A British judge ruled today that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden to face questioning on allegations of sexual crimes. Assange plans to appeal within 10 days. His defense team had argued against the extradition, in part by citing the potential he could wind up being extradited to the United States and prosecuted for publishing classified government documents, a crime that could result in the death penalty.
For more on this developing story, Democracy Now! interviews constitutional law attorney and legal blogger Glenn Greenwald about the Assange case, allegations of torture by the U.S. Army to alleged whistleblower Army Private Bradley Manning, and a recently disclosed plot by three private intelligence firms to target WikiLeaks and its supporters, including Greenwald, who has publicly defended the organization.
"I don't think it's [the ruling is] particularly surprising, in the sense that typically when contesting extradition, a defendant needs to be able to argue that there's not just something unfair about the process, but something that's so fundamentally flawed in the justice system of the country seeking extradition that it would offend the notions of basic justice and due process of the extraditing country," Greenwald says.
"And when you're talking about a country like Sweden, that is part of multiple conventions and treaties and other systems of justice with the British, it's a very uphill battle to try and convince a British judge that Sweden would be so radically flawed," Greenwald says. "Additionally, this decision is going to be appealed multiple times to high British courts and ultimately to the European Human Rights Court, and so it's going to be quite a long time before there's any resolution with finality. He's not going to be shipped off to Stockholm anytime soon."
Democracy Now! co-host Juan Gonzalez asked Greenwald about his support of WikiLeaks, and how he was individually identified in the plot by three private intelligence firms to target WikiLeaks and its supporters.
"Ironically, there have been so few people in the American media who have been willing to defend WikiLeaks, notwithstanding the fact that what they're doing is core journalism and that the threats to prosecute and otherwise harm them would be as grave a threat to press freedoms in this country as anything we've seen in a long time," Greenwald says. "There have been so few members of the media who have been willing to stand up and support WikiLeaks that being one of the very few people who have been vocal--and that they did identify me, as well as several other people, as needing specific targeting. The phrase they used was forcing us to choose between, quote, 'preservation of career over cause,' meaning threatening our careers if we continue to speak out in favor of WikiLeaks.
A couple months ago, Democracy Now! hosted a debate between Greenwald and Steven Aftergood, a transparency advocate who has become a leading critic of WikiLeaks. Here is part 1 of 3 of that debate: