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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 01/12/2011

Julian Assange's Fears of Guantanamo

By Glenn Kessler

"It is submitted that there is a real risk that, if extradited to Sweden, the US will
seek his extradition and/or illegal rendition to the USA, where there will be a
real risk of him being detained at Guantanamo Bay or elsewhere."
Mark Stephens, defense attorney for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange

In a 35-page document released Tuesday, the lawyer fighting Assange's extradition to Sweden on charges of sex crimes argues that Assange faces a "real risk" of being sent to the detainee facility at a U.S. military base on the coast of sunny Cuba. Not only that, but Mark Stephens suggests the Wikileaks founder faces a "real risk" of being executed, citing the statements of politicians such as Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee.

The Facts

Swedish authorities are attempting to extradite Assange from the United Kingdom as part of an investigation of charges that Assange allegedly forced two women, against their wishes, to have sex without a condom. Assange is also under investigation for his role in the leaking of classified Defense Department files on Afghanistan and Iraq and of State Department cables of private diplomatic conversations. He has denied any wrongdoing in the sex cases and argues that the Swedish charges have been trumped up in an effort to derail and distract from Wikileaks' mission.

President Obama, from his earliest days in office, has said he would close the Guantanamo detainee facility. Through missteps and bipartisan opposition, he has missed his original deadline of closing it within one year. Congress recently barred the administration from using Defense Department funds in 2011 to transfer any detainee to the United States for any purpose.

There are 173 detainees remaining at the facility, but no new prisoners have been sent there since 2008, before Obama took office. Obama announced the closure of the facility in part to help restore the battered U.S. image abroad, when Guantanamo, rightly or wrongly, is viewed with disdain both by foreign governments and the general public, primarily because of reports that detainees were tortured or harshly treated there in order to obtain information about possible terror plots. Such practices are reported to have ended as the Obama administration has sought to empty and close down the facility.

Indeed, if Assange was convicted in U.S. federal courts, he actually might have preferred Guantanamo. He might be better treated there than, say, at the "Supermax" prison in Colorado, officially known as the United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility. There, the cell's furniture is largely made out of poured concrete, and the sky can only be glimpsed through four-inch by four-foot windows. Among the inmates: Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski and "shoe bomber" Richard Reid.

Stephens' claims of Assange facing the death penalty also don't hold water. He quotes from a bunch of scary sounding statements from U.S. politicians--Palin said Assange "should be hunted down just like al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders" and Huckabee said he should be "executed"--but most European countries cannot extradite a prisoner to another country unless there are assurances that he or she will not be given the death penalty. Moreover, Swedish prosecutors last year made clear in a statement on their website that Sweden would not be able to extradite Assange to a non-European country such as the United States without obtaining permission from the arresting country.

The Pinocchio Test

Even allowing for typical lawyer hyperbole, this claim is a stretch. Assange should have no fear of ending up in Guantanamo, though, depending on how the court proceedings turn out, there is a "real risk" he might miss the sun.

One Pinocchio

(About our rating scale).

Follow The Fact Checker on Twitter @GlennKesslerWP

By Glenn Kessler  | January 12, 2011; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  1 Pinocchio, Other Foreign Policy  
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Next: Palin's use of 'blood libel' and Reagan comment in statement on Tucson shooting


This is coming from WaPo, the government mouthpiece.

Sorry, I'll pass on your assessment.

Posted by: grunk | January 12, 2011 10:02 AM | Report abuse

If he has no real risk of landing in Gitmo, then the claim that he does is an outright your own rating scale, 1 Pinocchio means there are no "outright lies." This should be at least 2, maybe even 3 or 4. There is just no risk for him to be sent to the US on rape charges made in Sweden, and charges like these aren't death-penalty charges anyway, even if the US had some kind of jurisdiction or if Sweden were willing to play ball with the US. And considering that Obama has been quietly emptying Gitmo despite Congressional opposition, there's just no way he'd stick a high-profile prisoner in there like Assange.

Posted by: dkp01 | January 12, 2011 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Of the 173 prisoners currently at Guantanamo Bay, how many thought they would be rounded up by their indigenous justice system, bundled over to the CIA or secret DoD services and trundled to Guantanamo.

