Priti Patel Approves Julian Assange’s Extradition

As expected, this morning UK Home Secretary approved the extradition warrant for Julian Assange. In a statement, the Home Office described that Assange’s extradition didn’t raise any of the issues that she is asked to consider, like abuse of process or human rights.

“The UK courts have not found that it would be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process to extradite Mr Assange. Nor have they found that extradition would be incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and to freedom of expression, and that whilst in the US he will be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health.”

Unsurprisingly, a number of entities purporting to defend the values of transparency embraced by the press, starting with Edward Snowden, have issued statements condemning the step without disclosing their own exposure in Assange’s indictment. As they’ve done throughout this process, many of Assange’s boosters are destroying the principles of journalism in order to save him.

That’s a damned shame, because extradition on this indictment does pose a threat to journalism. The charges for publishing information, particularly those for publishing the names of US and Coalition informants, does pose a dangerous precedent.

Vanessa Baraitser’s initial ruling finding this did not pose a threat to freedom of expression clearly distinguished Assange from what journalists do, partly by noting that soliciting hacks has always been tied to Assange’s publication, and partly by noting EU privacy protections would prohibit indiscriminate publication of names as Assange is accused of doing. But the latter distinction doesn’t exist in US law. There are no such protections for privacy in the US.

For that reason, I’m more interested in what happens now that the UK has reached a final decision. After all, Joshua Schulte just caused to make available heavily redacted documents that almost certainly describe an ongoing investigation pertaining to WikiLeaks. In August, DOJ seemed to advocate delaying Schulte’s trial (which started Monday), in anticipation of something like this.

Assange will avail himself of every possible appeal, so he won’t be extradited for months or years anyway.

But because the final UK approval may trigger other actions, this may mark just a beginning in other ways.

46 replies
    • emptywheel says:

      That’s a sloppy stance, IMO.

      As I note, the precedent is bad. But the bullshit Assange’s boosters are telling is also bad.

      Both are threats to journalism.

      • Tania says:

        Assange isn’t a real journalist, he’s a criminal. He should’ve been extradited years ago.

        • bmaz says:

          Well, it “did” start years ago, the second he was extracted from the Ecuadoran Embassy broom closet.

  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Intentional cruelty is Patel’s defining characteristic, but it’s not related to Assange or the correctness of her decision to allow his extradition. But I wonder if she misunderstood and thought his destination was Rwanda.

    • Peterr says:

      There’s also the need at No 10 to “turn the page” or “get on with it” or “move along, move along” with Partygate still echoing in their ears, the resignation of Boris’s second ethics advisor (because of Boris’s lack of ethics), and plunging electoral fortunes ahead of a couple of by-elections. If the Tories look bad at the polls when the votes are tallied, all eyes will turn to Boris and pressure on him to go will ramp up.

      One big reason he did not lose the backbencher’s vote of no confidence last week is that there was not an apparent PM in waiting. Should Boris go, Patel surely would love to be the one to replace him, and her move here may be part of a way of boosting her own standing among the Tory faithful (a dwindling but still sizeable group).

      • puzzled scottish person says:

        Isn’t that the most depressing thing about this? The Tories, much like the GOP, know (or think) that there’s no other realistic option. They have nothing better to offer us than more Trump or more Boris.

        Labour and the Dems seem to be unable to offer constructive oppostion for all sorts of reasons.

        Some people argue that history/politics goes in cycles. Are we just unlucky enough to have lived through a good cycle and now have to survive a bad one to try and fix things again?

        • Peterr says:

          You are not the only puzzled person around.

          Here in the US, there are plenty of Republicans who are asking the same question you are in at the end of your comment. Some have bailed out on their party, while others have dug in and hoped for the best in trying to craft a post-idiot future for their party.

    • Alan says:

      Patel, a nasty piece of work and a bit thick, qualities that allow you to go far in British politics. Here’s the editor of Private Eye destroying her on BBC Question Time: Not that this counts for much. Lots of British voters love her.

      [Welcome back to emptywheel. SECOND REQUEST: Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next as we have several community members named “Alan.” (See first request.) Thanks. /~Rayne]

  2. bmaz says:

    One of the considerations for extradition determination is, and I am paraphrasing, “would the charges for which extradition is sought be valid here”. In the UK, as Marcy points out, they would be. That makes the extradition decision a lot easier.

    Also continue to believe that the actual charges Assange would face in the US may change, and that the UK would waive the Rule of Specialty in a heartbeat (if that has not already been agreed to).

    PS: If you don’t know of the Rule Of Specialty, here is a primer. Do note that the initial indictment I discussed in that post has already been superseded as Marcy discussed here. And I think it may be yet again, or Assange named in a different charging document.

    • puzzled scottish person says:

      Re the Rule of Specialty. Per your primer, that involves an international treaty. No obligations on Boris or Pritti then. Brexit freed us from all of that nonsense. Which is one more reason why I want Scottish independence, thank you very much.

