Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Assange flees justice

Faced with the prospect of extradition to Sweden to face allegations of sexual assault, Julian Assange has done a runner, hiding out in the Ecuadorian embassy and applying for political asylum.

Its a very weak case. Assange is not facing persecution in Sweden; he is facing justice for his alleged crimes. There's no suggestion that he won't receive a fair trial or that he would face cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. As for the fear that he will be subsequently extradited to the US, he will have the full protection of the ECHR on that. And the ECHR will not allow him to be extradited to face the death penalty or torture. Finally, despite his claims today, Assange has not been "abandoned" by the Australian government; they have made it clear that they will continue to offer consular assistance in the normal manner [PDF].

It is of course up to Ecuador who they grant asylum to and on what terms. But under the normal international law criteria, Assange wouldn't qualify. He's not a refugee with a well-founded fear of persecution; he's just an alleged criminal trying to escape justice.