From where can the United States claim the moral authority to say that this will not happen to Assange?

His lawyers are right to bring up the issues. And our allies are right in not turning him over for an unnamed alleged crime.

Posted by: WiltonManorsSteve | January 12, 2011 10:08 AM | Report abuse

You've got two people who have a reasonable chance of either being president, or possibly part of the next White House administration, and many other GOP and some Democrat lawmakers who want him assassinated and it's ridiculous to think he might have something to worry about? This is not a good analysis.

Posted by: jchownjournalist | January 12, 2011 10:29 AM | Report abuse

The US government just murdered a million people in Iraq in furtherance of theft. They're running a global network of torture gulags. They're kidnapping, torturing and imprisoning people for years who they know to be innocent in order to terrify anyone who might criticize the government, like WikiLeaks.
But they're far too moral to put Assange in Guantanamo.

Posted by: getjiggly2 | January 12, 2011 10:45 AM | Report abuse

First, while Obama and Company are trying to close Gitmo, they are not going to add another prisoner there.

Second, from a purely political point-of-view, no leader would move Assange to Gitmo. They would face accusations that Gitmo was now being used not only for terrorists, but for other lawbreakers, too, and no leader wants to be accused of creating a sort of "Devil's Island".

Third, Assange's people are just using this in (still another) bid to move the focus off of what Assange did, and continues to do, and put on the defensive anyone who might want him expedited to, and tried in, the U.S.

Last, although I am a strong supporter of Free Speech rights, I think that Assange's actions may cross that line of "hollering 'fire' in a crowded theatre". People in the press, particularly, are supporting him in a knee-jerk reflex because of their often legitimate struggles to keep a free press/free speech strong here. However, I think they have chosen the wrong person to support. Assange is not a responsible proponent of Free Speech; he is an over-the-top, self-aggrandizing egotist whose actions will result in people in government feeling less free to discuss with one another varied policies and proposals, rather than simply accepting on face value what they are told from superiors.

Posted by: j24w | January 12, 2011 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Whats he talking about ?Obama closed Git-mo the first year in office.

Posted by: votingrevolution1 | January 12, 2011 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Fact-checker is 100% wrong on this one. Two critical words were conveniently ignored: "or elsewhere". Stephens means that Assange could be declared an "enemy combatant", which means he could be locked up for ever, literally till he dies, with no access to lawyers, visitors, or any sort of review. (The most famous "enemy combatant", Jose Padilla, never set foot in Guantanamo. He was held in military facilities in the U.S.) Given that Obama has repeatedly, in court papers and other public statements, subscribed to and endorsed the Bush doctrine of "enemy combatants", with the powers aforesaid, Assange's fear is 100% rational. Instead of excoriating Stephens, Fact checker should be warning Americans that our Constitution is in shreds, and unless we demand the end to unconstitutional policies such as the "enemy combatant" doctrine, we will soon be living in a latter-day version of Idi Amin's Uganda.

Posted by: bobmossnj1 | January 12, 2011 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Why don't you check the facts that are being revealed on a daily basis, instead of issuing silly "pinocchios" for a real fear someone might justifyingly have?
Is to much for you to report some actual news, or is it too hard for you to hold a real job these days?

Posted by: mabes82166 | January 12, 2011 11:18 AM | Report abuse

What a bunch of headline-grabbing garbage. While Assange should worry about incurring the full wrath of the U.S. Government this self-annointed twerp isn't worth the cost of sending him to Gitmo. His major concern besides the charges from Sweeden is that his antics have really tick-off Mr Putin. Let's see this sensationalist lawyer try to plee-bragin for his client with the FGB(the new KGB).

Posted by: Arkygirl666 | January 12, 2011 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Considering the conditions in which Bradley Manning is being held - clearly torture by any stretch of the word - the developed, civilized world would be well advised to treat the United States for what it has become, and fear of allowing extradition or kidnapping of people under its protection is justified.

Posted by: getjiggly2 | January 12, 2011 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Oh darn, I was hoping for a little break from the non-stop flow of absurd hyperbole from that drama queen/attention hoar.