      And good luck to Julian. I don’t know if he’s a good guy or not but this mess has gone on far too long and the guy has suffered more than enough..

      • bmaz says:

        No, that is absurd, it does not free the UK. Brexit has nothing to do with the US/UK Treaty of 2003.

        • puzzled scottish person says:

          Strictly legally, you are, I’m sure, right. But you have to deal with the Brexiteer mindset. International obligations are a constraint on our freedom/sovereignty so we have no obligation to oblige by them.

          Hence the mess in Northern Ireland.

          And the Rwanda crap. And Geidt’s resignation.

          Etc, etc.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            The idea that no person or state ought to be constrained – in politics, behavior, or profit-taking – even after it consents to be constrained, is a destructive neoliberal fantasy.

            Moreover, it self-servingly assumes the state remains as a forceful protector of the idea and the elites that promote it. Never mind that those same elites relentlessly and communally organize themselves in a protective cocoon.

            • Peterr says:

              “Hold my beer,” said Boris Johnson as he hosted totally work-related Friday afternoon drinks in the garden at No. 10 during lockdown.

              (You know it looks bad when your *second* ethics minister resigns because you don’t follow their advice any better than you followed the first ethics minister’s advice, and you expect them to exonerate everything you do.)

      • bmaz says:

        Also, too, the one singular person that has made it go on “far too long” is Assange himself. The treaty is the treaty between US and UK until it is not. Brexit is irrelevant.

        • puzzled scottish person says:

          Okay, sorry.

          I’m a soft-hearted sort. It gets the better of me sometimes.

          • bmaz says:

            Naw, people have views across the spectrum on Assange and Wiki. Is good. I do wish more really did a deep dive on it.

          • cmarlowe says:

            I’m soft-hearted too, and my soft heart would be more than happy to see Assange spend the rest of his days as Snowdon’s roommate.

      • emptywheel says:

        As I noted to a very close Assange associate around the same time as the Brexiteers started violating treaties, he was a Brexit booster — though his friend claimed it was just a pose.

  3. Klaatu Something says:

    I don’t mean to sound pessimistic, wait, yes I do, will Julian be of sound mind when he finally boards the plane?

  4. De0h says:

    OT, for Twitter feed (forgot my login): Fact check/fix the Sidney Powell retweet 8 hrs ago — apparently not final. (OK not to post this.)

    [You commented under username “Burqueley” previously. / ~Rayne]

  5. Thomas says:

    I never understood Assange’s evolution from edgy international lefty journalist to mercenary spy and tool of Putin.
    There were a lot of eggs that needed to be broken and Assange, Snowden, Manning and others broke them. I would NOT like to be living in the parallel universe that we would have had without their efforts.

    But then, WHAT HAPPENED?
    I’ve been reading some history about the Obama Administration’s crackdown on Russian mafia money laundering circa 2014.
    Less than a year after Obama’s Treasury and State Dept. brought Russian money laundering nearly to a screeching halt, Trump announced he was running for president.
    The $40 billion Ukraine Aid package in May 2022 included several tools to aid the DOJ in the Kleptocapture program.
    One of those tools was the lifting of the statute of limitations on MONEY LAUNDERING, and media reports subsequent to that reported that the DOJ was prioritizing real estate as destination for Russian oligarch money.

    “We have all the money we need coming out of Russia”
    Eric and Don jr BOTH made comments like this 15 or 16 years ago, and Felix Sater was still in this business with Trump as recently as 2015.

    What happened after Trump became president? We know that Trump fired every person in the sanctions office at the State Dept, in 2017, in one of his brazen payoffs to the Russian government for their help in the 2016 election.

    He took the cops off the job and tried to abolish the police department, but he was advised that he couldn’t do that. Did Trump enable a restart of the Russian money laundering racket?
    Well, the DOJ can investigate all the way back to 2010, if they like. And what about the shell companies of the NRA and the RNC?
    The “Stop the Steal” wire fraud racket and the recipient payoffs to MANAFORT, and Trump’s inner circle, and his criminal accomplices in the coup are an instructive model for investigating the RNC and it’s firehose of Russian mafia money, spraying every officeholder with showers of bribery and blackmail money “Yes sir Mr President! We support overthrowing the government and we are here to help you!” Well, they better. OR ELSE.

    We have no choice but to dismantle this criminal fifth column. Let’s get started GARLAND.

    • Rayne says:

      You’re assuming Assange was ever truly leftist. We’ve seen others who have had what appears to be a lean toward liberalism/libertarianism only to see the skin peeled off later, ex. the individual frequently referred to as “Area Substacker.”

      What if he never was. Oh, and you might give more thought to the timing of Citizens United as it permitted dark money into politics.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    This reads like parody, but neither the Guardian’s Africa correspondent nor his editor seems to get it:

    The Belgian government will return a tooth of Patrice Lumumba to his family this week, hoping to draw a line under one of the most brutal and shameful episodes in the country’s bloody exploitation of central Africa.

