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Marking a two year anniversary.
KNIGHTSBRIDGE (Rixstep) — 19 June 2014 marked the two year anniversary of Julian Assange's stay at the Ecuador embassy in Knightsbridge.
Some people may remember what happened two years earlier. In early afternoon the @wikileaks Twitter feed announced the following.
Then at 19:40 PM came another announcement.
No one knew of Assange's journey - not friends, not WikiLeaks staff - as such knowledge would have made them culpable.
The United States anti-transparency forces went into Panic Mode™.
Gerard Batten, MEP for the UK Independence Party, protested against the treatment of Assange - and the EAW framework which allowed surrender for questioning alone - the following day.
'Under the EAW, British citizens and guests in our country are no longer protected by our own courts from arbitrary arrest and imprisonment by EU states. On the strength of a piece of paper, anyone can be shipped off to a foreign country to languish for months or years in a foreign prison.'
Things hit a fever pitch when it was discovered by Craig Murray that the US pressured William Hague to storm the embassy to get Assange.
'I returned to the UK today to be astonished by private confirmation from within the FCO that the UK government has indeed decided - after immense pressure from the Obama administration - to enter the Ecuadorean Embassy and seize Julian Assange.'
'This will be, beyond any argument, a blatant breach of the Vienna Convention of 1961, to which the UK is one of the original parties and which encodes the centuries - arguably millennia - of practice which have enabled diplomatic relations to function. The Vienna Convention is the most subscribed single international treaty in the world.'
Murray went on to cite the text of the Convention.
- The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving State may not enter them, except with the consent of the head of the mission.
- The receiving State is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity.
- The premises of the mission, their furnishings and other property thereon and the means of transport of the mission shall be immune from search, requisition, attachment or execution.
Murray goes on.
'Not even the Chinese government tried to enter the US Embassy to arrest the Chinese dissident Chen Guangchen. Even during the decades of the Cold War, defectors or dissidents were never seized from each other's embassies.'
Should anyone have been in doubt about the true nature of the case of Assange in Sweden, that doubt was forever removed.
20 August 2010
The whole debacle started in the evening of 20 August 2010 in Stockholm when two women entered the Klara police station in downtown Stockholm, ostensibly to ask advice about HIV tests. The police - seemingly ill-equipped to handle the matter - chose themselves to open a preliminary investigation into possible sexual abuses.
The matter became even fishier when one of the women offered to give the police a torn condom as 'evidence', but that condom - complete with a 'rip' as described in her testimony the day before - turned out to have been 'bogus'; Swedish media continue to refuse to publish the findings of the lab report.
Julian Assange was nevertheless intent on remaining in Sweden - despite a pressing schedule, as we know today - to clear the matter up, and was actually interrogated once by the police, and planned to return to Sweden in early October to meet with them again.
But something happened between 20 August and October: Eva Finné, a highly respected senior prosecutor from the Stockholm area, was called in the day after the storm broke - 21 August - to review the documents in the Assange case. The prosecutor on duty the night before had issued a warrant in absentia for Assange even before any written documents were available; Eva Finné had the case file sent out to her summer cottage by messenger, spent most of the day reviewing it, and came to the conclusion shared by many that even if the woman giving testimony were telling the truth, there was no crime.
Enter infamous Quick attorney Claes Borgström, who had been fighting for a comeback, who entertained ambitions of a cabinet position if his party should win the national elections the following month, and who too was troubled by the scandal then hitting the media - members of his party arrested for consorting with prostitutes. A diversion was needed, as Oscar Swartz hinted.
The two women somehow made it to a meeting with Borgström after Finné began cleaning house; it's apparent Finné's actions troubled them; but they hadn't known it'd be possible to reopen a police investigation that Finné had already closed.
Enter Marianne Ny, a prosecutor with Sweden's west coast 'development centre', a former colleague of Borgström. Borgström petitioned her to reopen the case Finné had closed; new evidence is needed to supersede in such a fashion, and it's thought this new evidence was the torn condom later found to have been faked.
But the case was again underway.
Julian Assange departed from Stockholm in the evening of 27 September for Berlin, where he was to meet with Stefania Maurizi, Kristinn Hrafnsson, and the editors of Spiegel. New tranches of documents were being prepared for release.
His plan was to be back in Stockholm in early October to speak at the Afghanistan Week event in Stockholm, to march together with Maria-Pia Boëthius in a demonstration against the US presence in Afghanistan, and to again attempt to clear up matters with the Swedish police.
But Marianne Ny had other plans. As since disclosed by FOI documents, Ny had actually - despite assurances to the contrary - planned to have Assange arrested as soon as he set foot on Swedish soil. Assange attorney Björn Hurtig had been instructed to remain in his office after hours, and did in fact bill the state for that overtime.
But Ny went even further: she planned to have the police accost Assange at his speaking venue, not before, as the assembled reporters and photographers were sure to cover the event.
This is the same Ny - a Swedish prosecutor - who:
- Lied to TIME in December, claiming it was 'illegal' to question suspects overseas;
- Had all details of her activities in September 2010 scrubbed from her website;
- Told the British courts that although she hadn't actually brought charges, she 'planned' to.
There was a subtle reason for trying later to have Assange surrendered from the UK on a petition regarding questioning alone: should Ny have actually charged Assange, she would have had to turn over all her files to Assange's attorney. This was obviously something she didn't want to do.
Ny had also hinted in early correspondence with Assange attorney Björn Hurtig that she had a second unrelated investigation underway; it's thought this investigation can be related to the presence of Swedish armed forces in Afghanistan, and that it was being argued that the Afghan War Diaries jeopardised Swedish national security; it's possible Ny would need Assange on Swedish soil to charge him with such a crime, but it's definitely not possible to question him in that matter under the auspices of the EAW framework. A questioning in London would namely be supervised...
Calle & Jen-Rob
WikiLeaks legal counsel Jennifer Robinson traveled to Sweden for the annual 'politics week' in Almedalen that Olof Palme had begun. Accompanying her was WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson. Jen-Rob told of her chance encounter with none other than Carl Bildt. Carl Bildt committed the incredible gaffe of excusing his country's behaviour in the Assange case by claiming that such interrogations abroad were 'unconstitutional'.
Of course Swedish prosecutors and police travel abroad all the time for such purposes; worse still: there is, formally speaking, no such thing as a 'constitution' in Swedish law.
But it was the case before the UK supreme court - and especially the aftermath - which convinced Julian Assange that sinister forces were working in the shadows.
Assange had been given a fortnight to put his 'house in order' before proceeding to Sweden, but Marianne Ny immediately put in a protest to the court, demanding Assange be given no such time and be immediately apprehended.
One could almost feel Carl Bildt and the US breathing down her back, precisely as had happened with William Hague in London.
Supporters of Julian Assange were again in Knightsbridge on 19 June. The rotating vigil, ensuring there are at least four people in front of the embassy every day, had sent out invitations.
John Pilger came to speak.
Jennifer Robinson spoke to ABC News Australia.
Polly Boiko covered the day for RT.
Scott Ludlam published an open letter to Rafael Correa; Human Rights Watch wrote about it; so did RSF; so did Veterans for Peace in the UK; so did The Drum; and in faraway St Petersburg, Russian jurist @NoMoreTribbles took to the streets to inform the public.
The outcries followed a formal petition to the United Nations by 59 international organisations to remedy the situation.
Meanwhile, from the confines of his quarters at the embassy, Julian Assange celebrated the day with another bombshell release.