Assange: Frequently Asked Questions

WikiLeaks has publicised the Interamerican Court of Human Rights Advisory Opinion as a major win for Mr. Assange. How does this win get implemented in the UK if it is a regional American Court?

When did Assange enter the embassy, and why is he there?

Why is Assange not allowed to receive visitors, access the Internet or receive or make any phone calls?

Why does the US government want to prosecute Assange?

What’s so unusual about the United Kingdom’s actions against Mr. Assange?

How is Mr. Assange’s health considering he’s been arbitrarily detained without access to sunlight or fresh air since 19 June 2012?

How did the Swedish matter end?

Mr. Assange’s rights have been vindicated at both the UN and the Interamerican Court of Human Rights. The Interamerican Court is the equivalent of the European Court of Human Rights. The Advisory Opinion d was requested by Ecuador (during the Correa government). Mr. Assange’s legal team presented an Amicus Curiae Brief to the Court.

The Court’s decision does not just vindicate Mr. Assange’s asylum, it is also a milestone for the rights of refugees: it examines the way in which the legal regimes of international refugee/asylum law and international human rights law have evolved since 1948, to become mutually reinforcing and complementary legal regimes.

While the judgment is "advisory" in nature, Ecuador is the state that requested the Court’s opinion and is consequently effectively bound to its interpretation. This limits what Ecuador can and cannot do, and in effect enables Mr. Assange to take legal action against the government if its actions are not congruent with the Court’s opinion.

The nature of the Interamerican Court on Human Rights as an international regional court makes its judgments relevant (though not directly binding) to other international courts such as the European Court of Human Rights.

The Interamerican Court’s Advisory Opinion has aroused massive interest. A total of 61 Amicus Curiae briefs were presented to the Court by academics, refugee organisations and member states. In addition to this, the Amicus Brief presented by Mr. Assange’s team was endorsed by twenty international law academics and nine non-governmental organisations.

When did Assange enter the embassy, and why is he there?

Julian Assange entered the embassy on June 19, 2012 and applied for political asylum, seeking protection from US political persecution and attempts to imprison him over his work as the publisher of WikiLeaks. He was granted political asylum after the UK and Sweden refused to give an assurance that they would not extradite him to the US over WikiLeaks publications. The US formally started grand jury proceedings against him in May 2010.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has confirmed that arresting Mr. Assange is a "priority".

CIA Director Mike Pompeo (now US Secretary of State) has stated that Julian Assange "has no First Amendment Rights" and has described WikiLeaks as a "non-state hostile intelligence agency"

Under oath, top US intelligence chiefs have admitted that they have found no evidence to suggest WikiLeaks colluded with Russia:

In 2017 then FBI director James Comey told Congress: "[Assange] hasn’t been apprehended because he is in the Ecuadorian embassy in London".

The UK refuses to confirm or deny whether it has received a US extradition warrant. The US government has pursued a grand jury against Mr. Assange since 2010 — which is what led to his asylum in 2012.

Why is Assange not allowed to receive visitors, access the Internet or receive or make any phone calls?

Since 28 March 2018, the government of Ecuador has imposed a regime of isolation on Assange, which means that he may receive no visitors other than his lawyers, and is kept incommunicado from friends and family through the government’s installation of signal jammers which interfere with wifi and phone signals. The government has also imposed a gag on any public statements and interviews.

The situation is grave. Former President Rafael Correa, who decided to grant Assange asylum in 2012, has described his treatment by the current government as "torture".

Human Rights Watch’s General Counsel, Dinah PoKempner, to whom Ecuador refused access to Assange wrote that Assange’s asylum "looks more and more like solitary confinement->] and Human Rights Watch has called on the UK to issue an assurance that it will not extradite Assange to the US as a way to resolve the situation.

The government has falsely claimed that Assange had agreed to restrict his freedom of speech.

The government has falsely stated that his protection from political persecution is contingent on his censorship. There is no legal basis for this claim, and in fact, the interference with his basic rights that has been imposed violates both the Ecuadorian Consitution and binding international legal instruments.

In practice, Mr. Assange’s continued protection depends on Ecuador’s competing interests of complying with existing legal commitments to protect Assange on the one hand and its changing political and economic priorities, on the other.

Why does the US government want to prosecute Assange?

A US grand jury investigation has been ongoing since May 2010 with the purpose of bringing a case against Mr. Assange over WikiLeaks publications. Efforts to prosecute Mr. Assange have expanded under the Trump administration to include WikiLeaks groundbreaking series on the CIA published last year. Mr. Assange faces up to life imprisonment for multiple charges including conspiracy, theft, and electronic espionage—a terrorism offence.

President Trump’s CIA director Mike Pompeo stated that Mr. Assange has "no First Amendment rights" and that the CIA is working to "take down" WikiLeaks. The US Senate intelligence committee has tabled legislation to declare WikiLeaks a "non state intelligence service" and that the US government should "treat it accordingly".

Julian published two (1, 2) responses in the Washington Post.

What’s so unusual about the United Kingdom’s actions against Mr. Assange?

The UK remains in violation of a United Nations decision from 2016 that Mr. Assange is being subjected to Arbitrary Detention. The UK government refuses to release most of its internal communications relating to Mr. Assange saying that to do so would compromise the United Kingdom’s national security and diplomatic relations. The UK police surveillance spend against Mr. Assange was last divulged in October 2015, when the UK government admitted to having spent more than £13.2m. Following this admission, the budget for the police operation became classified because, as Metropolitan Police Chief said at the time, "the public are not necessarily supportive of it." The cost is estimated to have exceeded £21 million by February 2018.

How is Mr. Assange’s health considering he’s been arbitrarily detained without access to sunlight or fresh air since 19 June 2012?

Several doctors have recently confirmed 1,2 that Mr. Assange’s health is in an increasingly dangerous condition. The UN found that his arbitrary detention is "cruel, inhuman and degrading" and tantamount to torture.

How did the Swedish matter end?

The extradition warrant from Sweden was revoked on 19 May 2017, when the prosecutor also closed the entire underlying investigation. Having obtained Mr. Assange’s testimony, the prosecutor decided it would be disproportionate to proceed.

The investigation had already been found to be baseless by Stockholm’s senior prosecutor, Eva Finne, who found that the conduct alleged by the police "disclosed no crime at all". SMS messages from the alleged complainant made public in 2015 showed that she "did not want to accuse Assange of anything", that she felt "railroaded by police and others around her", and "police made up the charges".

The UK’s role in the Swedish affair was exposed in emails obtained under Freedom of Information Act which revealed that Sweden moved to drop the investigation in 2013, but the UK Crown Prosecution Service persuaded Sweden to keep it alive. Emails show the UK advised Sweden not to interview Mr. Assange in the UK in 2011 and 2012.

UK prosecutors admitted to deleting key emails concerning Assange and engaged in elaborate attempts to keep correspondence from the public record.

The Swedish prosecutor admitted to deleting an email from an FBI agent about Assange which she received in 2017, and claimed it could no longer be recovered (Video in English and Swedish):

See also:

2782 days under house arrest.

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