    Belgium’s hopes of drawing that line seem unrealistic, given that the tooth is not accompanied by a) verification that it’s Lumumba’s, b) a state apology, or c) reparations.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Patrice Lumumba was the first democratically-elected president of newly-independent, The Republic of the Congo. He was tortured and assassinated by “Belgian mercenaries” within six months. Belgium, the US, and almost certainly the UK had authorized his murder. But Belgium had more resources on the ground and got to him first.

      Belgium also had the most skin in the game. Apart from losing its principal and immensely lucrative colony, which had been its or its king’s since the mid-1880s, Belgium had been embarrassed at the handing over ceremony in 1960. Rather than deliver a humbly-we-thank-you speech, Lumumba defiantly corrected the Belgian king. The people of the Congo were not being “given” anything. They had earned their independence from a murderously exploitative colonial regime, a topic the Guardian reaches in paragraph 12 of its 24 paragraph article on a gold tooth.

      Lumumba’s audacity was too much for the Belgians. They and the industrial west expected a pliant regime to let them continue their exploitation, at the price of lucrative bribes to a small ruling clique – a business model they still use. It was obvious Lumumba – like Egypt’s Nasser, Cuba’s Castro, and a host of others – would not play cricket, and Belgium, the US, and UK decided he was to be ejected from the game. He was. They hid their direct involvement for decades.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The Guardian abuses the passive voice in how it describes Lumumba and his fate:

      A charismatic but volatile pan-Africanist…Lumumba became the first democratically elected leader of his country….Within a year, he had become a victim of cold war politics and internal power struggles, as order collapsed in the new state and rebel groups in the mineral-rich Katanga province sought to break away….Western officials worried that Lumumba would favour the Soviet Union as a protector and allow Moscow access to strategically critical resources such as uranium….After a military coup, Lumumba was overthrown, jailed, tortured and shot dead by a hastily assembled firing squad. Forty years later, Belgium acknowledged that it bore “moral responsibility” for his death. The CIA had also laid plans to kill the 35-year-old politician.

      Calling a 1960s Black African political leader “charismatic but volatile,” was to paint a target on his back. To say he became, “a victim of cold war politics,” excuses and elides the agency of those who murdered him – the same agents who found, funded, and supported the rebel groups who revolted against him. If Lumumba considered accepting support from the Soviets, it was because the West refused it. The firing squad that shot him, after Belgian agents tortured him, might have been “hastily assembled,” but it was at the end of a long, planful chain. And describing Alan Dulles’s CIA as having “laid plans” to kill Lumumba is a new level of understatement.

      The Guardian frames its piece around the return of a gold tooth that the Belgians supposedly hope will symbolically “atone for colonial crimes.” That would seem to be a false hope, given that the Belgians a) did not verify that the tooth was Lumumba’s, b) offer no state apology, and c) fail to offer meaningful reparations. Plus ca change.

      See, Adam Hochschild, King Leopold’s Ghost, and Ludo de Witte, The Assassination of Lumumba.

  7. tony in san diego says:

    publishing information, particularly publishing the names of US and Coalition informants, does pose a dangerous precedent. (Fixed That For You)

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Uvalde schools’ police chief maintains that he would have done anything to save those kids. Except, that is, open an unlocked door.

    Express News reports that the police Never tried to open the door. One of its reporters also says that the doorknobs only locked and unlocked from the hallway, not the inside, precluding the shooter from locking it. Onsite police also had a breaching tool the whole time; it would seem to be normal kit. There was also that key supposedly kept by the janitor, who tend to have such things, which the CBP reportedly used to breach the classroom.

    The inconvenient truths that Uvalde, Texas, the NRA, and their insurers and patrons want kept quiet must be truly ugly.

    • bmaz says:

      Been around a lot of police procedures experts, some I hired, some arrayed against me. Cannot imagine any of them would consider what occurred in Uvalde accepted or regular. It is truly ugly.

      • J R in WV says:

        Truly ugly indeed. And this is just what has escaped their facts blackout already. Imagine what is still being kept from us if this is what is public already? I’ve seen people theorize that some of the deceased will prove to have wounds not caused by the shooter’s semi-automatic rifle… I sure hope not, but what if?

        The whole thing is an abominable clusterfuck on the part of the TX LEOs.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        News reports show Uvalde police had officers on site within ten minutes, along with at least one ballistic shield, an AR15-style rifle, and the now ubiquitous body armor.

        I’d hate to condemn a whole program because of a single slip-up. But it’s beginning to look like Texas LE, at all levels, massively fucked up – and continues to do so. Has no one ever mentioned that it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up, that can be so disastrous? Presumably, Texas politicians and LE are stonewalling on the sadly reasonable basis that they are legally and politically untouchable.

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