Guernica 37
Guernica 37

Radio Debate: “The End of The Road for Assange?”

Image by: Cancillería del Ecuador

Toby Cadman participated in the debate “The End of The Road for Assange?” during the program ‘Level Talk’ with John Harrison on the Sputnik radio show.

During the debate, Toby Cadman highlighted the fundamental role of the free press and the need for protection of whistleblowers in democratic societies. From his point of view, legal provisions must be developed to ensure that vital information which is in the public interest is published, and that the individuals who disclose it are neither in danger nor prosecuted.

With regards to the case of Julian Assange, Toby Cadman mentioned the difficulties in extraditing him to the United States -“it would be a long and detailed process. It is not a matter of UK authorities being bound by a US request”-, and noted that at the moment Julian Assange is not under house arrest, but under “self-imposed confinement”. Nevertheless, according to Toby Cadman, the attack on Assange will have the effect of creating fear in the hearts of other whistleblowers; and the consequences of that are serious, “as western capitalist economies do need a free press that can criticize those in power from time to time” -said Sputnik News-.

Relevantly, Mr. Cadman also referred to the UK government’s hypocritical stand towards the UN Working Group of Arbitrary Detention, as the Executive has maintained differing positions with regards to the binding nature of their decisions dependent on the person affected.


In a speech last week at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, CIA Director Mike Pompeo said: “It’s time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.” Can Assange be incarcerated by the US, or is this all just hot-air?

Professor Inderjeet Parmar, from the Department of International Politics, School of Social Sciences, City University of London and Toby Cadman, an international law specialist and co-founder of Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers in London, join the program.

The procedure for Assange’s arrest; that is the issuance of an extradition request by a US court would be necessary to start the process whereby the UK would forcibly hand over Assange to US authorities. However, as Toby Cadman points out, if such an extradition request was issued, it would still be a long drawn-out process, as the order would have to be approved by a British extradition judge, Assange could appeal against the order, and eventually demand that it be heard by the European Court of Human Rights. The whole process could take years. Professor Parmar adds that the fact that Assange lives in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, with the agreement of the newly elected President of Ecuador, adds a further complication to the matter. The ability to convict Assange is very limited.

Julian Assange did say that he would voluntarily go to the United States should President Obama pardon and release Chelsea Manning. When President Obama was on the way out of office in December and January he did commute her sentence, and she is due to be released on the 17th of May, Professor Parmar points out. Whether Assange will actually quit the Ecuadorian embassy now that WikiLeaks is accused of being a hostile intelligence service, is another matter. However, the Obama organization also described WikiLeaks in derogative terms, of being a terrorist organization, and it would seem that the present vitriol against Assange is an attempt for Trump to look powerful now that he has actually gained power. Assange is an inconvenience now that Trump has changed positions as regards the benefits of establishing good relations with Russia, Professor Parmar points out.

The attack on Assange, even if it does not lead to arrest, will have the effect, Toby Cadman says, of creating fear in the hearts of other whistleblowers; and the consequences of that are serious, as western capitalist economies do need a free press that can criticize those on power from time to time.

The second part of the program is taken up with a discussion on journalism and free speech as a whole. In particular, the difference between what WikiLeaks is doing, and any respected media outlet, in regards to protecting sources. Professor Parmar points out the 1st amendment of the US constitution does not make a distinction between newspapers and other publishers. On the subject of the 1st Amendment, Toby Cadman points out that there is a dispute going on because Mike Pompeo says that it does not cover Assange because he is not an American. Many say that this is incorrect because it actually covers anybody who has the right to visit the US as well as all those who reside there. Toby Cadman also says that to suggest that Assange would get no protection in the American courts because he is a non-national is a ludicrous argument.

Toby Cadman makes the possibly valid point that Assange should go back to Sweden to face the courts there and that there is no reason to suggest that the Swedish courts would be biased against him. Toby says that Assange is not actually under house arrest, he is in self-imposed confinement.

Returning to the wider picture, Professor Parmar sees the present attack on Assange being an attempt to degrade the credibility of whistleblowers and investigative journalism in general, which is already under greater and greater pressure. The cover-all term is used that if something is ‘bad for national security’ as stated by president Obama, is often used, as Professor Parmar says, as an excuse for covering up bad policies.


This program was originally published on 28th April 2017 at Sputnik News.

More News

  • Captura de pantalla 2018-02-20 a las 16.03.27 Event: “Justice for the Jesuits: The 1989 Murders and the Extradition of Colonel Montano”

    Event: “Justice for the Jesuits: The 1989 Murders and the Extradition of...

    Read Story
  • Captura de pantalla 2018-02-19 a las 20.34.02 Claudia Josi participates in the Transpacific Workshop on International Law and Armed Conflict

    Claudia Josi participates in the Transpacific Workshop on International Law and...

    Read Story
  • Captura de pantalla 2018-02-17 a las 14.16.56 Co-Principal of The Guernica Group, Almudena Bernabeu, in Honduras

    Co-Principal of The Guernica Group, Almudena Bernabeu, in Honduras

    Read Story
  • Captura de pantalla 2018-02-13 a las 17.43.07 Video: Toby Cadman and Almudena Bernabéu at the event “Bangladesh: closing civic space and disregarding international criminal accountability”

    Video: Toby Cadman and Almudena Bernabéu at the event “Bangladesh: closing...

    Read Story
  • Captura de pantalla 2018-02-08 a las 17.08.22 Almudena Bernabéu participates in the workshop “Universal Jurisdiction, transnational litigation networks and the Colombian Special Jurisdiction for Peace”

    Almudena Bernabéu participates in the workshop “Universal Jurisdiction,...

    Read Story
  • Captura de pantalla 2018-02-08 a las 17.08.22 Almudena Bernabeu participa en el encuentro “Jurisdicción Universal, redes de litigios transnacionales y la Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz (JEP) de Colombia”

    Almudena Bernabeu participa en el encuentro “Jurisdicción Universal,...

    Read Story
  • Captura de pantalla 2018-02-02 a las 18.28.54 What Should the International Community Do to Address Impunity in Bangladesh?

    What Should the International Community Do to Address Impunity in Bangladesh?

    Read Story
  • Captura de pantalla 2018-01-29 a las 17.20.42 ​Dictator Obiang Cannot “Protect” Yahya Jammeh From Justice: Equatorial Guinea Legally Bound to “Prosecute or Extradite” Exiled Gambian Dictator

    ​Dictator Obiang Cannot “Protect” Yahya Jammeh From Justice: Equatorial...

    Read Story
  • Captura de pantalla 2018-01-28 a las 19.58.20 Event: “Bangladesh: closing civic space and disregarding international criminal accountability”

    Event: “Bangladesh: closing civic space and disregarding international...

    Read Story
  • Captura de pantalla 2017-10-25 a las 0.05.09 JusticeInfo.net: “No reconciliation without justice, say Gambia’s victims”

    JusticeInfo.net: “No reconciliation without justice, say Gambia’s...

    Read Story
  • Captura de pantalla 2017-12-22 a las 22.41.48 Statement: Petition of Complaint filed with UN Special Procedures Branch on behalf of Dr. Mohamed Morsi

    Statement: Petition of Complaint filed with UN Special Procedures Branch on...

    Read Story
  • Captura de pantalla 2017-12-14 a las 11.48.27 The New York Times: “Rwanda Accuses France of Complicity in 1994 Genocide”

    The New York Times: “Rwanda Accuses France of Complicity in 1994 Genocide&...

    Read Story