Tuesday, 7 December 2010

RWB calls for UK impartiality after Assange arrest

Press freedom group Reporters Without Borders has written to the Secretary of State for Justice Kenneth Clarke today, following the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, urging that his case be treated with UK judicial impartiality.

The letter says:

Dear Secretary of State,

Following WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s arrest by the British police today, Reporters Without Borders urges you to guarantee respect for his defence rights despite the extreme tension surrounding this case. The proceedings should concern solely the accusations of a private nature that have been made against Mr. Assange in Sweden and must not turn into a proxy trial for the publication of leaked documents by WiliLeaks.

Mr. Assange is now waiting to appear before a judge who will decide whether he is to be extradited to Sweden, and whether he is to remain in detention or be released. If the latter option is chosen, he will probably have to deposit bail of at least 100,000 pounds (120,000 euros) and provide six guarantors to avoid remaining in custody.

Mr. Assange’s lawyer, Mark Stephens, told Reporters Without Borders on 4 December that it would take 10 days from the international warrant’s issue to its reception by the police “unless Mr. Assange is treated differently.” Mr. Assange’s gesture of good faith in presenting himself to the police should be taken into account by those responsible for considering the case.

Reporters Without Borders has repeatedly condemned the blocking, cyber-attacks and political pressure being directed at WikiLeaks. This is the first time we have seen an attempt at the international level to censor a website dedicated to the principle of transparency.

We therefore call for the British judicial system to be allowed to examine Mr. Assange’s case with all the required impartiality and without it being subjected to any external governmental pressure. The authorities of certain countries seem to want to obtain Mr. Assange’s conviction or at least to prevent him from continuing his activities in order to put a stop to WikiLeaks’ revelations, without regard to freedom of information. We would like to point out that WikiLeaks has played a useful role by publicising serious human rights violations that were committed in the name of the “war against terror” during the past decade.

We thank you in advance for the attention you give to our request.

Yours sincerely,

Jean-Fran├žois Julliard

Reporters Without Borders secretary-general

  • Julian Assange was today remanded in custody by a judge at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court until December 14.

    Five people, including journalist John Pilger, film director Ken Loach and Jemima Khan, the sister of Tory MP Zac Goldsmith, stood up in court offering to put up sureties.

    Assange is accused by the Swedish authorities of one count of rape, one of unlawful coercion and two counts of sexual molestation, alleged to have been committed in August 2010.

  • In an opnion piece published in The Australian today, Assange writes:

    "IN 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide’s The News, wrote: 'In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win.'

    "His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch’s expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.

    "Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public."


IanVisits said...

I wonder what evidence they have that Ken Clarke wasn't planning to be impartial which then caused them to consider such a letter to be required, or do they write similar letters every time someone is arrested.

...or more likely, are they bandwagon jumping in order to get some publicity.

Max said...

Given that the case is ostensibly concerned with a burst condom, is "WiliLeaks" a Freudian slip?

Jon Slattery said...

Good spot Max. Maybe something got lost in translation.