Today’s sentencing on a breach of bail was a terrible moment for justice and asylum seekers. If this is any indication of what is to come from the broken U.K. judicial system, Assange is about to face his worst fears, extradition to the U.S.
In today’s hearing, Assange defense explained the very reasonable cause for his breaching bail. The defense explained Assange’s fear of U.S. extradition and suffering at the hands of U.S. authorities via torture citing the case of Chelsea Manning.Yet, the judge still heavy handedly gave him the harshest sentence she could. It was obvious she intended to set an example with Assange.
In a tweet from Caitlin Johnstone today she states:
“We can’t rely on the legal system to sort this one out, because, as we’ve seen today, the legal system can very easily be manipulated to serve the interests of the powerful.”
Judge Deborah Taylor told Assange in court today:
“Your continued residence in the Embassy has necessitated a concentration of resources, and expenditure of £16 million of taxpayers’ money in ensuring that when you did leave, you were brought to justice.”
This incredibly unreal statement is an outright lie. Britain decided to spend that money surveilling Assange and using police to keep a constant eye on the Embassy. It didn’t cost a plugged nickle for Assange to reside at the Embassy.
The bill for the money spent should be directed to the US Department of Treasury for policing a man who not only embarrassed the US military complex but exposed their war crimes.
Looking at the beginning of the extradition case of Assange I can only hope his defense uses the fact that Assange or his lawyers were never served an arrest warrant from the U.S. government and that there are still secret indictments.
Also, this really is not a case of just extradition but refoulement. According to humanright.is:
The principle of non-refoulement is well established in customary international law, prohibiting states from expelling, deporting or extraditing persons to countries where they face torture or ill-treatment. Non-refoulement is a fundamental rule of refugee law and several human rights instruments forbid the return of a person who has reason to fear for his/her life or physical integrity in his/her country of origin.
In the case of Assange, he has had his asylum status revoked and his life is being threatened by the U.S. empire.
Stated by Wikipedia here on the U.K.’s law regarding extradition:
Under section 94 of the Extradition Act 2003, it is unlawful for an extradition of an individual to take place if the individual is accused of a capital crime, unless the Home Secretary has received assurances that the death penalty would not be applied in that case.
Under the U.K. law for extradition, Julian should not be extradited as there is the possibility of torture and death. As reported in justice.org.uk:
First, the various international instruments prohibiting torture not only make it unlawful for UK officials to commit torture but also forbid, for example, the UK sending people to countries where they face a real risk of torture. Although the government maintains that it would never return someone to a country where they face a risk of torture, the Human Rights Act 1998 is regularly relied upon in extradition and deportation cases to challenge the government’s assessment of whether a risk of ill-treatment exists.
Still, with the current instability between Britain and the U.S., the extradition decision may be influenced more by power than justice as seen today in Assange’s sentencing.
Assange’s only chance is for the courts to be pressured hard enough by the people or for May to step down as PM and Corbyn to take her place as he has stated his support to Free Assange.
Today may be the beginning of the end for journalism as we know it. A legal precedent is being set on how journalists will be handled in the future and our very rights are at stake. The handling of Assange so far has been one breach after another of international law. It is a travesty and an atrocity and it will hurt everyone of us. Not just us, but our offspring for generations to come.