Posts Tagged ‘Ecuador’

assange-wanted-poster_53We were rather circumspect in reporting late last night that Julian Assange had been arrested while visiting a medical specialist, and indeed, now, rumours that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested in London are “false,” the whistleblower website said on Saturday UK time.

Indymedia UK had reported that Assange, the 41-year-old Australian who sparked a diplomatic row when he was granted asylum by Ecuador, was arrested while secretly visiting a medical clinic five minutes from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

“Sources close to this reporter have confirmed that Wikileaks founder and international fugitive Julian Assange has been arrested by Scotland Yard detectives at a private medical clinic located just a five minute drive from the Ecuadorean Embassy,” Conal Urquhart wrote in an article posted on Friday.

But Wikileaks vehemently denied the story, tweeting that “Reports of Julian #Assange arrest are false and derive from a fabricated story.”

“Such media smears are common,” Wikileaks tweeted. “Reader beware.”

Indymedia UK has since ‘hidden’ the spurious article about Assange’s arrest, citing a breach of editorial guidelines. Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since last June.

He entered the embassy in an attempt to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning on charges of sexual assault.

The charges reportedly stem from Assange having unprotected consensual sex with two Swedish women, which can be considered a crime in the Nordic country under certain circumstances.

Assange has refused to go, asserting that Sweden’s record of sending persons wanted by the USA to America for detention or trial meant he would be laying himself open to “rendition” against his will, possibly to face execution, and has offered to meet Swedish prosecutors in London where he believes his deportation to the USA is less likely.

Assange rose to international prominence after Wikileaks began leaking and publishing hundreds of thousands of classified US military and diplomatic cables, many of them detailing atrocities committed by US troops and local authorities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Assange has been hailed as a champion of free speech and transparency by progressives around the word, and even by some libertarians like US congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul. He was voted Australian Journalist of the Year in 2011 by his peers in the prestigious Walkley Awards, and Wikileaks has even been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

But he has also been vilified by reactionary forces, especially conservative American politicians, some of whom have called Wikileaks a “terrorist organization”. Former Arkansas governor, presidential candidate and Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee has gone so far as to call for Assange’s execution.

Australian Journalist of the Year 2011. In my CONSIDERED opinion, this man is the greatest force for political good in fifty years. I also believe the USA wants to execute him.

Ecuador says it wants to grant asylum to Julian Assange, but the British government has refused to guarantee safe passage for the WikiLeaks founder.

Mr Assange has been holed up in the embassy for weeks as Ecuadorian officials assess his asylum application.

The WikiLeaks founder fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in London weeks ago after exhausting all avenues of appeal in his fight against extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges.

British authorities have reportedly threatened to storm the Ecuadorian embassy in London if Mr Assange is granted asylum.

In a press conference this morning, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said the country wanted to grant asylum, but could not do so until his safety was guaranteed.

“Today we’ve received a threat by the United Kingdom, a clear and written threat that they could storm our embassy in London if Ecuador refuses to hand in Julian Assange,” he said.

Assange’s mother Christine said she was furious that British police may be sent in to seize him, and claimed they would be acting on behalf of Washington.

“What the US wants, the US gets from its allies, regardless of if it’s legal or if it’s ethical or in breach of human or legal rights,” she told reporters in Australia.

“We’re all lackeys.”

But Australian Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said this morning the matter is out of her hands.

“Our role in this is only a diplomatic one, to make sure Assange has support that he needs for consular issues. It’s not something we have any legal role that we can play,” she told Sunrise.

Mr Assange and his supporters fear that extradition to Sweden will be the first step in a process to get him to the United States to face unknown charges related to the WikiLeaks website, where a sealed indictment is waiting.

Reports are now coming out of London that police are surrounding the Embassy, and the British Government claim the right to enter it and take Assange by force.

Wellthisiswhatithink says: The great un-answered question in this situation is why the Swedish police insist on extraditing Assange “in order to question him”.

If their interest was genuinely to question him, given his unique circumstances – having deeply politically discomforted the governments of the world, especially the most powerful Government in the world – then what is to stop them questioning him in London?

Assange has repeatedly said he would be happy to submit to questioning in the UK, which is subject to the European Court of Human Rights (Sweden is not) and in any event is MUCH less likely to extradite him to the USA than Sweden, with its higher levels of public scrutiny, and much greater resistance to extradition generally.

The insistence on extradition to Sweden (to face questioning over behaviour which, at least in part, would not constitute a crime in most jurisdictions) must therefore be about something else.

Clearly, Blind Freddie could see that what it is about is getting Assange to America, in order to jail him for life, or worse. The charade of a trial for Bradley Manning currently taking place would hardly enourage anyone to believe he would get anythign resembling a fair trial in the USA.