:55 PM on August 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


There is no way Sweden would send him to the US. Maybe back to Australia, where there is also no way they would send him to the US.

I'm not so sure about the last part. Geopolitically, both major parties follow directives from Washington when security treaties are brought up, and given the government's treatment of David Hicks (ordering diplomats to deny him consular assistance, effectively suspending his citizenship) and PM Gillard's remarks about Assange suggest that Australia wouldn't do anything to irritate or inconvenience the US Government over this, as long as the US agrees that it won't sentence him to death.
posted by acb at 1:41 PM on August 18, 2012


I'm curious -- if it was demonstrated that Assange was actively hacking into the computers or giving Bradley Manning technical instructions, would that change anyone's mind on whether he should be charged by, and extradited to, the U.S.?

This is exactly the connection prosecutors have been trying to make for the grand jury for months now. Many speculate the reason Manning was treate so harshly was to get him to turn star witness against Assange.
posted by humanfont at 2:36 PM on August 18, 2012


If I ever do something to piss off the big and powerful, do NOT fall in love with or have sex with anybody.

So you know for a fact that Assange's sole crime is to have "fallen in love" or to have "had sex" do you? I'd be interested to know how you know that--absent a trial on the very specific allegations against him.
posted by yoink at 2:38 PM on August 18, 2012


That's a really stupid conclusion to come to.

Vanunu started up a relationship with a woman who was really a Mossad agent. She lured him to Italy where he was drugged and brought back to Israel.

I can't comment on the particulars of the Assange case, but it seems to me that romantic relations after pissing off world powers is a really good way to open yourself up to Problems with a capital P.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:09 PM on August 18, 2012


Actually, my claim is that the United States has no legal right to claim worldwide jurisdiction in order to apprehend, try, jail, torture, or murder people just because they are labeled as terrorist suspects, or suspects of supporting terrorism. The Obama Administration explicitly claims that right, and has already assassinated people under that claim.

I would love to know how you think this "claim" is relevant to Assange's position. When has the US asserted a right to "apprehend" Assange, to "torture" him, or to "murder" him? When have they in any way asserted any right to any extrajudicial actions against Assange of any kind?

There is, at this point, zero evidence that they have any intention of pursuing Assange by any means whatsoever--extrajudicial or otherwise. I can't imagine what charges could successfully be brought against Assange and all the legal analysis of his case that I've read suggests that it would be very difficult to prosecute (there are few precedents for bringing espionage charges against a foreign national in the US, and that one failed). He could certainly be charged under the 1917 Espionage Act, because the terms of that Act are very broad. On the other hand, Sweden's extradition treaty with the US specifically excludes "political" crimes, which includes espionage, so espionage charges are actually irrelevant to Assange's claims about why he refuses to return to Sweden. And while such charges could be brought because of the broadness of the act, they would also be subject to very vigorous defense for the same reasons; every single media company in the US would join fire with Assange's defense to maintain the principle that they have a First Amendment right to publish classified material without running the risk of being prosecuted for espionage.

More petty charges could, conceivably, be brought forward (receiving stolen property?)--but it's rather hard to imagine anyone bothering. Why keep burnishing Assange's image as a martyr if you run the risk of him getting a risibly short sentence? Any if they were going to bring forward petty charges like that, why wouldn't they have already brought them? There's hardly any need for some grand three-country conspiracy.
posted by yoink at 3:10 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't comment on the particulars of the Assange case, but it seems to me that romantic relations after pissing off world powers is a really good way to open yourself up to Problems with a capital P.

How about "raping someone, whether or not you've pissed off world powers, is a really good way to open yourself up to Problems with a capital P"?

Your claim that Assange is only in trouble because he has "pissed off world powers" and had "romantic relations" is simply an accusation that the two women who are accusing him of rape must be liars. If they are not lying, then the "pissing off world powers" is rather irrelevant. In fact, it's only because Assange has "pissed off world powers" that he is getting to avoid facing the rape charges in court. Do you think Ecuador would extend asylum to some random Aussie tourist who'd been on a rape spree in Sweden?
posted by yoink at 3:15 PM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


rape spree

Even assuming the worst, using this phrase to describe what the Swedish authorities are accusing Assange of is obscene. Using language that equates fine parsing of exactly how to interpret "no means no" among nominally consenting adults with violent assault of a stranger is not useful.
posted by localroger at 3:28 PM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Localroger: interesting point on Leary. You lost me with the rape argument though. I do thinks this discussion has been hurt by a lot of overheated discussion on all sides (eg deanklear "Obama declaring right to assassinate Americans in America w/out trial", etc.). And "rape spree" was a bit over the top.

