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Sweden Drops Julian Assange Rape Investigation (bbc.com)
803 points by schappim 16 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 721 comments

Worth mentioning that Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, visited Assange and described his treatment as psychological torture:

> “It was obvious that Mr. Assange’s health has been seriously affected by the extremely hostile and arbitrary environment he has been exposed to for many years,” the expert said. “Most importantly, in addition to physical ailments, Mr. Assange showed all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture, including extreme stress, chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma.

> “The evidence is overwhelming and clear,” the expert said. “Mr. Assange has been deliberately exposed, for a period of several years, to progressively severe forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the cumulative effects of which can only be described as psychological torture.


This article by the UN expert is also well worth reading:

Demasking the Torture of Julian Assange - https://medium.com/@njmelzer/demasking-the-torture-of-julian...

You quote:

> “Mr. Assange has been deliberately exposed, for a period of several years, to progressively severe forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the cumulative effects of which can only be described as psychological torture.“

That quote lacked information on who was exposing him and what that exposure actually was, so I followed your source. That source elaborates as follows:

> “In the course of the past nine years, Mr. Assange has been exposed to persistent, progressively severe abuse ranging from systematic judicial persecution and arbitrary confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy, to his oppressive isolation, harassment and surveillance inside the embassy, and from deliberate collective ridicule, insults and humiliation, to open instigation of violence and even repeated calls for his assassination.”

Apart from the last item, that all sounds either like hyberbole ("systematic judicial persecution" -- unless he is above the justice system, that's the system at work), or self-inflicted.

If she finds his treatment report worthy she should visit almost any county jail in America and write a report. I'm seriously not being flippant. If people genuinely find this kind of treatment disturbing and inhumane then they should know it is befalling daily many of their over 2 million incarcerated American brothers and sisters.

The US justice system is possibly the most cruel justice system in the West, and by quite a margin, too. It is one of a few aspects in which the US is far closer to today's developing and third world countries than to the Western average. Also over many decades many organizations have called out the conditions in parts of the US justice system as torture(-like).

Yeah, the "few aspects" like the prison system, healthcare, inequality, corruption, homelessness rates, freedom of the press, air pollution, crime rates, discrimination, police violence, homicide rates, unemployment benefits, social nets...

Seriously, if you all believe everywhere else in the world is so much better, why stay?

For context, I'm married to a person from a real developing country, as it's actually defined. I'm sending multiple family members to school there so they can get out.

Every single person in her family has done everything they can to get out. Every single person I know there has done everything they can to get out. Every single person they know has done everything they can to get out.

Getting out is the primary motivator for people in developing countries. Whining about the country being unfair is something that perhaps privileged children who know nothing about "developing countries" do -- other people get out.

The US is nothing like a developing country.

Largely because people have roots here and it's a pain to move. What, you're supposed to quit your job, leave your extended family, sell your house and possessions, find a new job and place to live overseas, and potentially even learn an entire new language? Just to be sure you won't be tortured?

(assuming you can even find a place to take you - things are easier here for this crowd, tech skills are in-demand and usually open doors, but if you are highly skilled in working a register at K-Mart you're not going to find many countries open to you when you go to immigrate somewhere else.)

For a lot of people it's just easier to take the chance that you won't be one of the people who falls into the gears of justice. I won't even say "don't commit a crime" because (a) committing a crime is not even necessarily a requirement to end up in prison given how bad our judicial system is particularly surrounding plea deals/etc. Lots of innocent people end up in jail. And (b) virtually everyone regularly does things that are, by a strict enforcement of the US legal code, punishable by prison sentences. "3 felonies a day" is perhaps an exaggeration, but 3 felonies a month or a year is still a lot of potential legal exposure. The system relies heavily on prosecutorial discretion, which falls apart when you have prosecutors who are elected on the basis of high conviction rates instead of doing what is just.

To put it simply: 1% chance of being tortured, vs having to uproot your whole life. A lot of people will choose the 1% chance of being tortured.

It's not a 1% chance. Even if one accepts your definition of torture, people who aren't criminals are very rarely caught up in the system at all. So it's far less than 1% as long as you're simply not a criminal.

If the US were really so bad, people would leave. The people who do leave typically leave for tax purposes opposite to your belief.

I've had US police pull guns on me several times, thrown to the ground have been arrested and jailed overnight, despite not having committed a crime on any of the occasions. My transgression in each case was to have not learnt the submission rituals that American police expect, the whole stay in your car with you hands on the wheel, the yes sir, yes mam.

One of these times was on a late night Santa Cruz to SF drive, my friend and I got too tired to drive and slept on the beach near McNee Ranch state park, in the middle of being arrested, with five guns drawn, one officer said - this is verbatim 'That's a north face jacket, I don't think this guy is homeless. Are you Homeless?' and just like that I was restored to full white privileges and the arrest was off.

I don't think changing law enforcement is easy, I believe law enforcement reflects the power relationships of society - you won't change law enforcement with out changing the society in which it exists.

I love California, it broke my heart to leave, I'll never really know if I made the right decision, and I'm pretty sure if I didn't have four kids I'd be back there.

>My transgression in each case was to have not learnt the submission rituals that American police expect

Either you are a slow learner, or you make a point to be a smartass with cops. Do you think it's specific to American cops? Maybe try that with Algerian or Brazilian cops and see how things turn out for you.

You use the phrase, “smart arse with cops” My take is that not having been raised in the US, I treated them respectfully, but without subservience, and expected mutual respect. In Eastern Europe I’m fine, I accept that i’ve chosen to travel through a broken kleptocracy, and that the cops are gangsters. I’m not willing to accept the same in a democracy, I don’t pretend that any democracy meets the standards we would like them to, but I remain committed to holding ground on the advances we have made and hoping for more with each generation

This feels like conversation that could get personal and nasty quick. I don’t want that to happen, I get your point, if a problem is avoidable and you don’t avoid it, you’ve got to question why.

And do I really fail to submit out of democratic integrity or am I just stubborn? Honestly I don’t know.

Also I want to tell you about my friend, who when instructed to address Detroit police as ‘sir’ replied ‘I struggle to believe her majesty has granted you a knighthood’

He’s stubborn - he’s also ridiculously smart and charismatic, enough to talk his way out of a beatdown most of the time

Classic victim blaming.

Victim of what, exactly?

I see your whataboutism. That works both ways. Try holding American cops to the standard one can expect in Central Europe.

Years ago while making a regular six mile hike home from a low paying job I was regularly harassed by law enforcement who would stop me and hold me for no reason while "running my ID"

I was asked if a bag of teriyaki beef jerky in its original packaging, the edge of which was sticking out of my pocket was drugs.

Eventually I was arrested for saying fuck off while walking away. I was charged, appealed eventually rejected because half of America does not actually have any rights at all unless you have thousands of dollars and if you need that money to buy medicine or pay rent you are fucked.

Then there is the time I was almost arrested by virtue of helping a black man move a couch from his own home because burglers always leave the electronics and jewelry and take the giant furniture.

I'd keep going but the other abuses are more personal.

Your perspective is based on being well off and white.

Around 5% of the US population go to jail at least once in their life. And 0.69% are currently jailed (0.075% in Germany).

Since it is harder to _simply not be a criminal_ and prisons there are proven not to fulfill their role, maybe OP simply wishes that this aspect of the country would improve. I don't think he/she was whining, or even saying that everything in the country terrible.

> Since it is harder to _simply not be a criminal_

European misunderstanding and distortion of American society never fails to entertain.

Seriously dude?

"American Airlines overcharged you by $1 and you're complaining? WHY NOT JUST START AN AIRLINE YOURSELF?"

If only we were all god, your comment would be helpful.

More like you are outlining how much worse AA is than every other airline and a person says 'well, why don't you fly other airlines?'

Choosing a country to be a citizen of is not a very liquid market.

Yep, and airlines are a terrible analogy.

Mobility is really restricted to the top half of people. Yeah, it's not so bad as to cause mass refugee exodus, but that's a very low bar to aim for. We can and should do better.

As someone who did (US citizen now resident in the UK), it's a very difficult and expensive process. Most countries require you to have a visa sponsorship which basically means you are highly skilled enough that a company there is willing to pay a lot of fees and demonstrate to the government that they tried but couldn't find a local with your skillset. Once you've got that, it's also a lot of money on your part to get a visa, pay immigration lawyers, accountants, etc. You need money for that, a good chunk of cash up front for an apartment (first, last, security deposit, brokers fees, we had to add in a few months of rent up front because we didn't have a credit score in the UK), and a million other things. All made way more complicated because you probably don't have a bank account in the country, so everything is happening via international wire transfers.

It also happens that I don't have children or family members that need me to care for them, etc. It would get significantly harder if I had to deal with that (though I did move a cat internationally, which was not trivial).

The irony of course is that having the privilege for all that (cash reserves, highly employable skillset, etc) means that most of the problems in the US don't actually affect you as much as others. The people who are getting screwed the worst by the terrible systems in the US are in no position to extract themselves.

I have never understood this viewpoint of, "If you find fault with country X, then leave!" Sometimes it's applied to companies, tools, etc., too: "If you find fault with Y, then stop using it!"

Can you explain this to me? It seems like an extreme way to live that would preclude anyone from living anywhere that's not perfect or using anything that's not perfect. (And nothing is perfect.)

