Extradition of Julian Assange: what is the WikiLeaks founder accused of?

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But what is the Australian journalist, hounded by American justice since 2010, really accused of? No less than 18 different charges now weigh against him in the United States, most of them for alleged espionage, relating to the publication of various confidential documents on the site he created. The Assange affair is, however, far from being limited to these charges linked to the activities of WikiLeaks.

Accused of sexual assault in Sweden

When it was launched in 2007, this platform’s mission was to help whistleblowers publish classified documents linked to corruption scandals, espionage and human rights violations. In the spring of 2010, the site founded by Julian Assange caused a stir by disclosing the “War Logs”, a corpus of more than 500,000 American army documents relating to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, revealing with a bang the numerous war crimes and other abuses committed by the United States in these two conflicts.

Following these revelations, a first investigation into Julian Assange was opened in the United States in 2010, for minor acts of computer hacking. At the same time, however, the Australian journalist was targeted in November 2010, just a few months after the publication of War Logs, by two complaints of sexual assault in Sweden. In fact, Assange is more specifically accused of not having worn a condom during two consensual sexual encounters.

These accusations of sexual assault will then constitute the starting point of a fierce legal battle between Julian Assange and his representatives on the one hand, and the judicial systems of several Western countries on the other. After initially dropping charges for sexual assault, Assange went to the United Kingdom at the end of November 2010, but Sweden suddenly decided to reopen the case and an international arrest warrant was issued immediately, on November 30.

Arrested for breaching his bail conditions in the UK

Arrested on December 7 in London, Assange was then released on bail and under conditions (in particular he must wear an electronic bracelet). Sweden, however, continued to request his extradition and finally won its case in June 2012. Fearing that he would then be extradited to the United States (where the investigation into the activities of WikilLeaks continues), Assange decided to take refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Considering that he had violated the rules of his conditional release, the British courts then issued a second arrest warrant against him.

Julian Assange then spent nearly seven years in the premises of the Ecuadorian embassy, protected by successive governments of the South American state, long hostile to the United States. From this place from which he cannot leave under penalty of being arrested, Assange learned in 2017 that the charges of sexual assault against him in Sweden had been dropped.

The Australian journalist, however, remains pursued by the British justice system for violating the conditions of his provisional release. He was finally arrested for these facts in April 2019, after being expelled from the Ecuadorian embassy by decision of the new president Lenin Moreno (elected in 2017), and would then serve a sentence of 50 weeks in prison, in conditions of isolation. strict in principle reserved for international terrorists.

Indicted on 18 counts by the United States

In May 2019, a few weeks after Assange’s arrest in the United Kingdom, American justice announced that the investigation initiated in 2010 had led to the indictment of the founder of WikiLeaks for computer hacking, but also for 17 additional charges. The journalist is of course accused of having violated defense confidentiality by disclosing classified documents, but also of having endangered “human sources” whose names appeared in the documents in question.

“The indictment released today incriminates Julian Assange for his alleged complicity in the actions of Ms. Manning (whistleblower behind the “War Logs” leak, convicted in 2013 and then pardoned in 2017, editor’s note), in particular for having explicitly requested classified information and for having encouraged her to remove classified information from American systems and send it to him”, specified John Demers, deputy attorney general in charge of national security, at the time of the announcement of this indictment.

The extradition procedure, a series within a series

While the prison sentence imposed on him has now long been served, Julian Assange was kept in detention by the British courts under the extradition request issued by the United States. The journalist’s representatives made several requests for his release, but these were all refused, notably due to fears that Assange would leave the United Kingdom with the help of support networks that had been formed in recent years. around him.

A soap opera within the judicial soap opera, the extradition procedure itself has been the subject of numerous twists and turns since its opening in February 2020. In January 2021, the United States’ request was thus rejected for the first time, but justice American had appealed and finally obtained the annulment of this decision in December 2021. In April 2022, the British government then authorized the extradition of Julian Assange, but this is now suspended from several appeals, filed in turn by the main interested party.

This article is originally published on fr.news.yahoo.com

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