Our foreign affairs minister Uri Rosenthal made headlines today as he responded to some questions from two members of the Dutch Parliament.
Do you agree [...] that the Netherlands will not cooperate with criminal procedures of the American authorities, such as in the case of potential suspects connected to Wikileaks. If not, why not?
Answer: In case the US indicts mr Gonggrijp at any point in the future and requests his extradition, the request will be studied to see if the Netherlands can cooperate. Such a request would need to specify, among other things, the criminal offenses under investigation, such that the American interests of prosecution can be weighed against the interests of the accused. This process has adequate checks and balances. I therefore do not exclude the possibility that The Netherlands will cooperate.
This has caused yet another media storm and a lot of people getting upset to the point of even petitioning the queen. I am truly grateful to all the MPs, journalists and netizens that have shown they are right on top of this as well as to the many people who have mailed to support me in what must seem very difficult times. As we speak the international media seem to be picking up the story . I think it’s time to calm down a bit. I’m really OK and I think this is a becoming a bit overblown.
About the answers our foreign minister gave: I think there is not much else he could have said. Was anyone really expecting him to say: “We have an extradition treaty with the US, and we have laws in place that deal with extradition requests. But if there is ever an extradition request for Gonggrijp we’ll ignore all that and we’ll tell you now that we’ll never extradite him, no matter what.” ?
I may disagree with the people that signed a treaty which allows the extradition of nationals. I may disagree with the Dutch take on the US legal system as being equivalent to ours when it comes to protecting the rights of those presumed innocent and I may disagree with a lot of other things. I may disagree with there being adequate checks and balances. I also think a blanket provision for not extraditing in clearly political matters would have been very nice. But the minister is not asked for his opinion on standing laws and treaties. He is mostly stating facts and I think it’s perfectly OK for a foreign affairs minister to take a slightly legalistic stand and just clarify the current state of affairs. So give his excellency a break. (For now, anyway.)
It may be good if we all take a deep breath and get grounded a bit here. There are no new events other than a minister in The Netherlands providing rather obvious answers to questions from MPs. I really don’t think the minister giving perfectly predictable answers should be news. There is, as of yet, no indictment. Let alone an extradition request. I helped publish a video documenting war crimes. My lawyers and me have absolutely no idea what crime they could even charge me with. If they indeed want something from me, the prosecutors are likely facing the same problem.
So there may very well never be an extradition request, just a very long period of nothing much happening. Which doesn’t mean this isn’t something to worry about or keep a close eye on. But it’s probably not worthy of getting in a nationwide or even global frenzy over just yet.
I’ll try to write some more about how I’ve been and what’s going on over the next days and weeks.