The trials of the creator of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, and of international terrorist Luis Posada Carriles began with less than a 24-hour difference on January 10 and 11.
One took place in London and the other in El Paso, Texas.
While the champion of freedom of information, Assange, was being accused by US officials of the very serious crime of terrorism, the confessed terrorist, Posada, was simply tried for immigration law violations.
The ANSA news agency reported that the request of extradition made by Sweden for Assange over “sexual molestation” allegations, was transferred from a court in the centre of London to Belmarsh Magistrates' Court.
Belmarsh Magistrates' Court specialises in terrorism issues and is annexed to a maximum security prison, rebaptised years ago by the BBC as “The British Guantanamo”.
The court scheduled Assange’s extradition hearing for February 7-8.
US officials, who have labeled Assange a “high-tech terrorist”, are investigating which laws the US may be able to use to charge Assange.
Assange’s legal team has expressed concern that his extradition to Sweden is a step towards his extradition to the US.
Posada, meanwhile, will continue to be free on bail when he appears in the US. He will face a judge who acquitted him in a first trial and who openly expressed her sympathy for him in a courtroom full of followers, many of them with a terrorist past.
Posada is a former CIA agent who served as an instructor of explosives, a torturer, a police captain, a hired assassin and a terrorist.
Posada is implicated in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed all 73 civilian passengers. He escaped from a Venezuelan jail in 1985, where he was awaiting trial over the bombing.
In 2005, Posada illegally entered the United States. Since then, Cuba and Venezuela have demanded Posada’s extradition from the US to face trial for his role in the atrocity.
The truth is that while in the case of Assange, the procedures have been sped up, skipping stages as much as possible after a series of tricks to silence the Australian man, in the case of Posada, there are ongoing maneuvers to draw out his case.
There have been dirty tricks to pressure Assange, sabotage WikiLeaks’ operations system, take away Assange’s income, recover the damning material leaked to WikiLeaks, and manipulate the material’s content.
As far as Posada is concerned, hundreds of texts have been written, books have been published and documentaries have been made about his criminal record.
On May 17, 2005, Posada was arrested for immigration violations near Miami and taken in a golf cart to a helicopter, “with every courtesy possible”, for his transfer to the offices of the Department of Homeland Security.
On April 1, 2005, Posada’s lawyer confirmed that his client — who illegally entered US territory on board a shrimp vessel owned by a kingpin of the Cuban-American mafia — would ask for asylum to stay in the country permanently.
Posada has received full support from the US government. This is in spite of the accusations of Posada’s role in the 1976 bombing, his arrest in Panama in 2000 over a plot to kill Cuban leader Fidel Castro, his public acknowledgment of his role in terrorist bombings against facilities in Havana in 1997 and his close links with terrorist networks.
On September 27, 2005, an immigration judge in Texas, following federal instructions, used the absurd testimony of an old accomplice of Posada to rule that he could not be deported to Venezuela.
Four months later, the Miami Herald cited what it called “fragments” of a statement by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Bureau. The statement said: “ICE is progressing in carrying out of the removal of Mr. Posada from the US.”
The White House — facing an international scandal over its treatment of a known terrorist — decided the best way to get rid of the “hot potato” of its former agent was to find him refuge outside US territory.
On January 27, 2006, US ambassador to Honduras Charles “Charlie” Ford, visited Honduran President Manuel Zelaya on the day of his inauguration to make an insolent request.
Zelaya later explained: “Ambassador Charles Ford came to ask me to grant a visa to Posada Carriles.
“It was impossible to give a visa to Luis Posada Carriles, since he was questioned for terrorist acts. [US officials] defend that kind of terrorism, I vouch for that.”
On April 2007, Posada Carriles was found not guilty of violating US immigration law. Back in Miami, he has not set foot in a detention centre since.
In March 2008, Caroline Wilson, in charge of legal affairs at the US mission to the United Nations, responded to Venezuelan and Cuban statements on Posada. Wilson said her country “had carefully followed the legal procedures in force in the case of Posada Carriles”.
“As happens in democracies in the world,” she said, “a person can’t be tried or extradited if there isn’t enough evidence that he committed the crime he’s accused of.”
In July 2008, then-US ambassador to Venezuela William Brownfield told Venezulean newspaper Panorama that the US had no intention whatsoever of putting Posada, its veteran agent, at the disposal of Venezuelan justice.
Brownfield said: “Mr. Luis Posada Carriles doesn’t represent an imminent danger for anybody.”
Ironically, a few days before Brownfield’s candid comments, sub-Secretary of State Thomas Shannon assured the Organisation of American States that the US Department of Justice was “still carrying out investigations” about Posada.
Assange was hastily taken from a minor court to another one that could lock him up for good in Britain. But the Venezuelan government is still waiting for an answer, more than five years later, to its extradition request for Posada.
Assange, the idealist demonised by major media outlets and persecuted by US agencies, will soon know how imperial justice gives a piece of its mind — with or without intermediaries.
Ignored by the media, Posada, the mercenary assassin, will keep evading laws. He will continue haunting the relatives of victims of his crimes, who have been devastated by the despicable and cowardly behaviour of those serving the empire.
[Abridged from Cubanradio.cu.]