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    Assange Could Vanish Without Trace if Extradited to Sweden and Then Sent to US

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    As the Trump Administration is seeking to prosecute WikiLeaks founder and head Julian Assange, its efforts continue the long standing policy of hunting for whistleblowers, analysts told Sputnik.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — WikiLeaks founder and head Julian Assange could disappear without trace if he is extradited to Sweden and then sent to the United States as part of legal efforts to destroy his organization and silence all whistleblowers, analysts told Sputnik.

    "Assange has good grounds to refuse extradition to Sweden, since from there he could be sent to the United States, and not be heard again," University of Louvain Professor Jean Bricmont, an eminent philosopher and author said in an interview.

    The US Department of Justice is ready to formally file charges against Assange as US authorities have found a way to prosecute him for a 2010 leak of confidential federal documents and a recent release of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) secret files, US media reports claimed last week.

    Bricmont said the reports confirmed the risks any individual now faced in trying to stand up to or defy the US government anywhere in the world.

    "You have to be a hero to stand up to the US; but that we knew already," he stated.

    The purpose of any moves to prosecute Assange clearly went beyond him and were intended to shut down internal dissent within the US government and silence all potential whistleblowers, Bricmont explained.

    "One of the goals of the United States is to silence them, obviously. Even far more moderate reactions, like those of RT [Russia Today] or of the Intercept, that remain within the bounds of legality are increasingly difficult to support [because of the pressures being bought against them]," he warned.

    The Trump administration appeared to be determined to continue the efforts of previous President Barack Obama to shut down all whistleblowers seeking to expose information embarrassing to the US government, California State University Professor Emeritus of Political Science Beau Grosscup said.

    "Any action against a whistleblower has a negative effect on freedom of speech, real or imagined… The effect of Trump’s administration’s action against Assange for potential whistleblowers is much the same as past administrations [including] the Obama Administration," he said.

    Any efforts to prosecute Assange would pose a clear threat to principled whistleblowers, Grosscup warned.

    "[P]otential whistleblowers… are leaking information as citizens in a democratic society in the name of the public right to know concerning wrongdoing by public officials [and] challenges to the ‘official story’ on national security and domestic policy," he explained.

    The reported plans to prosecute Assange clearly targeted all such principled individuals, Grosscup predicted.

    "[T]he Trump Administration’s effort will continue the long standing policy of intimidation, outright threats of legal action ending in prison terms and other more clandestine and ‘undisclosed’ actions of past administrations," he stated.

    Assange applied for asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2012 out of fear of being sent to Sweden, where he has been accused of sexual assault and rape. Assange has denied all allegations against him, claiming they were a ruse organized by the US government to extradite him to the United States.

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