Assange was 'clearly coercive', says prosecutor

Summary:At an appeal against extradition, UK prosecutors have argued that Wikileaks editor Julian Assange should be extradited to Sweden on sex charges

Wikileaks editor Julian Assange should be extradited to face questioning in Sweden over alleged molestation of two women, UK prosecutors have said.

Julian Assange

Julian Assange has heard prosecution arguments in favour of his extradition to Sweden to face sex charges. Photo credit: CBS News

Clare Montgomery QC, acting for the Swedish authorities, said that elements of the sexual encounters the women had with Assange involved submission, rather than consent.

"They are describing circumstances in which they did not freely consent without coercion," said Montgomery. "They are clearly describing coercive, violent sex where they did not consent."

One of the defendants saying she 'let' Assange have sex without a condom did not mean she had consented, said Montgomery.

"At best, the words 'I let him' amount to submission, rather than consent," said Montgomery. "That is not a free choice on one analysis."

Montgomery opened her arguments at the Royal Courts of Justice on Wednesday by saying that the Swedish prosecutors are 'judicial authorities' for the purposes of extradition under a European Arrest Warrant (EAW).

"[The phrase] 'judicial authorities' naturally includes prosecutors, but doesn't include the police," said Montgomery. "Of course a public prosecutor is not a court... but it doesn't mean it's not a judicial authority."

Montgomery told the court that the 1957 European Convention on Extradition allows for prosecutors to act as judicial authorities.

Moreover, six European countries only allow public prosecutors to issue extradition notices: Germany, France, Lithuania, Italy, Holland and Crete, said the prosecutor.

The UK prosecution skeleton argument, which was made available to journalists late on Tuesday afternoon, argued that the EAW set out Assange's behaviour in a fair way.

The prosecution argues that Assange is wanted for prosecution, and is 'accused', despite not being formally charged. Moreover, the European Arrest Warrant scheme complies with proportionality as defined in European law, and Sweden has made its prosecutors a designated authority to issue an EAW, said the skeleton argument.

Defence arguments

The second day of Assange's Royal Courts of Justice bid to avoid extradition, before Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Ouseley, opened with Assange's defence barristers giving their final arguments. The first day of the hearing, on Tuesday, was taken up with defence arguments.

One of Assange's defence barristers, Mark Summers, said on Wednesday that Assange had not yet been "accused" of the crime, and is being sought for questioning, not prosecution. Summers argued that for questioning purposes, a European Arrest Warrant is disproportionate.

"Julian is suspected with probable cause of the offences listed," Summers told the court. "It's simply not proportionate to initiate a European Arrest Warrant and all of its mechanisms."

Assange's defence on Tuesday argued that Assange had not used violence or molested the women, contrary to the charges levelled in the European Arrest Warrant. In addition, Assange's defence argued that Swedish prosecutors did not have the authority to issue an EAW.

At the end of the hearing, the judges reserved judgement and said there would be a further hearing. No date was set.


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Topics: Government, Security

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Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com, writing about all manner of security and open-source issues.Tom had various jobs after leaving university, including working for a company that hired out computers as props for films and television, and a role turning the entire back catalogue of a publisher into e-books.Tom eventually found tha... Full Bio

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