Jeremy Hunt’s new press freedom envoy Amal Clooney advised WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on how to sabotage the Government’s bid to arrest him, leaked documents have revealed.
In her role as a human rights lawyer, Mrs Clooney told Assange, 47, he was ‘uniquely qualified’ to become technology minister of Ecuador, in whose London embassy he was holed up for seven years.
The bizarre legal ruse could have won him the right to a safe passage out of Britain so he could avoid being jailed for breaching bail conditions imposed as he fought extradition to Sweden, she said.
The revelation will be embarrassing for the Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who appointed Mrs Clooney as his special envoy in April.
Mrs Clooney, wife of Hollywood star George Clooney, became Assange’s lawyer after he fled British justice in 2012 and sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in Knightsbridge. He was dragged out by Scotland Yard officers in April and now faces jail in the US, which is seeking to have him extradited on espionage charges. He also faces sex assault charges in Sweden.
The leak of Mrs Clooney’s bizarre legal advice came as she was star speaker at the Global Conference for Media Freedom hosted by Mr Hunt in London yesterday. Others attending included anti-corruption journalist Anas Aremeyaw from Ghana, who hides his face behind a veil following threats to his life.
Assange’s arrest earlier this year came after a secret operation by Mr Hunt in collaboration with the Ecuadorian authorities. At the time the Foreign Secretary said Assange was ‘no hero’, adding: ‘It is not acceptable for someone to escape facing justice and he has tried to do that for a very long time.’
The Daily Mail has seen a 29-page document drawn up by Mrs Clooney for Assange in September 2013 setting out in detail how he could avoid arrest in Britain.
It includes the extraordinary suggestion that even though he is Australian and has no ties to the country, he could be made Ecuador’s technology minister, giving him diplomatic immunity, as his expertise in computer hacking meant he had the qualifications.
He could claim he had ‘rendered important services to Ecuador as an “award-winning communications professional internationally known for his struggle for press freedom and human rights in general and [exposing] abuses of power in certain countries” ’, the document notes. Mrs Clooney wrote: ‘It may be legally possible for JA [Assange] to be appointed to an Ecuadorian ministerial or diplomatic post. This could give him immunity from arrest and right of passage out of the UK.’
She pointed out that the perks of being an Ecuadorian diplomat include being exempt from tax. Marrying an Ecuadorian woman would be another way of gaining an Ecuadorian passport. Assange’s arrest in April came after the Ecuadorian government ended his asylum status, saying it was tired of his ‘discourteous’ behaviour and poor personal hygiene, which reportedly included smearing faeces on the walls.
Officers dragged the bearded and dishevelled Assange to a police van. He was charged by the US government with hacking 750,000 classified documents, an offence carrying a five-year sentence. He also faces spying charges.
Assange sought refuge in the embassy in 2012 after losing a battle to avoid extradition to Sweden over two allegations of sexual assault. His seven-year stay left UK taxpayers to foot a £13million bill for surveillance and policing.
Mrs Clooney appeared to end her links with him in the run up to the 2016 US Presidential election.
Reports linked it to damaging WikiLeaks-inspired revelations about private emails sent by Donald Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton. Mr Clooney is a long time supporter of the Clintons.
Source: Daily Mail