In a stunning worldwide exclusive, IA reveals that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange may soon be free to return to Australia. Deputy editor Sandi Keane reports.
If Victorians vote Julian Assange into the Senate this Saturday, thanks to proposed changes in the UK’s extradition laws, we may actually see him take his place in the Australian Upper House next year.
Presently, Assange is holed in the Ecuadorian Embassy while he seeks refuge from extradition to Sweden on what many believe are trumped up accusations.
The reason Assange may be able to come back to Australia stems from the UK’s scrapping of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) extradition treaty.
The modifications, due to come into effect in between January and June 2014, will prevent the use of extradition for purposes other than prosecution. Remember: Julian Assange has not been formally charged with any offence — the EAW is simply for questioning.
Under the proposed new rules, according to Assange, Swedish prosecutors would have to interview him on UK soil, not Swedish. If there was no case to answer ‒ as he insists ‒ he would be free to leave the U.K.
As he told IA:
“If I’m lucky enough to be elected, I’m not due to take my seat until July 2014. The Constitution gives me at least two months’ grace after that. So the timing may all come together.”
Assange attributes his High Court case and Supreme Court appeal against for the government’s adoption of the changes to the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) recommended by the Scott Baker Extradition Review.
In July 2012, the lobby group, Fair Trials International, reported:
‘The direction follows Lord Phillips’ explicit call for the introduction of a proportionality test in our extradition laws in last month’s (June 2012) Assange ruling. It is a strong indication that, pending legislative reform, the courts may themselves start to weed out the most disproportionate cases.’
The Review, published in October 2011, recommended extradition for minor crimes cease. The European Commission backs the changes, arguing the use of EAWs for minor offences had undermined confidence in the system. The government responded in October last year:
‘The Government will take the opportunity of the 2014 JHA opt-out decision to work with the European Commission, and with other Member States, to reform the European Arrest Warrant so that it provides the protections that our citizens demand.’
The fact that Julian Assange may be free to take up his place in the Senate provides a tremendous fillip for the WikiLeaks Party, as the fact he may be unable to participate in Parliament would be a deterrent for potential voters.
Things may be looking up for the WikiLeaks Party.
The rest of IA’s interview with Julian Assange will be published later today. Keep watching this space.
Published on Independent Australia 6 September 2013 here.