Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law where she taught for 25 years. The former president of the National Lawyers Guild and criminal defense attorney is a legal scholar and political analyst who writes books and articles, and lectures throughout the world about human rights, US foreign policy, and the contradiction between the two. She has testified before Congress and debated the legality of the war in Afghanistan at the prestigious Oxford Union. Her columns appear on Truthout, HuffPost, Salon, Jurist, Truthdig, Portside, CommonDreams and Consortium News, and she has provided commentary for CBS News, BBC, MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, NPR and Pacifica Radio.
April 13, 2019
After living under a grant of asylum in London’s Ecuadorian embassy for nearly seven years, WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange was forcibly ejected and arrested by British police on April 11. Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno, accused Assange of “repeated violations to international conventions and daily-life protocols.” After an anonymous source revealed the “INA Papers,” a dossier that implicated Moreno in money laundering and contained personal photos of his family, WikiLeaks tweeted about it but denied any connection to the hacking.
Rafael Correa, who was president of Ecuador until 2017, had granted Assange asylum in 2012 to protect him from extradition to the United States to answer for WikiLeaks’s publication of evidence of U.S. war crimes. Ecuador’s foreign minister at the time, Ricardo Patino, said that without this protection, Assange could suffer “political persecution” or extradition to the U.S. where he might face the death penalty.
In 2010, WikiLeaks published classified documentation of U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, which Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning had provided. It included the “Collateral Murder Video” that showed U.S. soldiers in an Army helicopter gunship kill 12 unarmed civilians walking down a street in Baghdad.
Sweden investigated Assange in fall 2010 for allegations of sexual assault. Assange was living in Britain at the time. Sweden issued an extradition warrant so Assange could face questioning about the investigation in Sweden. Assange fought extradition but lost in Britain’s Supreme Court in June 2012. He sought and received refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
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