Julian Assange still has his supporters, who have been prepared to stand in his corner despite all that has happened recently: his being holed up in London’s Ecuadorian embassy for several years, the claims that he is now a Russian asset, links to the Trump Gang, and suspicions that Wikileaks is no longer acting impartially, none of these have swayed his most ardent backers. But nor is his behaviour swaying the judiciary.
After it was announced last week that Assange was “willing” to face British Justice, this was put to the test yesterday after the warrant for his arrest was upheld by Westminster Magistrates’ Court. Judge Emma Arbuthnot was unimpressed with any of the arguments put forward by his legal team. The conclusion to her judgment was damning.
“The impression I have, and this may well be dispelled if and when Mr Assange finally appears in court, is that he is a man who wants to impose his terms on the course of justice, whether the course of justice is in this jurisdiction or in Sweden. He appears to consider himself above the normal rules of law and wants justice only if it goes in his favour. As long as the court process is going his way, he is willing to be bailed conditionally but as soon as the Supreme Court rules against him, he no longer wants to participate on the court’s terms but on his terms”. And there was more.
“I have had to consider whether it is proportionate not to withdraw the warrant for his arrest. On the one hand he is a man who had failed to attend court and has thwarted the course of justice but on the other he has been unable to leave a small flat for a number of years and is suffering physically and mentally as a result”. Her conclusion?
“Having weighed up the factors for and against and considered Mr Summers’ arguments I find arrest is a proportionate response even though Mr Assange has restricted his own freedom for a number of years. Defendants on bail up and down the country, and requested persons facing extradition, come to court to face the consequences of their own choices. He should have the courage to do so too”.
She added “It is certainly not against the public interest to proceed”. It was a straightforward matter: Assange had jumped bail, and although the case in Sweden for which he was facing extradition has now been dropped, he remains a bail jumper, and for that, there are consequences, for which the court was unwilling to make an exception. For effectively being on the run for several years, he faces criminal sanction.
Judge Arbuthnot was unwilling to make an exception in Assange’s case, and for good reason: law in this country works on precedent as much as anything else, and if the precedent of a get-out clause were to become established, then who else might wish to take advantage of it? You break the law, there are consequences in any ordered society.
If Julian Assange is indeed unwell, he has one course of action available to him, and that is to pack his belongings, and leave the Ecuadorian embassy. And to show his good faith, go straight to the nearest Police station and hand himself in.
There is no obvious and sensible alternative available to him. End of story.
As I understand it, the maximum penalty is three months and £5,000 unless the Magistrates refer to the Crown Court. Surely better than his present position.
Nonsense, Tim. This isn't the "End of story".
At present, Assange has been openly threatened by lunatic fascist US politicians with attempted extradition to that paranoid country. Some of them even urged assassination.
In those circumstances Assange is perfectly justified in his stance. Arbuthnot of course will interpret the law according to its own one-dimensional absurdity in this instance. But the fact is THE SWEDES HAVE DROPPED THE ORIGINAL CHARGE. In the name of democratic common sense - which Arbuthnot demonstrably lacks for all her legal knowledge - this negates the basis of British legal charges. If Arbuthnot cannot or will not see this then Assange is quite justified in not trusting the system. She could have created the precedent at these proceedings but she failed. Furthermore, the language she used raises serious doubts about her impartiality. Is it really necessary to list the number of British glaring miscarriages of justice to illustrate the point?
The other fact is that Wikileaks did civilisation a great service when it exposed evil doings in the USA. This included exposure (amongst many other issues) of US hacking and bugging of supposed allies leaders - a domestic corruption which rightly draws your long term disgust.
Also, Assange has also promised to repay lost bail money when this matter is settled. But what Wikileaks and he exposed for democratic analysis is priceless. Which is why he is hated and threatened by political and media establishments on both sides of the Atlantic.
By now the penny will have dropped among common sense Britons that the "special relationship" with the USA is nothing but a corrupt collaboration between a gang of North American thugs and its British client state.
And that is why Assange is right. Needless to say, the British version (that is, virtually all of them) of media cowards will stay silent or put the boot in. They always hate those they wrong. Do I have to list the examples?
sorry to disagree Tim but I believe Assange is more concerned with being extradited to the good old U.S.A and being locked up for life.
If you think the present government isn't going to do exactly what America wants then you are not paying attention
Read this by Craig Murray and see if maybe you might be tempted to ask questions about the judge whose statements you hold in esteem and have used for the basis of the article https://www.craigmurray.org.uk
I really enjoy your blog Tim and on most cases you will find me standing right beside you, but in this case I think you need to be more paranoid
"If you think the present Government isn't going to do exactly what America wants". Two things here. One, that confuses Government and the judiciary, and two, we seem to have forgotten the outcome of the Lauri Love case rather quickly.
Craig Murray sometimes gets it wrong. Like his idea that Assange should enjoy diplomatic immunity.
It might also reward considering what A N Other judge might say on the caae. As @1 has pointed out, the penalties for jumping bail are not onerous when compared to the length of time Assange has been inside the Ecuadorian embassy.
But the penalties for jumping bail ARE onerous if they include extradition to a country notorious for a torture and concentration camp - which it has located on the soil of a sovereign nation it treats with murderous contempt. A country which considers itself "exceptional" and "indispensible". A country which routinely invades and commits murder and genocide, and has done so since its inception. A country which doesn't subject itself to the International Criminal Court. A country which opposes international human rights. A country which is nothing more than a rogue garrison state owned by unaccountable oligarchs. A country which is a tragic international lughing stock.
What "justice" could Assange expect at the hands of a rigged neofascist court? "Justice" according to the gospel of Freisler?
You missed that bit.
He's another martyr, more interested in his public profile than whatever he claimed to originally motivate him.
I am Sorry I still have to disagree with you Tim, I think the point of the Craig Murray article is, that government and the judiciary are interlinked in this case, and although I will except your point that Craig may be wrong about this, I point you to the Jonathan Cook article on the same subject. (link kindly provided by another poster)
It may be possible that Jonathan Cook may be wrong as well, but given the mans reputation for veracity, I am willing to believe him.
Assange is not concerned with the penalties for jumping bail, however he believes, and I agree with him that he will be sacrificed on the alter of the special relationship
The Lauri Love case, is in my opinion "apples and oranges", you are comparing a man who was convinced the U.S.A were hiding information about extra terrestrials, to a man who embarrassed the American government on the world stage
A wise man once said "just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean they are not out to get you"
Does anyone else see a vague facial ressemblance between Assange and the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz?
I normally think you are spot on, Tim, but this was, in my view a mistake. I am glad the other posters have written at length, but the Craig Murray and Jonathan Cook articles are key.
Please note that it has just emerged that the UK Govt pressured Sweden in 2013 NOT TO DROP THE CASE.
This is all an attempt to bang Julian A up in Guantanamo for basically revealing things various govts didn't want revealed.
Assange skipped bail. That comes with a legal sanction. No one gets to avoid legal sanction when they commit a crime.
End of. It is utterly laughable and betrays a lack of legal common sense to suggest that Assange should get away scot free. He skipped bail and as such must face the consequences.
All the commenters demanding that he shouldn't seem to think Assange should be above the law. There is legal precedent and if he gets away with skipping bail, everyone else will be able to, leading to anarchy and the ending of bail as we know it, reducing freedoms.
This is not a difficult case. I don't care how special Assange and his sycophants believe he is and they are. He broke the law, a law that really isn't difficult in the slightest to follow, and he must face the consequences. He is not above the law, and he is not special.
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