Free Julian Assange!

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• UK, U.S., Sweden conspire to imprison Wikileaks whistleblower

By Victor Thorn

For a few tense moments during the week of August 19, British officials threatened to have police storm Ecuador’s embassy in London in order to seize Wikileaks founder Julian Assange who sought refuge there and who has been granted asylum by Ecuador. Such a move would be unprecedented, especially in terms of violating asylum rights under the Vienna Convention.

A British attempt to lay siege to Ecuador’s embassy presents a potential diplomatic tinderbox. On August 22 AMERICAN FREE PRESS spoke with David A. Andelman, president of the Overseas Press Club of America, who told AFP, “Violating the embassy of another nation is a really big move.” Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa publicly warned of the dangers that could arise: “It would be suicide for the UK to enter Ecuador’s embassy.”

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Assange sought asylum in order to avoid extradition to Sweden where he has been accused (but not formally charged) of ambiguous allegations of improper behavior relating to a consensual sexual encounter with two different women of legal age.

Critics see the charges against Assange as trumped-up efforts to engage him in a criminal prosecution designed to discredit him and thereby effectively silence Wikileaks. Assange’s defenders have not tried to excuse any improper behavior by the Internet dissident and note that the allegations seem a bit dubious, if not altogether spurious.

In the meantime, the United States seems intent on moving against Assange. AFP reported in August that Michael Ratner, Assange’s U.S. lawyer, contends a secret grand jury in the U.S. has already indicted Assange, most likely on charges of espionage arising from the leaking of U.S. documents.

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Despite repeated U.S. claims that it has no intention of seeking Assange’s extradition, Philip Dorling of Australia’s The Age newspaper reported that “declassified diplomatic cables, released under freedom of information laws, show Australia’s diplomatic service takes seriously the likelihood that Assange [an Australian citizen] will be extradited to the U.S.”

For his part, Assange delivered an electrifying August 19 balcony speech from the embassy, calling on President Barack Obama to “renounce [his] witch hunt against Wikileaks.”

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Victor Thorn is a hard-hitting researcher, journalist and the author of over 30 books.

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