Political Asylee Assange's Property Seized, Including Legal Defense Papers, and Book Manuscripts

US prosecutors yesterday flew to the Ecuadorian embassy in London and grabbed the personal belongings of political asylee Julian Assange, co-founder of Wikileaks, while Ecuador provided quasi-legal cover for the extraordinary violation of his human rights.

Before being arrested a month ago by the UK in the Ecuadorian embassy, Assange was detained in the embassy for nearly seven years, 19 June 2012 to 11 April 2019, where he had received political asylum, and where the United Nations found him to be arbitrarily detained by the UK for refusing to honor his refugee status to permit him to travel freely on to his host country. A change in Ecuadorian leadership prompted the reversal of the government from granting him asylum to violating his asylum status under pressure from the United States.

Before detention in the embassy he was arrested by the UK on an international arrest warrant issued by Sweden in November 2010. This arrest came after a several month streak of explosive leaks: Collateral Murder, a video of US war crimes in Iraq including a murder of a Reuters’ journalist, and a first responder, released April 2010; Afghanistan War Logs, July 2010; Iraq War Logs, October 2010; and Cablegate, a massive trove of US embassy cables, November 2010.

Kristinn Hrafnsson, Editor-in-Chief of WikiLeaks, described the seizure of Assange’s belongings as “a puppet show at the Embassy of Ecuador in London for their masters in Washington, just in time to expand their extradition case before the U.K. deadline on 14 June. The Trump Administration is inducing its allies to behave like it’s the Wild West.”

Assange’s lawyer, Renata Avila, a human rights lawyer from Guatemala, tweeted, “If you had doubts, this confirms that the case against #Assange is a political persecution. They are seizing his books, his clothes, his modest belongings, his legal documents so he can't prepare the cases against him -, drafts of future books, etc.”

A statement prepared by wikileaks said, “On Friday, President Lenin Moreno initiated a state of emergency that suspends the rights of prisoners to “inviolability of correspondence, freedom of association and assembly and freedom of information” through Executive Decree 741...Lawyer for Mr. Assange, Aitor Martinez, whose confidential legal papers were photographed with a mobile phone by embassy workers as part of a spy operation against Mr. Assange in October 2018, said:” Ecuador is committing a flagrant violation of the most basic norms of the institution of asylum by handing over all the asylee’s personal belongings indiscriminately to the country that he was being protected from–the United States. This is completely unprecedented in the history of asylum. The protecting country cannot cooperate with the agent of persecution against the person to whom it was providing protection. Ecuador has now also refused a request by the UN Special Rapporteur on Privacy, Joe Cannataci, to  monitor and inspect the cooperation measure. Ecuador’s refusal to cooperate with the UN Special Rapporteur defies the entire international human rights protection system of the United Nations.”

Despite being detained in one form or another since 2010 regarding an alleged sexual assault in Sweden, Assange has so far never been charged with a sexual assault charge despite several notable news sources incorrectly referring to “rape charges”.

Of the two women who the investigations were based, one texted “I have not been raped” and the other texted that she “did not want to accuse” Assange “for anything”, but it was the “police who made up the charges,” which she then refused to sign.

Regardless of whether Assange is guilty of sexual assault in Sweden for which he has not yet been charged, one thing is clear, the extradition attempts, and his arbitrary detention are purely an attempt to stop Wikileaks.

This was acknowledged by an intelligence analyst for the company Stratfor when Assange was first arrested by the UK in 2010. Stratfor was at the time trying to prevent their own internal leaked documents from being published by Wikileaks, but later failed. The Stratfor analyst observed, “Charges of sexual assault rarely are passed through Interpol red notices, like this case, so this is no doubt about trying to disrupt WikiLeaks release of government documents.”

Yesterday, a Swedish prosecutor filed extradition proceedings in a Swedish court, after recently dropping an investigation into the matter, only to reopen the investigation after Ecuador allowed UK authorities into the Embassy to arrest Assange--an extraordinary violation of international convention. But Assange is currently being blocked by the UK government from meeting with his Swedish lawyer, Per Samuelson. The AFP reported Samuelson said, “I've written the district court and said that they can't hold a detention hearing until I've met my client and received instructions... Since he is currently incarcerated in London I haven't even been able to establish contact over the phone yet."

The soonest Assange could be extradited is 25 weeks into his current UK sentence at the Belmarsh Prison for bail violations from when he entered the Ecuadorian Embassy and got political asylum on the grounds he could be extradited to the US and face charges for journalism activity.

The Swedish prosecutor’s new petition for extradition comes less than a month from a scathing condemnation of the sexual assault investigation from Ann Ramberg, the Secretary General of the Swedish Bar Association, the professional association of lawyers in Sweden. Ramberg said the Swedish investigation of Assange is “deplorable” in a translated statement, on 26 April. Ramberg said, “The right to a fair trial within a reasonable time is established both in the Swedish legal system [Regeringsformen, 2 kap. 11 § andra stycket 1) and in the European Convention (Article 6). This legal right also applies during the preliminary investigation stage...I fear that the treatment of Assange has damaged the reputation of the Swedish judicial system.”

Ramberg went on, “Let us not forget that whatever we may think of Assange or the deeds he is suspected of, this is about much more. It is about freedom of speech and the rule of law principles. It is ultimately about the right and the moral obligation to expose war crimes. Assange and Wikileaks did it. The revelations about US abuse were necessary and particularly important.”

Famous linguist and historian Noam Chomsky said after Assange’s arrest in April, “Julian Assange has committed the grave crime of exposing power to sunlight. Which may cause the power to evaporate if the population grasps the opportunity.”

Chomsky explained, “There is a basic principle of government that's well understood by serious analysts...Professor of the Science of Government at Harvard University....Samuel Huntington...observed…'the architects of power in the United States must create a force that can be felt but not seen. Power remains strong when it remains in the dark, exposed to the light, it begins to evaporate.'”