But come on, you know that the very definition of rape is the crux of the charges against Assange, and you know there's a horrible history of people dismissing very valid rape charges in very similar ways. Don't go there.
posted by msalt at 3:57 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


msalt, I don't know what Assange did or didn't do with those women. I know that it did not compare, for example, to what Albert DeSalvo did to his victims. It did not compare to what the guys who go to the trouble to assemble rape kits, stalk, assault, and bind their victims generally do. It did not compare to what was done to Cheryl Ann Araujo.

If the accusations that have been presented are true then what Assange did was definitely wrong and should be punished. But using language that equates those accusations with acts like DeSalvo's is not useful. Both of Assange's accusers voluntarily entered into relations with him. They were not attacked by surprise or at random. Assange may not even have realized that what he was doing isn't particularly legal in Sweden. (Maybe it should be everywhere; life is not, however, completely fair.)

The thing is, when you stack what Assange is accused of against what he faces in his conflict with the United States, it is very small beer even in the worst possible interpretation. That is true even if he is a total cad, it's all true, and he deserves to do a few years in prison for his disrespect to women.

It's small beer because the Vice President of the United States has called Assange a terrorist. It's small beer because this Administration has seen fit to launch lethal attacks without due process even on our own citizens for far less than what Joe Biden accused Assange of. It would, frankly, be small beer even if Julian Assange was Hannibal Lecter. It's not small beer because what Assange did is OK, it's small beer because the damage Julian Assange is capable of doing is a microscopic pinpoint compared to the damage the US government can do.

And given such a powerful entity so set against an individual person, and some of the weird circumstances around the Swedish accusations, it is very hard for some of us to shake the suspicion that the whole thing is a setup. I mean, we saw the fucking pilot to Blake's 7. Did you?
posted by localroger at 4:22 PM on August 18, 2012


So your back to arguing it wasn't rape rape? He'd known these women for a few hours but felt that it was completely appropriate to initite sexual intercourse while they were asleep. Then when they resisted their please and forced them to continue. He gave a statement where he admired these facts but excised himself because they wre just upset that he didn't wear a condom. Honeypot setups usually don't rely on the target going all rapey.
posted by humanfont at 4:41 PM on August 18, 2012


Humanfront, I don't care if it was rape rape. I said it wouldn't matter if he was HANNIBAL LECTER. He is an individual person in direct confrontation with one of the world's largest nation-states. We know little about Assange, but we know that the nation-state is slanderous, murderous, pitiless, and has broad contempt for certain standards of law. Watch the pilot to Blake's 7 and get back to me.
posted by localroger at 4:47 PM on August 18, 2012


There is a long-standing hypothesis (fictionalised in Robert Harris' The Ghost Writer, though predating it) that Tony Blair, the former British PM from the once left-wing Labour Party, who proved himself loyal to the PNAC neocons in the Iraq war, was groomed by the CIA from his university years and put into place as a US Trojan horse on the British Left. It could be that this (cultivating sleeper agents on sides of politics traditionally hostile to US interests, subtly giving them the resources to prevail and deploying them when needed. (Australia's Julia Gillard could be another candidate.) If this is an established doctrine and the CIA haven't been grooming people in the world's Pirate Parties (especially after their recent showing in German state elections), someone at the CIA has been sleeping on the job. If Sweden were to rendition Assange and the Pirates were to sweep to power in the next election, the US would want to ride that wave, and with some assets in the right places, may be able to do so, to let the chaos take its course and, when it stabilises, reassert the Washington Consensus.
That seems really unlikely. It wouldn't be any more difficult for leftists to embed themselves in the college republicans or something like that either. The problem with that plan is if you do get someone to be popular and successful in the left-wing movement, they may simply become left-wing for real in the process.

Also, with a parliamentary system where you can boot the PM whenever he loses confidence of the rest of his party, you couldn’t have a left-winger suddenly switch to right-wing stuff.
Isn't your slogan "cite or concede"? If you can't point to a single incident of someone being extradited out of Europe using this long-established legal process and subsequently being tortured or disappeared by the US government
It's also never happened that someone has leaked thousands of US diplomatic cables. Everything about wikileaks is unprecedented.