Why not just address the criticisms individually, rather than arbitrarily bundling them into a person's decision on where to live and what to use?

It's a frequent refuge of those who don't wish to face, confront, address, or accept criticism.

See: Exit, Voice, and Loyalty


As the saying goes, "patriotism is the last refugee of the scoundrel." "Then leave!" is the argument for those who have run out of arguments.

All of your family is there. All your friends are there. All that you own is there. All that you've ever known is there. You may not know any other language than your native one.

You: "Why don't you just move?"

This really sounds like saying "Cheer up!" to a person suffering from depression.

EDIT: Spelling

No, it doesn't. I know people from developing countries. I'm married to one. Universally, every single one of them wants to get the fuck out, and they do everything in their power to get out.

That's reality in a developing country.

The US is not in any way like a developing country. Comparing it to one is an act of such entitled privileged whining it's absurd.

> No, it doesn't. I know people from developing countries. I'm married to one. Universally, every single one of them wants to get the fuck out, and they do everything in their power to get out.

> That's reality in a developing country.

> The US is not in any way like a developing country. Comparing it to one is an act of such entitled privileged whining it's absurd.

I think you just argued against your own point?

1) You're saying that people from developing countries are desperate to get out. (I have no issue with this claim.)

2) Then you say: the US is not like a developing country.

The post of yours that I responded to effectively says to US citizens "why don't you just move?".

I'll note that: Point 2 (as stated by you!) means that the entirety of point 1 is completely irrelevant if you want to argue against what I said.

++ to use a chess reference.

I didn't say that it was a developing country, I listed, as the parent commenter said, "aspects in which the US is far closer to today's developing and third world countries than to the Western average".

You talk as if every person in every developing country is desperately trying to leave, which is absurd.

> Comparing it to one is an act of such entitled privileged whining it's absurd.

Seriously, if you believe other threads on HN are so much better, why stay in this thread?

> Comparing it to one is an act of such entitled privileged whining it's absurd.

But apart from the holier than though putdowns, are the comparisons valid?

Because you’d make a much better comment chain with “the comparisons are invalid because XYZ” than “you’re entitled and whiny and I know people who suffer more”

> The US is nothing like a developing country.

The US is a big place. Not all of it is paradise. I've heard foreign exchange students from countries like Russia, placed in rural communities like Wyoming or Nebraska, describe the conditions back home as better than where they are placed in the US. I've read books describing the Chicago projects at the height of their badness and then visiting some of the poorest cities in Latin America and seeing parallels.

The US is rich, sure, but that wealth is very heavily concentrated along coastal and border states. Saying the US is "nothing" like a developing country would be a false statement as it doesn't take into account the sheer contrast of livelihoods that we have here.

I live in New Zealand with family in the UK. I have spent the last 10 years flying the other way around the planet instead of via LA because the airports are worse than places like Malaysia.

I can't speak to living in the USA but I have lived in Milawe and Fiji, and honestly being poor is definitely bad but some of the stuff happening in the US is a whole other kind of dystopian terrifying.

Is LAX really that bad? I haven't been there in years, but this seems a bit egregious. What terrifies you? The long lines at the bathroom? The food court selection? The lack of charging ports?

How about having to check out your luggage, go through security, and check it back in, even when you are just transiting on the way to Europe.

Fly through a big Asian hub and you have none of that BS, modern clean efficient airports with working toilets that can actually flush and better food.

Not a hard decision.

What really put us off was arriving after a long haul to a queue that filled the immigration hall, then proceeding to wait for two hours while the three desks (out of about 12) tried to process about three flights worth of people. That and the shoes thing, most other places don't have that.

It all may have changed, but until I hear otherwise (or that the TSA have decided to calm down) I'm happy with my choice.

Edit: As the other comment mentioned, this was also all just for a flight transfer.

Somewhere around the twin cities a guy from the TSA is wearing my boots. Try buying shoes at 06:30 in the morning... Last time I ever flew to/through the USA.

The experience of entering the US is pretty embarrassing compared to most modern countries. From what I've seen, it's significantly more ridiculous for non-citizens.

In most of Europe, one scans their passport, has their photo taken, and may need to tell a border guard why they're visiting. It takes less than five minutes, even for the former Soviet Union country I visited earlier this year.

If one is traveling to the US from Dublin, there's a sort of franchise of the USA wing of the airport that's quarantined off from everything else, where one has to go through another slow baggage inspection/body scan, even though the Irish Airport staff have already conducted identical inspection/scanning on every passenger there. Then there's a ~1-hour line (looked about twice as long for non-citizens) to wait to be grilled by customs and immigration. Total overhead for me was ~3 hours once I got to the airport there.

When flying in to Seatac, the CBP staff (the first representatives of the US that one talks to, in order to discuss anything being brought along) are all super-muscular giants dressed in full body armour, for maximum intimidation.

As A US citizen, it's embarrassing that our country treats visitors this way. I wouldn't visit if I were from outside the country either, which is almost certainly one of the goals - discourage foreigners from visiting, and discourage citizens from seeing what it's like anywhere else.

One has to buy an addon to my travel insurance just to transit through a US airport...

Are you honestly basing your opinion of a country on an airport?

Airports and customs are the face of a nation to most of the travelers that visit, the first point of contact and as such they leave a lasting impression. Think of them as ambassadors. If that first experience is a bad one that will reflect on what people think about the rest of the country.

> If that first experience is a bad one that will reflect on what people think about the rest of the country.

So yes, you do think an airport is at least a good starting point for forming an opinion about a country.

Seriously that is crazy. Like the port authority is a good example of New York City. I don't even know how to respond to that.

> Seriously that is crazy.

No, you think that is crazy. That's your opinion, not a fact.

> Like the port authority is a good example of New York City.

I think you are missing the point.

> I don't even know how to respond to that.

Then don't.

Well, not quite. I also spent some time in LA on a different trip. It was a while ago (so not an adult perspective) but mostly I remember walking through carparks and hundreds of channels with nothing to watch. Seattle was a bit nicer as a place.

I would like to go back some time, just not right now.

Because I’m able to survive just fine in America, and I was born here and I am committed to doing my best to help.

American is a combination of a first world country and a third world country under one government. Which one you are born into is a roll of the dice. People travel between the two, but one of them is not shrinking as fast as it should.

The fact that I can point at that doesn’t make me want to move to Sweden, it makes me want to work harder to take care of my neighbors and to change our political climate.

>Seriously, if you all believe everywhere else in the world is so much better, why stay?

Right, because should an American decide that they like country X more, they can just move to country X, which is waiting for them with open arms.

Like, anyone could be Swedish, right?

Immigration is an easy-peasy thing; who can possibly find it difficult to get a job overseas, learn a language, leave family and friends behind, get an entire new social and support network, lose a ton of money and/or most of your possessions in an overseas move (re-purchasing is often cheaper, but costs a ton either way), jump through a thousand bureaucratic hoops, all with no guarantee of actually having long-term prospects in the country paper-wise.

That's, of course, assuming that no American has crippling debt that would effectively prevent them from going somewhere where people can comfortably live on a smaller salary (since their education and healthcare are free).

No sirree, not a problem at all. Love it or leave it, and when you do, don't come back, just get another citizenship somewhere. Somehow. Should be easy, right?

Also, nobody in their right mind would think to criticize some aspects of a country (healthcare, justice system, etc), while enjoying some others (opportunities as a software developer) that make it worth it to be here. Not even immigrants.

Tell you what, even in 90-s Ukraine, one wouldn't think much about calling an ambulance if someone was real sick. And I wasn't afraid of the cops there. They were corrupt, but predictable; worst case, you have to bribe them. Police shooting unarmed civilians was unheard of. I don't think I've even seen a gun before I moved to the US.

The US has some catching-up to do.

People from actual developing countries leave all the time. They put in the effort to learn the language, they do what they have to do. They don't have any significant amount of possessions -- that's one of the hallmarks of a real developing country.

You're speaking from a position of such great privilege that you don't even have a frame of reference to accurately talk about a developing country. They're leaving because they would rather make 500 dollars a month working 20 hours a day at three jobs in Dubai than make 2-5 dollars a month working 20 hours a day at subsistence farming or worse, and they're often doing it so they can support those back home who don't have the skills to find sponsorship to work abroad.

They learn a skill that will let them leave, or they find an agency that is hiring people to work abroad. I know plenty of people who have left their country to find jobs elsewhere -- many of them in the US, many in Japan. Any good nurse from southeast Asia who wants a job can usually get sponsored to come to the US -- there are other professions as well, some in the US and some elsewhere.

Dude. I come from Ukraine, it is literally a developing country[1][2], look up the meaning of the word. It does not mean "shithole". The list includes Turkey and Brazil, for that matter.

And sure, the conditions you describe are unimaginable there. But there's more to the world than the Glorious USA and subsistence farming at $5/month.

You are setting the bar waaaaaay too low. There are many shades out there. There are plenty of countries where the opportunities are much more scarce than in the US, but which nevertheless got a lot of things right that the US got wrong.

And you can make your own "real developing country" definition, just don't expect others to know it. Probably for the best to just name the country you have in mind.



Ukraine is not a developing country. Ukraine is a highly privileged country in comparison to the real developing world.

You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means[1]. Maybe that's why a lot of people are confused about what you are trying to say.

