16 September 2010
Assange Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied
On this day when the imprisonment of Bradley Manning is being protested, that protest should include the injustice by the Swedish Prosecution Authority against Julian Assange.
The Swedish Prosecution Authority has provided no information on the allegations against Julian Assange since September 9, 2010. The unsupported claims on the Prosecution Authority web page about Assange are defamatory as they stand.
Assange says he has not seen the charges allegedly made against him. Meanwhile the delay is punishing Assange as if already found guilty by the Prosecution Authority's public allegations.
It does not require a lawyer to explain this injustice as a political vendetta.
Delayed action by a prosecutor after a potential defendant is informally notified by leaks or by innuendo is a conventional tactic to pressure a defendant and/or accomplices to cooperate. It is also illegal unless the prosecutor formally notifies the accused or the accused's attorney what procedures for handling the allegations are underway, the time limit for a resolution, and what protections are available to the accused during the no longer confidential proceedings.
Delay may be warranted if new information is discovered during an investigation, the accused is notified of the new potential charges and change in the time for resolution, and any additional protections for the accused which follow from the discovery.
Delay may be caused by grand jury proceedings which are customarily secret. If grounds for an indictment of the accused is voted by the grand jury, the prosecution is bound by set procedures to act on the indictment in a timely fashion with arrest and corresponding legal representation.
In the Assange case, the leak of the police report and subequent disarray in prosecutorial statements has harmed Assange without proof of guilt or even notification of specific charges alleged. This is illegal and punishment is warranted for the parties who leaked the information and caused the disarray. Compensation for the harm to Assange may be warranted.
The delay in resolution continues to increase the harm to Assange, reflects badly on the Prosecution Authority's competency and independence of political bias, and increases the damages Assange may claim for harm.
However, the Prosecution Authority may be attempting to build a case against Assange to protect the office from charges of malfeasance, politicization of the prosecution and financial claims for unwarranted harm. These official cover-ups are quite common among prosecutors around the world. In the more advanced nations there are legal and political measures to punish those who engage in them, although difficult to prove. Because the practice is so common it is institutionalized, it will take a determined public initiative to uncover the cover-up.
In countries where attorneys are craven officers of the court, it may not be possible to find a Swedish lawyer with the courage to challenge the Prosecution Authority and avoid professional suicide unless provided the backbone-stiffener of public outrage.