He claims some super-duper, super secret US grand jury has indicted him already and if he goes back to Sweden, they will extradite him to the United States where he will face the death penalty. Australia, Assange’s home country, says they’ve heard nothing about an indictment, secret or otherwise, from the US – an indictment that was supposed to have been sealed a year and a half ago.
As idiotic as that sounds, you must remember he is talking to another wacky leftist; Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa. An acolyte of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, Correa is inclined to believe the worst about the United States — the more conspiratorial the better.
Patino told a news conference that Assange had written to leftist President Rafael Correa saying he was being persecuted and seeking asylum.
He said that Assange, who is Australian, had argued that “the authorities in his country will not defend his minimum guarantees in front of any government or ignore the obligation to protect a politically persecuted citizen.”
He said it was impossible for him to return to his homeland because it would not protect him from being extradited to “a foreign country that applies the death penalty for the crime of espionage and sedition.”
The reference is presumably to the United States. Assange claims the U.S. has secretly indicted him for divulging American secrets and will act on the indictment if Sweden succeeds in extraditing him from Britain.
Assange shot to international prominence in 2010 with the release of hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. documents, including a hard-to-watch video that showed U.S. forces gunning down a crowd of Iraqi civilians and journalists whom they had mistaken for insurgents.
Australian authorities have cooperated with the United States in investigating WikiLeaks’ conduct. The Australians have concluded that Assange has broken no Australian law.
Assange apparently got the idea of being indicted from a leaked email from Stratfor that said a federal court in Alexandria had handed down a sealed indictment of him for espionage. Stratfor says of the leaked emails, courtesy of the hacking group Anonymous and published by Wikileaks, that they may have been tampered with. Stratfor never included the information in their newsletter, nor has any other media source independently verified that claim.
Prosecuting Assange for espionage would be difficult since he didn’t steal the documents. There’s a free speech issue also that a prosecutor would have a hard time overcoming and therefore, the chances of the United States government prosecuting Assange are small. Besides, why didn’t we ask for his extradition when he was in an English jail?
Assange has signed a $1.3 million book deal and has entertained the idea of running for the Australian senate. He is not running from US justice; he is running from rape charges in Sweden where the evidence and testimony of the women he assaulted is solid.