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Assange: Latest Appeal Failed, Remains Wanted

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J.J. PatrickUnited Kingdom
Assange: Latest Appeal Failed, Remains Wanted
London Court rules that Assange is to remain wanted for Bail offences in the UK, liable to arrest, and his case was not persuasive. Facts followed by opinion.

Facts:

Westminster Magistrates Court issued their judgment on Julian Assange's appeal to have his arrest warrant cancelled on February 6 2018.

Presiding Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot heard the case put forwards by Assange's legal representative, Mark Summers QC, with oral submissions made on the January 26 2018.

Arbuthnot considered the case and dismissed the appeal, concluding: "Many authorities underline the importance of a defendant attending court when bailed to do so and they describe the way that the administration of justice can be undermined by defendants who fail to attend."

"Having considered the arguments set out above...I am not persuaded that the warrant should be withdrawn."

By agreement with Summers, alleged matters of public interest were not considered.

Subsequently, Julian Assange remains wanted for failing to answer bail in 2012, after going into hiding in the Ecuadorean embassy having lost appeals against extradition to Sweden to face rape charges. (See background below).

The case heard related solely to technical breach of bail proceedings in the UK.

Assange can be arrested as soon as he leaves the embassy.

The full judgment can be found here.

Analysis:

The court issued a legitimate warrant for Assange's arrest when he failed to surrender to bail in 2012, going into hiding under the diplomatic protection of Ecuador.

The bail requirement arose because a European Arrest Warrant was issued in a Swedish case of rape.

Assange failed repeatedly to appeal against the European warrant and the High Court Ruling at the time was clear that he was not simply a suspect in an alleged offence but, rather, an accused in criminal proceedings.

Neither the Swedish nor UK processes have ever been related to any extradition to another country.

Assange has recently been declined Ecuadorean diplomatic status which would have afforded him some degree of protection from arrest in transit from the embassy, indicating he has planned to leave the UK.

After the failure of this appeal, as soon as Assange leaves the embassy, he can be arrested, taken into custody, and potentially remanded to be brought before the next available court.

During his detention it is highly likely Swedish prosecutors would reactivate his European Arrest Warrant and he would be extradited to face a rape trial which has been put on hold purely due to his evasion of justice for a number of years (again see below background).

Assange would appeal any such decision but, on the basis of previous appeals, would fail and face justice in the Swedish courts.

Due to his clear risk of flight, it is highly unlikely he would be released on bail and would be held in genuine detention in the UK until his transfer.

The judgments in his UK appeals and detailed reading of the Swedish Prosecutor's extensive updates indicate it is highly likely Assange would be convicted of one count of rape - centred around consent in relation to the removal of a condom.

He could be sentenced to no less than four but no more than ten years in prison upon conviction.

After serving his sentence, Assange would then be deported to his country of citizenship - which is now Ecuador. It is hard to conceive, following comments on him being an inherited problem by Ecuadorean officials, that they would accept his deportation. Subsequently, Assange could face indefinite detention in a Swedish prison.

Assange has been identified as a Russian espionage asset and as operating a hostile intelligence service. He has handled and published an extensive catalogue of stolen private and state information. This is illegal in almost every country in the world.

As a result it is highly likely any nation who has been victim to Assange's criminality would commence proceedings against him while he serves his sentence, with a view to extradition upon release, depending on treaty arrangements. The United States is specifically likely to take such action.

It is also highly likely Russia would take more direct action. With a long history of executing former assets on foreign soil, and with extensive links to the Sweden Democrats and subsequently the prison population, it is highly probable the Kremlin would attempt such an endeavour.

Assange’s lawyers are also appealing to the Westminster Court to drop the warrant on public interest grounds. This is likely to centre around the passage of time and Sweden’s filing of the case to comply with expedience expectations under Swedish law.

On these grounds the appeal may be successful because of the broad freedoms associated with pure public interest rulings. Assange would use such a ruling to create a narrative of being found innocent without ever passing through judicial process.

The ruling is due on the 14th of February 2018.

Opinion:

Julian Assange is the victim of no-one except himself.

