Four British ministers refuse to say if they discussed Assange with US
The UK government's statements raise questions about the level of coordination with the US administration over the WikiLeaks founder's continued incarceration.
Declassified UK revealed in a report that four of the UK's most powerful government ministries have refused to say whether their officials have met with US authorities to discuss Julian Assange's case.
The Home Office, Cabinet Office, Foreign Office, and Ministry of Justice have all recently failed to inform parliament of any potential contact with their US counterparts on the issue of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, according to the report.
The refusals cast further doubt on the politicization of Assange's legal case. Britain is a member of the US-dominated "Five Eyes" intelligence alliance and is closely aligned with the US government, which is seeking Assange's extradition.
The High Court judge who approved Assange's extradition to the United States in December 2021 is a 40-year "good friend" of the foreign minister, Sir Alan Duncan, who orchestrated the arrest of the Australian journalist.
Assange has been held in London's Belmarsh maximum security prison for three and a half years. He could face a 175-year sentence if extradited. It would be the first time Britain sent a journalist and publisher to another country.
“The UK government routinely blocks, or obfuscates its answers to, information requests about the Assange case.”
The recent statements also raise the possibility that the departments are deceiving parliament, where questions about discussions between Whitehall officials and US authorities were raised.
The UK government routinely refuses or obfuscates its responses to information requests pertaining to the Assange case.
According to Declassified UK, the Home Office came forward to the parliament saying that it “routinely cooperates with international partners, including the US, on a range of issues involving judicial cooperation.” However, it refused to say whether it had spoken with the US about Assange, saying, "This specific case is subject to ongoing court proceedings, so we are unable to comment further."
The Cabinet Office similarly told parliament that its “officials routinely meet with US counterparts to discuss a range of issues, which may, in the past, have included Assange.” It added, “The Cabinet Office does not hold a central record of meetings between officials and their US counterparts.”
According to the report, seven Cabinet Office officials were involved in the secret police operation to remove Assange from the Ecuadorian Embassy, which was carried out in collaboration with US authorities.
This comes after fresh information revealed that at least 15 people were appointed by the UK government to the secret operation to seize WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
Although Assange was granted political asylum by Ecuador back in 2012, he was never allowed safe passage out of Britain since he was the target of prosecution by the US.