Glenn Greenwald, Michael Ratner, Jennifer Robinson, Mark Stephens, Geoffrey Robertson and Per E. Samuelsson are all lawyers that have claimed that there is a great risk that Julian Assange will be extradited to the US from Sweden if he is extradited from the UK. I have asked Glenn Greenwald, Michael Ratner and Jennifer Robinson for any facts that support their claims. So far I have not received any. And that is not surprising. There aren’t any. The so called “risk of extradition” is nothing more than a fabrication. A lawyers conspiracy in an effort to gain public support. But in plain English it is nothing more than a series of silly lies.
In order to make a proper evaluation of what is true and real about the risk for an extradition there are some concepts that have to be understood.
- “Utlämning“, Extradition – A person that is wanted by another state can be extradited after the case has been tried in court. If the Supreme Court (Högsta Domstolen) approves an extradition the government can stop an extradition. If the Supreme Court does not approve an extradition the government cannot extradite the person.
- “Utvisning, deportering”, Expulsion, deportation – A person that is not wanted in the country can be expelled. For example unwanted diplomats or foreigners that have committed serious crimes can be expelled, deported.
- “Avvisning”, Rejection – A person that lacks permission to enter the country will be denied access and sent back to his home country. Don’t know the proper term. In Swedish “avvisning”. The same applies for a person that has applied for political asylum or a residence permit and the application is denied. The person will be sent back to his home country.
Extraditions over the last 50 years
In the 60’s and 70’s more than 400 US soldiers fled to Sweden to avoid serving in the Vietnam war. All were granted residence permits on humanitarian grounds. It was regarded as an easier solution than to grant them political asylum because of the political situation. The US was at the time very interested in finding out what was going on in Sweden and attempts were made to infiltrate deserter associations. During this period some “deserters”, I’ve heard the number of six, were expelled since it was believed they were US agents. I do not know of any of the deserters that were extradited. I do not think that the US tried to have any deserters extradited since it is very clear that the treaty between Sweden and the US prevents extradition for political and military crimes.
In September of 1980 the war between Iraq and Iran started. During this period thousands from both countries fled to Sweden to avoid to serve in the war. I do not know of any extraditions from this group.
In August of 1992 the Swedish government refused to extradite Edward Lee Howard, a CIA agent that had defected. Edward Lee Howard was suspected of having supplied the Soviet Unionen with information that had led to the murder of at least one person. What is most interesting with the refusal to extradite Edward Lee Howard is that the Prime Minister at the time was Carl Bildt. The same Carl Bildt that Julian Assange in an interview in Rolling Stone magazine labels a US Embassy informant:
The conventional wisdom – both in Sweden and the U.S. – is that you won’t be extradited. Why are you convinced you will?
Extradition is a political matter. The extradition treaties – those from the U.K. to the U.S. and from Sweden to the U.S. – are both very dangerous for me. Every day that I remain in England, it is dangerous, and if I am in Sweden, it will be at least as dangerous as it is here, and very probably more so. The Swedish foreign minister responsible for extradition, Carl Bildt, became a U.S. Embassy informant in 1973 when he was 24 years old. He lead a conservative leadership program, where he met Karl Rove. They became old friends and would go to conferences together and so on.
It is apparent that Julian Assange is extremely afraid of an extradition to the US. Phobic fear. But his fears does not make it more likely that he will be extradited. That Julian Assange has no knowledge of the rules for extradition is obvious from these clips:
“But in the end, the Swedish Government let him go. One reason: The treaty between the United States and Sweden does not recognize espionage as an extraditable offense.” New York Times 30 August 1992.
“He could not be extradited from Sweden to the United States because Swedish law regards espionage as a political crime.” Los Angeles Times 27 August 1992.
“Tuesday, some members of the administration expressed irritation at Sweden’s approach to the case, but others said their efforts to gain his custody were hobbled from the start by the bilateral treaty between the two countries that excludes espionage as an extraditable offense.” Houston Chronicle Archives 26 August 1992.
On December 18 2001 two Egyptian citizens were denied political asylum in Sweden. They were sent back to Egypt, “avvisning”, on a flight operated by the CIA. The reason they were denied political asylum was because the were suspected of belonging to a terrorist organization according to the Swedish Secret Police, SÄPO. For more information about the case please check the Parliamentary Ombudsmen’s investigation, UNCHRs investigation and Amnesty’s investigation.
