Foreword: On Sunday 27 May 2012, Swedish state media again attacked Julian Assange, this time in an attempt to link him to an unrelated ongoing murder investigation and to blame him for the difficulties Swedish authorities have had in their investigation.
This latest attack shows how thoroughly Swedish state media are biased against him and how public opinion has been poisoned against him, to the extent it's now inconceivable he can receive a fair trial.
We urge our readers to write to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and bring this to his attention, to ask him to act to protect Julian from unfair extradition. A template letter is provided below - it's based on an earlier petition published by Justice for Assange.
Send to: email@example.com
Dear Mr Clegg,
I am writing to bring to your attention my concern about the deeply flawed European Arrest Warrant (EAW) system, which mandates that our judges put 'mutual recognition' of Europe's many different - and often incompatible - judicial systems above the need to check whether the evidence even shows there is a prima facie case to answer. Literally thousands of people have been extradited to Europe via EAWs - their lives disrupted, losing their jobs, homes, family and access to support networks or English-speaking lawyers - to face lengthy imprisonment awaiting trial under a legal system that is alien to them, often on what amounts to very trivial charges. Where is the UK courts' right to insist on proportionality before this happens? Or to insist that European prosecutors use Mutual Legal Assistance to question people before issuing these draconian EAWs? Why must our judges operate under a system which tells them they must ignore evidence even though it plainly shows that extradition is not justified?
The case of Julian Assange, which is presently before the UK Supreme Court, is particularly disturbing. His extradition via the EAW is demanded by an investigating prosecutor for questioning in a case concerning consensual but unprotected sex, where he has not been charged, and where the forensic DNA evidence indicates there has been wrongdoing and abuse of process in issuing the extradition warrant. Were Assange to be extradited to Sweden, the Swedish judicial system would allow for indefinite pre-trial detention and for trials to be held behind closed doors, heard by a judge and three politically appointed lay jurors who have no legal training. Furthermore, he faces an overwhelmingly hostile media environment in Sweden, and there are justifiable fears about the "temporary surrender" mechanism available in the US/Sweden bilateral treaty for onward rendition to face potential espionage charges in the US, which has had a secret sealed indictment against Assange for more than a year.
The Irish Supreme Court has just unanimously ruled that European Law does not permit extradition for the purposes of questioning only. In the UK, however, unless the Supreme Court upholds his appeal on the basis that a partisan prosecutor is not a proper judicial authority, Assange's case will have created the perfect storm of precedents - meaning that, henceforth, any person can be extradited from the UK to anywhere in Europe, without charge, without evidence, by any prosecutor, anywhere, and without proper judicial oversight.
Recent developments make Mr Assange's situation even more worrying. Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has taken to writing blog posts and multiple tweets declaring WikiLeaks is planning a smear campaign against him and this is therefore an attack on Sweden. This is based on entirely fabricated articles by the Swedish newspaper Expressen, which was also responsible for breaking the confidentiality of a preliminary investigation by relaying the news "WikiLeaks' Julian Assange hunted down, suspected of rape" to the world's media hours before a senior Swedish prosecutor decided the rape allegation was false. Prejudicial public remarks have also been made by Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, Justice Minister Beatrice Ask and Prosecutor General Anders Perklev. It is inconceivable that Julian Assange will receive a fair trial in Sweden in a case which has become so highly politicised there.
Under the Human Rights Act 1998, UK Home Secretary Theresa May has a legal obligation to safeguard individuals' rights under the European Convention of Human Rights, including Article 6, the right to a fair trial; and I would respectfully ask you to remind the Home Secretary of her obligations in respect of this case.