Lawyers for the WikiLeaks publisher want the OAS independent body to keep Assange from being sent to a courtroom in the U.S. and to end his isolation.
By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News
Julian Assange’s lawyers have filed an urgent petition to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) to stop Ecuador from extraditing him to the United States and to pressure the U.S. to reveal its sealed charges against the WikiLeaks publisher, WikiLeaks said on Wednesday.
His lawyers also applied to the IACHR to get Ecuador to end its surveillance of Assange and “to stop the isolation imposed on him,” according to the 1,172-page filing.
“The application by Mr. Assange’s lawyers identifies a raft of legal obligations that the U.S. and Ecuador are flouting in their treatment of Mr. Assange,” WikiLeaks said in a statement. “The lawyers document Trump Administration attempts to pressure Ecuador to hand over Mr. Assange, notably recent serious overt threats against Ecuador made by senior U.S. political figures, unlike the more veiled threats made in the past.”
The IACHR is an autonomous part of the Organization of American States (OAS) to promote and protect human rights. Its decisions are not legally binding on OAS member states. But it can create political embarrassment for states that are found to have committed human rights violations.
“The calls to extradite Mr. Assange to the United States, as the result of his work as a publisher and editor, is the reason Mr. Assange obtained political asylum at Ecuador’s embassy in London in August 2012,” WikiLeaks said.
Baltasar Garzón, the international coordinator of Assange’s legal team, called for “international solidarity for this case in which the right to access and impart information freely is in jeopardy,” the statement said.
A decision whether to unseal the details of an indictment against Assange is held up in a courtroom in Alexandria, Virginia. In November, Judge Leonie Brinkema delayed her decision for what she said would be a week.
The WikiLeaks petition to the IACHR also “reveals for the first time that U.S. federal prosecutors have in the last few months formally approached people in the United States, Germany and Iceland and pressed them to testify against Mr. Assange in return for immunity from prosecution,” the WikiLeaks statement said.
“Those approached are associated with WikiLeaks’ joint publications with other media about U.S. diplomacy, Guantanamo bay and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said the statement.
The Trump administration “is clearly intent on using the prosecution of Julian Assange as an ‘icebreaker’ to set a dangerous precedent that would enable the prosecution of most serious media organizations,” according to WikiLeaks. It added that the threats against Assange have “significantly increased” since WikiLeaks published the “Vault 7” CIA documents, “the largest leak of CIA classified information in history.”
The petition points out espionage activity against Assange in the embassy by private security firms contracted by Ecuador “which, instead of being involved in protecting the asylee, have spied on Mr. Assange and his visitors.” The private firms have been acting as informants to the FBI, WikiLeaks said, citing media reports.
“Ecuador is required to end the regime of isolation imposed on Mr. Assange, suspending the application of the so-called special protocol and guaranteeing his rights as an asylee will be respected in full,” the filing said.
Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Sunday Times of London and numerous other newspapers. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @unjoe .