During the last 50 years I do not know of anybody that is extradited from Sweden to the US for political or military crimes. (If you know of any case please tell me, I do not like to be in the wrong.) Spying is a political crime even though Julian Assange does not understand it:
Some people have said, “Look, both the United Kingdom and Sweden and many countries say that there is not to be extradition for political offenses.” But the United States government is not trying to indict me for a “political” offense – it is trying to indict me for espionage, or conspiracy to commit espionage, and computer hacking.
The Swedish rules for extradition are simple and straightforward. Sweden will not extradite a person that is suspected of a political or military crime. Spying is a political crime. There is no extradition to a country where the person is risking a death penalty or torture. The European Court of Human Rights will never approve of an extradition to a country where the suspects risks a death penalty. The US authorities are no clowns. They know it is futile to apply for an extradition in cases where there is no chance that extradition will be granted.
The rules for granting political asylum/residence permit are much more complicated. It is a lot easier to send somebody back to his home country (“avvisning”) than to grant an extradition. It is two completely separate processes even though Julian and his lawyers don’t seem to understand it. The case with the two Egyptians that were sent back to Egypt in December of 2001 on suspicions they were terrorists proves this point. Since it was an asylum case with suspicions of terrorism the Supreme Court was not involved. It was just a matter for the government.
Why does Julian Assange and his lawyers lie about the risk for extradition?
It is very easy to find out the rules for extradition to the US. To get a better understanding please read Karin Påle-Bartes comments from June 14 2012. Or read Mark Klamberg’s article from March 2012:
I wrote a post in December 2010 on the question whether Sweden could extradite or deport Assange to the USA for illegal espionage or similar crimes after the UK has extradited him to Sweden for a criminal investigation on rape. My answer at that time was that unless the UK issues a new decision specifically on espionage he cannot be extradited/deported to the USA pursuant to the principle of speciality (section 12(1) of the Extradition for Criminal Cases Act).
It is also very easy to find out Sweden’s history regarding extraditions to the US. If you want to find information on the CIA defector that was not extradited the the US you only have to enter three words at Google, “cia defector sweden”.
Why do I accuse Julian Assange and his lawyers to lie about extradition? Because of the simple reason I cannot possibly imagine that they are not aware of the rules governing extraditions or that they are not aware of Sweden’s track-record of extraditions. If Julian Assange and his lawyers are unaware of the case with the CIA defector (I know they lack expertise) they would, after they get this information immediately correct themselves and recommend Julian to crawl out of his closet at the Ecuadorian Embassy and immediately go to Sweden to be interviewed. Something that is most likely never going to happen.
How come so many “experts” are so way off on extradition?
I must say that I am very surprised that so many lawyers, diplomats, politicians … that have an opinion about this case are so very wrong. But I do think there is a simple explanation. It is very likely that one person with a reputation for being an expert commented on the case without having studied it properly. And then other “experts” just assume that the first expert had made a proper evaluation prior to making comments and just repeat what the first expert said. And the more experts that have commented the more people think it is the truth. “A conspiracy of ignorance”.
The reason for this happening is that experts are just like common people. Just lazy. And I have to add. Some are much more stupid than others.
Extra reading for those of you that are interested
Glenn Greenwald GGreenwald@salon.com is a former Constitutional and civil rights litigator and is the author of three New York Times Bestselling books. He has in made some ridiculous statements claimed that Julian Assange is in danger of being extradited from Sweden to the US.
“For several reasons, Assange has long feared that the US would be able to coerce Sweden into handing him over far more easily than if he were in Britain. For one, smaller countries such as Sweden are generally more susceptible to American pressure and bullying. For another, that country has a disturbing history of lawlessly handing over suspects to the US.”
I’ve asked Glenn Greewald if he could name just one case where a person have been extradited from Sweden to the US in similar circumstances as Julian Assange. Glenn’s quickly pointed out the case with the two Egyptians from December 2001. I think it is remarkable that a person that has some legal education cannot discriminate between applications for political asylum and extradition. It shows Glenn Greenwald’s level of ignorance. Jeremy Duns has in a great article, “The perils of Googledemia”, shown Glenn Greenwald’s lack of knowledge.
