Tag Archives: Assange
Ecuador has offered Julian Assange, the founder of the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks, residency in the country.
Deputy Foreign Minister Kintto Lucas said his country’s government wanted to invite Mr Assange to Ecuador to give him the opportunity to speak publicly.
He said Ecuador was concerned about some of the alleged American activities revealed by Wikileaks.
Earlier this year Sweden refused an application from Mr Assange, who is Australian, for residency there.
“We are open to giving him residency in Ecuador, without any problem and without any conditions,” Mr Lucas said.
“We are going to try and invite him to Ecuador to freely present, not only via the internet, but also through different public forums, the information and documentation that he has,” he said.
Mr Lucas added: “We think it would be important not only to converse with him but also to listen to him.”
Wikileaks says it has more than 1,600 cables that originated from the US embassy in the Ecuadorian capital, Quito, the contents of which have not yet been disclosed.
Mr Lucas said Ecuador was “very concerned” by information revealed by Wikileaks linking US diplomats with spying on friendly governments.
He said the offer to Mr Assange would not affect relations between Ecuador’s left-leaning government and the US.
On Monday, the authorities in Australia said they were looking into whether Mr Assange had broken any laws there.
The Spanish paper El Pais says that, according to a secret cable released by Wikileaks, US intelligence operatives wanted to know whether the Argentine president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, was taking medication to deal with her “nerves and stress”.
Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner President Fernandez’s husband died of a heart attack in October
The message asked: “How do Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s emotions affect her decision-making and how does she calm down when distressed?”
The state department cable, dated some 10 months ahead of the death in October of her husband – the former president, Nestor Kirchner – also asked whether she shared his “adversarial view” of politics.
Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez praised Wikileaks and called on US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to resign following the latest Wikileaks revelations.
“Somebody should study Mrs Clinton’s mental stability”, he said and added: “It’s the least you can do: resign, along with those other delinquents working in the state department.”
Another document published by Wikileaks, dated January 2008, detailed Brazil’s co-operation with the US on counter-terrorism.
In it, the then US ambassador to Brazil, Clifford Sobel, informed Washington that the police often arrested individuals with links to terrorism but charged them with drugs or customs offences so as not attract media attention.
Brazil has a sizeable Arab population and has publicly denied taking part in counter-terrorism operations.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is seeking political asylum at Ecuador’s London embassy, the country’s foreign minister has said.
“Ecuador is studying and analysing the request,” Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino told reporters in Quito.
On 14 June, Britain’s Supreme Court dismissed Mr Assange’s bid to reopen his appeal against extradition to Sweden over alleged sex crimes.
He has denied the allegations, saying they are politically motivated.
The Supreme Court has given him until 28 June before extradition proceedings can start.
Swedish prosecutors want to question Mr Assange over allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two female former Wikileaks volunteers in mid-2010 but have not filed any charges.
Mr Assange, whose Wikileaks website has published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables that embarrassed several governments and international businesses, claims the sex was consensual.
Associated Press quoted Mr Patino as telling reporters Mr Assange had written to Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa saying he was being persecuted and seeking asylum.
Mr Patino said that the Australian had claimed “the authorities in his country will not defend his minimum guarantees in front of any government or ignore the obligation to protect a politically persecuted citizen.”
Mr Assange said he would not be protected from being extradited to “a foreign country that applies the death penalty for the crime of espionage and sedition,” Mr Patino said.
The anti-secrecy campaigner fears extradition to Sweden may lead to him being sent to the US to face separate charges relating to Wikileaks, for which he could face the death penalty.
But Swedish authorities have said the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) would intervene if Mr Assange was to face the prospect of “inhuman or degrading treatment or an unfair trial” in the US.
Mr Assange could still take his case against extradition to the ECHR and has until 28 June to make the move.
Wikileaks has posted an alert on its Twitter feed: “ALERT: Julian Assange has requested political asylum and is under the protection of the Ecuadorian embassy in London.”
