Antoine Vey Lawyer at the Paris Bar
In January, British justice refused to extradite Julian Assange. For what reasons ?
Antoine Vey British justice had to look at three problems. The first was whether the accusation formulated by the United States was a so-called “political” accusation, that is to say not articulated on legal grounds but primarily for political ends. The second was whether, in the event of extradition, Mr. Assange was at risk of being subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment in the United States. The third was to see if Julian Assange’s state of health was compatible with a possible extradition measure.
The British judge considered that, on the first two points, she could not be certain as to the exclusively political nature of the accusations, on the one hand, and as to the failure to respect fundamental rights, on the other. On the other hand, in view of the elements which had been submitted to him, in particular the expert reports, the state of health of Mr. Assange made extradition impossible. She therefore refused the American request to extradite her. As a result, the US government appealed this decision. It is this call that is analyzed from today, in London.
What will be examined during these two days? Is this a return to square one?
Antoine Vey No, because English law is not configured like ours, where in the event of an appeal, we reshuffle the case. The English, in their appeal, have the task of analyzing that the law has been properly applied and that there was not, in the judge’s decision, a point of law or a factual point which would be likely to lead not to a new decision on the merits, but to a referral by the appellate judges to a new trial which would then take place before a new reconstituted court and this not for a few months. Which is possible if the English judges identify a means.
If Washington’s appeal is declared inadmissible, is this the end of legal troubles for Julian Assange?
Antoine Vey No. If the United States’ appeal is found to be unfounded, then the judge’s decision will become final. From then on, Mr. Assange will no longer be subject to this extradition warrant and should be released. Which would assume that the United States does not issue a new arrest warrant, which it is likely to do. We are dealing with an instrumentalisation of justice, a case of Politique-judicial harassment. So there is nothing to prevent us from another phantom attack from the United States. And if he were released, as he is not English, the question would arise of his situation on British soil. He would apply for asylum that he would like to obtain in France.
What can France do?
Antoine Vey She can affirm a position of principle which is that Julien Assange is the symbol of the freedom of the press to inform. Because he is imprisoned only for having disseminated information. So, it is a difficulty with regard to the right to inform. It could recall that, whatever the charges which may be brought against an individual, he must benefit from the minimum rights, and not be treated under conditions which subject him “to institutional torture” – to use the words of the rapporteur of the Nations. united – leading to a state of health which is not compatible with a procedure. France should be moved by a citizen subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment. And so should propose that Julian Assange can receive political, personal asylum, and no longer be subject to incarceration in a high security penitentiary as is currently the case.
What does this whole thing tell us?
Antoine Vey When the political force has decided to bring down an individual it considers its enemy, it uses, by misleading them, the rules of law, the mask of an alleged justice, to annihilate and imprison him . This affair is above all political. There is nothing legal or judicial about it.