The fact that something hasn't happened before doesn't mean that it's reasonable to assume that it won't happen if the entire situation is unprecedented. If this were a common situation, and thousands of people had done things like wikileaks without any problems like this, then you could call Assange unreasonable for worrying about it. But none of this has ever happened before.

You seem to be arguing that because you can't prove that something will happen you can't assume that it might happen, even if there is no proof that it won't happen.

Again you can break things down into three broad groups of things:
A) things that will happen
B) things that might happen
C) things that won't happen

Your comments seem to be based on the idea that if you can't prove that something is in group A, then you must act as if it's in group C. That's completely nonsensical. Now, obviously some things are extremely likely, some are extremely unlikely, and others are indeterminate. Here we're talking about what is and isn't reasonable to think, not absolute certainty. But right now, whether or not Assange will be extradited to the US if he ends up in Sweden is clearly a realistic possibility.

In any event a lot of the comments in this thread are really strange. It's like a lot of people in this thread don't understand basic logic or something. It's like you think if you can't prove something will happen for sure happen, that means you've proven it can't ever happen at all.
Okay, then, you think an event without precedent is very likely. You think this is a point in your favor?
Things without precedent happen all the time, and nothing that happens every has an exact precedent, everything differs in some details. Earlier you asked about people being taken to the U.S. and thrown in gitmo after being in the legal system, and the answer is that it has happened. There were people snatched up after being.
How exactly is Assange being persecuted? He seems to be getting extraordinarily lengthy consideration for a self confessed date rapist.
He's never confessed to being a rapist. According to his lawyers, the accusation against him wouldn't qualify as a crime in most of the EU, but he hasn't agreed that the facts alleged are true, as far as I know. If you're going to make completely and obviously false statements, it's going to pretty much discredit everything you might say.
I would love to know how you think this "claim" is relevant to Assange's position. When has the US asserted a right to "apprehend" Assange, to "torture" him, or to "murder" him? When have they in any way asserted any right to any extrajudicial actions against Assange of any kind?
They have obviously claimed the right to extradite people from Sweden, which while other people are bringing up side issues is the main concern. How exactly Assange is treated if he does get extradited to the U.S isn't going to be very much fun for him even if he isn't tortured and even if he does in the end not get convicted of anything. He could be in prison for years under pretrial detention (there is obviously no way he'd get bail).

But the comment is also another example of people apparently unable to comprehend the concept of things that may happen, as opposed to thinking that if something can't be proven 100% it's false. You like trying to explain to a toddler whey they shouldn't eat 20 cupcakes when they can't count to 5.
posted by delmoi at 4:51 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


So your back to arguing it wasn't rape rape?
Lots of people think it wasn't rape. I've never heard of anyone in the US, or anywhere else, getting convicted for similar behavior. The thing with the Condom may have violated Swedish law, but that doesn't mean it counts as "rape". The women didn't even claim to have been raped when they first went to the police, they wanted to know if there was a way to force him to get an STD test.
He'd known these women for a few hours but felt that it was completely appropriate to initite sexual intercourse while they were asleep.
That supposedly happened with one of the girls after they'd had sex the night before, then fell asleep together, naked. She had already consented to sex the night before. Would that consent have carried through to to the morning? Maybe not, but I'm not aware of anyone ever being prosecuted for something like that before. She then woke up and continued having sex with him (which at this point, would have been consensual)
Then when they resisted their please and forced them to continue.
Neither of these girls told him "no" or asked him to stop. There were no 'pleas' that he ignored.
posted by delmoi at 4:58 PM on August 18, 2012


Blake's 7, seriously? This is not a fucking sci-fi show. So a little rape is fine as long as the other guy is worse? This thread is depressing, I'm done.
posted by the_artificer at 4:59 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


the_artificer, see delmoi's comment. I'm about done too.
posted by localroger at 5:06 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Localroger: there are a lot of strong arguments to be made on Assange's behalf, I just don't think minimizing his alleged sex crimes is one of them.

It's not small beer because what Assange did is OK, it's small beer because the damage Julian Assange is capable of doing is a microscopic pinpoint compared to the damage the US government can do.