Perhaps you mean "least developed countries"[2]? That's beside the point, however.

The point is, making up definitions and using the equivalent of "love it or leave it" when it comes to talking about the US won't get you far in terms of getting any point across.



I do not care one whit what Wikipedia has to say about anything. It's not a useful source of information.

And I didn't say "love it or leave it", I asked a question. People who hate where they are, complain about it incessantly, compare it to things they've never experienced in order to denigrate it absurdly, cons the fuck out of me with why they stay.

Some people believe in their country and would rather fix it than leave it. If your car gets a flat, do you change the tire or buy a new car?

If your car gets a flat every other day, the driver's seat is stuck in the reclined position, it's constantly trying to steer you off the road, and the heater doesn't work, then maybe it's time to give up on fixing it and buy a new car.

It's pushing the analogy, but there are a finite amount of car materials in the world, and at some point you will have to start to recycle even the rusted out junkers if you want to drive. People fixing their country is something that's going to have to start happening eventually.

That's pushing the analogy way too far.

Cars are already made of recycled materials, especially steel and aluminum. But metals in old cars are melted down in foundries and reconstituted to the proper alloys before being used in new cars; they're just used-as is.

To go back to this analogy, that's basically like completely eliminating the government and creating an all-new one from a blank slate. I don't think you were thinking of doing anything that extreme.

And historically speaking, the only time this happens is usually after a major war when a country loses and becomes occupied by another power (Germany & Japan, WWII), or after a bloody revolution (Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, French Revolution in France). #1 is pretty much impossible here, and #2 is not something I want to be around to witness. The most likely outcome is something much more like #3: the fall of Rome, but on a much shorter timescale. That isn't something I want to witness either.

I never lived there. You can't just assume everyone is an American because you're on a ".com" website.

I'd rather work on making my home country better—especially since I have the means to not be personally affected by so many of the injustices that can make it shitty for others.

Because whatever other faults the US has, there is still a high degree of free speech protection here. And any citizen of America is still free to promote their thoughts of what would make our nation a better union. If they desire, through criticism of what makes us an imperfect union.

Some people might even consider that act patriotic or a duty of a citizen to do so.

And you've hit on it.

The US respects the rights people have, and the US gives tremendous opportunity. Is it perfect? Of course not. Are there issues that need to be addressed? Of course there are.

But to compare the US to a developing country is simply profoundly ignorant and a display of such privilege that it shows one simply can't even fathom what a developing country actually is.

I've been there. I've been all over the US, I've volunteered in homeless shelters in the US, I've travelled extensively in southeast Asia. The homeless in the US would be considered extravagantly wealthy in many places in southeast Asia. Southwest Asia too, I've been deployed there more than once.

The US is not a developing country or anything near it. We're the premiere first world country, and we provide opportunity beyond the wildest dreams many people worldwide can ever imagine. That's why the people in real developing countries generally want to come here.

I left.

> The US justice system is possibly the most cruel justice system in the West, and by quite a margin, too.

Many of the world's most dangerous countries and most brutal justice systems are in Latin America. The US looks bad from a northern European perspective, but it's far from the worst in the West.

Off-hand I wouldn't consider Latin America in general a part of the West, not in the same way the US or Europe are. Not-so-off-hand it seems like whether Latin America is part of the Western world or something else, that "just happens" to be strongly influenced by it, is pretty open for debate.

The US is a leader in many respects, due largely to our Constitutionally-protected rights.

I'm not a fan of the US prison system. But are you seriously claiming that the whole justice system is worse than Venezuela or Honduras?

That's not what s/he said. The quote is "most cruel justice system in the West, and by quite a margin, too. It is one of a few aspects in which the US is far closer to today's developing and third world countries than to the Western average."

So it says that it is the worst in the west (a term that usually does not include south/central america, even though they are west on a map), and that it is closer to a third world country than many in the west.

From my casual reading that seems pretty much on point.

The justice system does not just mean the prison system, it encompasses laws, police, courts, correctional facilities, some portions of mental health treatment.

If we are bringing up the freedoms enjoyed by citizens in different countries I'd also point out that how the constitution is interpreted seems pretty arbitrary over time depending on who is in the supreme court and what the political climate is. As an example I'm not even sure how solitary confinement can not be considered a "cruel and unusual punishment" under the eighth amendment. I don't get how NSA data collection is not a impacting the "right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects" of Fourth Amendment. The second amendment seems pretty cut-and-dry in the text that any American should be allowed to have a rocket launcher and that background checks are illegal. I'd hate for that to come true, but if you are following the principle that the constitution supersedes all lower law then it seems logical.

Most western democracies seem to have similar freedoms and similar guarantees that the government will follow similarly given that they are also enshrined in law.

Please correct me if I am wrong, but when I hear americans talk about their freedoms they seem to talk in absolutes, but in practice it's no more free or secure than similar freedoms given by laws in many other western countries.

Our Constitutionally protected rights???

Amendment 1: Why is "In God We Trust" on our money?

Amendment 3: The only time it ever was litigated (in Engblom v. Carey) the government won because a bureaucrat cannot be faulted for not knowing such an obscure law.

Amendment 4: Have you seen what the NSA is doing? Also "unreasonable search and seizure" is, under the doctrine of civil forfeiture, perfectly permissible as long as it is your assets being sued and not you.

Amendment 6: Our out of control plea bargaining system makes a joke out of "fair trial".

Amendment 7: The point of a jury trial is that the jury can choose not to enforce a bad law. The legal system misinforms jurors about this to keep jury trial from being meaningful.

Amendment 8: The overuse of solitary confinement, recognized the world over as a form of torture, certainly qualifies as "cruel and unusual punishment". I don't see that the USA has kept the spirit of this one!

Amendment 10: I'm guessing that you are not familiar with the massive growth of power of the government due to the systemic misinterpretation of the Commerce Clause starting in the 1930s. But the ability of the federal government to regulate local workplaces was not intended by anyone.

It is easy to wave a phrase like "our Constitutionally protected rights" around and believe that things are OK. But if you actually pay attention, you'll find that that Constitution has been a lot less protection than most Americans believe it has.

Amendment 1: Gives me the right to viciously mock ""In God We Trust" on our money"

(Which is worth a lot more to me than money without some pithy religious crap on it, which realistically impacts me not an iota.)

> Amendment 7: The point of a jury trial is that the jury can choose not to enforce a bad law. The legal system misinforms jurors about this to keep jury trial from being meaningful.

I lean in favor of the practice of jury nullification, but I can't see how you can make the argument that juries exist expressly to judge good vs bad laws.

I say it because the historical debate on the 7th amendment centered on jury nullification. People from Benjamin Franklin to Thomas Jefferson cited the fact that juries could refuse to convict under bad laws as a final defense against unjust government.

You're straining pretty hard for several of these examples, and/or hitting far wide of the mark.

Relative to religious oppression in numerous countries (Uighurs in China, current news, any apostasy (alternate religions, atheism) in several countries, religiously-linked laws again in numerous jurisdictions), a phrase on currency, whilst strictly clearly in conflict with the amendment, is fairly low stakes. The de facto religious tests for officeholders in much of the US would be a better example.

Amendment 3 is tested so infrequently largely on account that the practices it defends against simply are not practiced except by very remote, very rare parallels. (There was a more recent case in Nevada several years ago, though ultimately the principle wasn't tested.)

I'd disagree on the 10th / commerce clause in that the effects of commerce are highly externalised. There's little way to reconcile the conflict here.

I'd be more willing to go with your 4th, 6th, 7th, and 8th examples, though even in the case of the 8th, what's now considered "cruel and unusual" differs widely from what was seen as such in the 1780s.

More generally, circumstances have changed (and judicial interpretation is so conservative) that many of the concerns of the late 18th century translate poorly to the early 21st.

I'd also argue that it's a distributed set of concerns, and capacity to act on account of those, which almost certainly matters more than words on paper (or velum), no matter how revered.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances"

Stop preaching fake constitutionalism. You don't understand what you're talking about. Congress isn't establishing a federal religion by putting "In God We Trust" on money. This edgy internet atheism is getting old.

It's illogical to call a hundred year old concern, one taken up by no less than President Theodore Roosevelt, "Internet".

Let's be clear:

The judicial interpretation is that "In God We Trust" is acceptable only because it is meaningless, despite the fact that it was clearly meaningful to the people who decided to use it, and despite that fact that this supposedly meaningless motto is used in thousands of little ways to mistreat atheists across the country.


>It's illogical to call a hundred year old concern, one taken up by no less than President Theodore Roosevelt, "Internet".

He was concerned it was sacrilegious, not that it violated the 1st Amendment. Learn reading comprehension.

It's not as clear-cut as you think. Venezuela was the first country to abolish the death penalty, and it's still gone. The United States still willingly, and gleefully in some cases, executes citizens. For non-citizens, whether you get justice or not is a toss-up.

We have three types of penal systems here in the United States: the actual court system, the unconstitutional-yet-protected-in-court 100-miles-from-the-border Constitution-exemption zone that contains two thirds of the US population (and a large portion of the country's non-citizens),[1-2] and the unconstitutional-yet-barred-from-being-contested-in-court intelligence agencies.[3-5] It's hard to claim that you're doing that much better when you're only so far from Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo Bay, or one of the other hundreds of black sites. Worst is when these systems mix, but it happens more and more often now.[6]

[1-2 I realized this is a weird claim, but it's true, and here are two of the outlets furthest from one another politically claiming it's true to give evidence that it is]

[1] https://www.aclu.org/other/constitution-100-mile-border-zone

[2] https://www.rt.com/usa/court-upholds-laptop-border-searches-...

