Julian Assange's New Zealand Lawyer Craig Tuck: "It's a train wreck" - Press Release

Press Release: Julian Assange – rogue governments continue the puppet show against him

Craig Tuck, Head of LawAid International Chambers, is part of Julian Assange’s legal team and was with Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy for meetings prior to Christmas 2018.

Julian Assange is currently in custody, awaiting decisions on extradition brought by both the US and Swedish authorities. The new charges supersede the previous indictment and include allegations of violations of the Espionage Act (1917), along with conspiring to break into government computers (computer intrusion). These new charges carry the maximum penalty of death.

This is a dramatic escalation against someone who is unchallenged on the truth and validity of his revelations about mass murder, torture and spying by government agencies.

The journalist Glenn Greenwald noted that the new alleged crimes are indistinguishable from modern journalistic practices and are based on the exact evidence that the Obama administration refused to pursue on the basis that it could destroy press freedoms. Tuck says, Julian Assange is being prosecuted for publishing truthful information – who’s next ?

Tuck considers that the charges are dangerous for any journalists, including those in New Zealand, who uncover secrets of other nations. Everyone, not just journalists, should care about that - if they value transparency and democracy.

CNN’s Laura Jarrett and Eli Watkins citing government officials in the US said that Julian Assange’s indictment “isn’t a hit at journalists because they do not see him as a member of the press”. The fact that Julian Assange has won some of the highest awards in journalism now seems irrelevant to the puppet show of arbitrary power says Tuck.

Julian Assange is the first journalist charged under the Espionage Act and is accused of participating in one of the largest ever leaks of government secrets. He is also facing moves to extradite him to Sweden on rape charges - which he has vehemently denied.

Those rape charges were dropped in 2017, but have now been revived. Greg Barns, Julian’s Australian lawyer, and member of LawAid International Chambers tweeted: “Sweden request to re-open questioning after closing their files twice is extraordinary. This is abuse of process.”

Tuck considers that the extraordinarily harsh sentence of imprisonment for a first bail breach (when there was no substantive charge, for which bail was imposed) creates stress and uncertainty for a person who has demonstrably shown his commitment to democracy, freedom of speech and truth.

In what is turning out to be a train wreck of arbitrary decision making by authorities, an Ecuadorean judge authorised the seizure of Julian’s belongings, so that US prosecutors could help themselves to items including manuscripts, legal papers, medical records and electronic equipment. Tuck describes the situation as utterly bizarre.

Lawyer Aitor Martinez went further by accusing Ecuador of committing a “flagrant violation of the most basic norms of the institution of asylum by handing over all of the asylee’s personal belongings indiscriminately to the country that he was being protected from.”

Kristinn Hrafnsson, Editor-in-Chief of WikiLeaks has referred to the situation as a puppet show by Ecuador in London for their Masters in Washington. Tuck agrees – he says, this is actually a wild west muppet show of arbitrary decision making by those in power against those who contest that power.

His view, is that it’s not difficult to see whose hand is up the backside of those puppets making such ludicrous decisions – that ultimately change what it means to be a citizen in a modern democracy.

Hrafnsson further stated:

"Ecuador is run by criminals and liars. There is no doubt in my mind that Ecuador, either independently or at the behest of the US, has tampered with the belongings it will send to the United States"

From Tuck’s perspective, the storm clouds just keep rolling in. He says that a citizen like Julian Assange is a treasure to any modern democracy that values transparency and freedom – he should be celebrated.

Tuck says that the action against Julian Assange hurts us all - eventually. Tuck takes the position that the erosion of one person’s fundamental rights and freedoms erodes the rights of all free people.

His view is that the plight of Julian Assange highlights an unprecedented attack on fair trial rights, freedom of expression, and access to information exposing massive human rights abuses, murder by armed forces of civilians and corruption.

Craig Tuck is a human rights lawyer – transnational criminal law and criminal justice specialist. He is part of an international network of lawyers with cases and clients around the world. He is Head of LawAid International Chambers and trained at Cambridge University.

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Rosie Kelway
rosiekelway@lawaidinternational.org