Assange In UK Court Ahead Of Extradition Hearing

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks on the balcony of the Embassy of Ecuador in London./ AFP

 

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared in public for the first time in six months on Monday, seeming frail and confused during a British court appearance ahead of his extradition hearing.

The 48-year-old Australian is fighting a United States bid to extradite him on charges filed under the US Espionage Act, and sat in the witness box as a London court decided the timetable of his full hearing, due to begin in February.

Although clean shaven and dressed smartly in a blue jacket, blue jumper and dark trousers, Assange appeared confused whenever he was asked to talk at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

He seemed to have difficulties recalling his birth date, and at the end of the hearing told District Judge Vanessa Baraitser that he had not understood what had happened in court.

He then complained about the conditions in which he was being kept at the high-security Belmarsh prison in southeast London.

“I can’t access any of my writings, it’s very difficult to do anything and these people have unlimited resources, they have an unfair advantage,” he said in a barely audible voice.

Assange also suggested that someone had tried to steal his children’s DNA before adding: “I can’t think properly”.

First public appearance 

It was his first public appearance since being dramatically dragged from Ecuador’s embassy in April.

He could be sentenced to spend up to 175 years in a US prison if convicted on all charges.

Baraitser rejected his legal team’s request for more time to gather evidence, telling Assange his next case management hearing would take place on December 19, before a full extradition hearing in February.

Assange’s lawyer Mark Summers also claimed the US had invaded his client’s legal privilege.

“The American state has been actively engaged in intruding into privileged discussions between Mr Assange and his lawyers in the embassy, also unlawful copying of their telephones and computers — hooded men breaking into offices,” he said.

Assange used WikiLeaks to publish classified military and diplomatic files in 2010 about US bombing campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq that proved highly embarrassing to the US government.

He has been making periodic appearances by video-link at administrative hearings as he tries to prove that he is no longer a flight risk and can be set free on bail due to poor health.

He recently served his term for violating his bail terms, when he sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012, but is still in custody while his extradition case is ongoing.

Around 50 supporters gathered outside the court, chanting “free Julian Assange”, led by a man with loudspeaker.

One supporter was dressed as a whistle, holding a sign saying “protect journalists, publishers, whistleblowers”.

The small courtroom was also packed with his backers, including journalist John Pilger and former London mayor Ken Livingstone.

AFP

Canada Extradites Mother, Uncle To India Over Killing

Canada’s flag

 

Canada has extradited the mother and uncle of a woman killed 19 years ago to face justice in India for their alleged roles in her honor killing, media said Thursday.

The body of Jaswinder Kaur Sidhu was found with her throat slit in June 2000 in Punjab state. She was 25 years old at the time of her death.

Her uncle Surjit Singh Badesha and mother Malkit Kaur Sidhu, both Canadian citizens of Indian origin, have been accused by Indian authorities of planning her murder.

Indian prosecutors have said the pair furiously opposed the young woman’s marriage to a poor rickshaw driver, which the victim had kept secret for a year.

After revealing her marriage to her family, the victim reportedly flew from Canada to India to reunite with her husband, Mithu Sidhu.

The couple was later attacked as they rode a scooter in a village near Sangrur, Punjab in June 2000. Her husband was severely beaten and left for dead while Sidhu was kidnapped and later killed.

The slain woman’s mother and uncle allegedly paid a Punjab police officer to hire the attackers.

Seven men were eventually convicted of the crime in India, but several of those convictions were overturned on appeal.

The family has denied involvement in the killing and fought extradition all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled against them in 2017.

A last-ditch effort to avoid extradition by claiming abuse of process failed last December.

Inspector Amardeep Singh Rai with Punjab police told Canadian public broadcaster CBC the extradition process took an unusually long time, but the two suspects landed in Delhi Thursday morning local time.

The lengthy effort, he said, will “send a clear message … anybody committing a crime here, especially the heinous crime of killing their own daughter, will be brought to book.”

The pair are scheduled to appear in court on Friday.

AFP

Ex-Burkina Faso Leader’s Brother Faces Extradition

Francois Compaore, brother of the deposed Burkinabe president Blaise Compaore, looks on during a summit in Ouagadougou. Ahmed OUOBA / AFP

 

A French court on Wednesday approved the extradition of the brother of Burkina Faso’s ousted leader Blaise Compaore to face prosecution in his homeland over the murder of a journalist.

Francois Compaore, who was arrested in Paris in October last year over the 1998 killing of investigative journalist Norbert Zongo in Burkina Faso, could still challenge the decision by the Court of Appeal in a higher court.

He was one of the most disliked figures in the regime of Blaise Compaore, who was ousted in a popular revolt in October 2014 after trying to change the constitution to extend his 27-year grip on power.

Francois Compaore is wanted on charges of “inciting the death” of Zongo and three companions, whose charred bodies were found in a burnt-out car in the south of the country in December 1998.

