Assange and Manning

Written By: - Date published: 8:15 am, May 20th, 2017 - 36 comments
Categories: International, law - Tags: ,

Last night news broke regarding Julian Assange:

Swedish prosecutors drop Julian Assange rape investigation

Swedish prosecutors are to drop a preliminary investigation into an allegation of rape against the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, bringing to an end a seven-year legal standoff.

According to a brief statement on the website of the Swedish prosecution authority, the country’s director of public prosecutions, Marianne Ny, “has today decided to discontinue the investigation regarding suspected rape (lesser degree) by Julian Assange”.

The prosecutor and her deputy, Ingrid Isgren, would say more about their reasons at a press conference later on Friday, the statement said.

With the threat of extradition to Sweden removed, the decision potentially allows the Australian, 45, to leave the embassy. However, his lawyers have repeatedly said he would not do so without assurances that he would not face extradition to the US over possible espionage charges, linked to Wikileaks’ publishing activities – the basis on which Ecuador granted him asylum. …

And two days ago, Chelsea Manning:

Chelsea Manning released from military prison

Chelsea Manning, the army private who released a vast trove of US state secrets and was punished by the US military for months in penal conditions denounced by the UN as torture, has been released from a military prison in Kansas after serving seven years of a 35-year sentence.

A couple of hours after her release, Manning said in a statement: “After another anxious four months of waiting, the day has finally arrived. I am looking forward to so much! Whatever is ahead of me, is far more important than the past. I’m figuring things out right now–which is exciting, awkward, fun, and all new for me.”

Barack Obama granted Manning clemency in his final days in office in January. In commuting to time served her 35-year sentence – the longest ever penalty dished out in the US to an official leaker – the outgoing commander in chief said that “justice had been served”. …

36 comments on “Assange and Manning”

  1. Bill 1

    Well, I don’t think the UK would extradite in the absence of charges. but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if charges suddenly ‘pop up’. Regardless of that, I wouldn’t want to be out and walking about in Assange’s shoes. I can see the security of the Ecuadorean Embassy coming to look like very green grass in coming weeks/months.

    • lprent 1.1

      Well he will have to answer court charges about skipping bail in Britian.

      The US trying to extradite him from the UK will be pretty hard. First they would have to find an offense that doesn’t have a death penalty. Second they’d have find a comparable charge in UK law. Thirdly, he is an Aussie citizen and the offenses were not carried out by him or in the bounds of the US.

      I think that he should avoid the US, Aussie (53rd state), and probably a lot of travelling in other politically unstable bribable countries.

      He might be safest in the care of the UK.

      • Bill 1.1.1

        This “bounds of the USA” thing…hasn’t there been precedents set for internet based “crimes” being deemed to have occurred within US jurisdiction because they ‘hold’ various address suffixes – .com etc?

        I’m sure that was the argument used against a young British lad running a site called TVShack or some such. Then there’s (of course) NZ’s very only Mr Kim.

        So if I’m recalling things right and any of the leaking went via any .com or ‘dot whatever’ that are managed by the US, they can apparently argue the “crime” took place in the US.

        • Barfly 1.1.1.1

          Some of Mega’s content was hosted on rented USA servers. Hindsight on that one is painfull for Kim Dotcom I’d imagine.

      • Morrissey 1.1.2

        He might be safest in the care of the UK.

        He’s not “in the care of the UK”, he’s in the care of the Ecuadorian government which, unlike the UK, respects international law.

  2. xanthe 2

    So they can hold him without charge for seven years and then just walk away and leave him for the Americans to pick up,
    @weka Do you still think thats OK?

    [don’t tell lies about authors. Take the weekend off – weka]

    • tinfoilhat 2.1

      Who was holding him without charge for 7 years ? I thought he went into the Embassy and asked for sanctuary ?

      • xanthe 2.1.1

        Having police stationed outside with orders to arrest on sight qualifies as “holding”. The “without charge” is a matter of public record.

