Julian Assange was so close to being released yesterday. So close, that he was virtually prepared to walk out the door when his supporters learned, to their horror, that the 240,000 pounds in bail would have to be paid entirely in cash. No Visa or MasterCard accepted.
The delay gave the Swedish government plenty of time to appeal Assange’s release, and even though they didn’t produce any new evidence, which is to say any evidence at all, Assange remains in a British prison today, with a hearing scheduled for tomorrow.
And so Assange remains im Wandsworth Prison, the prison which for years held Britain’s national stock of cats o’ nine tails. The floggings are over, but the conditions remain questionable at best, and concern for Assange is doubly so as lawyer Mark Stephens reports prison officials are denying him access to his client pending the appeal.
The appeal against Assange’s release will be held before a different judge, according to court officials, which may well play in the Swedish government’s favor after Judge Riddle started expressing annoyance at their suggestion that evidence was “irrelevant” to the case.
For Assange this isn’t about being extradited to Sweden to face questioning over dubious sexual molestation charges, but potentially about his very life. The Swedish government’s interest in acquiring Assange seems almost exclusively to center around giving him to the United States, where though he isn’t actually charged with anything he is likely to face execution.
Indeed, it seems in most cases the British courts wouldn’t have made such a fuss about the prospective extradition to a nation like Sweden. It is rather the fear that Assange will be “disappeared” by the US government as part of the extradition which is giving many pause, as it would be no small embarrassment for Britain to turn over a citizen of a Commonwealth nation to such a fate.
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