U.S. Pinky Swears Not to Torture Julian Assange

 A demonstrator holds a placard that says “Beep to Free Assange” at Piccadilly Circus on April 17, 2021 in London, England.

A demonstrator holds a placard that claims “Beep to Free Assange” at Piccadilly Circus on April 17, 2021 in London, England.
Photo: Hollie Adams (Getty Images)

The U.S. Department of Justice has promised a courtroom within the UK not to place Julian Assange in a super-maximum safety jail or solitary confinement if he’s extradited to the U.S., in accordance to a brand new report from the Wall Street Journal. Solitary confinement is outlined as torture by most rich international locations around the globe, although it’s frequent follow within the U.S. for even minor offenses.

The UK denied a request by the DOJ to extradite Assange in early 2020, as a result of the choose mentioned the WikiLeaks cofounder was probably to attempt suicide if he was shipped to the U.S. to stand trial. Judges in Europe can block extradition to any nation the place it’s believed the prisoner will face torture, a follow the U.S. commits routinely with out calling it by the title “torture.”

The 50-year-old Assange was sentenced to nearly a 12 months in jail in 2019 for leaping bail in 2012. Asange claimed asylum in Ecuador’s embassy in London and lived there for nearly seven years earlier than Ecuador’s authorities revoked Assange’s asylum and he was subsequently dragged out in April of 2019.

The DOJ underneath President Donald Trump charged Assange within the U.S. with 18 counts of violating the Espionage Act for publishing leaked materials from the U.S. in 2010 and 2011, together with paperwork concerning the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The DOJ has continued that prosecution underneath present president Joe Biden. Assange can be charged with one depend of laptop hacking. Together, the fees might convey a sentence of up to 175 years in jail.

The lone cost of “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion” was over Assange’s alleged try to assist whistleblower Chelsea Manning crack the password on a U.S. authorities laptop that contained allegedly labeled materials again in 2010. Manning spent plenty of her time in jail enduring the torture of solitary confinement.

Assange beforehand mentioned he would give himself up to U.S. authorities if Chelsea Manning was pardoned, however he went again on that promise after President Barack Obama commuted Manning’s sentence. In 2017, Assange claimed Obama solely let Manning go free to make Assange look like a liar.

The choose in Assange’s extradition case, Vanessa Baraitser, famous in her ruling again in January that the WikiLeaks cofounder would probably be positioned in solitary confinement for 23 hours per day whereas he awaited trial within the U.S., one thing that many of the world sees as unacceptable—at the least outdoors of totalitarian states like North Korea.

“Mr. Assange faces the bleak prospect of severely restrictive detention conditions designed to remove physical contact and reduce social interaction and contact with the outside world to a bare minimum. He faces these prospects as someone with a diagnosis of clinical depression and persistent thoughts of suicide,” Judge Baraitser wrote in her ruling earlier this year.

“I find that the mental condition of Mr. Assange is such that it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America,” Baraister wrote.

The British choose didn’t rule on the opposite deserves of the DOJ’s case and appeared sympathetic to the concept Assange had crossed a line within the publication of labeled supplies, although notably the UK doesn’t have notably strong protections without cost speech.

Curiously, the DOJ has additionally reportedly promised that Assange would possibly have the ability to serve his jail time period in his native Australia after he faces trial within the U.S., one thing that’s not typical, because the Wall Street Journal notes:

Experts mentioned the Justice Department’s supply to enable Mr. Assange to serve out any sentence in Australia was uncommon, on condition that inmates normally solely apply for such a transfer as soon as they’ve been convicted, underneath the worldwide prisoner switch program.

“It is extremely rare, and it’s usually based on a process after conviction,” mentioned Mark Lytle, a former federal prosecutor who’s now a lawyer on the regulation agency Nixon Peabody. “To offer it up front to gain extradition, that is a break with the policy.”

Nick Vamos, a accomplice at London regulation agency Peters & Peters and a former head of extradition for the CPS, mentioned that additionally it is uncommon for the U.S. to present broader assurances to a overseas courtroom on prisoner remedy and that it had beforehand refused to achieve this in terrorism instances.

How probably is the DOJ to honor their agreements not to torture Assange? U.S. officers instructed the choose that they reserve the fitting to return on any of their guarantees if Assange “were to do something subsequent to the offering of these assurances,” in accordance to the Wall Street Journal.

It doesn’t encourage plenty of confidence, to say the least.

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