Trump Turns the Screw Even Harder Against Assange

Eric Zuesse

On May 23rd, the Daily Beast reported that, “In a stunning escalation of the Trump administration’s war on the press, the Justice Department has indicted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for revealing government secrets under the Espionage Act. It’s the first time a publisher has been charged under the World War I-era law.”

Trump officials are said to be trying new and precarious legal tactics in order to win the support of publishers for helping the Administration to destroy Assange. Some of the tactics are designed to argue that Wikileaks isn’t part of the First-Amendment-protected “the press,” but they’re not yet convincing publishers.

Also, Trump’s team are trying to argue that American intelligence sources might possibly have been endangered by Wikileaks releases, but no specific such examples are reported, and the Daily Beast says “No U.S. sources are known to have come to harm as a result of the leaks, likely in part because of a massive remediation effort launched in the weeks before Assange published the material.”

However, none of Trump’s efforts to destroy Assange will succeed unless Assange becomes extradited to the U.S., and one very knowledgeable journalist thinks that he probably won’t be.

On May 20th, the AP headlined “Sweden requests detention order for WikiLeaks’ Assange”. This could oddly turn out to be the key event in order finally to set Assage free from his many years of imprisonment-without-trial. Here is why:

The meticulous journalist John Helmer reported on May 14th that the UK will likely extradite Julian Assange not to the U.S. but to Sweden, and Helmer gave reasons why Sweden almost certainly would never extradite him to the U.S.

The CIA-edited and written Wikipedia, in its article on Helmer, smears him with an undocumented allegation that he is or was a secret KGB agent, but then alleges that he also is (or might be) “the journalist residing in Moscow who has been a pebble in Mikhail Prokhorov’s shoe since oligarchs have been collecting their billions under the protection of a corrupt, Fascist state…. the kind of journalist who turns up dead once a month or so inside Putin’s Russia.” So, the CIA’s contending accounts of Helmer suggest both that he is or was a KGB agent and that he is (or might be) in danger of being killed by the ‘fascist’ Putin. Obviously, the CIA doesn’t like what John Helmer reports. Maybe that’s the reason why this internationally respected Australian journalist who has long specialized in reporting about Russian foreign policy from Russia, chose to remain, instead of to leave, when Russia in 1991 ended the Cold War on its side (though the U.S. regime secretly continued it on its side).

Helmer’s lengthy article points out that:

“Identification of the Pentagon as Assange’s target is significant because his alleged offence is explicitly excluded from extradition under Article V Sections 4 and 5 of Sweden’s extradition law.”

That law is a treaty between U.S. and Sweden, and is therefore legally binding upon both countries, and it’s titled “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and SWEDEN Convention on Extradition (with. Protocol). Signed at Washington, on 24 October 1961” and it contains (and Helmer especially emphasizes) this:

Article V Extradition shall not be granted in any of the following circumstances: 1. When the person sought has already been or is at the time of the request being proceeded against in the requested State in accordance with the criminal laws of that State for the offense for which his extradition is requested. 2. When the legal proceedings or the enforcement of the penalty for the offense has become barred by limitation according to the laws of either the requesting State or the requested State. 3. When the person sought has been or will be tried in the requesting State by an extraordinary tribunal or court. 4. When the offense is purely military. 5. If the offense is regarded by the requested State as a political offense or as an offense connected with a political offense. 6. If in the specific case it is found to be obviously incompatible with the requirements of humane treatment, because of, for example, the youth or health of the person sought, taking into account also the nature of the offense and the interests of the requesting State.

However, there also is yet another reason why extradition by Sweden of Assange to the United States would violate that law, and it is that this law’s Article II says: “Extradition shall be granted, subject to the provisions of this Convention, for the following offenses:” and NONE of those 25 listed crimes fits the U.S. allegations against Assange.

The U.S. indictment of Assange, which was issued on 6 March 2018 and long kept “Under Seal” (or hidden from the public), and which was issued by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, is based entirely upon charges against, as the Indictment itself states in its opening, “Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning, was an intelligence analyst in the United States Anny, who was deployed to Forward Operating Base Hammer in Iraq.” It is a case regarding “the unauthorized disclosure or retention or negligent handling of classified information.” It is entirely a U.S. military matter, which, as the indictment there directly continues, “could cause irreparable injury to the United States or be used to the advantage of a foreign nation.” The indictment does not assert that (if Manning actually did what is charged) his/her actions in this matter “did cause” but only that they “could cause” — and on this shoddy legal basis of a mere possibility, Manning is in prison, regardless of whether she “did” cause any harm, ever, to anyone (except to the U.S. officials who became embarrassed at what she disclosed). This is the police-state basis upon which Manning is — and now, dependently, Assange is — alleged to be, a “criminal,” by the U.S. regime, in the U.S. ‘democracy’.

So: if Sweden does receive, from UK, Julian Assange, then Sweden would need to violate Swedish law in order to honor the U.S. regime’s extradition-request.

As to whether Helmer’s argument that UK is likely to extradite Assange to Sweden is correct, I refer the reader to the entirety of Helmer’s article, for that information.

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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