He has engaged in international criminality, absconded from justice, engaged in espionage and disinformation, and interfered in democracies from the US to Spain. In the process he has cost UK taxpayers millions and throughout he has used his own platform to self-promote and profess  victimhood.

A contemptible individual, who has refused to face the consequences of his choices in any justice system, Assange deserves to reap the harvest of the seeds he has sown and should neither be afforded courtesy nor sympathy.

Background:

Taken from We Need To Talk About Nigel... November 2017

Julian Assange remains the accused in a Swedish rape investigation and the only reason he has not been subject to due process is that he went into hiding under diplomatic protection.

Though this is repeatedly misrepresented, and Assange himself even claimed a 'victory' when the European Arrest Warrant was withdrawn, the simple truth has always been publicly available from the Swedish prosecutor herself: aside from Assange being arrested and interviewed, all other evidence has been gathered.

On the 19th of May 2017, the lead prosecutor Marianne Ny said: “Almost 5 years ago Julian Assange was permitted refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has resided ever since. In doing so, he has escaped all attempts by the Swedish and British authorities to execute the decision to surrender him to Sweden in accordance with the EU rules concerning the European Arrest Warrant. My assessment is that the surrender cannot be executed in the foreseeable future.”

According to Swedish legislation, a criminal investigation is to be conducted as quickly as possible. At the point when a prosecutor has exhausted the possibilities to continue the investigation, the prosecutor is obliged to discontinue the investigation.

“At this point,” Ny continued, “all possibilities to conduct the investigation are exhausted. In order to proceed with the case, Julian Assange would have to be formally notified of the criminal suspicions against him. We cannot expect to receive assistance from Ecuador regarding this. Therefore the investigation is discontinued.”

“If he, at a later date, makes himself available, I will be able to decide to resume the investigation immediately,” she added.

Also, considering the case has never been to trial, the High Court decision in July 2011 which rejected Assange's appeal against the application of a European Arrest Warrant set an important precedent as regards the use of condoms and conditional consent. A precedent which did not bode well for Assange's proposed defence in Sweden.

In fact, reading the full judgment reduces a number of the myths surrounding the Assange case to ashes, along with one of the pillars of his defence to the warrant: that he had not actually been accused of an offence.

“In our judgment, Mr Assange is on the facts before this court "accused" of the four offences. There is a precise description in the EAW of what he is said to have done. The extraneous evidence shows that there has been a detailed investigation. The evidence of the complainants AA and SW is clear as to what he is said to have done as we have set out. On the basis of an intense focus on the facts he is plainly accused. That is. [sic] as Lord Steyn said, decisive,” the judges wrote.

“As it is common ground that a criminal investigation about someone's conduct is not sufficient to make a person an accused, a further way of addressing this broad question is to ask whether the case against him has moved from where he can be seen only as a suspect where proof may be lacking or whether there is an accusation against him supported by proof...Plainly this is a case which has moved from suspicion to accusation supported by proof,” they added.

“In England and Wales, a decision to charge is taken at a very early stage; there can be no doubt that if what Mr Assange had done had been done in England and Wales, he would have been charged and thus criminal proceedings would have been commenced. If the commencement of criminal proceedings were to be viewed as dependent on whether a person had been charged, it would be to look at Swedish procedure through the narrowest of common law eyes. Looking at it through cosmopolitan eyes on this basis, criminal proceedings have commenced against Mr Assange. In our view therefore, Mr Assange fails on the facts on this issue,” the judgment concludes.

Under Swedish law, a matter of procedure is a final interview before final charges are made. So, rather than a suspect, Assange is, in fact, the accused. He has never won anything, just evaded justice and is also wanted by the British police, because he was bailed to live at a fixed address under the proceedings with a bond set at £200,000 and left the address for the Ecuadorian Embassy.

A further appeal by Assange was rejected in May 2012 as being without merit.

#Julian Assange, #Appeal, #Arrest Warrant, #Westminster Magistrates, #Sweden, #Extradition, #European Arrest Warrant, #Rape, #Wikileaks, #Russia, #Breach of Bail

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