It said Ecuador had offered Mr Assange asylum as early as November 2010.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s protracted effort to fight extradition to Sweden suffered a body blow this week. Britain’s Supreme Court upheld the arrest warrant, issued in December 2010. After the court announced its split 5-2 decision, the justices surprised many legal observers by granting Assange’s lawyers an opportunity to challenge their decision—the first such reconsideration since the high-profile British extradition case from more than a decade ago against former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. The decision came almost two years to the day after Pvt. Bradley Manning was arrested in Iraq for allegedly leaking hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. government documents to WikiLeaks. The cases remind us that all too often whistle-blowers suffer, while war criminals walk.
Assange has not been charged with any crime, yet he has been under house arrest in England for close to two years, ever since a “European Arrest Warrant” was issued by Sweden (importantly, by a prosecutor, not by a judge). Hoping to question Assange, the prosecutor issued the warrant for suspicion of rape, unlawful coercion and sexual molestation. Assange offered to meet the Swedish authorities in their embassy in London, or in Scotland Yard, but was refused.
Assange and his supporters allege that the warrant is part of an attempt by the U.S. government to imprison him, or even execute him, and to shut down WikiLeaks. In April 2010, WikiLeaks released a U.S. military video that it named “Collateral Murder,” with graphic video showing an Apache helicopter unit killing of at least 12 Iraqi civilians, including a Reuters cameraman and his driver. In July 2010, WikiLeaks released the Afghan War Logs, tens of thousands of secret U.S. military communications that laid out the official record of the violent occupation of Afghanistan, the scale of civilian deaths and likely war crimes. The Swedish arrest warrant followed just weeks later.
So many public figures have called for Assange’s assassination that a website was created to catalog the threats. Former Arkansas governor, presidential candidate and Fox News commentator Mike Huckabee said, “Anything less than execution is too kind a penalty.” Prominent conservative Bill Kristol said, “Why can’t we use our various assets to harass, snatch or neutralize Julian Assange and his collaborators, wherever they are?”
Death threats from right-wing ideologues are one thing. The main concern with an extradition to Sweden is that Assange will then be extradited to the United States. In another prominent document release by WikiLeaks, called the Global Intelligence Files, a portion of up to 5 million emails were released from a private, global intelligence firm called Stratfor, based in Austin, Texas. The firm’s vice president for intelligence, Fred Burton, wrote in a Jan. 26, 2011, email: “Not for Pub – We have a sealed indictment on Assange. Pls protect.” If an indictment has been issued in secret, then Assange could find himself in U.S. custody shortly after landing in Sweden. He could be charged with espionage (the Obama administration has already invoked the law more than all previous U.S. administrations combined), and could be imprisoned for life or executed.
The United Kingdom carefully considers extradition requests, as famously demonstrated when crusading Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon hoped to prosecute former Chilean dictator Pinochet for torture committed under his rule from 1973 to 1990. Based on Garzon’s indictment, Pinochet was arrested in 1998 while traveling in London. After 16 months of hearings, the British courts finally decided that Pinochet could be extradited to Spain. The British government intervened, overruling the court, and allowed him to return to Chile.
Garzon is known for taking on global human-rights cases under the doctrine of universal jurisdiction, indicting Osama bin Laden for the 9/11 attacks, and probing the abuse of U.S. prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. When he began investigating abuses under the fascist government of Gen. Francisco Franco, who ruled Spain for 40 years, Garzon became the target of the right in Spain and was disbarred in early 2012, effectively ending his legal career.
Judge Garzon and Julian Assange have taken on entrenched power, whether government, military or corporate. Bradley Manning stands accused of the same. In differing degrees, their lives have forever changed, their careers, their freedoms and their reputations threatened or destroyed. This week, Hillary Clinton will be making the first official trip to Sweden in years. Why? What role is the U.S. government playing in Assange’s case? This week’s developments bear crucially on the public’s right to know, and why whistle-blowers must be protected.