15:14 GMT17 May 2021
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    WikiLeaks Founder Assange Arrested in London as Ecuador Withdraws Political Asylum (84)

    Julian Assange's US extradition hearing is due to take place at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London on 2 May. Speaking to Sputnik, Eurasian Future Director Adam Garrie and Wall Street analyst Charles Ortel discussed the likelihood of the WikiLeaks founder being able evade extradition to the US and his potential "bargaining chips".

    Following Assange's expulsion from the Ecuadorian Embassy and arrest on 11 April 2019, BuzzFeed suggested that the journalist's extradition to the US could take years as the defendant is expected to appeal the ruling. However, UK-based geopolitical analyst and director of Eurasia Future Adam Garrie does not share this view.

    "Although Assange won't be extradited to the US this week, it will almost certainly happen within the year", the geopolitical analyst said. "The maximum sentence Assange faces in the UK for the bail technicality is 12 months. Therefore even if he gets the maximum sentence, it is in reality just a judicial cover for the US and UK governments to bide their time as the US prepares a formal extradition request that the UK will without a doubt accept".

    READ MORE: LIVE UPDATES: Assange Sentenced to 50 Weeks in Jail Over Bail Breach (VIDEO)

    As for Assange's expected attempts to challenge the court's decision, "this could take some time but ultimately he is almost guaranteed to lose these appeals in UK courts", Garrie opined.

    "There is a clear precedent for the UK extraditing just about anyone that the US asks for and as Assange has few if any powerful allies among the UK elite, there's all the more reason that one can expect a fairly predictable extradition," he elaborated.

    If extradited to the US, the WikiLeaks founder will face up to five years in prison over "conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for agreeing to break a password to a classified US government computer", according to the US Department of Justice.

    Extradition to Sweden: a Way Out for Assange?

    Meanwhile, Heather Barr, acting co-director at the Women's Rights Division of Human Right Watch (HRW), opined that while deciding Assange's fate, the UK should give time for Sweden to "evaluate rape case" against the journalist. In 2010 the Swedish authorities launched investigations into Assange's suspected sexual assaults and a rape crime, which were dropped in 2015 and 2017, respectively.

    "The rape charge was shelved, but can be restored until its statute of limitations expires in August 2020", Barr wrote. "It is the Swedish prosecutor's job to determine whether to seek Assange's extradition to Sweden under a European Arrest Warrant (EAW)".

    According to the HRW co-director, "in Sweden, as in the UK, Assange would have the opportunity to argue that extradition to the US could violate his human rights".

    However, Garrie does not believe that the possible extradition to Sweden would save the WikiLeaks founder from being handed over to the US: "So far as Assange is concerned there is little difference whether Sweden or the UK hands him over to the American authorities", the geopolitical analyst said.

    "If the UK were to extradite him to Sweden under the highly controversial EAW (that the UK remains obliged to enforce because of Brexit's delay) it would merely by symptomatic of a sustained character assassination campaign against the political prisoner," he suggested.

    WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Arrives at Court in London
    © AFP 2021 / Tolga AKMEN
    WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Arrives at Court in London

    Security Concerns? Assange Will Appear in Court Room by Video Link

    Reporting on the upcoming hearing, USA Today pointed out that Assange "[had] objected to being there in person and will appear by video link".

    Commenting on the WikiLeaks founder's decision, Garrie presumed that "Assange clearly does not want to take his chances on any courtroom 'surprises'."

    "It is also his way of protesting what he rightly believes is a totally politicised process that has no relationship whatsoever to justice", the analyst highlighted. "Assange is in a dungeon normally reserved for actual terrorists for the crime of exposing the truths that criminal elements of powerful nations did not want exposed".

    The journalist is being held in Belmarsh prison, sometimes referred to as "British Guantanamo Bay" as it has often been used for the detention of prisoners for terrorist related offences.

    "Someday, history will record this grizzly scene as a moment of utter shame on par with the enslavement of fellow human beings and Apartheid," Garrie underscored, drawing parallels between Julian Assange and Nelson Mandela, who served a 27-year long prison term for political activities.

    US Extradition & Assange's Potential Bargaining Chip

    The other side of the coin is that the WikiLeaks founder is a fount of knowledge which he could use as a bargaining chip, according to Charles Ortel, a Wall Street analyst who has conducted a private investigation into the Clinton Foundation's alleged fraud over the past few years.

    He deems that the WikiLeaks founder "is able to cooperate in solving set of puzzles" related to the alleged hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) server amid the 2016 US presidential race, the Russia "meddling" story and the much discussed "Trump-Russia" collusion that has eventually turned out to be a big 'nothing burger'.

    READ MORE: WikiLeaks Claims DOJ Building Assange Case On Espionage Act, Punishable By Death

    "Certainly, he knows who provided the DNC and (Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John) Podesta materials sent out by Wikileaks", the analyst said. "And likely he is a threat to former FBI chief James Comey, former head of the CIA John Brennan, Barack Obama, and the Clintons. One hopes that negotiations are in the process to free Assange, in exchange for his truthful and complete testimony".

    On 25 June 2018, award-winning journalist John Solomon described how ex-FBI chief Comey killed a might-have-been deal between the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the WikiLeaks founder, who was ready to provide ample evidence that Russia had not been responsible for the data breach.

    Commenting on Solomon's story in June 2018, Ortel suggested that Comey's intrusion into the DOJ's negotiations with Assange could be a collective decision, aimed at shielding prominent "Deep State" figures.

    Now that the Republicans are urging Attorney General William Barr to look into the FBI's intelligence activities directed against the Trump campaign, "elements of the UK (and allied) Deep State will fight against [Assange's] release", the Wall Street analyst suggested.

    "Let us hope he remains safe and ultimately does come forward with hard evidence that has been buried for too long," he concluded.

    The views and opinions expressed by the speaker and the contributor do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    WikiLeaks Founder Assange Arrested in London as Ecuador Withdraws Political Asylum (84)


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    freedom of speech, investigation, hacking, extradition, Wikileaks, US Department of Justice, Human Rights Watch, James Comey, Donald Trump, Julian Assange, Sweden, Europe, US, United Kingdom, Ecuador
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