[3] https://www.wired.com/2015/08/hard-sue-nsa-prove-spied/

[4] https://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/privacy-and-surv...

[5] https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2019/04/judge-dodges-legality-...

[6] https://theintercept.com/2017/11/30/nsa-surveillance-fisa-se...

Are you seriously confused about what they meant by "worst in the West"?

What do you expect, a pat on the back for not being as bad as those?

Prisons are meant as a way to take people's freedom away for some amount of time, not to sneak in extra corporeal punishment by making them as shitty as possible. What is happening in the US is definitely the latter, and what's worse, many people seem to cheer for it.

> The US justice system is possibly the most cruel justice system in the West ...

This suggests a terminology issue -- we have the same problem here in Australia.

If you assume the system is intended to mete out justice, little of it will make sense.

If you think of it as a legal system, and consider it's working precisely as its benefactors & maintainers want, the arrangement makes much more sense.

You don't need to qualify it with "in the west".

The United Nations has criticized the US for it's treatment of prisoners in the past, the US just ignores them. It is worth noting that the two million incarcerated are serving sentences for crimes they were convicted of, making it marginally less horrible than Assange's situation.

Assange's living conditions were entirely self inflicted. He could have surrendered himself to the Swedish authorities, undergone a trial and had he served time would have spent time in a prison system known for its humane treatment and low recidivism rates: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/nov/26/prison-swede...

I am of course assuming that he wouldn't be extradited to the US, in which case not surrendering was the correct choice.

>I am of course assuming that he wouldn't be extradited to the US,

How can you make this assumption given that he was extradited for the exact reasons he mentioned?

I am not making that assumption, only pointing out that my argument hinges on that being the case and concede that if he does get extradited it was smarter from his perspective to be a fugitive.

When was he extradited?

His extradition has been requested, I should have made that clearer.

Seems like if that request is denied then he’ll have confined himself to the embassy for nothing.

Except this whole subthread started over a remark that what he went through wasn't as bad as how the US treats people in its jails.

Which was still bad enough to deserve a written condemnation from the UN.

The US simply ignores all these reports by various international oversight organisations such as the UN, or the ICC (there are strictly per definition no war criminals among US citizens isn't that great).

So yeah, ending up there, especially after you pissed them off, is something to be avoided at all costs.

Doesn't mean that someone is deserving of any and all treatment that is strictly "not as bad" (because that's a pretty friggin low bar).

Not necessarily. If the UK refuses the request, they likely would have accepted the request from Sweden, and Sweden may have then turned him over to the US.

The OP is about how Sweden has dropped it’s request.

So? For most of his confinement, Sweden was prepared to extradite him, meaning the confinement wasn't for nothing even if the UK refuses the request.

He also had/has significant mental issues before the matter began.

There are plenty of arrested, but not convicted, prisoners in city and county jails in the US. Often for months or longer.

Yes, but not the two million mentioned.

It's close to 500k on an average day. https://www.americasquarterly.org/aborn-prisons

It looks like aprox. 500,000 according to this article from 2016: https://www.thenation.com/article/almost-half-a-million-peop...

Progress is being made with the elimination of cash bail in some places, and Trump's First Step Act.

To point made above, yes, it's just Federal, but the Federal stance on this could influence states to follow suit, especially since it had bipartisan support...a precious commodity in public policy these days.

At first glance, First Step looks like progress. But, it seems to only apply to Federal inmates, which is only 10% (or less) of the prison population.

So, 10% is not progress?

It's progress. I wasn't sure that everyone knew it applied only to Federal prisoners. Thought that was worth sharing.

> If she finds his treatment report worthy she should visit almost any county jail in America and write a report. I'm seriously not being flippant. If people genuinely find this kind of treatment disturbing and inhumane then they should know it is befalling daily many of their over 2 million incarcerated American brothers and sisters.

Did you miss the part where Assange went through all this trouble to not go to Sweden because there was the POSSIBILITY of him being extradited to the US end ending up in that prison system?

Yes he could have also done nothing and run the very real risk of ultimately getting the worst treatment that you enact upon your brothers and sisters. But that is the whole thing he was trying to avoid.

If in the process of that, he was exposed to "severe forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the cumulative effects of which can only be described as psychological torture", which MAY or MAY NOT be worse than the US prison system (which is a pretty low bar to clear and pretty bad either way), then yeah he pretty certainly has a case to be made in the parts of the world where we pretend to treat human beings with dignity.

The entire point was to not end up in the clutches of the US, so if your point was "if you think that's bad, look at the US", then here's a big WELL DUH for you ...

It is my understanding that the USA has been repeatedly admonished for their relationship with torture (prison system, off shore detainment centers, waterboarding, guantanamo, abu ghraib, the recent issues at the border with refugees, etc).

Yes, American jails and prisons are terrible. Also the fact that 2% of your adult population is in there.

IMHO you should all be ashamed. The very fact that even in a normal adult conversation, an American can gleefully make a remark about anal rape and how they wish it upon whatever criminal. Sexual violence in your prison system has become so normalized that it's gotten its own little disgusting euphemism in your language: "pick up the soap". Even in polite company, use that little phrase and it's suddenly a-okay to joke about rape.

It's very simple. If it's that normal, that expected, that people in prison become victims of sexual violence. Then that is what you're sentencing them to. Which is corporeal punishment. Which is barbaric.

So think about that next time someone jokes about someone going to "federal pound em in the ass prison", what they are in fact advocating is that they deserve corporeal punishment by anal rape. There's something to be said about the countries where they give you beatings or lashings, they do it publicly so at least it functions as a deterrent. You hide it and pretend it's a joke because lol buttrape.

So no, don't EVER bring up the American prison/jail system as some sort of "example" for how to treat criminals .. and maybe check yourself if you DON'T find it disturbing and inhumane.

From what I've heard, the US prison system is indeed inhuman, and torture (solitary isolation, etc) is common. Many people inside and outside the US criticise it and call for reform.

I found most of the comment fine except for the part

  ...brothers and sisters
which feels like it was designed to evoke some emotion/strong response. I assume most of us would prefer them (brothers and sisters) be there, tucked away from the vicinity of family members?

and "tucked away" seems to evoke the idea that you actually treat them humanely, which you don't. which is the topic of discussion here. not the part where you take their freedom to keep them away from society, which the civilized countries also do.

The US ”justice” system has replaced justice with vengeance and punishment with suffering..

Those who cause the innocent to suffer deserve vengeance and suffering. Why are we so concerned about the comfort of people who, the majority of the time, are in prison for violent crime?

Before someone brings up "muh drugs" and only cites stats from federal prisons...

"In 2011, 55.6% of the 1,131,210 sentenced prisoners in state prisons were being held for violent crimes (this number excludes the 200,966 prisoners being held due to parole violations, of which 39.6% were re-incarcerated for a subsequent violent crime).[44] Also in 2011, 3.7% of the state prison population consisted of prisoners whose highest conviction was for drug possession (again excluding those incarcerated for parole violations of which 6.0% were re-incarcerated for a subsequent act of drug possession).[44]"

Because vengeance as a central tenet in justice systems is straight from the Hammurabi code and unfit for the modern world. If your source is the Bible, I'll agree to disagree.

If you want a legal system that treats citizens fairly, you want one focused on rehabilitation. Locking someone up simply doesn't accomplish that goal. Dehumanising prisoners doesn't either.

What's more, crime is a proxy for socio-economic status, which given the greater inequality in the US, partly explains the disparity with other developed nations.

> Those who cause the innocent to suffer deserve vengeance and suffering. Why are we so concerned about the comfort of people who, the majority of the time, are in prison for violent crime?

My understanding is that vengeance and suffering are not good teachers and once the vengeance is exacted and the suffering is complete, the criminal comes and and causes more suffering to the innocent.

If this is true, then by arguing for harsh treatment for criminals, you're arguing for a state of affairs in which more innocent suffer.

If causing the innocent to suffer is so bad, then maybe we should be making policy that reduces it.

The charges from Sweden have been dropped and bought several times depending on their usefulness to the Americans it is not a case of the system working as intended.

It is a foreign power putting diplomatic pressure on the Swedish government to put pressure on a man who has embarrassed them.

Yup, very convenient that the pseudo-charges (He was never formally charged) were maintained for ten years, but as soon as they complicate extradition to the US they get dropped.

It's not the only thing in the Assange case which is blatantly political persecution. You got to wonder how most of the press can keep pretending it's not.

My understanding is that Sweden under no circumstances would have been able to extradite him to the US, and certainly not with less difficulty than extradition from the UK.

The fact that Assange fled Sweden for the UK, skipped bail, and then concocted a Swedish conspiracy theory is a bit on the implausible side.

>He was never formally charged

My understanding is that the Swedish system does not allow formal charges in abstentia.

I actively try to avoid anything that look like a conspiracy, but when I read the news that the prosecutor was going to make a statement my first thought was that it would be very convenient for the US if Sweden dropped the case. And then the actually statement came out and they dropped it.

