Interpol warrant for Julian Assange ‘a persecution not a prosecution’

Mark Stephens, the London attorney for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has said the recent Interpol Red Notice issued for his client appears to be a persecution and not a prosecution.

The Red Notice from Interpol should be treated as a type of wanted poster. Interpol says that their usage is to assist the national police forces in identifying or locating the people named in them with a view to their arrest and extradition. Assange’s Red Notice says that his offence is sex crime related and that the warrant was issued by the International Public Prosecution Office in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Stephens, in a statement emailed to The Tech Herald, said, “…neither Mr. Assange nor his lawyers have been provided any further information beyond that reported in the press.”

He added that it was both highly irregular and unusual for the Swedish authorities to issue a Red Notice "in the teeth" of the undisputed fact that Mr. Assange has agreed to voluntarily answer questions from the prosecutor.

“Mr. Assange has repeatedly sought meetings with the Prosecutrix  - both in Sweden and subsequently - in order to answer her questions and clear his name. It is relevant that Mr. Assange sought permission from the Prosecutrix to leave Sweden and she gave him her permission. Since leaving Sweden Mr. Assange has continued to seek meetings with the Prosecutrix, but his requests have either been ignored or met with a refusal.”

“Bizarrely, the Prosecutrix  -  having ignored or rejected those offers of voluntary cooperation - instead sought an arrest warrant to have Mr. Assange held incommunicado without giving his Swedish lawyer sufficient notice, access to evidence or information to take proper instructions from Mr. Assange. This action is all the more peculiar as she has not even issued a formal summons for his interrogation or brought charges against Mr. Assange,” the statement added.

Since leaving Sweden, it is the obligation of the Prosecutrix to come and meet with Assange.

"Prosecutrix Ny's actions put me in mind of Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria - they certainly appear to have nothing much to do with truth or justice. More concerning, her actions do not serve the interests of the Complainants or Mr. Assange in resolving this matter in a timely fashion. Her arrhythmic actions, together with her failure to consider and disclose the evidence demonstrating Mr. Assange's innocence, place the Prosecutor in breach of her obligations under the UN Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors,” Stephens said.

"In 28 years of practice I have never come across a prosecutor, whether in the third world or even in a totalitarian regime, where there has been such casual disregard by a prosecutor for their obligations. Given that Sweden is a civilised country I am reluctantly forced to conclude that this is a persecution and not a prosecution."

Stephens’ statements are marked with the observation that the Prosecutrix has failed to comply with her obligations under Swedish, European, and international law. This is due to the failure to provide Assange information about the potential allegations and any evidence to support them.

“It is her obligation to communicate this in a language he understands. The Prosecutrix has not complied with this obligation. The Prosecutrix is in complete breach of her obligations to ensure a fair procedure and process… In scrambling to apply for a red notice on 18 November immediately after the lower courts granted an arrest order, the Swedish Prosecutor and Swedish authorities have failed to comply with Sweden's obligations under Swedish and international law,” he added.

The statement goes on to explain the history of the Swedish arrest warrant, which has been issued at a time where Assange is taking an active role in an outstanding domestic appeal in Sweden’s highest court. His appeal was filed on November 19, was partially successful as the Court tossed out the rape charge on the grounds that the facts did not sustain the charge.

“Since the rape charge has been dropped, the current allegation he faces does not - as a matter of Swedish law - justify an arrest warrant for Mr. Assange. The sole ground for the warrant is the Prosecutor's blatantly false allegation that he is on the run from justice: he left Sweden lawfully and has offered himself for questioning,” Stephens said.

According to Stephens, by seeking to execute the warrant before his client’s appeal is determined Ny is seeking to front-run the Swedish courts ability to decide the matter in an orderly fashion.

"At this point in time we have no evidence pointing to a link between these allegations from August and the issue of the Interpol alert just two days after the WikiLeaks first release of US diplomatic cables. However, it is highly unusual for a red notice warrant to be issued in relation to the allegations reported as having been made, since Swedish law does not require custodial orders in relation to the allegation - indeed to our knowledge this is a unique action by the Swedish prosecuting authorities in applying for a red notice on the basis of these allegations,” Stephens’ statement concluded.

“We are also investigating whether the Prosecutor's application to have Mr. Assange held incommunicado without access to lawyers, visitors or other prisoners - again a unique request - is in any way linked to this matter and the recent, rather bellicose US statements of an intention to prosecute Mr. Assange.”

The bellicose statements mentioned are those made by the Justice Department that Assange violated criminal laws by releasing the leaked diplomatic cables, including charges under the Espionage Act. The Washington Post has the whole story on the investigation. You can see it here.

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