Zongo’s family have long accused Francois Compaore of having had a hand in the killings, which triggered mass protests in Burkina Faso and drew international condemnation.

Compaore’s lawyers argued against his extradition saying the charges he faces do not exist in France and warned he could face the death penalty.

AFP

No Extradition Request For Assange, Says Ecuador

 

Ecuador said Wednesday it has received no extradition request for Julian Assange, which his lawyers have long cited as the reason the WikiLeaks founder has refused to leave its London embassy.

“We have told Mr Assange: ‘Up to now, as far as we know, there is no extradition request from any country,'” Foreign Minister Jose Valencia told state-owned Radio Public.

The 47-year-old Australian has been holed up at Ecuador’s embassy since 2012, but Ecuador has shown increasing signs in recent months that it is preparing to terminate his six-year stay.

Valencia said the cost of hosting Assange so far had come to around six million dollars.

Assange fears being extradited to the United States to face charges over the WikiLeaks website’s release of troves of sensitive US government files.

He found refuge in the embassy in London after a British judge ruled he should be extradited to face allegations of sexual assault in Sweden.

That case has since been dropped, but Britain still wants him to face justice over breaching his bail conditions following his arrest on the sexual assault allegations.

His lawyer Carlos Poveda said last month Assange was prepared to surrender to British police if he receives assurances he will not be extradited.

“What England asks of him is to appear before the British courts to answer for having broken the conditions of his provisional release,” the foreign minister said.

“We do not see the British changing their point of view, they continue to insist that he appear before the courts and that they will not give him safe passage to another country,” said Valencia.

Ecuador said it had been informed by Britain that the penalty for violating parole conditions would not be more than six months.

Assange is currently suing Ecuador on grounds that his rights were violated by its decision to restrict his internet access. An Ecuadoran court threw out the lawsuit last week, but Assange is appealing.

Quito confirmed blocking Assange’s internet and mobile phone access in March after accusing him of breaking “a written commitment” not to interfere in Ecuador’s foreign policies.

A protocol governing Assange’s stay at the embassy — revealed by Ecuadoran internet site Codigo Vidrio and never denied by Quito — warns that further breaches will lead to “termination of asylum.”

AFP

German Prosecutor Requests Puigdemont Extradition To Spain

Spain Prosecutors Say Immunity Won't Save Ex-Catalan Leader From Arrest
FILE COPY Catalonia’s ousted regional president Carles Puigdemont (C) holds his first post-election meeting for members of his parliamentary group in Brussels.
JOHN THYS / AFP

 

German prosecutors said Tuesday that they have requested a court’s permission to extradite Catalonia’s ousted president Carles Puigdemont on a rebellion charge following his arrest last month.

“The prosecutor’s office of Schleswig-Holstein state applied for an extradition arrest warrant against former Catalonian regional president Carles Puigdemont from the superior regional court,” it said in a statement.

AFP

Those Asking For Extradition Of Diezani Are Ignorant, Says Buhari’s Aide

Lauretta Onochie

The Personal Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, has said those seeking the extradition of former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, “are very ignorant”.

Onochie’s reaction is coming after the Concerned Nigerians group led by musician, Charles Oputa, popularly called Charly Boy, on Monday took its protest to the headquarters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), demanding the extradition of the former Minister Of Petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

The Presidential aide on Tuesday, in series of tweets, said those seeking the extradition of Diezani from the United Kingdom to face corruption charges  “did not do their homework at all and that is mumu-ness in itself.”

In her Tweets, she explained that foreigners are not charged in the United Kingdom for crimes committed in their home country or other countries.

“The United Kingdom does not charge foreigners for crimes committed in other countries. They charge them for crimes committed against UK,” she said.

Also, Onochie claimed she was present in court during the sentencing of former Delta State governor, Mr James Ibori, in the United Kingdom.

According to her, the judge made it clear during the ruling that the sentence was for crimes the former governor committed in the UK only.

“In Ibori’s case in the UK. I was in the court for the judgement and the judge made it clear that his sentence was for crimes in the UK.

“UK will have its pound of Diezani’s flesh in form of jail sentence. Thereafter, they may hand her over to the US, Italy and then Nigeria,” some of her tweets read.

Alison-Madueke, who is being investigated over corruption allegations is currently in the United Kingdom.

The Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos, also on Monday, ordered the final forfeiture of a sum of N7,646,700,000 allegedly belonging to the former minister.

 

Disgraced Ex-Governor Arrives In Mexico After Extradition

A former state governor from Mexico’s ruling party wanted for embezzlement and organised crime arrived in Mexico City after being extradited from Guatemala on Monday, the Mexican government said.

