Julian Assange’s extradition hearing to Sweden begins February 7 in London. His lawyers have argued that based on Sweden’s past practices, Assange’s eventual extradition to the United States – where he could face the death penalty – would be much more likely from Sweden.
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Actions in Assange’s support and opposing the extradition are being planned in several cities, including London, Copenhagen, Brisbane, Australia, and Minneapolis. Below is a letter the Minneapolis group will be delivering to the local United Kingdom Consulate. If you would like to sign on to the Minneapolis letter, email email@example.com. Join us as we deliver the letter, 4:30-5:30, Monday, February 7, 800 Nicollet Mall, Suite 2600, Minneapolis.
February 7, 2011
Honorary United Kingdom Consul William R. McGrann:
Today Julian Assange stands before a court that will decide if he will be extradited to Sweden. Our concern is the same as that of Mr. Assange’s lawyers – that this is just the first step in his being rendered illegally from Sweden to the United States. We hope and stress that the laws of the United Kingdom be upheld. Political rendition is unlawful in the United Kingdom, but there are several indications that extradition to Sweden would serve as false cover to effectively render him illegally to the United States.
The seven major points of law (see Guardian article: “WikiLeaks: Julian Assange ‘faces execution or Guantanamo detention'”) outlined by Assange’s attorneys need to be fairly evaluated without any of the extra-legal political pressure from the United States that has, unfortunately, occurred during the Chilcot Inquiry or vis a vis Spanish authorities’ inquiries into Iraq War crimes and the Bush Administration’s use of torture and illegal renditions.
We note that United States interference in other countries’ justice systems, including the justice system of England, runs against the international wisdom of how we honor each other as nations.
On this day, Feb. 7, 2002, our country became a rogue state when President Bush dropped the protections of the Geneva Conventions for those we had taken prisoner. We stand in solidarity with WikiLeaks supporters in London this day and ask that you not collaborate in those and other crimes. We are thankful for the people who have revealed war crimes that have been committed. And, we are thankful that the secrets of war are made public to the people whose name is on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – we the people of the United States.
We are ashamed as United States citizens that our government has held back information about crimes committed in our names, only to have it marked “Secret” for “national security reasons.” A nation of laws cannot be secure if its laws are broken with impunity. It is a wretched irony that our previous president openly brags that he ordered waterboarding and other torture, yet our current president, despite public claims that he is opposed to torture and favors the rule of law, is doing nothing to investigate and prosecute this hideous crime.
As longtime partners, it would cast a terrible pall on our relationship were the United Kingdom to participate directly or implicitly in the same crimes the United States has embraced, such as illegal rendition. Mr. Assange has bravely participated in a great public service to the United States and the world through his journalism. He has broken no U.S. laws. As a nation that lifts high the right of freedom of speech and the virtue of transparency of government, we advocate for the freedom of the press, including that of WikiLeaks. Exposing war crimes is no crime…NOT exposing war crimes is the crime.