And in this case, William Barr really doesn't want Assange here, in order to protect his client, Donald J. Trump. And that's why we will not see the extradition to the United States while the Justice Department has been essentially neutered by, what would you call it? Deep State?

The current administration, given its stated opposition to a deep state, is perhaps best characterized as The Shallow State.

I'm more inclined to think Trump's impeachment will be well timed to the date of Assange's extradition. The three letter agencies can live with an erratic president, but not one that might pardon or otherwise protect Assange. (Barr will eventually side with them, not Trump)

I think you don't know how impeachment works. Trump will not be removed from office, no matter what the lower house of the US government happens to do.

The Senate would have to have 67 votes in a majority republican controlled body to remove him. That simply will not happen -- even in the House, which is politically far more independent, the Democratic Party was not able to get a single Republican vote, and even had defectors from their own party just to authorize the proceedings at all.

You can't win an impeachment trial without broad bipartisan support, and there is exactly zero bipartisan support for this proceeding.

To be fair, support for removing Nixon from office among Republicans appeared rather rapidly, and there were still Republicans staunchly in support of him until the end https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/it-took-a-long-time-for...

Nixon had a whole lot of other things going against him.

Nixon also had a whole lot of things going for him, he was hardly an unpopular president and the watergate scandal is sort of ridiculous with hindsight because he won re-election by a wide margin. The 1968 election was close and he likely would have lost if not for the trainwreck that was Wallace, but in 1972 he absolutely trounced McGovern.

Nixon was a generally popular president and it took a long time for his support to start slipping. His famous line "People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook. I've earned everything I've got." wasn't nearly as in poor taste as it seems in hindsight.

I agree, though it is worth remembering that Nixon had strong GOP support right up until the day he did not. Trump is safe now (though I figure the odds of him being impeached are 100%) but if anything comes out that seriously deteriorates the support of the base, the Senate can change gears very quickly.

Yeah I don't see how the trial will go through, there is no way they get 67 votes in the senate. He would have to literally walk up and shoot a nun in the face on camera before those Republicans would budge, they've already made up their mind he's forgiven for (almost) any crimes while he's in office.

Some of them have already said they'd be fine with him shooting someone in broad daylight on a NYC street, and think that this isn't an impeachable offense.

That's hyperbole though. they're just showing that they are trumpers until something ridiculous like that happens. I'm sure there are some zealots but 99% of them would not be cool with him murdering someone in cold blood.

It's not hyperbole, this is directly from Congressional Republicans. They believe that "executive immunity" means the President can commit whatever crimes he wants in office, and is immune from prosecution until his term is over.

They actually brought that hyperbole up to one of the supporters and they asked "well, so what did that person do that he would shoot them?"

In the absurd hypothetical that the President decided to shoot someone, that's a relatively reasonable question one might ask...

> (Barr will eventually side with them, not Trump)

You aren't paying attention very closely.

I don't know how to respond to this. UN experts on human rights have looked into his situation and been quite alarmed by it. I can't think of a group of people more respected in the field of human rights than the experts at the UN. And yet there are commenters here on HN who, I don't know on what basis, write that it's all mostly "hyperbole".

It is mostly self-inflicted, though. He chose that exile over facing justice for these charges.

And calling systemic judicial prosecution "torture" is most certainly hyperbole. It's the job of the judicial system to prosecute people who break the law, and it's definitely better if they do so in a systemic rather than arbitrary way.

So while it's entirely possible that Assange shows symptoms of torture, the question remains who tortured him. For a long time, by his own choice, it was only the Ecuadorian embassy that had access to him.

This talking point had been soundly debunked. Sweden kept up the threat of charges and demand for extradition for nearly ten years, but dropped them like a hot potato when the US charges became public (when Sweden's charges would only get in their way).

Never mind that Assange was ridiculed for most of those ten years for claiming that US would seek his extradition.

His understanding of the world, including the assessment that Sweden is extremely servile to the US in security/foreign policy matters, has been vindicated again and again.

While I don't disagree, the crowd is fickle and has at best a short attention span. He would have been better served to face the charges while it was all going on and he had the crowds attention. He is in a far worse position now, given that attentions and the world have moved on. The US can pretty much railroad him and no one will bat an eye. Whereas before they risked making a martyr.

He wasn't going to face any charges in Sweden. They've let US intelligence just black bag people without any legal process before.


All of the following can be true at the same time:

- Sweden dropped the charges after the US pressured them to

- The US has been seeking his extradition for years

- Sweden is extremely servile to the US in security/foreign policy

- He raped a girl in Sweden

> - He raped a girl in Sweden

He was just wanted for "inquiry" about the possible case. And some details of the case are here described, by the woman in whose apartment he slept, as organized by her:

"The statement records Miss A describing how Assange then released her arms and agreed to use a condom, but she told the police that at some stage Assange had "done something" with the condom that resulted in it becoming ripped, and ejaculated without withdrawing."

"When he was later interviewed by police in Stockholm, Assange agreed that he had had sex with Miss A but said he did not tear the condom, and that he was not aware that it had been torn. He told police that he had continued to sleep in Miss A's bed for the following week and she had never mentioned a torn condom."

Then, another miss "Miss W" some days later:

"However, during the night, they had both woken up and had sex at least once when "he agreed unwillingly to use a condom"." ... "Early the next morning, Miss W told police, she had gone to buy breakfast before getting back into bed and falling asleep beside Assange. She had awoken to find him having sex with her, she said, but when she asked whether he was wearing a condom he said no."

"In submissions to the Swedish courts, (Assange and his lawyers) have argued that Miss W took the initiative in contacting Assange, that on her own account she willingly engaged in sexual activity in a cinema and voluntarily took him to her flat where, she agrees, they had consensual sex. They say that she never indicated to Assange that she did not want to have sex with him. They also say that in a text message to a friend, she never suggested she had been raped and claimed only to have been "half asleep"."

Such nasty cases. The women "compared their impressions" (they were it seems friends) and then went to police, once he was away. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2010/dec/17/julian-assange...

The job of the judicial system is to treat all citizen the same. Everyone should be judged equally under the hand of the law.

The Assange case got uniquely handled in every single step. Even a court found that the prosecutor mishandled the case. Proportionally the case used more money than any other case, used stronger legal method than any other case, and did not follow the judicial rules that all cases should follow.

Journalists has asked the prosecutor if the case had a high likelihood to find Assange guilty even without any witnesses. The answer that was consistently given before the US extradition request was yes, the case looked good in the eye of the prosecutor, years in and years out. Now, all suddenly, the answer is no. Now all the sudden the prosecutor say it is hard to convict someone without witnesses.

The behavior demonstrated by the prosecutor is one of a politician system. It gave special attention. It swings with the political winds. Being the targeted of that is torture.

> And calling systemic judicial prosecution "torture" is most certainly hyperbole

This is 1A 100% political persecution if you don't close both your eyes.

Is that torture?

Ask anyone who has been target of political persecution for several years.

"persecution" and "prosecution" are different words.

I think you mean "justice"

The UN Human Rights Council had Saudi Arabia as a member. I can't imagine how anyone would respect them.

Why? Saudis are humans too even if we find their behavior abhorrent. If you exclude anyone you disagree with, it's not a council, it's a bandwagon.

> "arbitrary confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy, to his oppressive isolation, harassment and surveillance inside the embassy, and from deliberate collective ridicule, insults and humiliation"

Not only hyperbole, but it's entirely self-imposed. He wasn't confined to the embassy, he chose to stay there rather than face trial. He chose "deliberate collective ridicule, insults and humiliation" over defending himself against the accusations.

“Come out and we will tell you what you’re guilty of”.

The US was once a great defender of liberty and democrac, but when you talk to its average citizen nowaday you start to get truely weimarian vibes.

His actions are entirely undemocratic. Sweden and the US have both democratically built a system of justice that we all agree to subject ourselves to. He decided to evade that system to serve his own self-interest. What about defending the liberty of the alleged rape victim? Do they only have the right to their day in court if the accused is ok with it?

How well did Sweden's democratic system of justice work for Ahmed Agiza and Muhammad al-Zery.


From the moment he was removed from the embassy and locked in jail the Swedish prosecutor lost all interest to continue the case, and by a coincident the US extradition order came in.

That is how much anyone cared about defending the liberty of the alleged rape victim.

he's neither swedish nor American; he was not democratically involved in building either judicial system

When he decided to travel to Sweden and the UK he implicitly agreed to be subject to their judicial system.

I agree that the US are overreaching.

A system of justice that can be abused to go after political enemies. The Espionage Act is a piece of anti-democratic legislation passed during WWI in order to shut down opposition to the war. It's ironic that you're portraying its use to go after a journalist as a democratic act.

Just to be clear, 1600 of my coworkers are journalists, so I'm pretty confident in my support for journalists creds. Assange is not a journalist. Journalists don't encourage sources to break into classified systems and absolutely don't help them with it. When journalists get a stack of classified military docs, they don't indiscriminately release them to the public, they negotiate with the WH/DOD to avoid jeopardizing national security, weigh the public interest, and remove names to avoid putting people's lives at risk. See https://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/26/world/26editors-note.html.... If you visited a newsroom, you might be surprised to find out that the overwhelming majority of journalists don't support Assange and his "I'm a journalist" defense.

