Julian Assange's Asylum Bid

22 June 2012

The latest move by the WikiLeaks founder leads to doubts about his claims on the law, writes Professor Ben Saul.

Julian Assange recently requested political asylum in Equador, claiming that Australia has abandoned him, and that he is at risk of being sent to face the death penalty in the US.

In an article co-authored with Professor Jane McAdam at UNSW in The Australian, Professor Saul writes that there are four key reasons why Assange's asylum request is legally doubtful.

"First, there is no imminent serious threat to Assange from the British authorities, such that sanctuary in Ecuador's embassy is necessary to protect him.
"Assange has been living safely in an English country house.
"Asylum in embassies is not permitted simply to escape legitimate legal proceedings before the courts.

"Second, there is no imminent prospect of Assange being returned to the US to face charges carrying the death penalty, whether from Britain, Sweden or
"The US has not laid criminal charges, or sought his extradition, as confirmed recently by the US ambassador to Australia.
"Third, the WikiLeaks investigations in the US have so far focused on charges of espionage and disclosing official secrets, particularly by Bradley Manning.
"If charges such as these were later confirmed against Assange, any extradition request of Sweden or Australia would likely fail thanks to the protections of extradition law.

"Fourth, even if charges were not seen as political, Assange would benefit from other protections.
"Neither Swedish nor Australian law permits a person to be extradited to a country to face the death penalty.
"It is also forbidden under a human rights treaty signed by Australia, Sweden and Britain."

View the entire article - Assange's asylum bid is baseless and Ecuador's motives are suspect - The Australian

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