Why won’t Theresa May just say clearly if she intends to allow Sweden to extradite Assange to USA?


Interesting article in the Guardian: Julian Assange, and the Ecuadorian government (in whose London embassy Assange has taken refuge for the past five weeks),have no problem per se with extradition to Sweden to face rape allegations. Ecuador, which wants to be an “honest broker” in this matter, is concerned that Sweden will go on to send Assange to the US where he faces possible charges of espionage and a natural life prison sentence for his role in Wikileaks’ publication of “top secret” diplomatic dispatches. Assange’s US lawyer, Michael Ratner, has said he was certain Assange had already either been secretly indicted by a grand jury in Washington or would face extradition with a view to prosecution. He believed the death penalty remained a possibility – which is a major reason why Ecuador opposes the extradition.

According to the Guardian article, there is a concept in extradition law called “specialty”: this means that if the UK extradite Assange to Sweden, the Swedes will not be allowed to extradite him to a third country (such as the USA) once they’ve finished with him – they will have to give him a 45 day grace period during which time he will be allowed to travel somewhere else (perhaps Ecuador). However, specialty can be waived by the country granting the initial extradition request – in this case the UK – thereby allowing an individual to be extradited to a third country. If home secretary Theresa May waives specialty under section 58 of the Extradition Act 2003, Sweden will be able to extradite Assange to the USA.

Assange is willing to be extradited to Sweden if specialty is not waivered. But the British government refuses to make this commitment. Instead they keep coming out with non-committal statements like:

Since Mr Assange first entered the Ecuadorean embassy five weeks ago, we have repeatedly made clear to the Ecuadorean government that the UK has a binding legal obligation to extradite Mr Assange to Sweden to face questioning over allegations of sexual offences. We have been seeking a diplomatic solution and expect Ecuador to resolve this issue in accordance with its international obligations.

The UK courts, including the supreme court, have confirmed that Mr Assange’s extradition to Sweden complies with all the requirements of the UK’s Extradition Act, including as regards the protection of his human rights. We have gone to great lengths to explain to Ecuador the human rights protections inherent in our law.

Britain usually refuses to extradite people to countries where there exists a possibility of cruel and unusual punishment – which includes the death sentence. Of course, if Assange is extradited to Sweden, this principle will have been upheld – Sweden has no plans to execute Assange. But if May waives specialty, she will effectively be sending him to the USA, where cruel and unusual punishment is a distinct possibility (remember, the USA would like to make an example of Assange, a foreigner whose own government doesn’t give a toss for – the US authorities can’t take action against the New York Times or the Guardian, the papers that actually published the leaked documents, because of how that would look in a country that supposedly prides itself on the “freedom of the press” – but destroying Assange would barely raise an eyebrow amongst Americans).

So come on May – tell Ecuador what your plans are regarding specialty in the Assange extradition case. Are you planning to have him sent on to the USA and possible execution? Or are you really just trying to abide by your legal obligations to Sweden?

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Another 1200 soldiers deployed to fill G4S Olympics security shortfall


Well whaddayaknow… G4S, the private security company allegedly providing security for the upcoming London Olympics, still haven’t got enough properly trained staff in place, despite the fact they’ve had seven years to sort it out. So now 1200 personell mostly from the Royal Marines, and 16 Air Assault Brigade have been drafted in to make up for g4S’s appalling failures. I don’t know if their failure is going to hit G4S in the pocket; but it should.

I really don’t understand why G4S is one of the government’s favoured private sector security companies. But I can tell you this: if G4S win any of the upcoming contracts to provide privatised police or prison services after this cock-up, it will be plain to see that the ConDem “government” is rotten to the core. If G4S win contracts despite their all-too-obvious ineptitude, we’re gonna be looking to see who stands to benefit from such a ridiculous decision. Corruption in government is nothing new – but we’re talking about crucial security services at a time of terrorist alert. I don’t want my safety in the hands of the G4S cowboys… do you?

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They’re screwing up Olympic security… and now G4S want to run our prisons?!


This is completely insane. Security firm G4S won the nice juicy contract to run London Olympic security – which they’re messing up already, before the Games even start; they are possibly in the running to take over privatized police services in the West Midlands (though luckily the Olympic security fiasco has changed some minds over this); and now they are bidding to run 5 new privately-run prisons – a plum worth up to £2 billion!

Call me old-fashioned if you like, but I think services like policing and running prisons should not be run by companies whose only aim is to make a profit, We’ve seen how G4S works in the Olympics fiasco – they can’t employ the number of guards and trainers required, despite the fact they’ve had years to prepare for it, and now the Army are going to have to supply soldiers to do the work G4S have already been paid to do. If G4S win the bids to run prisons and police forces there will be at best Keystone Kops antics going on, at worst there’ll be carnage in the prisons and on the streets.

