Can Julian Assange count on a fair trial in Sweden? Not if you believe the nation’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, who insisted over the weekend that Assange is “public enemy number one” for the nation.
This is an incredible claim for the prime minister to make, particularly when Swedish officials haven’t even formally charged the WikiLeaks founder with a single offence yet. Indeed, the official reason for seeking his extradition is still “questioning,” though puzzlingly Swedish officials have declined offers to question him in London, where he presently resides.
Assange’s alleged crime in the Swedish case, which isn’t even a formal accusation yet so much as a vague suspicion, is an exceedingly minor offence related to consensual sex with a pair of different women. But Assange’s objection to the extradition has never so much been his belief that he cannot get a fair trial in Sweden, though clearly his lawyer’s arguments to that effect have been greatly strengthened by the prime minister’s comments.
Rather the concern is that the Swedish government, keen to build up their relationship with the US, will never even try to charge Assange with a crime themselves, but will simply trade him off to the Obama Administration, whose officials have called him a terrorist for his publication of embarrassing information about them, and that he will simply disappear into a legal black hole as so many other administration foes in the US have. Though the Swedish government’s bias will no doubt be an issue in the case, the prospect of sending Assange, who is an Australian citizen and subsequently part of the Commonwealth of Nations, from Britain to a possible summary execution somewhere, will no doubt be the bigger concern for British officials, and not the prospect that he will serve a few years in Swedish prison.
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