• January 18, 2021

WORLD VIEW: Julian Assange's extradition ruling: relief, not victory - Odessa American: Views

e-Edition Subscribe

WORLD VIEW: Julian Assange's extradition ruling: relief, not victory

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Tuesday, January 12, 2021 5:30 am

Donald Trump is using his last days in office to pardon those who do not deserve it. Among the most egregious recipients are the Blackwater security guards responsible for the Nisour Square massacre – the killing of unarmed civilians, including children, in Iraq. The president’s decision fits a pattern: just over a year ago, he pardoned a former army lieutenant found guilty of murder after ordering his men to fire at three Afghans, and a former US army commando facing trial over the killing of a suspected bombmaker.

There has been no such mercy shown to a man whom the US is pursuing after he cast an unforgiving light on its abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan. Julian Assange’s future is dependent on the decisions of British courts. Last Monday, district judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that the WikiLeaks founder could not be extradited to the US, where he has been charged under the Espionage Act, including for publishing classified material.

But she rejected defence arguments that the prosecution had misrepresented the facts and that he was being pursued for a political offence. She ruled against extradition only on the grounds that the risk of him killing himself was substantial, given his mental health and the conditions in which he was likely to be held – in isolation in a “supermax” high-security prison.

This decision is a relief for Mr. Assange and his family. But it is no cause for celebration for the defendant and his supporters, or for those concerned about press freedom more broadly. The American Civil Liberties Union has described charging him over publication as “a direct assault on the first amendment”. The ruling offers no protection to any journalist who might find themselves in Mr. Assange’s position. It is no victory for the right to share material of clear public interest.

Mr. Assange’s lawyers applied for bail on Wednesday on his behalf and were denied. Legal experts suggested that his chances were poor: he served a 50-week sentence for skipping bail after police removed him from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he had fled to avoid extradition to Sweden over a sexual assault investigation that was subsequently dropped. But his prospects of avoiding extradition now appear considerably brighter; he has a family to consider; and his mental health and the physical risks posed by Covid in Belmarsh prison, where he has been held since April 2019, make the case for bail more pressing.

Legal proceedings are likely to drag on for years – unless the US chooses to scrap these charges rather than appeal. It should do so. There is a shameful contrast between this administration’s simultaneous pardoning of men for horrific offences and the pursuit of a man who exposed war crimes. When Joe Biden takes office on 20 January, he cannot undo the damage caused by undue and unjust lenience. But he can, and should, let Mr. Assange walk free.

Odessa, TX

Current Conditions

Sunny
72°
Humidity: 9%
Winds: NW at 13mph
Feels Like: 72°

Your Extended Forecast

Today

weather
High 73°/Low 36°
Clear. Lows overnight in the mid 30s.

Tomorrow

weather
High 44°/Low 36°
Considerable cloudiness. Highs in the low 40s and lows in the mid 30s.

wednesday

weather
High 46°/Low 39°
Showers ending by midday. Highs in the mid 40s and lows in the upper 30s.

thursday

weather
High 64°/Low 47°
More clouds than sun. Highs in the mid 60s and lows in the upper 40s.
Online Features

Pet Central

pets

Having a pet is a lot of responsibility, and we’ll help by giving you lots of tips and tricks! More >>

Fitness

Fitness

Our fitness articles will help teach you how to work out with gym- and home-based exercises. More >>

Crosswords

Crosswords

Enjoy the crosswords challenge in our free daily puzzles, from the harder Sunday crossword to the quicker daily. More >>

Sudoku

Sudoku

Every Sudoku has a unique solution that can be reached logically. Enter numbers into the blank spaces so that each row, column and 3x3 box contains the numbers 1 to 9. More >>




  • ALL-ACCESS: Subscribe to our e-edition and premium website at myoaoa.com.
    You can read your daily newspaper without taking a walk to the driveway.
    Look back at yesterday's newspaper, or issues from months ago with our archive feature.
    Call circulation at 432-337-7314 to sign up today.