This is an open letter to denounce the situation of extradition laws in UK, and how the case of Assange can be a terrible precedent for every UK citizen. It's not written by me. Just follow the instructions. And please, share, share and share again!
Read this link:
Then read the first link (the reply to the Freedom of Information request) in this letter. Then send the letter to wherever you think it will do most good, in particular your local MP in the UK, Australia, or Sweeden.
A-Z list of UK MPs:
OPEN LETTER TO NICK CLEGG, UK DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER
By post: House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
By email: email@example.com
Dear Nick Clegg,
I want to draw your attention to a disturbing Freedom of Information request for details of US Government involvement in the ‘independent’ Scott Baker Review of the UK’s extradition arrangements.
This FOI reply makes it clear there was very high-level US Government involvement in the Baker Review – up to and including US Attorney General Eric Holder – but that the public are not to be told what was discussed, as that might “prejudice relations” between the UK and the US. Likewise, details of any critical responses or objections from the public consultation, or whether the Review met with anyone who’s actually experienced the Extradition Act as a defendant (apparently not), will be published only after the Government has decided how it will implement the Review’s recommendations – this, we are told, is to ensure “transparency and public open access”. That is not right. Informed public debate about changes to the Extradition Act, and whether those changes adequately protect the rights of individual citizens – the people who might one day find themselves at the sharp end of it – must be based on full disclosure before, not after, decisions have been reached. On the face of it, this FOI reply indicates a profound lack of balance in the Baker Review.
Recent extradition cases reflect a similar – and scandalous – lack of balance in the UK’s current extradition arrangements, both on the US side and towards Europe. The lack of a forum provision, or any requirement for US law enforcement agencies to provide evidence beyond ‘reasonable suspicion’, has left UK citizen Babar Admad (http://www.freebabarahmad.com/) languishing in a British prison for eight years without charge or trial. Richard O’Dwyer’s (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/clegg-is-silent-over-computer-student-facing-deportation-to-us-6289846.html) is another young life about to be ruined, for an offence which doesn’t exist in Britain and is in essence a civil matter – copyright infringement against immensely rich and powerful multinational corporations. And now 65 year old Christopher Tappin (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/blog/2012/feb/29/chris-tappin-extradition-silence-court?newsfeed=true) becomes the latest victim of the UK’s weak extradition laws – in solitary confinement in a prison system notorious the world over, facing a legal system where plea bargains are often a defendant’s only option, his wife crying on the tarmac at Heathrow because he looked to senior British politicians to protect his right to a fair trial – and they failed him. How did US interests – corporate and otherwise – come to contaminate our legal space to this degree? Where does the United States’ extraterritorial jurisdiction end and where does Britain’s sovereignty begin – or rather, where has it gone?
Britain’s courts are completely hamstrung by the UK’s current extradition arrangements. The deeply flawed European Arrest Warrant system mandates that our judges put ‘mutual recognition’ of Europe’s many different – and often incompatible – judicial systems above the need to check whether the evidence even shows there is a prima facie case to answer. Literally thousands of people (http://www.fairtrials.net/campaigns/justice_in_europe) have been extradited to Europe via EAWs – their lives disrupted, losing their jobs, homes, family and access to support networks or English-speaking lawyers – to face lengthy imprisonment awaiting trial under a legal system that is alien to them, often on what amounts to very trivial charges. Where is the UK courts’ right to insist on proportionality before this happens? Or to insist that European prosecutors use Mutual Legal Assistance to question people before issuing these draconian EAWs? Why must our judges operate under a system which tells them they must ignore evidence even though it plainly shows that extradition is not justified? If the UK’s current extradition arrangements fail to work in the interests of justice this often, how many more victims must there be before Britain calls a halt?
The case of Julian Assange (http://justice4assange.com/) – shortly to be decided by the Supreme Court – is perhaps the most worrying of all. His extradition is demanded by an investigating prosecutor for questioning in a case concerning consensual but unprotected sex, where he has not been charged, and where the forensic DNA evidence (http://wlcentral.org/node/2325) indicates there has been wrongdoing and abuse of process in issuing the extradition warrant. The Swedish judicial system allows for indefinite pre-trial detention and for trials to be held behind closed doors, heard by a judge and three politically appointed lay jurors who have no legal training. Furthermore, he faces an overwhelmingly hostile media environment in Sweden and there are justifiable fears about the "temporary surrender" mechanism available in the US/Sweden bilateral treaty for his onward rendition to the US to face potential espionage charges. Evidence has now emerged that the US has had a secret sealed indictment against Assange (http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5imSw_UGE9iDtQ6E6tiMJOoIL-N1g?docId=CNG.0e5ff74bcd4af58496be9afeaa19de8b.1f1) for more than a year – another reason that makes the above FOI reply deeply troubling.
In its progress to date through the British court system, judges have ruled that none of these factors are sufficient to override the Swedish prosecutor’s extradition request, thereby setting new and dangerous precedents for us all. The Irish Supreme Court has just unanimously ruled ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/irish-supreme-court-suspect-in-1996-murder-of-french-filmmaker-cannot-be-extradited-to-france/2012/03/01/gIQA7cUpkR_story.html)that European Law does not permit extradition for the purposes of questioning only. In the UK, however, unless the Supreme Court upholds his appeal on the basis that a partisan prosecutor is not a proper judicial authority, Assange’s case will have created the perfect storm of precedents – meaning that, henceforth, any person can be extradited from the UK to anywhere in Europe, without charge, without evidence, by any prosecutor, anywhere, and without proper judicial oversight.
Recent developments make Mr Assange’s situation even more worrying. Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt (http://carlbildt.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/smutskastningskampanj/) has taken to writing blog posts and multiple tweets (here: https://twitter.com/#!/carlbildt/status/172214367121707008 and here: https://twitter.com/#!/carlbildt/status/172863748695003136) declaring Wikileaks is planning a smear campaign against him and this is therefore an attack on Sweden (https://twitter.com/#!/carlbildt/status/173160965926428673). This is based on entirely fabricated articles by the Swedish newspaper Expressen, which was also responsible for breaking the confidentiality of a preliminary investigation by relaying the news “WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange hunted down, suspected of rape” to the world’s media hours before a senior Swedish prosecutor decided the rape allegation was false. Prejudicial public remarks have also been made by Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/wikileaks/8318793/Julian-Assange-perceived-as-an-enemy-of-the-people-in-Sweden-court-told.html), Justice Minister Beatrice Ask (http://news.yahoo.com/swedish-minister-assange-turn-yourself-20110210-074505-863.html) and Prosecutor General Anders Perklev (http://www.expressen.se/nyheter/darfor-drojer-julian-assange-utredningen/). It is inconceivable that Julian Assange will receive a fair trial in Sweden in a case which has become so highly politicised there.
I would remind you again of UK Home Secretary Theresa May’s legal obligations under the Human Rights Act 1998 to safeguard individuals’ rights under the European Convention of Human Rights, including Article 6, the right to a fair trial:
"... the Home Secretary is under a duty under the Human Rights Act 1998 not to act in a manner that is incompatible with a person’s rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. Therefore, she must consider whether, as a result of events occurring after the extradition proceedings, it would be contrary to the convention for a person to be extradited... During the statutory extradition process, human rights are considered by the courts, but if a human rights issue arises after the end of that process the Home Secretary must consider these issues." Source: Hansard HC Deb, 24 November 2011, c190WH
The Home Secretary must be reminded of her legal obligations in respect of this case.
More information: http://justice4assange.com/
[UK/US/Australian citizen/Citizen of Europe]