Leading members of SWEDHR publish in Swedish media a request for the immediate review of the ‘case Assange’

SWEDHR Research & Report. Vol 1., No 4, 15 Feb 2015

Updated 11 March 2015

Sweden’s Supreme Court has decided to take up the an appeal from Julian Assange’s lawyer to annulate the pre-trial detention ordered by the prosecutor authority four years ago. The prosecution of Mr. Assange by Sweden was done by the time the US government requested countries participating in the military occupation of Afghanistan – under US command – to initiate prosecution against the WikiLeaks founder [See Analysis: Snowden document reveals Swedish prosecution of Assange was requested by the U.S.]. The Supreme Court based its decision of reviewing the case because of “conduct in the investigation and principle of proportionality”.

supreme court assange

debate article in VK 30 Oct 2014Debate article published in Sweden by Västerbottens-Kuriren 30 October 2014, with the title

En politisk lösning i fallet Assange – Regeringsgarantier mot en utlämning

Also published in the journal  FIB – KULTURFRONT

By Prof. Marcello Ferrada de Noli, Prof. Anders Römesjö, and Dr. Leif Elinder

The International press reports in these days that Julian Assange is likely to get 35-year prison if sentenced on U.S. allegations of publishing classified material related to military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. [1] At the same time, it was now announced that prosecutor Marianne Ny is still rejecting an invitation from the United Kingdom to interrogate Mr. Assange in London. This, despite the fact that the Deputy Foreign Minister Hugo Swire declared in the Britain’s parliament: “We would do everything possible to facilitate this.” [2]. In this legal impasse, would be a political solution that the Swedish government provides such guarantees that Assange can feel confident that he will not be extradited to the United States – if he would be interrogated in Sweden. The government has the last word in extradition cases requested by foreign states, and in this case Sweden would be able to refer to international conventions on freedom of expression – which are in fact applicable to WikiLeaks publishing endeavours.

The two Swedish parties forming the coalition of the new government (The Socialist Party and the Environmental Party – The Greens), advocated during their election campaign an independent Swedish foreign policy. The Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom recently declared in a direct statement to the Swedish media: “It is not America that determines our policy.” (DN, 04/10/2014). [3]

The former right-wing government’s handling of “the Assange case” has been criticized on a number of international human rights forums. The criticism has been mainly focused on:

a) The previous government’s direct interference in the legal process of the case, such as Prime Minister Reinfeldt media statements, [4] which was criticized, among others, by the Australian-Senator Ludlam Scotland in an open letter to his government, a missive who enjoyed wide international reception; [5]

b) Government Members statements about Julian Assange’s right to political asylum;

c) Incorrect statements from the Foreign Ministry headed by Carl Bildt, maintaining that for legal reasons it would not be possible to interview Julian Assange in London, [6]

d) The unwillingness from the part of government officials to provide any form of guarantee that Sweden will not extradite Julian Assange to the United States – where he, like Chelsea (Bradley) Manning – risks an inhumane treatment.

We therefore suggest that the new government of Sweden – in the same laudable fashion than the official statements on the recognition of Palestine as a sovereign state – also takes public stance in support of the principle of freedom of expression to include the “whistleblowing”, i.e. the right to disclose the crimes that authorities or rulers commit. This can be eminently demonstrated by providing guarantees to the whistleblower publisher Julian Assange – the WikiLeaks founder – on that if he can come to Sweden for a legal termination of the case under pre-investigation, he will not risk an extradition from Sweden to the United States. Such a guarantee can possibly be extended without conflicting with Sweden’s extradition treaty with the US. It is important to note that Sweden is already committed to not extradite people to countries where they face an inhumane treatment. [7]

The government has the last word on these matters! The Swedish government rejected the October 4, 2007 a ​​request for the extradition of a Russian national who was suspected of having taken part in a kidnapping in Chechnya. The Supreme Court had previously found that there was no obstacle to extradition.

Our proposal is not to be understood as primarily a support to the person Julian Assange, but primarily as a support for the principle of freedom of expression. Our proposal is also consistent with what Amnesty International Secretariat (IS) have suggested on the case. [8]

However Julian Assange has never been charged with any crime at any Swedish court whatsoever, the outrage represented by “suspicions” spread by the media regarding “sex accusations”, has been instrumented for political purposes. An example is the anti-Assange campaign “Talk-about-it” (#Prataomdet) where the lawyer Claes Borgström publicly declared “this is absolutely a political issue”, [9] or that the “Assange case ‘has become a symbolic issue for radical feminism”, according its representatives. [10]

It is therefore utterly important, not only against the backdrop of the human rights conventions ratified by Sweden, but also in the interests of the two women that have participated in accusing Mr Julian Assange – that this matter comes to a prompt resolution.