OK, then let's not minimize what he is accused of doing - having bareback sex without consent - and we won't have to worry about perpetuating rape culture in the name of civil liberties.

Sweden is perfectly entitled to set stricter rape laws than other nations, and everyone who travels should know to check and observe local law and custom before sleeping with anyone. Duh.

The idea that it was a setup, for a woman to fall asleep and lure him into boning her bareback before she wakes up? C'mon. That leap of logic would make Occam cut his own throat with his razor.
posted by msalt at 5:08 PM on August 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


*and what* So a little rape is fine as long as the other guy is worse?

Let me guess, you never saw the pilot to Blake's 7. That would be the story where the dissident Blake expects to be sent up for his real activities against the Federation, but finds that he's being framed for pedophilia instead. You do remember that, right?
posted by localroger at 5:09 PM on August 18, 2012


Your comments seem to be based on the idea that if you can't prove that something is in group A, then you must act as if it's in group C. That's completely nonsensical. Now, obviously some things are extremely likely, some are extremely unlikely, and others are indeterminate. Here we're talking about what is and isn't reasonable to think, not absolute certainty. But right now, whether or not Assange will be extradited to the US if he ends up in Sweden is clearly a realistic possibility.

No, delmoi, I haven't committed an elementary logical error: I've simply argued that we should assign the hair-on-fire assertions that the US will definitely extralegally torture or murder Assange a very low probability. And when we make that assignation, it looks like there's no good reason he shouldn't be extradited back to Sweden to answer to the charges.

By the way, if people would simply read the thread they'd know that Assange is accused of holding down one woman to rape her, while raping another while she slept. If you don't want to be accused of trivializing rape, don't trivialize it.
posted by gerryblog at 5:21 PM on August 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


having bareback sex without consent

Because that is so equivalent to stalking, assaulting, binding, and forcibly violating a stranger.

The idea that it was a setup, for a woman to fall asleep and lure him into boning her bareback before she wakes up?

The odd thing is that neither woman seemed to think it was rape when they went to the police. They just wanted him to get tested for STD's. The idea that it was rape totally came from other people, and last I heard at least one of the women had recanted the whole thing. So no, the setup wasn't that they tricked JA into playing a little hide the salami in the morning, but that we really don't know what the fuck is going on and it's being talked about as if he's Jefrey Dahmer, and that totally benefits the much more powerful entity that is set on taking him out.
posted by localroger at 5:21 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Even assuming the worst, using this phrase to describe what the Swedish authorities are accusing Assange of is obscene.

I'm sorry--is there some official number of times you have to commit rape in order for it to qualify as a "spree"? I'm obviously not as up on my rape etiquette as I should be. Would "rape binge" be acceptable to you?

Assange may not even have realized that what he was doing isn't particularly legal in Sweden.

What he is accused of doing is rape in pretty much any first world country, including Australia. Here's the accusation:
“[The complainant] was lying on her back and Assange was on top of her … [she] felt that Assange wanted to insert his penis into her vagina directly, which she did not want since he was not wearing a condom … she therefore tried to turn her hips and squeeze her legs together in order to avoid a penetration … [she] tried several times to reach for a condom, which Assange had stopped her from doing by holding her arms and bending her legs open and trying to penetrate her with his penis without using a condom. [She] says that she felt about to cry since she was held down and could not reach a condom and felt this could end badly.”
Holding someone down forcibly and penetrating them against their will is rape.

It's small beer because the Vice President of the United States has called Assange a terrorist.

Oh balls. A reporter asked Biden if Assange was "more like" a hi-tech terrorist or like Daniel Ellsberg (of Pentagon Papers fame) and Biden said he was "more like a hi-tech terrorist." To pretend that this was somehow the US government declaring Assange to be a terrorist is just silly hyperbole.
posted by yoink at 5:23 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Because that is so equivalent to stalking, assaulting, binding, and forcibly violating a stranger.

So anything short of "stalking, assaulting, binding, and forcibly violating a stranger" is not rape. Gotcha. Tell me, if you stalk, assault, bind and forcibly violate someone who isn't a stranger what, exactly, do you call that? "Vigorous sex"?

