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"It's Paris's turn to defend him": French MP raised the issue of granting political asylum to Assange

French MP Jean Lassalle asked the country's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian about the possibility of granting political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. This is stated in the request of the parliamentarian sent to the head of the Foreign Ministry. So, in the address of Lassalle, with the text of which RT got acquainted, it is noted that France has a law on the protection of whistleblowers, but in the situation with an Australian journalist, Paris is "silent." Experts believe that there is little chance of granting asylum to Assange in France, since such a step could affect the republic's relations with the United States.

Jean Lassalle, a member of the French National Assembly, has asked the country's foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, about the possibility of granting political asylum to the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange.

This is stated in the request of the deputy to the head of the republic's foreign affairs agency.

"Mr. Jean Lassalle asks the Minister for European and International Relations about the prospects for Julian Assange to receive political asylum in France," the document reads RT.

Lassalle recalled that France has a law on the protection of whistleblowers, but Paris continues to "remain silent" in the Assange case, which is being held in the British Belmarsh prison under conditions of "harassment, isolation and surveillance that cannot be justified by his status as a prisoner."

"France is among the top ten EU countries that have adopted a law on the protection of whistle-blowers, and in this context it is a driving force within European structures, and also advocates an instrument that could provide the broadest possible protection of whistleblowers from reprisals," added the MP .

Recall that last year the European Parliament approved a directive on the protection of whistleblowers and their assistants.

In particular, the initiative provided for a ban on retaliation against a whistleblower and did not allow cases of temporary suspension of an employee who reported a violation from work or his demotion.

“The new rules ... set new standards across the European Union.

Their goal is to protect whistleblowers who uncover violations of EU law in a wide range of areas, including public procurement, financial services, money laundering, product and transport safety, nuclear safety, public health, consumer and data protection, "the EP said in a press release. ...

The directive entered into force on December 16, 2019 - this obliged the EU states to bring their national legislation in line with the document by December 17, 2021.

The burden of partnership

In his request, Lassalle also recalled that the transition period following Brexit, during which EU norms continue to apply to the UK, will come to an end on December 31 of this year.

In this regard, a number of treaties “uniting two countries” - Great Britain and France - will lose their force, the deputy noted.

This circumstance, according to Lassalle, will create certain difficulties in terms of Assange's extradition to the European Union.

"With the exit of Great Britain from the European Union, the petition of Assange's lawyers for extradition to another country - a member of the EU will not be possible," the parliamentarian explained.

Against this background, French diplomatic efforts remain the "last hope" for Assange and his relatives, Lassalle said.

“In the past, Julian Assange has been of great value to France and the cause of defending free speech in the world.

Today it is France's turn to protect him, ”the MP added.

Recall that in 2015, the French media, together with WikiLeaks, published materials about the secret surveillance of the US National Security Agency of French politicians and businessmen.

Moreover, this data appeared against the background of already existing information that the American special services were listening to the telephone conversations of the former presidents of France - Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande.

According to international lawyer Timur Marshani, Paris is unlikely to grant asylum to Assange, as this will negatively affect relations with the United States.

In this regard, the appeals of the members of the French parliament are rather of a declarative nature, says Marshani.

"Attempts to ensure the security of Assange on its territory ... will be only oral declarations and statements that do not have any basis, because France understands that the United States is their strategic partner in NATO," the expert said in a conversation with RT.

Assange's lawyer Eric Dupont-Moretti raised the issue of granting his client political asylum in France, including on the basis that "some of the WikiLeaks structures are located" in the country.

Also, according to Dupont-Moretti, one of Assange's children lives in France with his mother.

Meanwhile, in 2015, the founder of WikilLeaks already approached François Hollande, then President of France, with a request to grant him asylum.

In his letter, Assange noted that his "life is in danger."

Nevertheless, Paris responded to Assange with a refusal - the whistleblower called the decision of the French authorities "a stab in the back."

In general, the situation in which Assange found himself has little chance of a positive outcome, says Stanislav Byshok, executive director of the CIS-EMO monitoring organization.

He suggested that Assange "will either spend the rest of his days in the UK," where he is currently, or be extradited to the United States, where he could face the same fate.

"The issue of reputational risks"

Australian-born journalist Julian Assange rose to prominence in 2006 with the creation of WikiLeaks, a resource for publishing classified documents.

In 2010, a video appeared on the whistleblower's website depicting the US Air Force's operation in Iraq, which led to the death of civilians.

After that, the pursuit of Assange began.

In Sweden, where the journalist himself was at that time, a criminal case was opened against him on charges of harassment and rape.

Assange did not admit his guilt in committing the crimes - the journalist emphasized the political motivation of the persecution.

The whistleblower later went to London, where he was arrested, but was soon released on bail pending the consideration of Stockholm's extradition request.

In 2011, a British court ruled to extradite Assange to Sweden, from where he could later be extradited to the United States.

However, already in 2012, he received political asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in the UK, where he remained until last spring, when the diplomatic mission handed the journalist over to the British police.

Subsequently, a British court sentenced Assange to 11 months in prison - he was found guilty of violating the conditions of bail.

According to the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova, the world community qualified the situation with the whistleblower as a blow to the institution of investigative journalism, free and independent media.

"Such punitive measures against a journalist in the 21st century are absolutely unacceptable practice and a total shame for the Western countries involved in this, which consider themselves democratic and free," the diplomat said.

Assange's case has also been criticized on several occasions in various international, human rights and public organizations.

The UK is currently preparing for a trial scheduled for January 4, 2021.

On this day, the court is expected to announce the decision to extradite Assange to the United States, where, according to various sources, the whistleblower faces up to 180 years in prison.

As Timur Marshani noted, Assange's extradition is a matter of principle for the United States.

“This is a matter of reputational risks, which are of primary importance for the United States and American intelligence services today.

The most important, fundamental interest of the United States is to bring Assange to justice in order to discourage others.

That is, to show by his example the inviolability of the institutions for protecting the national state interests of the United States in ensuring the security of information, "the expert clarified in an interview with RT.

At the same time, Marshani doubted that the issue of extradition would be resolved in the near future.

According to the lawyer, this is a rather lengthy process, which, probably, "will continue for more than one year."

In turn, the expert of the International Institute for Humanitarian and Political Research, Vladimir Bruter, expressed the opinion that British justice is not completely objective in the situation with Assange.

"British justice, like all Western justice, is very politicized - it does not issue exculpatory decisions in a situation where there is a political order, and the situation with Assange is just that," the interlocutor of RT explained.

According to him, the pause taken by London in the Assange case could be caused by the presidential elections in the United States.

In the short term, the expert believes, the British leadership will establish contact with the new American administration in order to "decide the fate of Assange."

“The Americans, of course, want to see him at home.

We will find out how much the new administration will be interested in this, but the main thing for all of them is to arrange the situation in such a way that the decision made does not look like a political one, ”concluded Bruter.

Teller Report

"It's Paris's turn to defend him": French MP raised the issue of granting political asylum to Assange

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