In England, Assange has been held under house arrest with electronic tagging, alternatively been locked up at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for over four years. The Ecuador’s Ambassador and Eva Joly (French MEP and investigating magistrates) have sought contact with the former Swedish government to find a solution. So did also the prosecutor Rolf Gren Hill, Judge Brita Sundman, and Johan Pehrson, of the Committee for Justice; and Anne Ramberg, president of the Swedish Bar Association. Every effort has resulted in vain. Former foreign minister Carl Bildt has refused to discuss the matter.

Julian Assange has been described in the US as “high tech terrorist”, and according to documents published by Edward Snowden, Assange has been placed on a so-called “Manhunting target list.” Meanwhile, the US government urged European countries that participated in the NATO-led military operations in Afghanistan – hence Sweden – to “consider prosecution” against Assange. [11]

Finally, on the question of the likelihood of an extradition to the U.S. from Sweden: The Swedish practice during the last fifteen years has been to approve all extradition requests from the United States – when the person in question has been found in Swedish territory. [12]

Marcello Ferrada de Noli, Professor Emeritus, former at dept. of Social Medicine, Karolinska Institute and Harvard Medical School.

Anders Romelsjö, Professor Emeritus, Karolinska Institutet and Stockholm University.

Leif Elinder, Pediatrician Dr.

References

[1] “Swedish prosecutors keep up arrest warrant against Assange.” RT, 28 October 2014.
[2] Deputy Foreign Minister Hugo Swire: “We would do absolutely everything to Facilitate that. Indeed, we would actively welcome it, “. In “English Officials weigh up the option to question Assange ahead of court ruling.” The Guardian, October 28, 2014.
[3] TT, “The first decisions of the new government,” DN 4 okt 2014.

[4] TT, “Sorry that women’s rights and status weigh so easy,” Aftonbladet; 8 Feb 2011.

[5] Scott Ludlam, “Letter to Foreign Minister Bob Carr on” A series of statements made ​​by members of the English Executive and Government Officials on the Assange case “, January 14, 2012.

[6] Leif Elinder, “Throw the prestige of the table in the Assange case.” GP, 1 Sept. 2012.

[7] Such detention for long periods in solitary confinement, after five years in detention under house arrest or similar. Prolonged detention in solitary confinement, according to research linked to an increased risk of suicide See M. Ferrada the Noli, “Research Reports: Solitary Confinement Is Torture”. Professorsblogg.com, December 17, 2013.

[8] AI HAS urged Sweden to “break the current impasse” in the Julian Assange extradition case by “giving him assurances That he will not be handed over to the US”. BBC, 27 September 2012.

[9] Claes Bodström declarations are at the “Swedish Women’s Lobby lifted #prataomdet”; 9 Feb 2011. The significance of “Prataomdet” as part of a political campaign against Julian Assange, as reflected in the following text in the article “We must talk about sex” [published on the website of the Swedish women’s and girl’s Federation Support Association. The item (s) signed by Olga Person, Secretary-General SKR]:

“In connection with a discussion Regarding the media coverage of the Assange case, the Swedish journalist Johanna Koljonen started to tweet, openly and intimately, about her own experiences of drawing lines and Negotiating grey areas in sexual situational. Hundreds of People Followed Koljonen’s example on Twitter under the hashtag #prataomdet (“#talkaboutit”). As a result, Several English magazines, news papers and other media outlets are publishing articles on the subject. In a matter of days, international media, Such as The Guardian, Die Welt, BBC World Service, Norway’s Dagbladet, Finland’s Helsinki Sanomat, and others definatley Followed suit. “

[10] ‘Die Commercial Assange hat einen symbolischen Charakters “. Declarations of Sonja Schwarzenberger in a TV interview on German channel NDR. In M. Ferrada the Noli: “English Radical Feminists Declared Julian Assange a symbolic issue”. Professorsblogg.com, Sept. 30, 2011.

[11] M.FerradatheNoli,”Was The ReopeningOf TheSwedenCase,PartOf TheUSRequest ToProsecuteAssangeByAny Means?” In:”Sweden VS.Assange.HumanRightIssues “. LibertarianBooks-Sweden. 340p.

[12] Malin Rising, “Questions and Answers about the Julian Assange sex crimes case and Swedish extradition rules.” The Associated Press, Stockholm. Prince Albert Daily Herald 6 Feb 2011. “Since 2000, the US has requested the extradition of seven citizens from Sweden, of according to the Swedish Justice Ministry. Five of the requests were approved, and two were rejected because the suspects were no longer believed to be in Sweden.

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