No one is saying that Assange is the greatest sexual predator known to man. They're saying he has legitimate charges to answer in a Swedish court and he's hiding behind a preposterous conspiracy theory to avoid facing those charges. If the allegations against him are true, he's a rapist and deserves to face some kind of punishment. Not the same punishment as would be meted out to someone who "stalked, assaulted, bound...etc. etc." some other person, but a reasonably serious punishment nonetheless. If the allegations are not true he should walk free. But before that can be determined he has to actually face his accusers in a Swedish court. So far, he has shown that he is unwilling to do that.
posted by yoink at 5:28 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The odd thing is that neither woman seemed to think it was rape when they went to the police.

Jesus. Every single day on Metafilter you'll read stories--often first hand accounts by other Mefites--of how often victims of rape do not at first realize or admit to themselves that that is what they are. If anyone were to respond to such a statement with "well, obviously that proves it wasn't rape" their comment would be deleted forthwith and they'd be in real jeopardy of being banned from the site.
posted by yoink at 5:31 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


And we're back to the old thread, I see. Of course, there is a simple solution to the rape charges. A trial without the threat of extradition to the US. Unless Assange has been to the US more recently than I think is the case, the US has no legitimate grounds on which to request extradition, so saying "no, we won't let the US have you" should be pretty easy for Sweden to do.

We allow conditional surrender here in the US on a regular basis, so long as the person accused happens to have a lot of money, so I don't really feel like it's an unreasonable request.
posted by wierdo at 5:39 PM on August 18, 2012


so saying "no, we won't let the US have you" should be pretty easy for Sweden to do.

Again, reading the treaty this seems to be impossible. Do you disagree, or have some evidence to the contrary? We've been over this point multiple times too and no one has ever shown that Sweden has the power to refuse extradition to the US on an absolute or preemptive basis.
posted by gerryblog at 5:42 PM on August 18, 2012


Fine, yoink, let's just agree to disagree that there is a whole spectrum of behavior ranging from the barely tolerable to the homicidally evil all of which is described as "rape" and we'll pretend that yelling "rape rape rape rape" isn't a loaded thing at all.

I said, and meant, this: It would, frankly, be small beer even if Julian Assange was Hannibal Lecter.

The Vice President of the United States called Assange a terrorist, and we've taken out our own citizens (and random bystanders) on less than that accusation. Nothing Assange is accused of doing even remotely compares with that. I'm not talking about rape, not even real rapey-rape, I'm talking about remote controlled murder. Renditions and torture and waterboarding, OH MY. On a massive scale no individual person could hope to equal. Tell me again how evil Julian Assange is, about his many victims, about how dead some are and others haunted by PTSD. Tell me about their blown up children and wives. Tell me about the innocent people he's still holding it gitmo because he can't figure out what to do with them even though everyone knows they're innocent.

Wait, what's that? Assange didn't do all those things? Dangit. Must be some other actor in the drama I'm thinking of.
posted by localroger at 5:42 PM on August 18, 2012


Again, this is waving the bloody shirt. The horrors of drone warfare have nothing to do with the legitimacy of Assange's case against extradition besides the utterly specious claim that a person's good works should innoculate them from prosecution.
posted by gerryblog at 5:47 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


this is waving the bloody shirt

We are all here because Assange does not want to be wearing the bloody shirt.
posted by localroger at 5:49 PM on August 18, 2012


the utterly specious claim that a person's good works should innoculate them from prosecution

I SAID IT DOESN'T MATTER IF HE'S HANNIBAL LECTER. WHAT THE FUCK APPEAL TO GOOD WORKS IS THAT?
posted by localroger at 5:50 PM on August 18, 2012


localroger, how are we supposed to take that assertion seriously? Either you think the US doesn't have the moral legitimacy to prosecute any criminal, up to and including serial killers ("I SAID IT DOESN'T MATTER IF HE'S HANNIBAL LECTER"), or you think serial killers only get a pass provided they manage to piss off the US through their political journalism first ("appeal to good works"). Either way it's preposterous. And you left your caps lock on.
posted by gerryblog at 5:57 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I suppose that comment should have said "The US and its allies" to match the situation precisely, but given that we all know Sweden's so-called "legal system" is just a pathetic agent of the US it's really the same thing.
posted by gerryblog at 6:05 PM on August 18, 2012


The US should not have the authority, but currently does claim the authority, to go around snatching and assassinating people in random other countries which may have no treaties permitting or even treaties prohibiting such behavior. I am inclined to give us a pass on Osama but, really, if I was a guy like Assange (not rapey, but hackey and wanted) that would worry me a lot.

