Julian Assange is in great danger. We are dealing with a friend of freedom of the press and expression. Europe is under undue pressure from the United States to prevent human rights from being respected. We know that the United States is able to use its influence all over the world: it does so in its fight against corruption, but also to prevent competition. We know they are powerful. And if they manage to get Julian Assange extradited, we run the risk that the rest of us in the future will not have the opportunity to publish information that does not please the powerful United States.
We know that Julian Assange will not be treated fairly in the US judiciary. We know that he was illegally intercepted and videotaped during his long stay at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. We know that influential people in the US administration have called for him to be executed or sentenced to death. In other words, the conditions for extradition to the United States are not present.
We can not trust the judiciary
It is a problem that we can not trust the British judiciary. For those of us who have followed the trial in Old Bailey, partly closely, it is clear that one does not even pretend that general rules of law are followed [see John Pilger's report]. It is common practice in the rest of the world for a judge to hear witnesses and experts before drawing conclusions. But Judge Vanessa Baraitser arrives at the courtroom with her decision finalized. She reads straight from her iPad. She does not allow the audience to be present in the courtroom. Two seats are all that is set aside for the audience, and you have to stand in line for hours if you want to get in. The trial against Assange is not an open trial. We can not trust it.
As for Sweden, we must talk about a court scandal taking place there.
Previously, I thought it was not so important what this unknown judge Baraitser had to say, since we could have confidence in the British Supreme Court. But then we learned that in order to "simplify the processes", it had been decided to remove the automatic appeal to the Supreme Court. With Judge Baraitser, the British judiciary has not been given a sympathetic face. And it is reprehensible that Prime Minister Johnson says that he does not intend to comply with international bodies and agreements he has recently signed, although this is not surprising.
Shocked by Swedish legal process
I became acquainted with Assange in 2009–2010, after the financial crisis. I was invited to Iceland to map out what had preceded the crisis in the country. Julian Assange was also there. He was working on a project to develop Iceland into a special island. Not a tax haven, but an information paradise. A place where journalists could be safe from persecution and imprisonment. I liked the idea and discussed it with him.
The meeting happened before WikiLeaks published Collateral Murder video [where American soldiers shoot and kill civilians in Baghdad from helicopters, editor's note]. After that I became preoccupied with French and European politics. Then I realized that Assange was stuck in the Ecuadorian embassy, and I started visiting him. I was shocked by Sweden's legal process. The Swedish public prosecutor Marianne Ny told on her blog that she did not have the opportunity to interrogate Assange in London. She was obviously misinformed about modern European case law, so I tried to contact her to tell her that such interrogations are carried out hundreds of times every day in Europe alone.
I tried to contact the Swedish Minister of Justice, but no one responded to this or to my letters. Nevertheless, I am sure that they must have received the information via the many lectures I gave in several contexts. I understood that something serious was brewing, especially since it was very strict to issue arrest warrants on such a weak basis – very strict in the European context. Why are they not just conducting this interrogation, I thought.
Here I think Sweden has to look at its case law with fresh eyes to learn from this disaster.
What is also worrying is that there is no opportunity to appeal against Marianne Ny's actions. And here I think Sweden has to look at its case law with fresh eyes to learn from this disaster. Today, we do not actually know why this was allowed to happen as it did. But someone must have understood what they had on the office desk in front of them. The case was closed and then reopened by Marianne Ny without new information being presented.
However, none of these small points were corrected. In other countries, when things are going awry, a superior comes and says, “Dear Marianne, you have done a great job. But there's something wrong here, so let me look at this. " This procrastination has also affected the women in the case, in addition to Assange.
I spoke to Assange in London if he could not travel to Sweden and appear in court. But he feared US extradition. He already knew then that there was a secret lawsuit against him in the United States. We see that Sweden has been a piece in the US game, and that the great power wants revenge on the man who has repeatedly revealed their secrets. The latter the Americans are not willing to forgive him, nor will they seek justice for Assange. But the intention is obviously also to send a message to other journalists who intend to challenge them.
This is what is at stake. And that means Assange will never have a fair trial.
CIA agents were to "help" Iceland
But there are even more reasons for that: He has been illegally monitored night and day in the embassy. And I know how the Americans work: In 2011, a plane landed in Iceland with US agents who offered to "help" Iceland deal with an alleged imminent serious hacker attack. But Interior Minister Ögmundur Jónasson was furious and rejected them as saying "you have no respect for the rules of international cooperation". They were looking for Assange, and thought they could "use" Iceland. They were members of NATO and could use Icelandic air territory. They felt at home there. The Icelandic government expelled them.
We have overwhelming evidence that the requirements for the extradition of Assange to the United States have not been met. It is important that we let the British know that we have seen through this game. But Boris Johnson needs a good trade agreement with the United States and needs a good relationship with the Americans after the British leave the EU.
As for Sweden, we must talk about a legal scandal taking place there. It is possible that they did not know what was going on to begin with. But after the many campaigns, reports and UN inquiries, they have enough information to do something.
I have written articles about Assange in newspapers all over the world, but in Sweden I have never received anything in print.
Sweden sees itself as the homeland of human rights and is unable to believe that other countries may have dishonest motives. I have written articles about Assange in newspapers all over the world, but in Sweden I have never received anything in print. They do not even answer telephone contact. This is a black dot, an abyss we must talk about and shed light on. We must create a movement.
Return to Judge Baraitser. I do not know her, but the way she acts worries me. I'm afraid there will be a plane ready to take Assange to the United States as soon as the opportunity arises. Unless we stop it.
This is a legal disaster that began in Sweden and continued in the United Kingdom. For me as a Norwegian citizen, it is terrible to see how Assange has been treated in our neighboring country and in the UK. They used to be democracies.