The UN’s Special Rapporteur on torture has called for a “full investigation” into the role Sweden played in driving WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange into asylum and eventual custody, after the rape case against him was dropped.
Swedish prosecutors announced on Tuesday that they would drop a dubious rape inquiry against Assange, as oral testimony against the publisher had “weakened,” and corroborating evidence was not strong enough to pursue a case. A Swedish arrest warrant was issued against assange in 2010, and a British court upheld a decision to extradite him in 2012. Threatened with what many saw as a politically motivated extradition, Assange sought refuge in London’s Ecuadorian embassy.
“Today’s collapse of Sweden’s #Assange investigation was inevitable,” rapporteur Nils Melzer tweeted on Tuesday. “Given its gross arbitrariness, there must now be a full investigation, and accountability & compensation for the harm inflicted on #JulianAssange.”
Melzer had previously claimed that Assange was subjected to “psychological torture” and had his due process rights “systematically violated” by the governments of Britain and Sweden. The WikiLeaks founder is still languishing in a maximum security unit at Belmarsh prison, awaiting a hearing on extradition to the US, where he potentially faces 175 years behind bars for publishing leaked military documents.
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In a document tweeted by Melzer, the envoy accuses Sweden of “actively and knowingly” contributing to Assange’s torture, and accuses prosecutors there of working in tandem with Britain’s Crown Prosecutorial Service to keep the case against Assange alive in the face of exculpatory evidence.
With the rape case against him dropped, some commentators have warned that the path to extradition to the US may now be clearer. WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson told supporters that their focus should now shift to the most important “threat” that Assange was “warning about for years: the belligerent prosecution of the United States and the threat it poses to the First Amendment.”
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Via The Strategic Culture Foundation,
A United Nations expert in torture diagnosis has in the past week issued a stark warning that Australian whistleblower Julian Assange is in danger of dying from extreme prison conditions in Britain.
It is testimony to the rank hypocrisy of British and American governments who lecture others around the world about democracy, human rights and international law.
One can only imagine the hysterical outcry among Western governments and media if somehow Assange was being detained in a Russian prison.
The 48-year-old Assange has been held in a maximum-security prison in London since April this year when he was forcibly removed from the Ecuadorean embassy. His arrest was itself a staggering breach of international law. Assange had been confined to the embassy for nearly seven years where he sought asylum to avoid being extradited to the US.
He should have been released on September 22 when his sentence for a past bail infringement had been served out. Instead, a British judge has ordered Assange to be detained until the extradition trial to the US gets underway next year. If Assange is extradited to the US he is facing 175 years in prison if convicted for espionage. Few would believe that he will receive a fair trial in Britain or the US. He has been denied due process of consulting with his defense lawyers.
Assange’s “espionage” charge stems from the fact that his whistleblower site Wikileaks published volumes of damning information exposing massive US and NATO war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. His publications of leaked data also exposed Western diplomatic malfeasance in several countries, as well as illegal global spying on citizens by US intelligence agencies in collusion with British counterparts.
Assange has provided vital information to the international public which demonstrates systematic corruption by Washington and its allies. For telling the truth, he is now being persecuted, just as his whistleblowing colleagues, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden are. Manning has been repeatedly imprisoned in the US, while Snowden has had to seek asylum in Russia for fear of being summarily incarcerated as a “traitor” if he returns to the US.
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