What you write is a strong condemnation of the sorry state of journalism in America.

The New York Times withheld the story about Bush' illegal wiretapping program for a year, helping Bush secure reelection in 2004. They did so on flimsy "national security" grounds. The only grudgingly published the story when the journalist who had uncovered it threatened to publish it on his own. Some American news media is far too cozy with government. If they support the persecution of one of the most important journalists of our time, they're a truly rotten bunch.

What trial was he to face? Sweden hadn't charged him with anything. They wanted to interview him as a witness, against himself essentially, so they could use what he said against him if (not when) they might have actually charged him in the future. He offered repeatedly to be interviewed, first in the UK and later in the Embassy.

This whole situation was ridiculous and kafkaesque. Charge him or do not charge him, and if you do charge him then, any only then, demand extradition.

>He offered repeatedly to be interviewed, first in the UK and later in the Embassy.

I'm pretty sure most people are not allowed to dictate terms to law enforcement as they conduct an investigation. Why should Assange be different?

He was at a very real risk of being extradited to the US. You know, one of those countries that keeps ignoring UN human rights reports.

It's not a stretch that he preferred ""deliberate collective ridicule, insults and humiliation" over what the US would do to him.

Doesn't mean that's fair or just. Just that he chose something less inhumane than the US.

Right, because all evidence points to him getting a fair trial if he came forward.

I don't know why you don't think a trial doesn't carry seriously negative and scary connotations, but it does and no rational person just subjects themselves to persecution.

I agree that standing trial for rape must be terrifying, but that doesn't mean he's being persecuted. We've agreed upon a system of justice that best protects the rights of both the accuser and the accused, and he decided to deny the alleged victim their day in court. He was free to leave the embassy, he was free to defend himself from humiliation, but he chose not to.

We've agreed on a system of law. Actual justice is frequently only an accidental byproduct.

He was also at risk of being extradited to the US, and what they would do to him was a lot scarier than standing trial.

"We" didn't "agree" to anything.

Why would you think that? He helped putting light on war crimes and got the obvious political prosecution. I don't think downplaying this fact is in any way adequate. And I don't think this is hyperbole at all if you look at the big picture.

I don’t understand.

He stayed in the Ecuadorian embassy to avoid arrest. His conditions are self-imposed.

Another take, with no more or less evidence as far as I can tell: He essentially had no choice, as it was obvious he was going to be railroaded at any trial, and would likely be bounced to the US at some point.

> and would likely be bounced to the US at some point.

From Sweden?

He fled Sweden, which has stronger protections against extradition, for the UK which has weaker protections. Had he been extradited from the UK to Sweden, further extradition to the US would have been prohibited.

This was far from "obvious". Extradition from Sweden would have been harder than from the UK.

Not if the request was dropped before he got to Sweden. The prosecutor demonstrated that point very clearly today.

Extraordinary rendition from Sweden would have been much easier though.

But he was right.

It happened. He was proven correct.

The people who disagreed were just wrong.

And I think it is OK to call the people who didn't believe this, to have been extremely misinformed.

He was extradited from the UK, not from Sweden.

He hasn't been extradited from anywhere to anywhere. He's still serving time in prison for jumping bail, and he will have a chance to argue against his extradition to the US early next year. If he does lose his extradition battle and does get sent to the US, he will have a further opportunity to defend himself against the crimes that he is accused of committing there.

In other words, the legal avenues that the moron could have availed himself of a decade ago are now open to him.

If anyone thinks that Assange was ever in danger of being extraordinarily renditioned to the US from Sweden then they need to consider that a decade ago he was high-profile enough for the Ecuadorians to stick their necks out for him.

Unless he would have experienced better conditions had he not taken refuge in the embassy, his conditions are not self-imposed.

There's a good chance that Swedish prison conditions are not particularly harsh, as prisons go (Never having experienced the inside of one, I must admit).

Self-inflicted? That makes no sense. I advise you to revise your understanding of that definition.

I find the idea of the threat of prosecution in a free country as a form of "torture" a bit questionable.

It's something, but i'm not sure I agree with calling that torture.

What makes you think making up charges and constantly threatening to destroy you are not extremely stressful. He has a family too that he's been unable to see properly for a long while.

Is his only current crime skipping bail on charges he believed were fake?

Clearly, facing deportation to the US is problematic for a number of reasons, mostly that it's impossible for even Snowden to get a fair trial there, let alone an Australian citizen.

Would that we all had the luxury of the ability to skip bail on charges we believed were fake, yeah?

We'd also likely not have had the charges leveled upon us in the first place.

As long as we play ball enough.

Skipping bail on charges he believe were fake is a crime, yes. If we was so sure of the charges being fake then he should have let them judge him.

That might make sense if one believed they were accused of fake charges by a private person, and are to be judged by an impartial legal system.

It makes no sense if one believes that they were accused of fake charges based on political pressure and are to be judged on a rigged legal system.

It would be like if J.E.Hoover had his eyes on you, had his police build some BS charges, and made sure (whether by police planting evidence, fake testimonies, etc or by having his judge pals on the case too) you'll be convicted.

Would you take your chances to have the case judged?

> If we was so sure of the charges being fake then he should have let them judge him.

Sure, because trumped up charges are symptomatic of a working justice system.

...except Assange would have been transferred to America to stand trial over Wikileaks before he would even have a chance to stand trial over the rape accusations.

I don't think there was an extradition request from the US, was there? Only one from Sweden. And it's very unlikely that Sweden would extradite him to the US for this. They value the free press, but take rape very seriously.

The plan was to get him to the US all along, unless you want to believe it was a coincidence that Sweden kept up the request for ten years but dropped it the minute it got in the way of extradition to the US.

As to why Sweden, who knows why they thought that would be preferable. Maybe just to smear his reputation a bit, to soften the protest at the treatment they want to give him? Very successful if so.

But either way, you're talking about the people who forced down the Bolivian president's plane because they thought Snowden might be hiding in it. When they say "the law only matters when the outcome doesn't", this would be an example of a case where the outcome (stop Wikileaks) mattered.

He know sthat there is little justice in the US system. It's not like he's going to a cushy Scandinavian prison. He will be going to max security federal prison with hardened criminals who will likely beat him to death or shank him.

He didn't fear the charges, he feared the extradition - and that's exactly what happened - Sweden dropped the charges anyway, but he ended-up being extradited.

Maybe he didn't trust the judge/court to fairly judge him?

It is still a choice he could make (and did), which is more than many have.

It is great that people are speaking up about the conditions under which people are punished and the no-win games that put them there. I only wish people could do so when it isn't some high-profile person.

many people claim that they are only skipping bail because they believe the charges are fake, but do they really believe that?

Even if they're lying, they don't deserve the treatment Assange received for that crime.

> Is his only current crime skipping bail on charges he believed were fake?

No, he's already served the time for that. He's held strictly for extradition by now.

"are not extremely stressful."

That's not torture.

> The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, visited Assange and described his treatment as psychological torture.

I read the articles. As I noted I disagree. If he didn't divulge something(s) that also added to his assessment I can't account for that.

Do you have a source to disprove or challenge the UN's definition of torture?

Solitary confinement is often used during war. That Assange is incarcerated in a civilian prison doesn't necessarily diminish or change the effectiveness and impact.

An American dismissing a UN special rapport about torture. ... I really can't fathom why people would go through such extreme lengths to avoid getting extradited there ... /s

He is currently held in solitary confinement, with 1 hour outside his cell per day. That is torture.

And the years before he spent time in an embassy on his own free will, the solitary confinement is new.

Melzer: "Mr. Assange was about as free to leave as someone sitting on a rubber boat in a shark pool."

In 2016 another group of UN experts found his situation to be "arbitrary detention":

> In its official Opinion, the Working Group considered that Mr. Assange had been subjected to different forms of deprivation of liberty: initial detention in Wandsworth Prison in London, followed by house arrest and then confinement at the Ecuadorean Embassy.

> The experts also found that the detention was arbitrary because Mr. Assange was held in isolation at Wandsworth Prison, and because a lack of diligence by the Swedish Prosecutor’s Office in its investigations resulted in his lengthy loss of liberty.

> The Working Group established that this detention violates Articles 9 and 10 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and Articles 7, 9(1), 9(3), 9(4), 10 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Julian Assange arbitrarily detained by Sweden and the UK, UN expert panel finds


He fled justice to hide in an embassy. He was fully free to leave, and should have faced justice from the start. Fugitives from justice do not enjoy pleasant conditions - that's not a strike against liberty, but a necessary condition of the rule of law.

I find it remarkable that so many here feel they are in a better position to assess whether Assange's human rights have been violated than experts on the topic at the UN who've spent considerable time looking into his situation.

Appealing to authority is a lot less persuasive when it's a non-binding report from a minor working group. I read their account. It was poorly argued and inconsistent. Should we really accept a case that's made because of the authority making the argument rather than the argument itself?

Then make your case on your disagreements with that report, not on your (frivolous) assumption that he would have had a fair trial.

The report assumes a priori that an extradition threat was real, now we see Trump's DOJ did eventually file one, but he was hiding in the Embassy for years on a false pretext of an imaginary extradition to avoid facing rape charges. The rights of the rape victims to see justice weren't addressed or considered. The question of whether Assange was fleeing justice for rape wasn't ever seriously addressed but just waved away.