I don't know much about Assange, but by comparison I do know quite a bit about my own government. In a he-said-it-said case such as this I don't trust my own government at all, and in the house of mirrors that is international diplomacy I wouldn't trust any of our supposed allies either. Between Assange and the USG I trust neither, but in the matter of which to distrust more Occam's Razor falls cleanly on the side of the government.
posted by localroger at 6:09 PM on August 18, 2012


Your Occam's Razor is broken. The "don't multiply entities unnecessarily" solution here is that Sweden wants to prosecute Assange for rape. The breathless assertion that the US is secretly behind it all, and that the UK and Sweden are both in it, and probably the women too, etc, etc, etc, adds far more complexity to the situation. There's no evidence supporting any of the conspiracy mongering, and it's not required to explain any missing pieces of this puzzle; it's completely plausible, after all, that Assange did exactly what he is accused of doing, and that Sweden has determined it wishes to prosecute him, without any participation from the US at all.
posted by gerryblog at 6:44 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


gerryblog: "Again, reading the treaty this seems to be impossible. Do you disagree, or have some evidence to the contrary?"

Sweden is a sovereign nation. They can do whatever the fuck they want. Someone asserted upthread that some Swedish official has the power to refuse extradition requests under the terms of the extradition treaty. I don't know if that's true or not, but it doesn't actually matter. If Sweden were so terribly interested in pursuing the charges against Assange, they certainly could offer an assurance if they really wanted to do so.
posted by wierdo at 6:46 PM on August 18, 2012


That's not an assertion that Assange is guilty, by the way. It's also plausible that the women decided they wished to prosecute him despite his innocence, again without participating from the US. But the byzantine conspiracy you've asserted by which the US (an entity which you also believe feels free to just kidnap and murder anyone it wants) is seeking to entrap Assange through the laborious process of extradition isn't remotely the simplest explanation here.
posted by gerryblog at 6:47 PM on August 18, 2012


Sweden is a sovereign nation. They can do whatever the fuck they want.

That's not how treaties work.

Someone asserted upthread that some Swedish official has the power to refuse extradition requests under the terms of the extradition treaty.

You might be talking about me. If you read the thing you'll see they can refuse to extradite to the US if they believe a charge is politically motivated. But to do so the extradition request has to be made first; as far as I can tell and as far as anyone has shown they really can't just do it preemptively on a blanket basis. If I'm wrong about that, please show me.
posted by gerryblog at 6:50 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


gerryblog: Your naivete is kind of cute. Please keep it as long as possible, but try not to be too crushed when reality crashes in.
posted by localroger at 6:53 PM on August 18, 2012


The amount of sneering contempt radiating from your side of the argument is really unbelievable. Anyone who disagrees with you folks is either cripplingly stupid or a bald-faced liar. And yet you never provide any actual evidence for any of your assertions, just conspiracy theories and hysterics, and can't even be bothered to modify your bullshit no matter how many times people point out that you have the facts wrong.
posted by gerryblog at 7:04 PM on August 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


sneering contempt radiating from your side of the argument

Well, I obviously failed that so I will fade now. ta-ta.
posted by localroger at 7:12 PM on August 18, 2012


It's a good idea for me too. I'll look forward to agreeing with you about everything regarding the US besides Assange's extradition to Sweden.
posted by gerryblog at 7:16 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


In late 2010, Ecuador offered Mr Assange residency but quickly rescinded the offer after controversy erupted and the US government reportedly made diplomatic representations against such action (article).
posted by kisch mokusch at 7:25 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


New information! Thanks.
posted by msalt at 7:53 PM on August 18, 2012


OK, then let's not minimize what he is accused of doing - having bareback sex without consent - and we won't have to worry about perpetuating rape culture in the name of civil liberties.
That's false. The first girl consented to having sex with him, but with a condom. She claims he did something to sabotage the condom, or something like that. But she did consent to having sex with him.