We need to make it clear to our “government” (wtf are the LibDems thinking of, going along with such insane policies?) that privatising the police would be madness, and G4S in particular should be kept away from anything to do with safety or security, be it private or public.

I also think G4S need to be looked at very carefully: why do the government continue to consider them for these roles? Is someone in government getting kickbacks from this? FFS, when will government corruption ever end?

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British police can kill whoever they feel like killing – no one’s going to punish them


PC Simon Harwood, a member of the Met’s infamous “Territorial Support Group”, is a killer.  Nothing libellous about that claim: he dodged the bullet that was the charge of the manslaughter of Ian Tomlinson during the G20 demo in London (and remember, Tomlinson was not a demonstrator but merely a member of the public trying to get home after a day’s work), but the jury for the inquest into Tomlinson’s death found that he’d been “unlawfully killed” by the police officer – and the inquest jury came to this conclusion after seeing and hearing evidence just like that used in the subsequent trial.  So PC Harwood is a killer, who unlawfully killed Ian Tomlinson by way of a cowardly attack from behind.  Coward and killer – I foresee a successful career for him in the police.  How come he hasn’t been promoted yet?

Of course, Harwood is just one of a great many police officers who have killed people and gotten away with it scott free.  According to a Guardian article today, no police officer has been convicted of manslaughter for a crime committed while on duty since 1986, though since then hundreds have died in police custody or soon after contact with the police.  It was only because of Tomlinson’s family’s tenacity, the accumulation of evidence against Harwood and, perhaps most crucially, the video of the attack made by an American tourist, that Harwood was taken to court. And still he got away with it.  Many many people have been killed by the police, but these slayings are never even investigated, never mind prosecuted.  In her piece for the Guardian, Nadine El-Enany goes on:

Harwood’s actions were not exceptional. Not only have hundreds died in police custody, but also police violence at public events is commonplace, most recently during the student demonstrations of 2010, during which anti-fees protesters were charged at by officers on horses, atacked with batons and kettled late into the night. In a statement today, Defend the Right to Protest has highlighted the importance of “supporting all those in their struggle to hold the police accountable for their actions, whether on demonstrations, in our communities or in custody”.

Until the pyschopaths and thugs, potential killers, or actual killers like Harwood, are sacked from the force, until the police abandon such brutal forms of crowd control tactics like kettling, and accept that the right to free assembly and to demonstrate are clear-cut human rights, trust in the police will continue to fall. How can we trust and respect people like Harwood to defend us?

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Police officer Harwood gets away with killing Ian Tomlinson


I’d like to say I’m surprised, but I’m not.  Police officers in Britain get away with this kind of thing all the time. No police officer has been found guilty of manslaughter in 25 years, despite hundreds of cases in which families have alleged wrongdoing. The “Independent” Police Complaints Commission initially refused to look into the allegation against Harwood – a serious allegation that a cop had killed someone – and it changed its mind only after the Guardian released video footage, recorded by a US businessman, showing Tomlinson being struck with a baton and pushed to the ground by a police officer. An IPCC report found its investigators had not been told about three police witnesses who, it was discovered 48 hours after Tomlinson’s death, confirmed they saw a colleague strike the news seller with a baton and push him to the ground (obvious cover-up… but by the IPCC or the Met? Or both?) There’s also the fact that Harwood has a very bad history of misconduct (not revealed to the jury until after the verdict).  This history includes the fact that Harwood retired from the Met “on health grounds” in 2001, shortly before a planned disciplinary hearing into claims that while off-duty he illegally tried to arrest a man in a road rage incident, altering notes retrospectively to justify his action – then the Met let him join up again making him a member of the infamous Territorial Support Group.

But hey, I’m just going over old ground here – read the Guardian’s excellent coverage here.

One more thing I have to mention here though: last year, after hearing similar evidence, an inquest jury ruled that Tomlinson was “unlawfully killed” by a police officer. They did so on the same standard of proof – beyond reasonable doubt. Neither jury was told about Harwood’s chequered disciplinary background.  So what’s that all about? If Harwood “unlawfully killed” Tomlinson but it wasn’t manslaughter… then surely that means it was murder? But I’m not a lawyer,so wtf do I know?

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Official: It’s okay to call people “black cunts”.


Interesting verdict in the John Terry/Anton Ferdinand “racial abuse case”. Apparently it’s okay to call a black person a “fucking black cunt” if you don’t mean it to be racially abusive.

So, I assume, if you call a police officer a “fucking black cunt” whilst smiling jovially, or call London-based chief magistrate chief magistrate Howard Riddle a “paedophile rapist” in a “non-offensive” manner, you’re okay legally. That’s certainly what I got from Riddle’s judgement: you can call people all sorts of offensive, racist, goddess-only-knows names it there’s no undeniable evidence that the name “wasn’t used offensively”(?????)