The moment Assange was dragged out of the embassy, there was an extradition request from the United States. Assange was clearly correct about what would happen, and all the people who laughed off the threat of extradition to the US look pretty silly now.

The only indictment that there is evidence for is from 2017 under the Trump DoJ, 5 years after he fled justice to the embassy. Assange made up a story about a fictional sealed indictment when he fled justice. He just did such a poor job fleeing justice that he wound up with a sealed indictment for criminal behavior he engaged in after he'd moved into the embassy.

A grand jury was convened at the latest in 2011,[1] before Assange sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy.

1. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2011/may/11/us-opens-wikil...

When we all think of kangaroo courts, I know the first place we think of is... checks notes Sweden.

In the context of all the other times when the US got reported for human rights abuse, I think it's pretty damn persuasive. Just because the US ignores all those special UN reports, doesn't mean the rest of the world does...

It's funny that when it comes to Assange, suddenly the UN group's findings become "non-binding". Did you read what they had to say about it?

> The Opinions of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention are legally-binding to the extent that they are based on binding international human rights law, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The WGAD has a mandate to investigate allegations of individuals being deprived of their liberty in an arbitrary way or inconsistently with international human rights standards, and to recommend remedies such as release from detention and compensation, when appropriate.

> The binding nature of its opinions derives from the collaboration by States in the procedure, the adversarial nature of is findings and also by the authority given to the WGAD by the UN Human Rights Council. The Opinions of the WGAD are also considered as authoritative by prominent international and regional judicial institutions, including the European Court of Human Rights.


Journalist John Pilger also made the point that Britain and Sweden participated in and have previously supported this UN group:

> The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention - the tribunal that adjudicates and decides whether governments comply with their human rights obligations - last year ruled that Assange had been detained unlawfully by Britain and Sweden. This is international law at its apex.

> Both Britain and Sweden participated in the 16-month long UN investigation and submitted evidence and defended their position before the tribunal. In previous cases ruled upon by the Working Group - Aung Sang Suu Kyi in Burma, imprisoned opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in Malaysia, detained Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian in Iran - both Britain and Sweden gave full support to the tribunal. The difference now is that Assange's persecution endures in the heart of London.


You write "Should we really accept a case that's made because of the authority making the argument rather than the argument itself?"

What makes you think that Britain and Sweden's refusal to accept the outcome has anything to do with the evidence presented? The UN group found against Britain and Sweden, and they didn't like that outcome. Isn't that a likely explanation?

I find it remarkable that so many here feel they are in a better position to make judgements on the validity of an indictment than the justice systems involved.

Here I thought legal factfinding was the purview of a courtroom, rather than the court of public opinion.

And even use phrases like "facing justice" in the backdrop of war crimes that cost thousands of lives. No words...

Free to leave to where? Solitary confinement in a UK prison for publishing embarrassing information? Yeah, I would respectfully disagree with you there.

Put scare quotes around "justice" and your comment will be more accurate.

The later parts are all about the time in prison Assange is currently under, which, granted, is probably not the best of times.

But if you run from the law, why should Assange or a human rights expert expect to be handled like in a 5 star hotel?

Um it's only a "5 star hotel" if you compare it to what would happen to him after extradition to the US.


Well, Idunno, maybe I think I know the truth?

Truth isn't a universally objective concept outside of math.

Why are you being so rude?


Do you spend the other 23 hours in an 8x5 room with cement walls and nothing but a bed and a toilet?

23 hours involuntary solitary confinement is legit confirmed psychological torture. Self-inflicting that is either self-harm or else you are doing meaningful activities indoors and it's not the same thing at all.

But you have a choice to spend less than an hour outside.

Are you spending the other 23 hours sleeping or standing? Because that’s what solitary confinement is. You get to do nothing but sleep, walk around, or use the toilet.

> prosecution in a free country

The free country responsible for the Guantanamo secret prison? We are talking about the same one?

We're talking about the same country(s).

I still consider the US, Sweeden, and the UK "free countries".

Well I don't know about Sweden but the UK is falling into mass surveillance of its own population, and the US is already there and on top of that engages in wars without any form of Congress approval for a while now, and jails people for non-violent drug possession still. I guess Freedom is relative.

As long as "free" is firmly inside the quotation marks, sure.

Assange has been under conditions a little worse than "threat of prosecution."

If only there was some sort of independent expert to assess the situation for us ;)

It was the threat of being deported to a country that has the death penalty and routinely torchers people for years without trial; If you honestly can't imagine being stressed about that then you are just not trying.

The "free country" that has the highest incarceration rate, and one of the worst prison systems in the western world?

That's just your world view and western conditioning. I don't know what you mean by "free country" or what that has to do with state actors persecuting another political actor. Help me understand. I don't have the conditioning to read past the slogans and just understand why certain nations are pure.

Actually it's just 98% free. The rest is in jail or prison.

As far as "free countries" go, it's really the worst to end up.

Did you seriously forget all the UN reports about human rights issues in the US? Yeah the US ignores them, but the rest of the world knows it. It's really pretty bad.

> I find the idea of the threat of prosecution in a free country as a form of "torture" a bit questionable.

Yeah, it's funny how HN typically goes evidence-free where pet politics is concerned.

I'll eat my hat if someone on here can name a single precedent of someone being tortured in the U.S. before being tried for a crime similar to what Assange would be accused of.

Edit: and citations, please!

> similar to what assange would be accused of

That's oddly specific, but still be careful what you're asking for. "Police torture suspect" gives a lot of results, for example: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_Burge

There's a good chance some of those 200 cases were rape cases.

Then there is also the torture of terrorism suspects, if you wish to take that angle since Assange has repeatedly been labeled a terrorist.

Here's two more Wikipedia articles that may be interesting to you:


Especially interesting may be the "Domestic Torture in Modern Times" section if you wish to focus on what happened domestically.


Always worth a read.

All you have to do is do a google search for people dying of health conditions because the cops ignored them, people lying on the ground beaten half to death, out cold, while cops yell "stop resisting arrest!", guys on the ground shot for not crawling up to the cops right, the list goes on and on.

Examples of people being tortured in the US are plenty. It all depends on what you mean by "similar to what Assange would be accused of". He was accused of rape, which is one of the few crimes that the US takes much more lightly than Sweden does.

Especially prison rape! The US takes it so lightly they even have a cute euphemism for it, "to pick up the soap", which allows you to lightly joke about sexual abuse punishment fantasies in polite company!

I've even seen joking references to prison rape in children's shows, which really makes me wonder what's wrong with people.

Why the qualifier?

What measure of proof do you require?


Given that he is not a US citizen, one could make the argument that he was engaged in cyber warfare against the US, thus legally classified as an enemy combatant, subject to special magistrate court and incarcerate-able at an offshore detention facility. Rules on detainee handling there are more lax and sentencing has no guidelines at least no published ones. I would consider that possible path of prosecution and even the threat of it to be torture.

Eugene Debs

It occurs to me that "land of the free" can be taken two possible ways:

- "the field of the sheep" - the field only contains sheep

- "the wool of the sheep" - the wool only belongs to the sheep, not the cows, pigs, goats etc.

In the same way, America belongs to some very free people, and the rest are conned into touting that from under whatever thumb they happen to be.

Which free country?

What is a “free country” in your definition?

"free country"... oxymoron of the century by now...

What would you define a "free country" as?

One that doesn't suspend all freedoms and human rights when the magical word "terrorism" is invoked.

Have an example of such a country?

I like ones with full suffrage for all citizens of age of majority, including criminals. Like Canada.

Canada has a rather restrictive version of freedom of speech.

Sure, but at least it doesn't allow slavery or disenfranchisement.

You used the term first, so probably you should define it, and then you can explain why it's "questionable" for threat of prosecution to ever be considered torture in such a place, and then you can explain why the country threatening to prosecute Assange meets that definition.

Among other things, one would certainly have to exclude any country which engages in the mass collection and permanent storage of all of its citizens' communications.

What if the population was ok with that / didn't care?

The whole population?

Freedom is freedom for minority rights and opinions to not be quashed by the majority. Thus the term "the tyranny of the majority"

A majority can "not care" about systematic racial injustice and other inequities. The consent of the majority doesn't make the system "free".

I guess China is a shining beacon of freedom for it's people too then.

Then I'd ask those same people to hand over their credentials to all their accounts since their data, privacy, and property, seem to matter little to them.

You could post this exact same question about operating concentration camps.

They would be wrong.

That's the risk of democracy.

The alternatives have proven to involve a great deal less freedom.

Maybe I wouldn't?

Have you ever stopped to think that there is no such thing as free?

He’s being held in a maximum-security prison in solitary confinement. That is torture.

The report / article seem to be about his time before that.

I would believe he's exhibiting symptoms correlated with torture victims, but most torture victims don't choose to stay in the torture chamber voluntarily. Assange sought and was granted asylum and could have ended the torturous circumstances at any time by rendering himself to UK custody.

> could have ended the torturous circumstances at any time

By subjecting himself to probably worse injustice. Torture A over torture B is hardly a choice.

Yah. Then get send over to US and A and killed. Checkmate

The saddest thing about Assange's story is that when one lives in the realm of the paranoid for too long, the paranoia eats them.

