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13 Apr, 2019 01:41

There's no evidence to justify Assange's eviction, Snowden's lawyer says

There's no evidence to justify Assange's eviction, Snowden's lawyer says

Robert Tibbo, a lawyer for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, told RT that he believes Ecuador's decision to strip away Julian Assange's asylum is based on a very weak legal case and may amount to a breach of the constitution.

"Number one, there is a very high threshold to strip someone of an asylum. For what's available in [the] public domain, I don't see any evidence that would justify President [Lenin] Moreno or his administration stripping [Julian Assange] of that asylum status," Tibbo told RT.

The lawyer said that by giving Assange only a "30-minute notice" before revoking his asylum and citizenship, Ecuador appears to have violated his rights under its own laws.

"There are at least five or six articles in the constitution that protect due process rights. It appears that Assange was never afforded any of these due process protections that are enshrined in this constitution."

The UK gave Washington until June 12 to present the case for Assange's extradition to the US, where he might face up to five years behind bars under the current indictment of conspiracy to hack a Pentagon computer. It is feared, however, that as soon as Assange is handed over to the US, the charges will pile on and might see him being locked up for life.

While the first extradition hearing is several months from now, Tibbo believes that the whole process is likely to drag on for years to come.

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"His extradition proceedings in the UK will be expected to take many years to be resolved through first instance extradition hearings to any appeals Mr Assange would take," the lawyer told RT, adding that "there is a big question" whether he will ever set foot on US soil.

However, if the US justice system succeeds in getting a hold of the publisher, his life could be in grave danger, Tibbo believes.

"Looking at Mr Assange's health, it appears he is ill and is frail, any ill treatment of Mr Assange by the US authorities, if he landed on US soil, could amount to torture."

The lawyer noted that it is likewise "a big question" whether a US court would heed the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which has stated that Assange has been arbitrarily held in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. While his exile there was nominally self-imposed, the only option was to step out into the hands of British police, facing near-inevitable extradition.

So far, Washington has a long track record of defying international bodies if they are reluctant to bend to its will.

Being the lawyer of Edward Snowden, one of the world's most famous whistleblowers, who has resided in Moscow for almost six years now, Tibbo said that Assange's case is "extremely different" from his.

"Mr Snowden is actually a whistleblower, he falls into a classic definition of whistleblower, whereas Mr Assange is a journalist and has worked with whistleblowers in the past."

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