Friday, 23 August, 2019

Ecuadorian minister claims Julian Assange 'smeared poo over embassy walls'

Craig Murray Craig Murray
Deanna Wagner | 13 April, 2019, 11:35

On Thursday, British authorities dragged the Australian native from the embassy, and US authorities announced charges against him of conspiring to break into a Pentagon computer, setting up what is expected to be an epic legal and political battle over whether to extradite him to the U.S.

WikiLeaks co-founder Assange was arrested on Thursday in relation to an extradition request from the United States, where he is facing computer hacking charges.

Julian Assange was born in Townsville, Australia, in 1971.

Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said in a tweet that the U.S.is trying to extradite Assange because he exposed "evidence of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan".

Under section 179 of the 2003 Extradition Act, it falls to the home secretary to decide which demand to satisfy, and the decision is made based on a number of criteria, including the relative severity of the offences, the date of the first warrant and the places where they were committed, a report from The Guardian says.

But Labour leader Mr Corbyn said Assange should not be extradited to the USA to face a charge of conspiring with former army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to break into a classified government computer. By December that year, the Stockholm Criminal Court had issued an global arrest warrant and Assange - who has always proclaimed his innocence - handed himself into British police.

Julian Assange's mother has taken to Twitter to call on authorities to be gentle with her son, who's jailed in London after his removal from the Ecuadorian Embassy.

However, legal experts have said the Government has very limited powers to block extradition even if there is the political will to do so.

Meanwhile Gary McKinnon, a hacker wanted by American authorities for allegedly breaking into military computer systems, waged an ultimately successful decade-long legal battle against his extradition.

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The man, later identified by police as Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda, ran from the scene but was arrested in the mall's transit station. The suspect is a 24-year-old man, who was not named. "Oh, my God." Pray for my son", she heard the mother yelled out.

Human Rights lawyer, Shoib M Khan says it is likely Assange will end up in the States, but it could take months or years to reach that stage.

"Testimony usually weakens with time, and it's now been 10 years", he said, adding that, considering Assange is not "about to volunteer to come to Sweden", a new worldwide arrest warrant for him must be issued.

His separate extradition case is set to be next heard by video-link at Westminster Magistrates Court on May 2.

The growing row over the extradition comes as a man, said to be Swedish software developer Ola Bini, was held at Quito airport as he prepared to board a flight bound for Japan on Thursday.

The Ecuadorian government had historically been sympathetic to Assange's cause, but a regime change two years ago heralded a less supportive approach. While it is clear that there was a degree of co-ordination between United Kingdom and USA authorities - the U.S. indictment was unsealed shortly after the Metropolitan Police announced Assange's arrest - the Swedes knew nothing of it. "I thought it was disgraceful the Ecuadorians would go back on their word".

Assange faces what is likely to be a titanic struggle to fend off extradition to the USA - and possibly a second extradition request from Sweden on rape allegations.

In May 2017, Sweden's top prosecutor dropped the long-running inquiry into a rape claim against Assange, which he has always denied.

But potentially just as significant could be the announcement by Sweden's prosecuting authority that it is considering whether to reopen an investigation into an allegation of rape against Assange that was closed in 2017.

The alleged victim's lawyer, Elisabeth Massi Fritz, told the ABC she hoped prosecutors would "make the only correct decision to resume the preliminary investigation" and request Assange be extradited to Sweden.