The second girl is the one, who it's alleged he had sex with without consent, by sticking his dick in her while she was still asleep - after having sex with him the night before.
Your Occam's Razor is broken. The "don't multiply entities unnecessarily" solution here is that Sweden wants to prosecute Assange for rape.
Another pretty clear example of illogical thinking. Occam's razor is just a heuristic, it doesn't tell you what's true and what isn't. You only use Occam's razor when both possibilities could be true given the data you have. It's only when you can't gather any more data that you would use it to guess about which one is more likely to be true. But, critically, in modern science you can not use it to rule something out, if it's possible that you could one day do an experiment to desperate two different explanations. In this case the "experiment" would be sending Assange back to Sweden, and seeing if the U.S. wants to extradite him. Until that happens you certainly can't use Occam's razor to predict it won't happen.

This is just a complete misunderstanding of what Occam's razor is and how it's supposed to be used. The level of illogic in many of the comments in this thread is really staggering.
The amount of sneering contempt radiating from your side of the argument is really unbelievable.
That's what happens when you have to explain over and over again how elementary logic works to people who don't seem to be capable of understanding it.
posted by delmoi at 8:23 PM on August 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


In late 2010, Ecuador offered Mr Assange residency but quickly rescinded the offer after controversy erupted and the US government reportedly made diplomatic representations against such action (article).
Right, and going along with the whole "Occam's Razor" misunderstanding, if there were no U.S. involvement, the U.S. wouldn't have put pressure on Ecuador not to grant Asylum. It may be that it's "simpler" to say that it's only Sweden that's involved, but that's not consistent with the data.

In any event, there is no epistemological reason why Occam's razor should be true. It's a heuristic, and it happens to be useful. But it there isn't really any way to know for sure if a complex explanation isn't true when it and a simple one are both consistent with the data. (And in modern science you cannot actually rule it out)
posted by delmoi at 8:30 PM on August 18, 2012


delmoi, I didn't say Occam's Razor told us what is true and what isn't, or that Occam's Razor predicted anything. I do not say Occam's Razor "rules out" US involvement, merely that it does not support the claim of US involvement. I described Occam's Razor as a heuristic -- in response to localroger's bringing it up -- in exactly the way you say it should be used. Please reread my comments above and show me where exactly you think I misused the concept if you disagree.

In this thread you have consistently displayed reading comprehension problems that cause you to conclude everyone who disagrees with you is a moron; in each of the cases in which you have talked down to me, it was because because you had either misunderstood, misquoted, or willfully misrepresented what I said.

I have tried to leave this thread several times and each time have been dragged back in it to correct your misrepresentations. Perhaps I'm childish, but I'm not content to be insulted in my absence.

That's false. The first girl consented to having sex with him, but with a condom. She claims he did something to sabotage the condom, or something like that. But she did consent to having sex with him.

The second girl is the one, who it's alleged he had sex with without consent, by sticking his dick in her while she was still asleep - after having sex with him the night before.


Not only are these rape apologetics, but they are not an accurate description of what Assange has been accused of. Please check any of the dozen times the actual accusations against Assange have been described and linked in this thread.
posted by gerryblog at 8:47 PM on August 18, 2012 [3 favorites]



If I ever do something to piss off the big and powerful, do NOT fall in love with or have sex with anybody.


Wasn't that the reason Nader was called 'the monk' back in the time he was taking on the big auto makers? He knew how power works on those that challenge it.

It is pitiful how easily Americans, especially, fall for the 'evil sex-doer' diversion that has been used to bring down so many challengers ... their snarky delight must have something to do with the titillation factor.
posted by Surfurrus at 8:56 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


[OK, folks, time to dial the personal attacks way, way back. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 9:07 PM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


rape apologetics

I hope for your sake you guys never find yourself accused of any crimes. The complete lack of understanding of due process here just beggars description.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:56 PM on August 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Not only are these rape apologetics, but they are not an accurate description of what Assange has been accused of. Please check any of the dozen times the actual accusations against Assange have been described and linked in this thread.

ahem, incorrect? it's spot on if you read the same sources as some of us have. i.e the police interview transcripts.
Also, he's not accused in anything but the media, he's wanted -- and I use the word in its folk meaning not the legal one here -- for a hearing to decide if he's to be accused for the alleged crimes, that's how it works over here. ;)

Also, rape apologetics -- horrible as they are -- actually need an element of apology in them to be just that so don't throw it around flippantly, you devalue the word and the meaning by doing so. (also it's an effective conversation killer so try to be civil, xoxo me)
posted by xcasex at 2:05 AM on August 19, 2012


Assange is about to speak from the balcony of the Ecuadorean embassy.

