US Begins Long Process to Extradite Assange After Hearing

The United States moved quickly to begin the process of extraditing Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange. Assange is fighting this.

If Wikileaks co-founder is proving anything these days, it’s that journalism is a crime if it makes the United States government look bad. After what took place many years ago, America’s thirst for revenge on the award winning journalist is as strong as ever. That in spite of the fact that it took 7 long years and a regime change in Ecuador to revoke Assange’s political asylum.

With the legal battle being much more direct between Assange and the United States, Sweden has become all but a tiny footnote at this point. The cover that this whole story is really about alleged sexual assault is pretty much all but evaporated at this point. This thanks in part to the United States trying the new tactic that this whole story really about encouraging someone to crack a password now.

For the United States, changing the story is pretty much one of their only options at this point. If this was really about sexual assault accusations – even though charges were never pressed – then what business does the United States have in this case in the first place? So, a narrative change is necessary so the United States would then have a stake in the matter. Luckily for the US, gullible media outlets ate it up the day Assange was arrested without thinking twice.

Now, it’ll come to a surprise to exactly no one that the US has moved quickly to start the extradition process. With the UK buying the US 50 weeks to begin the process (a sentence that Wikileaks says is higher than what the court is authorized to make), the US can work the system inside and out to get their way. Naturally, the US is making full use of this opportunity. From The Conversation:

In the case of Julian Assange, focus has turned to the United States’ efforts to extradite him from Britain to the US to face a charge of conspiracy “to commit computer intrusion”.

The initial extradition hearing, which took place on Thursday, was a preliminary step in what will be a long, drawn-out process. Assange appeared before the court by video link and made it clear he opposes extradition. The next procedural hearing is set for May 30.

The actual extradition hearing will be some time off, following these preliminary hearings. After an initial decision by a judge, either side may have access to an appeal procedure through the courts.

Regardless of that outcome, the final step rests with Home Secretary Sajid Javid. Despite pressure from UK lawmakers, Javid cannot make a political decision on whether to extradite Assange – rather, his role is to approve a court order for extradition unless there are statutory provisions that prohibit it.

His decision to extradite Assange might also be subject to High Court appeal.

So, at this point in time, Assange is gradually being forced down a very murky legal realm. With lingering worry that a death sentence awaits at the end of at least a couple outcomes, the stakes are as high as ever.

Of course, all of this has a chilling effect on journalism as a whole. If a reporter uncovers enough corruption within the United States, this case could prove that this kind of exposure is completely out of bounds. That, in turn, could exacerbate problems because that means that there are certain parts of the government that are accountable to no one. The prying eyes of the media dare not tread there should they risk the long arm of American wrath.

At the same time, this puts into question when an outlet does disclose something the US allegedly doesn’t want ti disclose. Is it really something the government doesn’t want to disclose or is the disclosure an internal political play?

The point is that journalism itself could be negatively impacted by all of this. Anyone who is an honest journalist that covers politics to any degree (whether directly or passively related) has an interest in this case at this point. After all, when the credibility of journalism itself is on shaky grounds, that puts into question a journalist’s role in the grand scheme of things in the first place.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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