        • lprent 2.1.1.1

          He skipped bail after being considered by the court to be a flight risk. Rightly as it happens. You don’t consider bail jumping to be an offense? It is here and in the UK.

          Besides many of the embassies in have police guards in the UK, and since they cluster together they tend to guard the district anyway.

          • Morrissey 2.1.1.1.1

            You make it sound like Assange is the criminal here, rather than the criminals and murderers who he exposed.

            • Bill 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Morrissey.

              Either Assange has committed a crime and avoided answering to allegations in a Swedish court, or he didn’t commit a crime and avoided answering to allegations in a Swedish court.

              A whole pile of stuff flows from those two scenarios, and as previous threads have demonstrated, nothing worthwhile comes out of asserting one scenario or the other.

              edit – and whether justified or not, he did skip bail.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Either Assange has committed a crime and avoided answering to allegations in a Swedish court, or he didn’t commit a crime and avoided answering to allegations in a Swedish court.

                Or he didn’t commit a crime (which is why he was allowed to leave Sweden BTW) and has been hounded by the Swedish courts for other purposes.

                [What bit of the big red flag I was waving didn’t you see? Was it the redness of it or the whole damned thing? Let that one step you’ve taken down the path that leads to pointless arguments be the final one. You want a discussion on authorities destroying people’s reputations and lives for political reasons (and they do), then I’m telling you straight, on the remote chance the penny didn’t drop from experiencing previous discussion threads , that rightly or wrongly, Assange and ‘the standard’ is not the vehicle nor the space for that discussion.] – Bill

                • Draco T Bastard

                  What bit of the big red flag I was waving didn’t you see?

                  You didn’t post any red flags. You postulated two possibilities and I added a third.

                • Morrissey

                  Why is The Standard not a suitable vehicle or space to discuss such issues as governments persecuting dissenters? Are we in New Zealand or in Communist China?

              • lprent

                He wasn’t answering to allegations in a “Swedish court”. As far as I am aware the matter had never ever gotten near one except probably to obtain a proforma court document for the prosecutor to satisfy the British court.

                The extradition request was to allow Swedish prosecutors to question him to see if there was sufficient evidence to take before a court. For some unknown reason they were insistent that this could only be done in Sweden rather than what they eventually did and simply sent someone over to interview him in London.

                As I pointed out in my original post on this, that was a freaking strange legal demand by Marianne Ny, when she had the means to have her staff simply question him in London.

                That is what the legal issue – international law and the basis of extradition. It was a reasonable suspicion about the intent of the prosecutor in making such a strange request that Assange explained as the reason to resist it, and there is no evidence to suggest anything else.

                No amount of conflating events that have never happened disguises the legal issue about why Assange is still in London.

                • Bill

                  Fair enough. Avoided answering questions relating to allegations, in Sweden – not a Swedish court.

                • McFlock

                  If I recall correctly, under Swedish law they were obliged to have a second interview before making a formal arrest (an arrest that would have been made much earlier in the process under UK-style legal systems).

                  The prosecutors had tried to schedule a second interview when he was in Sweden, and advised his lawyer that an arrest post-interview was likely.

                  Then Assange left Sweden.

                  My guess is that Ny felt that an arrest was so highly likely after the second interview that having an interview outside of Sweden at that stage of the investigation was most likely to be pointless. Yes, other people have been interviewed outside of Swedish jurisdiction, but how many of those interviews resulted in an immediate arrest?

                  Additionally, the charges with the less severe penalties (that would have been plea-fodder or more likely to obtain a guilty verdict) had outrun their statute of limitations, and the two remaining charges were within a few years of the statute of limitations. Which Assange was well set to do.

                  • Ross

                    McFlock,

                    There’s a useful article here, which you may have already seen, about Swedish law and the process that the Swedes follow. It was written before Assange was interviewed in London, and the writer seems to assume that Assange is guilty and that he definitely would’ve been charged in the UK if the (alleged) offences had been comitted there. I think that is speculation.

