Francis Boyle, Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois pre-recorded this interview for the tenth Unity4J Vigil which took place on 30 December 2018.
Boyle spearheaded the campaign to defeat the U.S./U.K. Supplementary Extradition Treaty of 1986 by Maggie Thatcher which succeeded in ‘castrating’ the treaty, according to Boyle. After 9/11 2001 the British Government re-tendered the original Maggie Thatcher treaty to the Bush administration who accepted it in 2006. Boyle’s campaign failed to defeat it this time around but they did secure human rights protections for citizens of the United States under the treaty. The same protections, however, were not secured for those on the British side under the Tony Blair government. The British parliament subsequently enacted implementing legislation for the 2006 Treaty exactly as the government wrote it which was ‘completely totalitarian.’ The consequence for Julian Assange is it is going to be ‘very difficult’ for Assange’s lawyers to prevent that extradition.
What this has meant since is that U.S. requests to the U.K. for extradition are granted virtually automatically, with one recent exception, but due to the protections that were won on the U.S. side the extraditions don’t occur automatically. In Britain the decision is made by the Home Secretary. It’s a ‘purely political’ decision. In the U.S. one of the concessions won was the extradition decision is taken by a Federal District judge. It’s a legal decision. This illustrates the ‘danger facing Assange’ in Britain the ‘moment he steps out of that embassy’ said Boyle.
The recent exception to extradition requests by the U.S. being almost automatically granted by the U.K. is the case of Lauri Love. The ‘political dimensions’ of the Assange case however ‘do not compare’. The ‘political pressure’ on the British Supreme Court would be to ‘extradite Assange.’ The moment the U.K. have custody of Assange the U.S. can file extradition proceedings. Boyle advises Assange to ‘wait it out’ in the Ecuadorean embassy in the hope of a Labour government coming to power. At that stage a campaign could be ‘brought to bear’ on a Labour Home Secretary not to extradite Assange.
Boyle warns that if Assange ends up in the United States he would be subjected to a ‘clear-cut kangaroo court proceeding, found guilty, sentenced to life in prison’ and probably stuck away in one of these ‘supermax’ prisons that are designed to ‘drive the prisoners insane.’ He stresses Julian Assange is in ‘very serious physical and mental danger.’
‘My best advice’ says Boyle, ‘is keep him out of the United States.’