The US and A isn't in the business of assassinating visible targets. There's plenty of people who believe they are, but there's plenty of evidence they aren't. If they were, Manning wouldn't still be breathing.

The US definitely wouldn't risk any blowback by killing someone as low value as Assange. What would be the point? Easier just to chuck him in jail forever, and the political consequences are minimal to nonexistent.

Are you asserting that Osama bin Laden wasn't a visible target?

I should probably clarify: assassination of high-visibility undisclosed targets. Osama bin Laden was tagged as an enemy combatant quite publicly, and I'm not aware of anyone disagreeing with the US's tactical call to kill him during Operation Neptune Spear rather than take him alive.

Some Congresspeople have made ill-advised claims around Assange, but to my knowledge he is not tagged as an enemy combatant in a war on terror and there would be quite a lot of surprise if the US sent in a SEAL team to shoot him.

Just to clarify, you're saying that the US is not currently in the business of assassinating high-visibility targets.

Just clarifying, because there's a history of state-sanctioned assassination attempts and plots during the Cold War.

Confused by downvotes. It is a historical fact that there were assassinations plots during the Cold War. It was investigated and declassified by Congress. For starters, look at the Church Committee, a U.S. Senate Committee from 1975, that investigated intelligence malpractice.

There should be nothing remotely controversial about these events existing.

Second, by asking a clarifying question I am not implying that the "US is not currently in the business of assassinating high-visibility targets" because I have no way of knowing this. I just want to clarify this person's point-of-view.

there would be quite a lot of surprise if the US sent in a SEAL team to shoot him.

Of course there would be a lot of surprise, that would be an open act of war. The US's preferred method would be a drone strike operated from within the US borders, just as Russia's preferred method is with some radioactive poison.

It is in the business of assassinating visible targets. By probability and behavioral record. Unless you have special evidence to contrary.

As I said, Manning is still alive, and she's spent an inordinate amount of time under US custody. She's under US custody right now. If the government had "assassination of visible targets" as standard black-ops policy, why is she not dead?

Conspiracy theories suffer on lack of consistency.

It is plausible that if US govt was't able to contrive her current imprisonment via contempt of court charges, she would be dead.

Kind of amusing that a user named "shadowgovt" is vehemently arguing that the government is less malicious than many members of the public suspect.

Theories of grand evil government conspiracies are comforting because they let us believe someone's in charge, that the evils of the world were intended and causal. Intentions can be controlled.

The reality is much more boring and much less comforting. Hence, my handle. ;)


Who would promptly then turn him over to the USA, lol.

He confined himself to a room. He skipped bail and was on the lam.

Ridiculous for the UN to qualify this as the UK state torturing him - it denigrates the reputation of the UN.

sure. So you think you could withstand what he has gone through?

the reputation of the UN??? go learn about the un before you defend a corrupt system that acts just like any other foundation. United Nations pays its employees an average of $82,397 a year. and every peacekeeper is paid $1,428/month.


"Charity sex scandal: UN staff ‘responsible for 60,000 rapes in a decade’


And thats just ONE of their thousands of scandals.





"Peacekeepers have been accused of sexually exploiting women in the Congo, being involved in sex trafficking in Bosnia and Kosovo, child abuse in Côte d'Ivoire and Haiti, as well as corruption, stealing, drink-driving and manslaughter.


7 years confined in a room, no matter how nice the embassy, common sense says it is obviously psychological torture.

Being confined to a room is not so bad, being confined to a room where you know if you leave or piss off the host of your room enough, that the most powerful government on the planet has a secret indictment sealed ready to go the second you make a mistake and senators have called for your head off publicly, is a little more stressful.

> typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture, including extreme stress, chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma.

Due to recent imprisonment or is this due to living for so long in a tiny "dorm room" in the Ecuadorian embassy?

No joke I think that could easily drive someone insane given enough time.

Nope, sorry. He could have left the embassy any time he wanted. Any 'torture' is purely self-inflicted.

He couldn't have left whenever he wanted.

> Mr. Assange’s health has been seriously affected by the extremely hostile and arbitrary environment he has been exposed to for many years

Let me correct that: Mr Assange’s health has been seriously affected by the environment that he exposed himself to

(Edit: I’m talking about the embassy episode here, not his more recent incarceration)

It's not like he had any better choice here.

He could have just faced the charges in Sweden. He'd be out by now if he was found guilty. His behavior and streams of lies about extradition, etc. suggest the whole episode was a guilty man hiding and foolishly digging in. His best option was always to just face the charges instead of fleeing justice.

> and streams of lies about extradition

What lies about extradition? Just as they forced him out of the embassy the US published an extradition request. There were also past cases such as https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Repatriation_of_Ahmed_Agiza_an...

But.... He literally has an extradition order out for him right now.

He was right. His opinions on extradition were proven correct.

How can you ignore the literal evidence, right here, right now, of everything that he had predicted, to be coming true?

There is no evidence of an extradition order from the US at the point when Assange first claimed it, and the extradition now is based on Assange being very directly involved with and directing hacks on targets, which is a valid legal justification for extradition.

Even if he hadn't lied in claims re: extradition, the current extradition is for credible and serious charges and he should face justice.

But isn't this a bit of a catch 22 though? Do you honestly believe that this situation could have ended any other way, other than him being extradited to the USA?

I am saying, that no matter what happened, whether there was a secret order, or not, or whether an extradition order would have been sent, the moment he stepped out of the embassy (but otherwise did not "exist" prior to him stepping out of the embassy), what was going to happen is that he was going to be extradited to the USA.

And this prediction was proven correct. And the people who disagreed with this idea, owe the world an apology, for being entirely, completely, 100% wrong.

If you disagree, you are basically holding an unfalsifiable position. Because by doing so, you are saying that no matter if he actually gets extradite, like what just happened!, you are going to ignore the actual evidence of this prediction coming true!

It seems like there is no possible evidence or situation that I could show you, which would change your mind, because your argument is always going to be "Well, the order didn't exist before... but it does now".

I can't argue with this kind of unfalsifiable position.

If someone had predicted "this person is going to be extradited to the USA, at some point in the future", then this person was correct, and if you disagree with this person, and called them a conspiracy theorist, then you were wrong.

There are no known extradition orders from the Obama DoJ, and the feds have claimed they didn't want to bother with him in the Holder era. To believe he would be extradited to the US requires Assange's claimed extradition threat to have been real, but there's not only no evidence, but some evidence that suggests there never was one.

The position that there never was a sealed extradition request can be falsified with evidence of one, it's just that there currently is no evidence.

Ok, but imagine an alternate universe where, if during the Holder era, there was a secret extradition order.

Would you imagine that what we are observing right now, would be any different than this hypothetical universe where a secret extradition order did indeed exist?

Is it really so hard to believe that such a hypothetical universe would almost certainly look exactly like the universe that we are in right now?

> Mr Assange’s health has been seriously affected by the environment that he exposed himself to

Fuck you.

We've banned this account for repeatedly breaking the site guidelines. Would you please stop creating accounts to do that with?


Please don't do that.


rezmason 16 days ago [flagged]

There are now active concentration camps in the United States, designed to traumatize children, because Wikileaks bolstered Trump's campaign to make HRC appear destined for prison.

And people who can't hold him accountable for his role in that, "can get fucked".

Please do not take HN threads further into political flamewar.

Every source I can find on google shows clearly that they aren't new to the Trump administration, though often more populated than they were under the Obama administration.

But they all defeat the causal relationship you asserted in your comment.



As you know, since we've warned you multiple times before, you can't comment like this on Hacker News. We've banned this account for breaking the site guidelines.


I suppose I need to add that this has nothing to do with pro-X or anti-X positions, for X = Assange or any other value of X.

>he exposed himself to

Did you miss what happened to him when he was arrested? He's now being tortured even more. He put himself there, for his safety, and to think he did it 'just because' is wildly ridiculous.

No, and I do in fact think his most recent incarceration at least borders on torture. But I also think claiming that someone is torturing you while you’ve locked yourself in a room trying to evade questioning in a criminal investigation is ridiculous.

To be fair, he wasn't just evading "questioning", the fact that he isn't being extradited to Sweden and they are dropping the case makes this more obvious in my opinion

He locked himself in a room trying to evade exactly the treatment he is receiving right now. Is there any precedent in the UK for solitary confinement in Belmarsh for skipping bail on a rape charge in another country?

His treatment in Sweden if he'd complied rather than fleeing justice in the UK would likely have been far better. His dissembling about extradition and all of his actions suggest he was guilty of the rapes and hiding from justice.

Yeah but Sweden is a US ally and was just going to turn around and extradite him to the USA after they were done with him. I don't think you've been following the story closely enough. This is what he said for like the past decade. He know that Federal prison will probably end up with him beaten to death, shanked to death, or in solitary confinement for the rest of his life.

"Sweden is a US ally and was just going to turn around and extradite him to the USA"

Sweden's actual extradition agreement is much more limited than Assange claimed. The UK's is much friendlier to the UK, so if he was honestly worried about extradition his behavior was strange and is more plausibly explained by him trying to cover up his rape. His account was mostly false and deeply misleading about what Sweden did and did not extradite for, which would make sense if it was just a pretext. I believe he tried to dodge real and credible charges in Sweden, and all of his behavior, esp the narcissistic levels of dishonesty point to a rapist who was caught and got trapped by their lies.

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