                    In England and Wales, a decision to charge is taken at a very early stage; there can be no doubt that if what Mr Assange had done had been done in England and Wales, he would have been charged and thus criminal proceedings would have been commenced.

                    https://storify.com/anyapalmer/why-doesn-t-sweden-interview-assange-in-london

                    • McFlock

                      It was, however, speculation made by the UK Supreme Court when it determined that Assange should be extradited.

                      So some pretty heavyweight speculation.

          • Ross 2.1.1.1.2

            Skipping bail is an offence but he’s been arbitrarily detained for several years. His lawyers will argue he has been punished enough and so the charge re skipping bail should be dropped.

            It suprised me why Swedish prosecutors waited so long to interview Assange. For years they insisted he had to go to Sweden to be questioned. That was ridiculous. Swedish prosecutors have gone to the UK to interview suspects, while many war crime suspects have been interviewed where they reside, not where the crimes took place. Swedish prosecutors eventually did interview Assange in London. [Edit: I see Lynn has made a similar point.]

            A Freedom of Information request submitted by the Hazel Press news organization has revealed that Sweden has granted 44 requests to interview witnesses or suspects in the UK since 2010, the Press Association reports. This has led supporters of the WikiLeaks founder to claim that Assange has been “singled out,” as he has also agreed to be interviewed by Swedish prosecutors inside the embassy concerning sex allegations in the Scandinavian country.

            https://www.rt.com/news/312116-assange-sweden-victimization-interview/https://www.rt.com/news/312116-assange-sweden-victimization-interview/

        • lprent 2.1.1.2

          Ah no. He has a charge against him in a British court – skipping bail.

          • Ross 2.1.1.2.1

            Yes he has a charge against him for skipping bail in Britain. But his lawyers intend to fight this.

            Assange’s lawyers will also call on the UK to drop the outstanding arrest warrant against him.

            They have a potential legal avenue: to approach the courts arguing that the Swedish decision constitutes a significant change in circumstances that means the warrant should be reviewed.

            Given that the maximum sentence for breach of bail is one year’s prison, and the UN has determined that he has been in effect detained for seven years, “such credit would exceed any sentence and makes his arrest moot”, Taylor said.

            http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/europe/92796562/swedish-prosecutor-says-to-drop-assange-investigation

    • lprent 2.2

      The only “hold” was that his passport would have been held because he was facing a extradition hearing in the UK. He would also have probably been ‘held’ for a few hours at the court during hearings.

      Any holding that ACTUALLY happened outside of your fevered mind was done by Assange. Please resist your natural tendency to lie about facts.

      It is irritating untangling the resulting flamewars, and I’d look to the first embellisher to put in the stocks as a working demonstration of my disapproval of the extra workload.

      There is a lot of room for discussion. You don’t have to lie to argue for Assange.

  3. AsleepWhileWalking 3

    Surely there are better thinks for the UK to spend money on (refering to the 11.1 million pounds for the three years to 2015 cost of keeping Assange surrounded).

  4. Adrian Thornton 4

    ….and I’d look to the first embellisher to put in the stocks as a working demonstration of my disapproval.

    Slightly ironic statement considering that this story, at it’s very heart is about citizens being able to disseminate information (and opinion) that can at times challenge established power structures without fear of reprisal.

    • lprent 4.1

      citizens being able to disseminate information (and opinion)

      I have no interest in either of those. However do you think that deliberately purveying and stating false facts as being facts is something that should also be allowed? As far as I can see all it does is spiral off into degenerating nonsense.

      • Adrian Thornton 4.1.1

        While I completely agree with your second point, I would say that the first point is solely dependent on who is deciding on what are ‘facts’ and what are ‘false facts’, how much credibility they have, and what are their known positions on the topics under scrutiny are (or have been), and whether those positions could have any bearing on their decisions.

