Targeting or “taking out” Wikileaks founder Julian Assange via military drone strike would be a criminal violation of international human rights laws, a United Nations envoy said Monday.
“A State could theoretically seek to justify the use of drones by invoking the right to anticipatory self-defence against a non-state actor and by arguing that it had no means to capture their targets or cause another state to capture the target,” said Dr. Agnes Callamard, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Executions during an interview with True Pundit. “To do so, the State would have to demonstrate an ‘instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means and no moment of deliberation’ necessity. This is not only a very high threshold to meet; it is also impossible to see how this could be used or justified in the case of Mr. Julian Assange.”
Dr. Callamard’s statements come on the heels of a scathing published account by True Pundit detailing that in 2010 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reportedly asked top aides if it was possible to use a drone strike against Assange. Dr. Callamard said she had no knowledge of the assertions contained in the True Pundit story regarding the State Department. Dr. Callamard, however, did draw on her expertise to help bring clarity to an otherwise complex and controversial issue, stating “the use of drones for targeted killing outside the context of armed conflict, is almost never likely to be legal and to meet human rights law limitations on the use of lethal force.”
Dr. Callamard, an expert on human rights and humanitarian work globally, in civil society organizations, the United Nations and in academia. Prior to her post at the UN, Dr. Callamard spent nine years as the Executive Director of ARTICLE 19, the international human rights organization promoting freedom of expression globally. Dr. Callamard also serves as director of Columbia University’s Global Freedom of Expression initiative.
From the original True Pundit story:
Clinton’s State Department was getting pressure from President Obama and his White House inner circle, as well as heads of state internationally, to try and cutoff Assange’s delivery of the cables and if that effort failed, then to forge a strategy to minimize the administration’s public embarrassment over the contents of the cables. Hence, Clinton’s early morning November meeting of State’s top brass who floated various proposals to stop, slow or spin the Wikileaks contamination. That is when a frustrated Clinton, sources said, at some point blurted out a controversial query.
“Can’t we just drone this guy?” Clinton openly inquired, offering a simple remedy to silence Assange and smother Wikileaks via a planned military drone strike, according to State Department sources. The statement drew laughter from the room which quickly died off when the Secretary kept talking in a terse manner, sources said. Clinton said Assange, after all, was a relatively soft target, “walking around” freely and thumbing his nose without any fear of reprisals from the United States. Clinton was upset about Assange’s previous 2010 records releases, divulging secret U.S. documents about the war in Afghanistan in July and the war in Iraq just a month earlier in October, sources said. At that time in 2010, Assange was relatively free and not living cloistered in in the embassy of Ecuador in London. Prior to 2010, Assange focused Wikileaks’ efforts on countries outside the United States but now under Clinton and Obama, Assange was hammering America with an unparalleled third sweeping Wikileaks document dump in five months. Clinton was fuming, sources said, as each State Department cable dispatched during the Obama administration was signed by her.
“As importantly, and as repeatedly demonstrated in the context of armed conflicts, the accuracy of drones killings leave a lot to be desired, resulting in collateral civilian deaths and injuries,” Dr. Callamrd said. “This is a risk that cannot be justified under international human rights law — in contrast with international humanitarian law: drone killing of anyone other than the target, such as family members, friends, passers-by, would amount to an arbitrary deprivation of life, that is a violation of human rights law, and could result in State responsibility and individual criminal liability.”