Garzón is best known for indicting Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, and was censured recently by the Spanish court for attempting to open the archives into massacres and cover-ups committed during the Spanish Civil War era. Feared and despised on the right, the jurist has unmatched experience in handling human rights cases spanning several jurisdictions. He adds significant gravitas to the Assange defense team.
Assange remains inside the Ecuadoran embassy in London, and the Quito government is expected to render a decision on his asylum request sometime in August. The Ecuadoran government, while openly friendly to Assange's cause, has delayed announcing a decision on the asylum request for reasons so far unknown.
In a press conference, Garzón pledged to battle for a fair trial of Assange in whatever judicial proceeding he faces, from his asylum request, to the Swedish request for extradition from the United Kingdom, to a possible trial in Sweden, or if the US government seeks to extradite him.
A federal grand jury has been subpoenaing witnesses and poring over documents for months, with no public decision on his possible indictment or extradition. The US ambassador to Australia, Jeffrey Bleich, has denied on several occasions that the US has plans to indict and extradite Assange, though acknowledging that grand jury proceedings are secret and ongoing.
A US trial of Assange would be followed by the world media as the most significant whistleblower and freedom of the press cases since the Pentagon Papers trial of Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo in 1971, which the government lost in a fiasco in which the presiding judge was offered a high appointment by a Nixon White House official.
Indicting or prosecuting Assange might turn into a disaster for the White House with the media, civil liberties groups and the peace movement. Assange currently is fighting a Britsih extradition order to Sweden where he faces possible sexual harassment charges. The US government could allow current proceedings to run their course, unless the White House to congressional pressure for an indictment, which has come from the Republican representative Peter King and Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein. But a concession to the hardliners would open the administration to charges of election-year opportunism, refocus the Assange case on the secrets revealed in the WikiLeaks documents, and require unanimous consent from a jury.