Posted by: AsperGirl | January 12, 2011 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Julian Assange is living proof that narcissistic personality disorder is a very real mental illness -- often delusional and damaging to others -- that shouldn't be dropped from the DSM-V

Posted by: AsperGirl | January 12, 2011 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Julian Assange is living proof that narcissistic personality disorder is a very real mental illness -- often delusional and damaging to others -- that shouldn't be dropped from the DSM-V

Posted by: AsperGirl
What does this crap that you wrote actually mean? Narcissistic personality or not Julian Assange the Nobel Peace Prize for releasing all those documents. GOT IT? Then the next post I read from you I want an acknowledgement that you did.

Posted by: nyrunner101 | January 12, 2011 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Iv' been to Cuba. Gitmo is the nicest place on the island. Julian would like it much better than Levenworth.

Posted by: carlbatey | January 12, 2011 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Iv' been to Cuba. Gitmo is the nicest place on the island. Julian would like it much better than Levenworth.

Posted by: carlbatey | January 12, 2011 12:43 PM | Report abuse

gitmo is the place for ALL captured enemies of our country. nice climate,three hots and a cot.round up our gang thugs and let them supervise them

Posted by: pofinpa | January 12, 2011 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Julian has an inflated sense of his own importance to the United States in particular and the world in general. If the United States locked up everybody who was acting out because of issues with his mother we'd have to take over the whole island of Cuba.

Posted by: lmmbham | January 12, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

This clown doesn't fear being thrown into Gitmo, he just says it to score political points, because he hates the USA.

The only people who believe it, and who also hate the USA, are the idiot liberals who post here.

Posted by: Jeff08 | January 12, 2011 1:19 PM | Report abuse

The events recounted by Human Rights Watch--about the rendition of two Egyptian citizens back to Egypt from Sweden with US participation are probably the basis of Assange's statement that he fears rendition:

Posted by: PatinColorado | January 12, 2011 1:21 PM | Report abuse

All this is moot as regards the leaks. All the documents are already disbursed to newspapers, and will at some point be released with or without WikiLeaks.
The wingers posting here have a problem with people finding out the truth. That's the long and the short of it.
Tyrants - regardless of race - come and go. Their power can seem invincible for a time. Love always wins in the end.

Posted by: getjiggly2 | January 12, 2011 1:25 PM | Report abuse

"He quotes from a bunch of scary sounding statements from U.S. politicians"

Since we've given up the rule of law, what else is there to go by?

Posted by: fzdybel | January 12, 2011 1:43 PM | Report abuse

I agree that the word "elsewhere" should not have been ignored by Fact Checker. In december 2001, Sweden gave up two egyptian asylum seekers to a US rendition team, which promptly took them to Egypt for torture and abuse. Fact Checker has not explained why it is entirely improbable that the same could happen again, only this time with Assange?

Posted by: hageler | January 12, 2011 1:56 PM | Report abuse

He is running scared and he should be, even he gave up his "whistleblower" coating to show his true intentions. Now he reaps the rewards - good luck being a prison pincushion.

Posted by: zendrell | January 12, 2011 2:07 PM | Report abuse

when i was a kid, was raised to believe that only nazis torture people. i still believe that. now the US is by far and away the world's largest torturer... gitmo; the new larger gitmo at bagram AFB and on february 1, 2009, right after having told us that "we don't stand for torture," obama re-authorized the bush CIA rendition program of globally outsourced torture. the US has even tortured teenage boys for years in hellholes and then considers those 'confessions' have validity if and when the case gets to a kangaroo court.

if assange is martyred... whether by assassination, torture or imprisonment... his mission will be propelled forward. it is our best hope that such as wikileaks and massive civil disobedience and outright rebellion bring down the newe nazis, who 'just say no' to nuremberg trials...

Posted by: tazdelaney | January 12, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse

It is amazing we are still talking about Guatanamo when Obama promised to close it. Guatanamo is like a dog pound where animal are caged in pens. It violates human rights and is a cruel punishment. It must be closed.

Furthermore, we must protect Assange otherwise we will be silenced by our government for fear of retribution.

Posted by: vcourreges | January 12, 2011 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Oh, well if Wikipedia says it's true....

Posted by: lingering_lead | January 12, 2011 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Why does the sub-head "The Facts" appear in the body of this post?

Posted by: zukermand | January 13, 2011 11:00 AM | Report abuse

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