‘Swedish prosecutors determined to convict Assange… of something’

A supporter of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange stands with placards outside the Supreme Court in central London on May 30, 2012 (AFP Photo/Leon Neal)
As the UK Supreme Court gives the green light to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to Sweden, journalist Al Burke told RT that Swedish prosecutors have too much riding on the whistleblower’s case to simply drop it.

­Wednesday’s decision to extradite the scandal-stirring whistleblower Julian Assange has caused both uproar and bewilderment. In the Supreme Court’s ruling, international law trumps domestic  jurisdiction, and the final judgment is dictated by the term “judicial authority” as interpreted by French legal practice.

Assange’s lawyers have 14 days to apply to reopen the extradition case. The whistleblower’s legal team has secured the right since the ruling was not made under the UK legal system, so they did not have adequate time to prepare. 

For Stockholm, the 18-month stand-off with the British justice over the Australian cyberspace activist has turned into a marathon they just cannot afford to lose says Al Burke, a journalist and author with the Sweden-based Nordic News Network.

RT: What are your predictions for where the case goes once Assange is handed over?

Al Burke: The Swedish prosecutors have invested so much prestige in this case that I suspect they are under a lot of pressure to get him convicted of something. So they probably won’t just walk away. Everything I have seen thus far indicates to me that the prosecutor in charge is rather seriously determined to convict him of something.

RT: The court's decision has revived fears this extradition is just a pretext for Assange's further prosecution, possibly in the US, and on far more serious charges, such as conspiracy and espionage. Do you see that as a possibility?

AB: I have studied US foreign policy and the government’s activities for quite a while and I can say this: It would surprise me if they do not try to get at Assange in the way you have described. I think that is a given.

RT: How is the news of Assange's looming extradition likely to be received in Sweden, judging by how the media there has been covering the proceedings so far?

AB: All I have seen so far on the web is pretty consistent with the way it has been all along, in the past eighteen months or so. The reporting is mainly hostile and negative towards Julian Assange and his attempt to avoid extradition to Sweden.

RT: Why do you think in the mainstream media, Assange has gone from celebrated truth-teller to a criminal? Was this a planned smear campaign or just an unfortunate coincidence?

AB: Some attribute it to his personal difficulties in dealing with editors in "standard journalism." As for myself, I suspect it may be due to an inferiority complex. WikiLeaks has shown the world how incompetent most of the mainstream news organizations are. I don’t think they like that.

‘Assange process sends totally wrong signal to whistleblowers’

In the grand scheme of things, Assange’s court battle in the UK sends the “totally wrong message” to whistleblowers, says investigative journalist Tony Gosling.

Many people around the world making a tremendous amount of money out of the War on Terror would like to see Assange disappear,” the journalist told RT. “We see an attack on the most important people and most important website in the world, which journalists used when vital information could not be transmitted through mainstream media because of editorial considerations.

The fact that Assange is a radical publisher doing real investigative journalism is one of the reasons he is under attack, concludes Gosling.