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Today's Top News
Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange Faces Extradition, Then...'The Simpsons'
Assange steps up his TV presence before court hearing
Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, will face potential extradition to Sweden tomorrow before the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. Seven judges will decide whether or not Assange will be sent to Sweden to face charges of sexual assault.
However, these pressures have not slowed down Assange. While under house arrest in the UK, he has managed to announce plans for a new talk show, which will be aired on the news network RT. In addition he will 'appear' in 'The Simpsons' 500th episode which will air on February 19, 2012.
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Assange’s case will raise questions about international extradition, and the means by which it can be requested. The Guardian reports:
In February last year, a [UK] court ruled that Assange should be sent to Sweden to answer [accusations of sexual assault]; he appealed, and lost. But two high court judges granted him leave to appeal to the highest British court, not on the circumstances of his own case but on a point of law: namely, whether a prosecutor had sufficient authority to require someone's extradition, as in Assange's case. Many legal observers were surprised when the supreme court not only agreed to hear Assange's petition, but said seven judges, rather than the usual five, would preside, "given the great public importance of the issue raised". The court will sit for two days, on 1 and 2 February, though the judges are unlikely to deliver their written verdict for a number of weeks. [...]
But Julian Knowles QC, a barrister specializing in extradition law based at Matrix Chambers, said the decision to might be more easily explained by the enormous public interest in Assange's case – "to send the message that the highest court in the land has looked at this case, and it's had the attention of the best legal minds in the country".
Whether or not the supreme court rules Assange should face a Swedish investigation, this is far from the only legal process the WikiLeaks founder fears. The US government is prosecuting an army private, Bradley Manning, alleging he is the source of many of WikiLeaks's high-profile releases; it has also opened a grand jury investigation with the purpose of deciding whether to prosecute WikiLeaks or its founder. That process is carried out in secret, without any rights of access for Assange or his lawyers.In Knowles's view, the law in this area – whether a public prosecutor is a valid judicial authority – has been comprehensively tested. "This point has been litigated before, and the courts have always reached the clear answer that while it may look odd to English eyes, common law eyes ... European systems don't have the same structure. The courts have always said that to make extradition work, you have to be flexible in your approach to what extradition is." The consequences if Assange were to win, he said, would be "very profound". "It would basically mean, until the law is rewritten, that extradition to Europe [would] become very difficult, if not impossible. Because in the vast majority of European extradition requests, the arrest warrant is issued not by a court, as it would be in England, but by a prosecutor."
It is much easier to predict what will happen if Assange loses. Though he would still have the option to make an application to the European court of human rights (as he has hinted he may do at earlier stages of the process), this would not delay his extradition, since Sweden is also a signatory to that convention. Instead, the extradition unit at Scotland Yard would agree with their Swedish counterparts a date, within 10 days, for Assange to be handed over, according to Knowles. The Australian would be required to present himself at one of the main London airports, where he would be handed to Swedish police, who would escort him on a flight to Stockholm. Once on Swedish soil, he would immediately be arrested. [...]
Whether or not the supreme court rules Assange should face a Swedish investigation, this is far from the only legal process the WikiLeaks founder fears. The US government is prosecuting an army private, Bradley Manning, alleging he is the source of many of WikiLeaks's high-profile releases; it has also opened a grand jury investigation with the purpose of deciding whether to prosecute WikiLeaks or its founder. That process is carried out in secret, without any rights of access for Assange or his lawyers. Many of the Australian's supporters fear the US will seek his extradition – from the UK, Sweden or elsewhere – with a view to prosecuting him for "conspiracy to commit espionage", based on a notional allegation that he may have "coached" Manning to leak documents to the site.
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Whether Assange is sent to Sweden, or not, his image will remain immortalized in the US through the powers of the 'The Simpsons'. Reuters reports:
The activist/journalist -- lauded by some and reviled by others for his leaking of classified government information -- will make a cameo on the upcoming 500th episode of "The Simpsons."
During the episode -- which airs February 19 at 8 p.m. and is titled "At Long Last Leave" -- Homer, Marge and their lemon-hued brood are run out of Springfield and join an off-the-grid community outside of town, where they find themselves as new neighbors to Assange.
"Simpsons" executive producer Al Jean told Entertainment Weekly that Assange recorded his part from an undisclosed location last summer, while under house arrest in Britain.
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Should his decision be favorable this week, Assange will continue as a TV personality on Russia Today (RT) network this March. The Wikileaks founder has announced plans for a new television series featuring ten weekly half-hour episodes featuring "in-depth conversations with key political players, thinkers and revolutionaries from around the world."
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