The British High Court has granted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange the right to appeal to the UK’s Supreme Court in his extradition case, seeking a ruling on whether Stockholm’s public prosecutor is an independent judicial authority as required by international law. The decision on whether to grant a new hearing is expected in two weeks.
In US judicial terms, the Swedish public prosecutor is like a district attorney representing the interests of the state rather than an ombudsman serving the “public.”
Meanwhile the Australian press is reporting on new documents revealing close linkages between that country’s political leaders and American officials exploring the possible indictment and prosecution of Assange for leaking tens of thousands of Pentagon and State Department cables exposing secrets of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as well as intrigues in Latin America and many other countries.
According to disclosures in the Sydney Morning Herald, Australian diplomats confided that the US investigation was “unprecedented both in its scale and nature” and that reports of an Alexandria, Virginia, secret US grand jury were “likely true.” (December 3, 2011)
The American ambassador to Australia, Jeff Bleich, a prominent Democrat and former California state bar president, tensed up when asked about the Assange case, according to an Australian reporter, Anne Davies, last month. (Meribula News, November 12, 2011) The Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard, already has overstepped her official bounds by accusing Assange in December 2010 of breaking the law -- she later stepped back from the statement -- Ambassador Bleich, on the eve of President Obama’s recent visit, told the reporter, “we are investigating an individual who stole classified material from the United States,” as well as other persons “who were aiding and abetting.” The WikiLeaks disclosures were a “very unhealthy thing, a dangerous and immature thing to do.” As for extradition of Assange to the US, “Australia will have to evaluate its own extradition obligations” if the case should come before the government.
Dissatisfied with official policy, an Australian Greens Senator, Scott Ludlum, demanded to know on Nov. 24 whether the Assange case was raised during President Obama’s recent visit to Australia, whether information-sharing on WikiLeaks is taking place, and whether the Australian government will act to prevent Assange from being extradited to the United States in the future. The Assange attorney Gareth Peirce wrote Australia’s foreign minister, Kevin Rudd, “without the help of his government, Mr. Assange may well be in grave danger.” (October 25, 2011)