Letter to Right Hon Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP about Julian Assange’s extradition

I am writing to express my extreme disquiet at the decision of the court to allow Julian Assange to be extradited to the US.

I would like you to pass this letter to the Home Secretary to ask her to overrule the court and prevent his extradition.

I have no axe to grind for Julian Assange. My objection to his treatment is entirely based on principle and has nothing to do with him personally.

This is a wholly political case which should have been rejected on that ground alone as contrary to Article 4 (1) of the 2003 Anglo-US Extradition Treaty.

But it goes much further than that. The Treaty, agreed during the Blair era is unfair, weak and almost wholly one-sided. It allows the US to demand the extradition of UK citizens and others for offences committed against US law even if the alleged offence was committed in Britain by a person living in the UK. In effect it allows the US authorities to demand that we hand over anyone they want to punish, whether or not the alleged offence is unlawful in Britain.

This is a violation of our sovereignty and in Assange’s case amounts to a threat to the freedom of the press. It is unimaginable that the US would hand over to the British state one of their own citizens accused of publishing leaked documents. But any British journalist who embarrasses the US government by exposing any of the truth that the US state hides from its people faces the same fate. It must be remembered that he has committed no crime according to our law. The real reason the US government wants Assange’s extradition is to extract revenge for his having embarrassed the state and shown its government to have lied to the people and to Congress.

Assange revealed many things the US state did which were in themselves illegal and, frankly, wicked: injustice, brutality, secret imprisonment, torture and ‘extraordinary rendition’.

Publishing large numbers of confidential US government files is not illegal under US law. He was acting as a journalist when he published the documents he had received. Had he been a US citizen he would be immune to prosecution because of the First Amendment to the US Constitution which protects the freedom of the press.

If extradited, Julian Assange will be tried in the US and,if convicted (which looks almost certain) faces a US style prison sentence, which could last the rest of his life It is repugnant to any fair-minded person’s sense of justice that Julian Assange should face the rest of his life in the US prison system, first as an unconvicted person and then almost certainly as a convicted criminal. He is neither a terrorist nor a spy nor a murderer. None of his actions has harmed anyone. That he should face the prospect of spending the rest of his life in an American prison with terrorists, murderers and other violent criminals amounts to unimaginable cruelty and cries out for clemency.

I beg the Home Secretary to exercise her power to prevent this injustice and overrule the decision of the court.

22 April 2022

Philip Walling

By Philip Walling

Having been a farmer and practised as a barrister, I am now a writer with two books published so far: Counting Sheep (2014) and Till the Cows Come Home (2018).

I am interested in everything to do with the countryside, rural history, humanity and the way we live now.

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