- Catherine HeardFTI
- Jago RussellFTI
- Rebecca ShaefferFTI
Take action in support of justice for Julian Assange
We feel that FTI is not doing enough in speaking publicly about Julian Assange's case. The current public climate, particularly affected by partial and biased media coverage of the legal case, has not permitted an extensive and detailed discussion of the possible consequences of sending Julian Assange to Sweden and, thanks to rendition agreements, to the United States of America to face possible treason charges. As supporters of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, we must gain more public attention for Assange's legal case.
I am writing to ask Fair Trials International to do more to support justice for Julian Assange in his extradition case against the Swedish Prosecution Authority – either as a ‘client’ case, through lobbying or with a media campaign. As your website states: “the most effective way to demonstrate the need to protect the right to a fair trial is to highlight the compelling stories of victims of injustice”. Julian’s case certainly fits this bill. The appeal ruling handed down by the British High Court this week effectively ignores the reforms to the EAW, which Fair Trials has been calling for and, indeed, the two specific reforms the recent UK Extradition Review agreed should be implemented.
In your 20 October 2010 letter to Viviane Reding, European Commission Vice-President in charge of Justice, you set out some of Fair Trials’ concerns with the European Arrest Warrant system. You called for proportionality tests to be introduced “so that people are not extradited where this is disproportionate given the nature of the allegations”, flexibility for courts to refuse extradition “in cases of serious fundamental rights infringements”, and “the urgent end of the use of incommunicado pre-trial detention”. Fair Trials called for these reforms to be implemented “if the EAW system is to avoid further discredit”.
In her response of 19 November 2010 Viviane Reding highlighted that: “A particular priority is reaching agreement among Member States on incorporating a consistent proportionality check before an EAW is issued and ensuring all alternative options have been considered.”
All of these problems apply in Julian Assange’s case: the Swedish prosecutor has refused to use Mutual Legal Assistance to question him; he will not have access to an English translation of the full prosecution case file in sufficient time for his defence lawyers to review it properly before trial; and the Swedish prosecutor is on record as saying she intends to use incommunicado pre-trial detention.
The UK Extradition Review – which Fair Trials’ Anand Doobay participated in – agreed that reforms were necessary on the issues of proportionality (the “biggest problem” with the EAW system) and of premature extradition where no decision had yet been made to prosecute, which also applies in Julian Assange’s case. The Review suggested postponing surrender and placing the requested person on bail in the executing State until the case is “trial-ready”.
I am also concerned that, if Julian’s extradition from the UK goes ahead, Sweden will use a temporary surrender mechanism for onward transfer to the USA in order to circumvent the safeguards of a formal extradition. See here for details: http://www.swedenversusassange.com/US-Extradition.html. More needs to be done to highlight this worrying issue
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