        A good example is RNZ having Brent Budowsky from The Hill as a regular contributor on their morning show to comment on Trump and US politics.
        As I am sure you are aware Budowsky was exposed by wiki as being completely in the bag for the Clinton Democrats, so had no credibility what so ever to comment impartially on this topic.
        I stated this in an formal complaint to RNZ under the Media Standards Authority rules 8 & 9 Balance and accuracy respectively.
        While my complaint was not upheld, I also notice that Brent Budowsky has not been on RNZ since (about 3 months ago).

        I know it is a different thing moderating citizens discussions on a forum, still there has to be room for peoples other opinions on topics (however contrary to your own) unless those persons facts can be unequivocally disproved by undisputed facts ( or the are plainly trolling) and not just because a moderator doesn’t agree with them.

        • lprent 4.1.1.1

          My general policy is that if someone asserts a ‘fact’ then can’t link to something reasonably credible with an tested experimental base or a documentary proof that could be relied on in a court then it simply isn’t a fact.

          It is just opinion or an unverifiable belief and should be expressed as such.

          In effect the person making the assertion is in charge of providing the evidence. But there are a lot of usually pretty smart critics here who will happily point out the flaws in the evidence.

          If this technique sounds familiar, it should be. It is the one used by science, engineers, lawyers, parliaments, courts, and anything with a Socratic method basis. It is used because it tends to work at stripping away bullshit from reproducible reality. After several thousand years, it has known flaws. But it usually works and stops too much flimflam wasting everyone’s time.

          The reason why is that making an assertion of fact in this environment without backing is simply bullshit. We don’t really know who anyone is. Most people commenting are limited to zero credibility. Authority in this environment is limited.

          They should be prepared to put up a source for their assertion, or be prepared to put in the words “I think..”. Which of course immediately devalues the statement. If they put up a source or link, then the quality of what is on the other side of that link determines their credibility. Because someone will look and analyse it.

          Why? Because there are some serious bullshit artists around who lie to change reality. I and most people would prefer to know who is lying and who can back their words with facts.

          However the point really is that most things can be expressed as opinion, and it is a whole lot safer around here to express things as opinions or questions unless the person making it is damn sure that they can link to a source or state the source of their information.

          Otherwise you get people like me correcting their misconceptions and fuzzy thinking and exercising our ability to communicate our irritation at having to do so across the printed page. It is a duty to be pedantic on assertions of fact that are in reality just undeclared mythmaking

        • dukeofurl 4.1.1.2

          Adrian you should read Budowskys column in 2015
          Biden-Warren in 2016?
          http://thehill.com/opinion/brent-budowsky/253924-brent-budowsky-biden-warren-in-2016
          .“..there have been several events regarding the Clinton campaign that are deeply troubling. Last Thursday in Ohio, the former secretary of State, who for months has spoken as a liberal, progressive and populist, suddenly stated that she is in fact a moderate and centrist Democrat…”

          “one of the pro-Hillary super-PACs has, according to a reliable report in the Huffington Post, begun what I consider a scurrilous, divisive and self-destructive negative campaign against Sanders, which should stop now.”

          You should really look at the whole picture rather than a small segment. As he would share your disdain for the democrat- corporate consultant class

          “This phenomenon that sterilizes Democratic idealism, passion and turnout has contributed mightily to Democratic losses of the House, Senate, governorships and state legislatures and the dangerously high levels of public distrust toward the front-runner for the party’s nomination.”

          hardly in the pocket for Clinton , as his personal views tended more to the Sanders/Warren/Biden side of things

  5. greywarshark 5

    There was a saying about there being a 7-year itch in marriage when the problems started to surface and be recognised.

    Perhaps there is a similar context here, and there is a process: Of finding faults in something, denying them, then they annoyingly pop up again, admitting problems, seeking ways to slide out from under, facing the bad outcomes, working out exit doors to distant locations, then presenting the finalising of the difficulty and the chosen method of closing it down.
    Could take 7 years.

