00:32 GMT +325 June 2019
Listen Live
    Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

    Australian Gov’t Pays too Much Deference to What Goes on in Washington – Prof

    © REUTERS / Daniel Tapia
    Opinion
    Get short URL
    330

    Ecuador can’t guarantee that the UK won’t extradite Julian Assange, said Ecuadorian Prosecutor General Inigo Salvador. According to Salvador, Ecuadorian authorities have received guarantees from London that Assange would not be extradited to a third country.

    In addition, the prosecutor noted that there were two options for Assange: to remain in the embassy for 6 or more years or surrender to British authorities.

    Radio Sputnik discussed this with Professor Stuart Rees, the director of the Sydney Peace Foundation and Australian academic, human rights activist, and author.

    Sputnik: What do you make of the comment by the Ecuadorian prosecutor general, that although in the embassy he's been granted asylum and citizenship, Ecuador can't guarantee that the UK won't extradite Julian Assange? 

    Stuart Rees: The government of Ecuador, and certainly the government of Britain, is not to be trusted. My recent conversations with lawyers of Julian Assange indicate that it would be wise not to trust any assurance that he would not be extradited to the United States. The issue of trust by governments and government officials is pretty crucial to any questions about his freedom.

    Sputnik: What options does he have other than to trust them?

    Stuart Rees: This is another issue here, which isn't explored. I mean, he is an Australian citizen. He's not an American citizen. He's not a British citizen. He's not an Ecuadorian citizen. He is Australian.

    There is no reason why an Australian government, if it had any courage, shouldn't intervene pretty energetically on the basis of international law to demand his deportation back to Australia, to the country he comes from. But that part of the agenda doesn't seem to be explored at all. Yet, in international law terms and in diplomatic terms, it looks rather obvious.

    READ MORE: Ecuador Can't Guarantee UK Won't Extradite Assange, Prosecutor General Says

    Sputnik: Why hasn't that happened? I mean, he's been in there for quite a while now.

    Stuart Rees: Unfortunately, the Australian government pays too much deference to what goes on in Washington, to the demands in Washington. Australia doesn't show public courage on all sorts of human rights principles, unfortunately. It's long overdue that we showed some courage on an issue like this one.

    Sputnik: The Ecuadorian prosecutor has also said that the country had received guarantees that Assange wouldn't be extradited to a third country. If that's the case, why would the British authorities want him to turn him over to the US?

    Stuart Rees: There is a certain arrogance about the British. After all, the United Nations produced a report some time ago that said that the retention of Assange broke all the principles of human rights and the rules of international law. Almost without reading the document, the British foreign secretary, [Philip] Hammond at the time, simply dismissed it.

    British justice is not what it is claimed to be. Unfortunately, Julian's lawyers are advising him, not at the moment, not to trust the assurances that he would not be extradited. That's the dilemma he's in.

    READ MORE: Assange Suggests Facing Espionage in Ecuadorian Embassy in London

    Sputnik: If that's the case, if he can't trust those, what are his options right now?

    Stuart Rees: Australia could be a much more powerful player, at the moment it behaves passively. The whole question about what does justice look like for this person? After all, he's been convicted of no offence. The Swedish authorities have more or less decided, you know, justice delayed is justice denied, so the issue about the possible rape charges, he's never been charged — let alone convicted.

    Why the world's media, why the leading powerful politicians have made a scapegoat of this guy, who after all had done the world a service by revealing the infamous collateral damage video, which showed Americans slaughtering Iraqis in the streets, including two, or three journalists from Reuters. That's one of the things that the Americans are annoyed about. Their brutality and their murder of people have been revealed by this guy.     

    Sputnik: What legal steps have been taken by Assange so far?

    Stuart Rees: Look, we're talking about legal issues, but this is a political issue. The politicians and the diplomats duck and weave on their claims about the law, what the law says and what it doesn't say, what his opportunities in international law are. This is a political issue. They want to punish this guy for the WikiLeaks cables, for the revelations about the appalling way that powerful governments, such as America's, behave. It's a political issue.

    Views and opinions, expressed in the article are those of Stuart Rees and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    Related:

    Ecuador Can't Guarantee UK Won't Extradite Assange, Prosecutor General Says
    Assange Suggests Facing Espionage in Ecuadorian Embassy in London
    Court in Ecuador to Consider Appeal of WikiLeaks Founder Assange on Wednesday
    WikiLeaks Lambasts UK Media Over Attempt to Cover Up Assange's Extradition to US
    Tags:
    WikiLeaks, Philip Hammond, Julian Assange, Ecuador, Australia, United States, United Kingdom
    Community standardsDiscussion
    Comment via FacebookComment via Sputnik