I wonder whether there'd be any way the Metropolitan Police could snatch him from the balcony. Some kind of mesh net gun tethered to a helicopter perhaps?
posted by acb at 5:29 AM on August 19, 2012


He's re-enacting that scene from Life of Brian - not the messiah, a very naughty boy.
posted by Abiezer at 5:39 AM on August 19, 2012


naomi wolf shimes in again:

"It doesn’t matter if they coordinated in advance as the Assange accusers did, or if they are close friends and came in together: the police simply will not take their complaints together or even in the same room. No matter how much they may wish to file a report together, their wishes won’t matter: the women will be separated, given separate interview times and even locations, and their cases will be processed completely separately."

"There’s a rape shield law in Sweden (as there is throughout Europe) that prevents anyone not involved in the case to say anything to the police, whether it be positive or negative, about the prior sexual habits of the complainant. No matter how much a former or current boyfriend may want to testify about his girlfriends’ sex practices — even if that woman wants him to — the courts will, rightly, refused to hear it, or record it, or otherwise allow it in the record."

"First, the State normally has no power to compel a man who has not been convicted, let alone formally charged, to take any medical tests whatsoever. Secondly, rape victims usually fear STD’s or AIDS infection, naturally enough, and the normal police and prosecutorial guidance is for them to take their own battery of tests – you don’t need the man’s test results to know if you have contracted a disease. Normal rape kit processing–in Sweden as elsewhere–includes such tests for the alleged victim as a matter of course, partly to help prevent any contact between the victim and the assailant outside legal channels. "

Wherein she also notes the well known fact, that Karl Rove is the senior advisor to the Swedish Prime Minister. I mean, Karl "You may end up with a different math, but you're entitled to your math. I'm entitled to the math." Rove, Really?

What's extra-ordinary here is that there's so much circumstantial evidence of political powerplay going on behind the curtain, I mean just today we have a big sign on interpol's website reminding us that Assange is still at large (for not wanting to be heard in a case for a crime he has yet to be charged with)
posted by xcasex at 6:59 AM on August 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


To be clear, they're rape apologetics in both the content of the sentences and the minimizing language used.

The first girl consented to having sex with him
so it's not really rape
but with a condom.

This is all just about some weird Swedish law that we don't have here. Don't worry about it.
She claims he did something to sabotage the condom, or something like that.
Who can even be bothered to figure out what nonsensical thing she is alleging?
But she did consent to having sex with him.
So it's not really rape.

The second girl is the one,
There's only one potential victim, because as we have established the first one wasn't rape.
who it's alleged he had sex with without consent,
can't even bring myself to say the word
by sticking his dick in her
Ha ha, don't worry, bro, what happened is no big deal
while she was still asleep - after having sex with him the night before.
So what is she complaining about? She consented to have sex with him!

I feel as though I have been *extremely* civil in the face of extreme and disproportionate hostility. Correctly noting language that minimizes the accusation is not unfair or uncivil. What would be uncivil is if I hurtled abuse at delmoi, calling him stupid or a liar, or insisting that he didn't really care about Assange and US empire at all and was really just looking to defend rape -- which is the way he has treated me throughout this discussion.
posted by gerryblog at 7:03 AM on August 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


well, there's a very slippery slope here.
Is consent needed before/during/after sex? Do we need to form contracts for casual sexual relations?
If not, is having sex before midnight and an additional two times during the night really the problem here?
If consent is needed, how do we handle that? because of the nature in this particular hearing, consent was given and never withdrawn, so stipulating that scenario, how is a sexual partner to be made aware that consent was withdrawn without it being expressed?

I see what you're getting at but i'd prefer if you were aware of the systemic elements involved in the argumentation, not everyone is aware of their own bias or for that matter pay the amount of attention necessary for a politically correct use of language.

Bridging that, have you read the transcripts at rixstep? :)
posted by xcasex at 7:18 AM on August 19, 2012


To be fair, I don't think it is a question of consent for sex. It is a question of consent for sex without protection, which the women claim was expressly rejected from the beginning, and yet, in some form or another, occurred in both cases. There's no before/during/after issue here.

The actions of the women after the fact are consistent with this. They didn't initially go to the police to have him charged with anything. They wanted to know if there was a way to force him to get tested for diseases.
posted by eye of newt at