Would and should Germany grant asylum to Julian Assange? The star asked the German federal government, the parliamentary groups and a lawyer. These are their answers.
Two weeks ago, after years of tug-of-war, the British government approved the extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to the United States. Now Assange is appealing – and continuing to fight in a lonely position. However, he cannot expect any support from democratic countries in which freedom of the press is one of the greatest assets. Not even from Germany. According to Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s spokesman, the conditions for granting Assange asylum in Germany are not met. The Federal Government has kept silent, and the Chancellery left a stern inquiry unanswered. The same applies to the Christian Democrats and the AfD. The Greens did not respond to the questions from stern either, but referred to the Foreign Office in a written reply.
Annalena Baerbock had initially spoken out in favor of Assange’s release. At that time, when she was an opposition politician, she also spoke of serious violations of the European Convention on Human Rights. And now? Now Baerbock is Germany’s foreign minister, and her statements on the Assange case are becoming increasingly watered down. All that remains of the demands for his release are complicated phrases on the subject of the rule of law. A quality that is not only inherent in the Green politician.
FDP and SPD for humane treatment of Julian Assange
“Julian Assange is imprisoned in Great Britain on the basis of existing laws,” said the human rights spokeswoman for the FDP parliamentary group, Renata Alt, with the star. The British government must therefore ensure that prison conditions are appropriate. The same applies to the United States. “There is no doubt that the American authorities are aware of minimum rule-of-law standards and that they uphold compliance with them,” said Alt. However, Germany could not have a say in Assange’s extradition to the United States, “because the Federal Republic is neither involved nor part of the proceedings against Assange “. The traffic light government and the FDP parliamentary group in the German Bundestag would work against any restrictions on press freedom. Alt, however, left it open how.
The SPD parliamentary group sees itself similarly engaged. She is committed to “that Julian Assange is not extradited to the USA and treated in Great Britain in such a way that he does not suffer any damage to his health,” a spokesman said in writing when asked by Stern. And of course the SPD is also committed to protecting whistleblowers. “A legal process without damage to health is the least we demand.” Unlike the Liberals, the Social Democrats in the Bundestag say unequivocally: “If the only allegation is whistleblowing, Assange must be released. Otherwise the credibility of ‘the West’ human rights policy is at stake.” When asked whether Germany could and should grant Assange asylum, the group spokesman said that this had to be checked first.
Die Linke: “The traffic light must speak out loud for the protection of journalists”
The left-wing faction expressed itself much more impulsively. “It’s not who uncovers war crimes that belongs in court, but who commits or orders them,” wrote faction member Sevim Dagdelen. Together with three other members of the Bundestag from her party, she has campaigned against his extradition to the USA in a statement by the cross-party deputy working group “Freedom for Julian Assage”, which is available to stern. “He cannot expect a fair trial there (…) it is important that the traffic light government speaks out loud and clear against the extradition and for the protection of the journalist,” the written reply said. “The federal government should finally have the guts to offer Julian Assange political asylum in Germany as a concrete gesture of solidarity and defense of press freedom, thereby making it clear that journalism is not a crime,” demands Dagdelen on behalf of her parliamentary group. “The federal government’s cowardly ducking away shows a lack of sovereignty.”
Whether the federal government grants asylum “is a political question”
The Association of German Lawyers (VDJ) is also calling for Julian Assange to be recognized as a political refugee. The members describe imprisonment as “disproportionate”. Andreas Engelmann, lawyer and federal secretary of the VDJ, told stern: “It should be clear to the Federal Republic that the Basic Law is on the side of Julian Assange. It defends a free and courageous press that should not remain silent even when faced with those in power.” It is obvious to him that the US government is setting an example with the case for those who dare to report on US war crimes and torture. “Unfortunately, we apply the so-called ‘Western values’ to countries with which we are in geopolitical conflicts more often than we seriously measure ourselves or our partners by them. The balance sheet would probably not be as good as we are willing to admit.” , explains the legal expert.
If the German government does not stand up for Assange, this would mean that the persecution of journalists is only a problem if it happens in countries such as Syria or Russia. “That’s dangerous, because it would devalue the position of human rights and turn it into a political pawn. That would be exactly the double standard that Putin always accuses the ‘West’ of.” That is why, according to Engelmann, the federal government must be much more active right now.
According to the lawyer, the fact that Germany has not yet granted the Wikileaks founder asylum could be due to the fact that Assange is in a “safe third country”. This includes all countries that adhere to the Geneva Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights. In 1993, the CDU and SPD had made an asylum compromise. As a result, the right to asylum in Article 16a, Paragraph 1 of the Basic Law has been increasingly restricted and no longer extends to people in such “safe third countries,” explains Engelmann. However, that does not prevent the Federal Republic from giving Assange the status of a political refugee and granting him political asylum. “The legal options are there – whether they will be used is a political question.”