Investigative journalist Stefania Maurizi, centre, at last weekend’s Media Freedom event in London
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) under Keir Starmer and the Swedish Prosecution Authority (SPA) destroyed or hid thousands of pages of evidence showing their correspondence in pursuit of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, an author and investigative journalist has found after years of legal action to enforce Swedish Freedom of Information Requests. The UN’s body on arbitrary detention has ruled Assange’s captivity wrongful.
Stefania Maurizi first published revelations six years ago of the extent of evidence destroyed – without proper explanation and outside normal procedure – by the CPS. Now, after eight years of ‘trench warfare’ with the authorities to uncover the truth, she writes that:
It is now clear that both of the authorities handling the Swedish case, the SPA and the CPS, destroyed a large part of their email exchanges. Why? What did those documents contain and on whose instructions were those materials destroyed? Now more than ever some sort of explanation is urgently needed, considering that the United States is currently acting through the Crown Prosecution Service itself in the extradition proceeding against Julian Assange.
The pages of correspondence between the two authorities that have disappeared appear to amount to thousands of pages. What is on record is that the CPS was very keen for Sweden to pursue its extradition of Assange, with a CPS official telling the Swedes not to ‘dare get cold feet’, even though they could have easily come to the UK to question Assange in now-dropped rape allegations that the supposed victims reportedly did not want to pursue anyway.
Maurizi writes that the allegations were used to undermine the left’s empathy for Assange, as a means of reducing opposition to the extradition to Sweden, from where Assange would almost certainly have been sent to the US, whose government wants to jail him for up to 175 years for revealing US war crimes.
The case against Assange should have been thrown out of court summarily last year when the US government’s main witness, an Icelandic hacker who had said Assange incited him to access US systems to obtain documents, admitted that he had been lying all along. Instead, the court rubber-stamped the extradition request and Assange is currently being held in Belmarsh high-security prison pending the exhaustion of all appeals.
The eagerness of the CPS to extradite Assange is not the first such case associated with Keir Starmer. The ‘Labour’ leader was Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), as he never tires of mentioning – but he was revealed to have flown personally to make a grovelling apology to the US government when then-PM Theresa May quashed the extradition of autistic hacker Gary McKinnon, which Starmer had personally guaranteed to his US counterpart.
The Assange case is also not the first time Starmer has been associated with destroyed or disappeared CPS documents. Starmer’s supporters have claimed that he played no role in the CPS’s decision, during his tenure as DPP, to ignore allegations against serial rapist Jimmy Savile.
However, the CPS said that documents relating to the decision not to pursue Savile were ‘not kept’ and claimed this was in line with its ‘data retention policy’. However, as Maurizi notes, the CPS has never produced any policy mandating such destruction of documents.
Starmer – who has been described as a ‘long-time servant of the British security state’ and is currently sheltering at least two alleged sex pests in his Shadow Cabinet – has himself declined to respond to requests to either deny or admit that he was involved.