2nd November 2011 16:15
Julian Assange, Wikileaks and the state of Extradition in the UK.
View this press release as a PDF.
Loz Kaye – Pirate Party UK Leader:
The High Court in London has today upheld an earlier ruling that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange should be extradited to Sweden. The extradition is being requested on the basis of a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued for Mr. Assange. It appears that Judges in the UK have acted in-line with the law, but within the restrictive framework of the EAW. There are clearly problems with these arrangements -- it is outrageous that the UK is acting within a system where a citizen of one country could be handed to another on the basis of mere allegations. Unlike most other extradition proceedings the EAW prevents UK courts from considering the facts for a case before considering extradition.
Mr. Assange has not been convicted or even charged with an offence in Sweden and given that it has been reported that he has offered to cooperate with the Swedish authorities fully from the UK, it seems unclear why the taxpayer should be footing the bill for costly extradition hearings when other avenues of dealing with the issue have not been exhausted.
Mr. Assange’s case is another clear indication that the UK needs to urgently reassess its extradition arrangements, especially in the context of other highly questionable extradition requests, like those of Gary McKinnon and Richard O'Dwyer. Mr. McKinnon is facing extradition to the US on the basis of hacking allegations whilst he was in the UK but publicly embarrassed the US government, Mr. O'Dwyer is facing extradition to the US for making a search-able index of Internet links to popular entertainment available, an act that does not appear to be illegal in the UK nor the US.
As to the wider implications of Mr. Assange's possible extradition and continued detention, it should be noted that Wikileaks is bigger than any one person. At the end of the day, the work will still go on. Whistleblowers face impossible situations every day and it is vital that organisations like Wikileaks are there to allow them to expose dangerous practices, illegality and serious issues that are in the public interest.
That no main party has even dared to comment on the case shows how scared the British establishment is of scrutiny and dissent. The reaction of the US government has been to call for Mr Assange to be hunted down and killed, and pressuring financial organisations to choke off WikiLeak's funding.
I continue to offer my full support, and the Pirate Party's full support, to Wikileaks and any other organisation that brings light to the darkness.
Pirate Party UK
+44 (0) 161 987 7880