    Could this approach be applied to such things as Guantanamo prison in a toxic location taken from the Cubans, and other long-standing matters that will never be finalised in a clean and clear-cut way showing perfect probity of those involved?

  6. Ross 6

    As a sidebar, Roman Polanski – who lives in France – has been wanted in the US for 40 years on charges of raping a girl. He skipped the US after fearing he’d be imprisoned (he admitted raping the girl).

    I understand France has an extradition treaty with the US but because Polanski is a French citizen, he will never be extradited.

    I doubt Assange will be going anywhere soon because the UK will have to agree to him leaving. I cannot see that happening given the close relationship between the US and UK.

  7. Wainwright 7

    Never made any sense to me that he feared extradition from Sweden more than extradition from England. Far more likely he’s a creep who didn’t want to answer for his creepiness. Makes all men look bad and tanked the reputation of his project int he rpocees, well done Julian.

  8. Ennui 8

    Seems to me I have seen this whole argument here before so many times at the Standard and other Leftist blogs. The same fierce tribalised polarisation where facts are dubious and positions inflexibly intolerant of dissent.

    In this case we have the neo Marxian proponents of a theory they call rape culture calling for a male to face the music. Their opponents the liberal anti imperialist supporters of a man who has stood up to the empire and who may have committed a crime.

    There’s a string of known facts. Yet neither side is privvy to what actually happened, the real facts. One side wants to “try” the facts even at the risk of the defendant being “renditioned”. His alleged crime so heinous that the risk of his demise matters not. Yet they have no real facts to base this call on.

    The other side in their rush to defend their man against the empires wrath maybe overlook that a serious crime with real victims may have been committed by their man. If they are true to their liberal principles they should want this resolved rather than merely deflected. After all there are no tested facts declaring innocence against serious charges. At best they call innocent until proven guilty.

    The whole tribalised argument reminds me of a latter day McCarthyism. It’s so common to the current politics of the Left that the house remains divided. Or maybe it is just the Lefts way, the ongoing inheritance of Marxist authoritarian absolutism that declared in order to create earthly paradise a few eggs were collateral. Millions perished yet nothing appears learned.

    I have absolutely no doubt that Assange is in mortal danger. I myself place that danger far higher than any possible criminal guilt requiring resolution. Those who call otherwise might wish to ponder whether a Jesus would have stoned a Judas. He who is without sin let him cast the first stone? Or is it steely absolutism from our neo Marxian Left that demands blood, any man’s blood?

    I come here so very rarely now, the chamber still echoes and the Right wing dragon remains unslain. Any guesses why?

    • Anne 8.1

      Hi Ennui. Your absence has been noted and mourned. Together with [former] commenters Pascals bookie, Karol, BliP, Olwyn, Puddleglum and others who no longer grace this site with their insightful comments, your departure has left TS a lesser place to visit.

      In this case we have the neo Marxian proponents of a theory they call rape culture calling for a male to face the music. Their opponents the liberal anti imperialist supporters of a man who has stood up to the empire and who may have committed a crime.

      Given that neither side has any idea what happened yet are prepared to pass judgement based on their own partisan – and sometimes jaundiced – view-points is a sad indictment on humanity as a whole.

      I, too suspect Assange would be in mortal danger if he stepped out of that embassy and that is the primary reason he is still there – not because he is guilty of rape. We don’t know whether he was guilty or not.

      • RedLogix 8.1.1

        @Anne

        Agreed. Too many people driven off for one reason or another, or only rarely commenting because they’re not prepared to engage in the toxic bickering some topics provoke. For me there are a lot of threads … like this one … I just won’t comment on.

        Otherwise what Ennui has said; the left devours itself in paroxysms of political purity purges, while the right wing dragon sails on undisturbed.

        All politics is negotiation and compromise; and ONLY if you understand what is important to your opponent, what they value and what they will trade, what they will listen to and how to frame a proposal they can accept, and while remaining true to your own principles … ONLY then can anyone be an effective political force.

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