Thursday, February 24, 2011

Assange extradition

Assange extradition.  Looking at the judgment, it is quite a piece of judicial engineering.  In every question that was raised, the judge either decides to side with the prosecution by completely ignoring all the evidence to the contrary (while subtly denigrating the expert witnesses), or claims or hints that the strongest argument wasn't raised by the defense (convenient, leaving us with the issue whether Assange's own lawyers - you know, the ones who thought it would be a bright idea to hire Dershowitz - are in on the conspiracy).  He dismisses the main expert witness before him in the most condescending way possible, suggesting she has some kind of psychological problem with the Swedish justice system.  The other defense witnesses have their evidence summarized (with little insulting jabs), and are then ignored. 

The judge is fascinated by the largely irrelevant communications between Assange and his lawyer while Assange was still in Sweden.  This is a big issue because he later uses it to suggest that Assange is at fault for failing to stay to be interviewed, the obvious hint being that he was a guilty man fleeing the jurisdiction:
 "The court must take a purposeful approach.  Someone who, say, commits a murder in Stockholm, immediately flees the country, and then avoids detection and interrogation, may well be wanted for prosecution (defined in a purposeful sense) in Sweden.  It cannot be said, sensibly, that because he has not been interviewed then he is not wanted for prosecution and therefore no EAW can be issue. That is not the factual situation here, of course."
The judge spends a lot of words refuting the poor arguments made by the defense based on technicalities about the warrant.  He finesses the issue of finding a crime in his own jurisdiction by focusing on the issue of violence, even though the Swedish case is entirely based on the allegedly intentionally broken condom (this judge deserves the CIA Medal for Misuse of a Judicial System for the American Empire for this work alone, and if Assange's lawyers aren't throwing the case, would seem to be a slam-dunk grounds for appeal).

There is a comical section where he talks about the leaks - the ones obviously out of the Swedish prosecutor's office although he manages to suggest that they may have been made by the defense - and concludes:
"However I think it highly unlikely that any comment has been made with a view to interfere with the course of public justice.  It is more likely that comments have been made with the intention of protecting reputations, including the reputation of the Swedish justice system. Moreover, I am absolutely satisfied that no such comments will have any impact on the decisions of the courts, either here or in Sweden."
The chatty style of the judgment is striking.  It is written less like a judgment and more like a political stump speech by a politician trying to appear to be just plain folks.  As a whole, it is simply appalling.
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