WikiLeaks Chief Assange Loses U.K. Extradition Battle, Fears U.S. Charges

By:  Alex Newman
05/31/2012
       
WikiLeaks Chief Assange Loses U.K. Extradition Battle, Fears U.S. Charges

Following a high-profile legal battle that raged on for more than a year and a half, the British Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could be extradited to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning in a bizarre sex-crime investigation that his supporters say is politically motivated. However, the high court also gave the pro-transparency activist’s lawyers two weeks to contest the ruling. 

Following a high-profile legal battle that raged on for more than a year and a half, the British Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could be extradited to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning in a bizarre sex-crime investigation that his supporters say is politically motivated. However, the high court also gave the pro-transparency activist’s lawyers two weeks to contest the ruling. And he still has other options left, too, such as appealing to the so-called “European Court of Human Rights.”

While much of the media coverage has focused on the legal wrangling over extradition from the United Kingdom to Sweden, an even more serious concern, according to WikiLeaks enthusiasts, is whether the Swedish government intends to hand him over to U.S. authorities. Assange believes that U.S. prosecutors may have a sealed indictment potentially charging him conspiracy or even espionage for his role in publicizing classified government information — some of which exposed war crimes, corruption, deception, conspiracies, and criminality at the highest levels.

Suspicions about possible secret charges have not been officially confirmed. But e-mails released by WikiLeaks earlier this year from the private intelligence firm Stratfor indicated that a sealed indictment did indeed exist. Documents obtained by media organizations also confirmed that WikiLeaks was the target of an “unprecedented” criminal investigation in the United States, and that reports of a secret grand jury being convened in Virginia were probably accurate. Embassy cables from late 2010 revealed that the U.S. Justice Department was investigating whether it could charge Assange under the Espionage Act, too.

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Photo: Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder, leaves the Supreme Court in London, in a Feb. 1, 2012 file photo.: AP Images

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