Here is a new myth about Guantanamo. The attorneys for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange claim that if Assange is extradited to Sweden he may end up detained in Cuba. The Guardian (UK) reports:
Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, could be at "real risk" of the death penalty or detention in Guantánamo Bay if he is extradited to Sweden on accusations of rape and sexual assault, his lawyers claim.
In a skeleton summary of their defence against attempts by the Swedish director of public prosecutions to extradite him, released today, Assange's legal team argue that there is a similar likelihood that the US would subsequently seek his extradition "and/or illegal rendition", "where there will be a real risk of him being detained at Guantánamo Bay or elsewhere".
Numerous other media outlets have picked up the WikiLeaks lawyers’ claims, too, but it simply isn’t true. There is precisely zero chance of Julian Assange ending up at Guantanamo. The lawyers’ claim does demonstrate once again, however, just how much ignorance there is concerning the facility.
Guantanamo is a military detention facility, not a prison or some other type of law enforcement center. It was always designed to house war on terror detainees, to keep men initially designated as enemy combatants off of the battlefield and to prevent them from otherwise aiding our terrorist enemies. The detainees held there were, in the majority of cases (with some exceptions), detained in Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of the jihadist coalition America and her allies face.
Julian Assange does not qualify for detention at Guantanamo any more than your average bank robber, regardless of whether or not he is ever convicted of a crime.
Moreover, the Obama administration, like the Bush administration before it, is trying to empty Guantanamo’s cells, not fill them. More than 500 of the 779 detainees held at Gitmo were transferred before President Obama took office. President Obama has obviously run into many difficulties trying to fulfill his promise to close the facility. But he still intends to do so, and more than 60 detainees have been transferred since January 2009.
No new detainees have been added to the Guantanamo population in years.
The U.S. will not make an exception for Julian Assange. His attorneys are just trying out any argument they can to avoid Assange’s extradition.
Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.