2012-05-29 Four days after Julian Assange verdict, US Secretary Clinton to visit Sweden

It is the first bilateral visit to Sweden by a US Secretary of State in a long time, Sweden's Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt writes, as he wishes a warm welcome to US Secretary Hillary Clinton who will arrive in the country just 4 days after Britain's Supreme Court announces its decision on whether Julian Assange is to be extradited to Sweden.

The announcement of Clinton's visit to Sweden, which will center around the subjects of "Internet freedom, green energy, Afghanistan and the Middle East", as well as other broad topics such as democracy and counter-terrorism, took place just 3 days after the Supreme Court published a date for Julian Assange's verdict to be issued. (The Supreme Court published the date of its judgment on May 23, Secretary Clinton's visit was announced on May 26.)

Julian Assange's verdict will be known tomorrow 30 May, and his extradition to Sweden would occur within the 10 following days. Although extradition to Sweden would facilitate Mr Assange's subsequent surrender to the United States, his extradition to the US is likely to be sought even he is allowed to remain in the UK. Therefore after the verdict is made public, regardless of the outcome, four countries are lined up to say no to his potential extradition to the United States through a series of rallies that will occur in many different cities.

Countries participating in the #Rally4JA initiative include the United States, where 5 cities will protest; the United Kingdom, from where the extradition could happen amidst continuing calls for urgent reform of extradition laws that do not comply with safeguards required by the Joint Committee on Human Rights; and Australia, Mr Assange's homeland. Germany will also participate in the global call for protection of Julian Assange's civil rights, as will individuals from all over the world who are campaigning for this cause by disseminating facts concerning irregularities in Sweden's investigation of Mr Assange, often misrepresented by the media, and the risks he faces if extradited to the US.

It is worth stressing that a US Secret Grand Jury in Virginia has had a sealed indictment against him for over a year. Its existence revealed by WikiLeaks earlier this year, with the publication of emails from US private intelligence firm Stratfor referring to the potential arrest of WikiLeaks' editor-in-chief (and the financial blockade imposed on WikiLeaks since December 2010) in the following terms:

"[b]ankrupt the arsehole first, (…) ruin his life. Give him 7-12 yrs for conspiracy."

Furthermore, numerous public calls for Julian Assange's assassination have been made in the US by prominent figures and, WikiLeaks has just made public, multiple European citizens have been detained and interrogated about Julian Assange by US authorities this week.

In Australia, documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request have revealed Julian Assange's extradition to the United States and possible charges of conspiracy and espionage to be the subject of numerous exchanges between Australian and US intelligence.

In the United States, Bradley Manning has been held in prison for over 2 years, awaiting judgment. Manning, who allegedly submitted classified material to WikiLeaks exposing war crimes and worldwide corruption, now finds himself, for the second consecutive year, nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Given the intricate network of political pressure surrounding Julian Assange's extradition, it is safe to assume that the United States "Internet freedom" agenda to be discussed next week in Sweden will include, if not focus, on Julian Assange's imminent surrender.


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