Political Promise

Julian Assange – Can he be convicted by the US?

In Matt Gardner on December 18, 2010 at 10:18 am

Matt Gardner thinks about the difficulties of getting hold of the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange.

Julian Assange, a name that is now exceptionally famous amongst households around the world. Famous for two things: Being owner and founder of the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, and for the alleged rape of two women in Sweden.

Assange has stated the accusations are false, and that they’re merely a slander campaign against him and his website. For arguments sake, I’m going to assume that these are either lies to smear Assange, or that in a trial he would be acquitted due to the difficulties of getting a conviction.

Then the question of extradition comes. I’m fairly certain that whatever the circumstances, that Julian Assange would be found guilty by a US court of law. History has proven time and time again that people the US government want to put away are quietly removed from the picture. Obviously in such a high profile case this is going to be difficult, as there would be countless appeals and counter arguments.

So, then the question of the extradition comes. How would he be extradited to the US. It’s unlikely that Sweden would extradite one of their citizens unless there was substantial evidence for the extradition. I’m sure that the US could find said evidence, but according to their constitution, what’s he guilty of?

The BBC has told me that under Section 13 of the Extradition Act of 2003, if the Home Secretary thinks that the request for extradition is thought to be politically motivated, he/she has the right to deny the request.

Even if the US managed to extradite him, which is unlikely, they would still have to convict him. They would need to prove that he knew the leaks could cause harm to US national security, which is extremely difficult, or prove that he had a hand is gaining access to them, which is even harder.

Assange calls himself a journalist, as would most people. According to the constitution, he has the right to free speech. It’s possible they could try and charge him with espionage under the espionage act, but there’s two issues with that.

First of all, espionage is seen as a political crime, which are not extraditable offences under the US-UK, US-Sweden and UK-Sweden treaties. Secondly, the Espionage Act doesn’t apply to foreign nationals acting outside of US territory.

WikiLeaks have servers across Europe and the World. They cover their tracks well, bounce IPs, and keep anonymity at a top priority. It’s going to be exceptionally difficult for the US/Sweden to convict Julian Assange.

Matt Gardner

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