Michael Ratner is President Emeritus for Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and president for European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) based in Berlin. In an interview at Democracy Now he talked at lenght about a likely extradition about Julian Assange and that it was likely that Julian “Never to see the light of day again in my view as he’s going to Sweden”. As if an extradition was automatic upon Julian’s arrival to Sweden. It was evident that Michael Ratner does not have a clue about the procedures and Sweden’s track record of extraditions. And this is supposed to be the President of European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights. It is time for Michael Ratner to resign. And if he doesn’t do that immediately he should be expelled.
Jennifer Robinson has also made a number of comments on the “risk of extradition”. But her comments are not as stupid as her male colleagues. Is this depending on the fact that her colleagues are men and that they believe if you talk convincingly people will trust you?
But Jennifer has made some other stupid remarks. She is saying that the verdict in the Supreme Court puts anybody in Europe at risk of being extradited if a prosecutor just says so. I don’t know what planet Jennifer is living on. She’s not connected to earth. The real situation is this. In England a prosecutor has to ask a judge to issue an EAW. In Sweden a prosecutor has to ask a court to issue a detention order. And when a detention order is issued then the prosecutor can issue an EAW. As anybody except Jennifer (and probably the rest of Julian Assange’s lawyers) can understand under both English and Swedish procedures a true judicial authority have a say in the creation of an EAW. I don’t know why Jennifer makes so silly comments. Maybe she is trying to prove that she is just as good as the men defending Julian.
Geoffrey Robertson, QC:
“Sweden has a deplorable record and this is quite – it’s been condemned by a number of European judicial authorities for what is called “rendition” to the CIA without going through a proper legal process.”
From this quite one understand that Geoffrey Robertson does not have a clue of what he is talking about. He does not understand the difference between political asylum procedures and extradition.
Mark Stephens, CBE:
“It is submitted that there is a real risk that, if extradited to Sweden, the US will seek his extradition and/or illegal rendition to the USA, where there will be a real risk of him being detained at Guantanamo Bay or elsewhere, in conditions which would breach Article 3 of the ECHR. Indeed, if Mr. Assange were rendered to the USA, without assurances that the death penalty would not be carried out, there is a real risk that he could be made subject to the death penalty.”
I don’t know what information that Mark Stephens has that makes him seriously believe that Julian would be extradited and and end up in Guantamo. Mark must have a vivid fantasy on par with Julian’s. Why doesn’t Mark believe that there is great risk that Julian, if he is extradited to Sweden, will risk being strangled by a one legged green sumo wrestler with a leopard skin pillbox hat. That is just as likely.
Per E Samuelsson is of the opinion that Julian Assange is in greater danger of being extradited to the US from Sweden than he is form the UK. How he has come to this conclusion is not revealed. Maybe Per E. hears voices too.
– According to information I have received. I cannot talk about this, I prefer not to debate this in the public light.
It would be most interesting to examine the “information” Per E. has. I understand why he prefers not to talk about it in broad daylight. The “informationen” will probably disappear in daylight. Just like other trolls.
The film maker Michael Moore is one of Julian Assange supporters and is one that raised money for his bail. He’s also been involved in writing a letter to President Correa where he and some 4 000 more or less known people have expressed their religious beliefs:
“We believe Mr. Assange has good reason to fear extradition to Sweden, as there is a strong likelihood that once in Sweden, he would be imprisoned, and then likely extradited to the United States.”
What the foundation is for Michael Moore’s beliefs would be interesting to know. And what about walking on water. And eating bananas with a group of ……..
There is not room enough to mention everything that Julian Assange has said about extradition. That he is scared stiff is well known. And it does not help that he surrounds himself with a flock of banana-eating lawyers that are just as scared as he is.
For almost two years I have been following the case. What surprises me the most is how Julian over time is changing his story. What was true yesterday is not true today. Julian’s explanations for his actions change over time. It really makes me wonder. Can he tell reality from fantasy? Why does he change his story all the time? And what is it that makes him believe that he can go on like this and think that people will continue to believe him?
Courage is not the lack of fear but the ability to face it.