Final words from me on this verdict (hopefully): if you wanna call someone something really nasty, make sure you’re smiling, FFS.

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G4S couldn’t provide decent security for a children’s party, never mind the London Olympics


It looks like G4S, the private security firm entrusted with the security of the London Olympics, is making a right pig’s ear of the job. In the Guardian, we are told how rushed, unprepared, and potentially insecure G4S’s recruitment is proving to be. Robert Brown, a former police sergeant who retired after 30 years service with Kent police and who has has grade one private security qualifications and has worked for the Home Office, advising on covert operations, after he left the police, described how G4S got back to him in February, even though he’d applied back in November; then he went through a farcical training programme. He told the Guardian:

“The instructors had been given a script that they had to stick to, and if you asked a question, they would not be able to give you an answer. The training was very basic and minimal. Having undergone their training I realised that they only wanted cheap labour

“They were trying to process hundreds of people and we had to fill out endless forms. It was totally chaotic and it was obvious to me that this was being done too quickly and too late,” Brown said.””My great worry was this was being done before the vetting process had been completed.”

If vetting is as chaotic as the so-called “training”, there is the possibility that some kind of terrorist attack might be made during proceedings. But G4S care? I don’t know.

But I do know that Surrey Police care about G4S’s seeming incompetence. Some time ago I wrote a post about the possibility of police services being privatised, with G4S one of the main contenders. Well, I’m pleased to inform you that the Surrey Police have scrapped the idea

Surrey police authority decided on Thursday to suspend its involvement in the £1.5bn joint “business partnership programme” with the West Midlands police after a discussion in which the failure of G4S to deliver on Olympics security was cited as a factor [my emphasis]

So at least something good has come about this fiasco. Let’s just hope G4S’s inept and chaotic operation doesn’t result in something tragic happening.

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Londoners will be acceptable losses in Olympic terrorist strikes


The Israelis and US/UK armed forces have often said it’s the insurgents’ fault if civilians die in air strikes. The argument is that the insurgents deliberately put their headquarters/rocket launcher sites/whatever in civilian areas, effectively using the innocents as human shields. The Brits/Yanks/Israelis see such civilian deaths as acceptable collateral damage.

And now the British government have decided to adopt similar tactics. Surface-to-air missile launchers have been installed on the roof of Fred Wigg Tower, a block of council flats in London, to help defend the Olympics from possible terrorist attack. Now, missile launchers are seen as legitimate military targets. So it’s not beyond the bounds of belief to suppose that someone might want to attack the launchers – which would probably result in the deaths of the civvies who live in the block. The concerned residents went to court to try and get a judicial review on this matter: but Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said that although the residents had expressed “shock, anxiety and worry” on the matter, they had no legal recourse to get the weapons repositioned.

The defence secretary was under no statutory duty to consult the residents, although an impact assessment had been carried out and the tenants’ human rights taken into consideration. Residents had no legitimate expectation that they would be consulted on issues involving the defence of the realm and national security. [The Guardian, Tuesday 10 July]

So I would recommend that the residents of Fred Wigg Tower stay with friends for the duration of the Games. Have a nice summer! 😉

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Tomlinson killer “held his head in his hands” when he saw himself on video.


Simon Harwood, the copper who killed innocent non-rioter Ian Tomlinson in London on the day of the G20 protests in 2009, “held his head in his hands” when showed video footage of his unprovoked attack, and said to his boss “I think it’s me.”

So why was Harwood so distraught?  Was it because he only then realised that he was the police officer who attacked Tomlinson, from behind, completely unprovoked?  Or was it because he knew the game was over – here was undeniable proof that he was the killer – and now he was likely to have to face the music?  I bet cops everywhere hate the fact that advanced video technology has become so affordable – whenever a cop crosses the line, he can’t be sure that someone’s shooting it for posterity.

Isn’t it odd that Harwood wrote in his notebook that during the demo he had used his baton sparingly and only to defend himself and to prevent rioting… yet here is video footage showing him strike Ian Tomlinson in the back of the legs then shove him forcibly to the ground when Tomlinson was walking away from him?  Inspector Williams was asked at length by Mark Dennis QC, prosecuting, whether it was proper police procedure to strike or shove a protester who might be walking away from police lines. All Williams could come up with was that it depended on the situation. “It’s very hard to answer a hypothetical situation,” he said.

Come on, Williams… tell us how it can ever be right to attack an innocent man from behind when that man is clearly cooperating with the police and walking away from their lines.  If  Harwood gets found not guilty for this, I predict another wave of rioting – specifically anti-police rioting.

Simon Harwood, the cop who attacked Ian Tomlinson shortly before his death

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