Javier Duarte, who until last year governed the Gulf coast state of Veracruz for President Enrique Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), is suspected of syphoning off millions of dollars during his tenure. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Elected governor in 2010, Duarte allegedly executed massive personal enrichment schemes, potentially totalling in the hundreds of millions of dollars and involving assets in Mexico and abroad. He has been accused of using shell companies to transfer and hide public funds.

Duarte was arrested in Guatemala in April after more than five months on the run, and the foreign ministry and the attorney general’s office said in a joint statement that the extradition of the former PRI official had been completed. Corruption is shaping up to be one of the focal points of next year’s presidential election, with opinion polls showing the PRI is seriously at risk of being voted out of office.

We Won’t Extradite Kashamu Until Court Cases Are Resolved – AGF, NDLEA

NDLEA Parades 14 Drug Suspects In KogiThe Ministry of Justice and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency have said that Senator Buruji Kashamu will not be extradited to the United States to face drug charges until all court actions in respect of his extradition are resolved.

The two Federal Government agencies indicated this position in the court processes they filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja.

Kashamu, who represents Ogun West in the Senate, had dragged the two agencies before the court on the allegation that they were planning to forcefully kidnap and extradite him to the US for trial in drug-related offences.

However, at the resumed hearing of the matter, Kashamu told Justice Gabriel Kolawole through his counsel, Akin Olujimi that the AGF and NDLEA have agreed not to extradite him until all court actions on the issue have been resolved.

Olujimi said that in view of the assurances from the two parties, there was no need to pursue any court action against them at the Federal High Court.

He applied to Justice Kolawole to grant him leave to withdraw the suit against the AGF and NDLEA in view of the assurances not to extradite him to the U.S. until all cases are fully resolved.

The counsel told the judge that both parties would now go back to the court of appeal to continue with the appeal cases that emanated from the refusal of the Federal High Court to grant the extradition request.

Ex-MD Of Mint Company Appeals Extradition Order

Court JusticeLess than a day after an order for extradition to the UK was granted, the embattled former Managing Director of Nigeria Security Minting and Printing Company, Mr Ehidiamhem Okoyomon, has approached the Court of Appeal in Abuja Division, seeking an order to set aside the verdict of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

He also prayed the court for a stay of execution of the order to stop any possible attempt by the Nigerian government to whisk him away to the United Kingdom.

In a Notice of Appeal filed by his counsel, Alex Izinyon, the lawyer contended that the trial Judge of the Federal High Court erred in law when he ordered the extradition of the appellant to Great Britain to stand criminal trial, on the grounds that there is no subsisting Act of the National Assembly or treaty between Nigeria and Great Britain upon which the decision of the court was premised.

A Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday approved the extradition of Mr Okoyomon to the United Kingdom to face charges of bribery and corruption.

Justice Evoh Chukwu ordered that Mr Okoyomon should be extradited within 30 days to the Untied Kingdom for the trial.

Mr Okoyomon is wanted in the United Kingdom over his alleged role in the bribery involving officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Nigerian Security and Minting Company and Security International Party of Australia.

He had approached the court to stop his extradition to the United Kingdom to face charges of corruption.

Court Okays Extradition Of Former Printing And Minting Boss

courtA Federal High Court in Abuja has approved the extradition of a former Managing Director of the Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Company, Mr Ehidiamhem Okoyomon, to the United Kingdom to face charges of bribery and corruption.

Justice Evoh Chukwu on Monday ordered that Mr Okoyomon should be extradited within 30 days to the Untied Kingdom for the trial.

Mr Okoyomon is wanted in the United Kingdom over his alleged role in the bribery involving officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Nigerian Security and Minting Company and Security International Party of Australia.

He had approached the court to stop his extradition to the United Kingdom to face charges of corruption.

Power To Extradite

Operatives of the economic and crimes commission led him into a waiting security vehicle after the court’s decision.

In his judgment, Justice Chukwu held that there was a treaty agreement between Nigeria and the United Kingdom and since the treaty was valid and applicable in Nigeria the Federal Government had the power to extradite the accused person.

Justice Chukwu held that all legal procedures were properly followed by Nigeria’s Justice Minister, with the placement of certified true copy of letter of indictment of the accused and letter of request for his extradition from the British High Commissioner before the court, as stipulated by the law.

He said Mr Okoyomon did not challenge all issues of corruption levelled against him by the documents from the United Kingdom, meaning that he accepted the allegation brought against him.

The Judge further pointed out that no Nigerian court would willingly surrender it’s citizen to any country for trial, “but in this case, Okoyomon is a British citizen, as such there is nothing wrong in his extradition to his country for trial”.

After the decision of the court, the counsel to Mr Okoyomon, Chike Ekeocha, said his client would explore other means to stop his extradition.

With the ruling, the Federal Government can, within the next 30 days, extradite the former boss of the Nigerian Securities Minting and Printing Company to the United Kingdom to answer charges against him.