Wikileaks' Assange loses UK Supreme Court extradition appeal

Wikileaks' Assange loses UK Supreme Court extradition appeal

Summary: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited from the U.K. to face charges in Sweden, the U.K. Supreme Court has ruled.

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TOPICS: Legal
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The U.K.'s Supreme Court ruled that Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden to face prosecutors.

Assange, who founded the Wikileaks website, is accused of offences in Sweden dating back to 2010.

The Supreme Court sat with seven judges out of a possible twelve to show the importance of the case. Often, the higher the number of judges, the greater political, diplomatic and social ramifications of the case.

A majority was reached by five judges to two. The ruling was not unanimous.

Assange had claimed the European arrest warrant was "invalid and unenforceable," while his lawyers claimed the warrant --- issued by Swedish prosecutors --- did not have the necessary authority to do so.

Lord Phillips, president of the Supreme Court, read to the court: "What do the words judicial authority mean?" The case rests on exactly that point.

"The issue is whether an European arrest warrant ("EAW") issued by a public prosecutor is a valid Part 1 EAW issued by a 'judicial authority' for the purpose and within the meaning of sections 2, and 66 of the Extradition Act 2003.

By a majority the court has concluded that the Swedish public prosecutor was a 'judicial authority' within the meaning of both the framework decision and the Extradition Act."

"The majority has concluded the Swedish prosecutor was a judicial authority. His appeal is accordingly dismissed."

The Guardian notes that had Assange won, Sweden could reissue the extradition warrant through a judge. Also, the Swedish arrest warrant would remain valid in every other E.U. member state bar Britain, effectively banning Assange from the remaining European Union.

The U.K. Supreme Court is the final court of appeal for all civil cases, and the final port of call for criminal cases from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

However, Assange's lawyer, Dinah Rose QC, questioned the ruling and asked whether the case could be re-opened. The lawyers claimed that one of the points of the case was not even raised. Lord Phillips gave Rose --- amid muddling her name with another member of the court --- two weeks to apply for the case to be reassessed.

Assange has been on conditional bail in the U.K. for more than 530 days. Assange has been required to sign in to a local police station each and every morning of his bail or face custody.

Founder of the whistleblowing website Wikileaks, he was instrumental in publishing vast troves of data --- from private industry and government bodies. His arrest came shortly after the ‘Cablegate’ release. Assange and his legal team believe that the allegations could be “politically motivated”, relating to his work with whistleblowing site, Wikileaks.

Wikileaks had previously posted over 390,000 documents on the Iraq war, followed by 77,000 classified documents relating to the war in Afghanistan, known as the ‘Iraq War Logs’ and ‘Afghan War Logs’ respectively.

Despite the Supreme Court's ruling, Assange may have one route left: the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. Assange was not in court to hear the ruling.

Should the final European court fail, Assange will be extradited "as soon as practicable", the U.K.'s Crown Prosecution Service said earlier this year.

Image credit: CBS News, '60 Minutes'.

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19 comments
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  • this highlights the problem with the EAW

    The EAW is a awful construct, having said that it is on the statute books so needs to be adhered to, so Assange should be extradited to Sweden.

    Anyone in the EU that has a problem with this please raise it with your elected representatives as it applies to all EU states
    the.nameless.drifter
    • What is the problem highlighted?

      I find it contemptible that the Assange has been running around free for over a year, denying justice to his victims.
      Your Non Advocate
      • The EAW is an awful construct

        It allows any extradition without any evidence having to be presented, before EAW they'd have had to make a case, Assange should be extradited but I'm uncomfortable that any prosecutor inside of the EU could extradite me to that country without having to give any reason or evidence
        the.nameless.drifter
      • It's not quite that open-ended.

        An EAW can be issued only for the purposes of conducting a criminal prosecution or enforcing a custodial sentence, and [i]not just for a criminal investigation[/i] and only for offenses that would warrant a 12 month or longer sentence. Assange is facing statuory rape charges.of pot.

        This is no difference than extradiction laws in the US across state lines.
        Your Non Advocate
      • Suggest you read up on Michael Turner and Jason McGoldrick

        Held in a prison in Hungary for 4 months without charge while police investigated and then released
        the.nameless.drifter
      • Hungary failed the EAW, not the other way around

        Hungary abused the EAW, in direct violation of the EAW law. It extradicted McGoldrick in the investigative phase.

        Now, McGoldrick should petitition the right authorities for redress of grievances.

        But let's not confuse Assange's arrest warrant with that of McGoldrick. Sweden is ready to give Assange his day in court. In this case, it is Assange that is misusing UK bureacracy to remain in the UK and deny his victims justice.
        Your Non Advocate
      • Doesn't matter

        It doesn't matter whether or not Hungary misused the EAW the fact is that its open to abuse, hence my point about the awful construct.

        The fact that it can have a person moved countries without any evidence having to be presented is appalling , I hope the UK start just ignoring it instead and go back to their older extradition treaties
        the.nameless.drifter
  • If them's the rules...

    ...then Her Majesty's Supreme Court (Their Lordships?) got it right. It seems to me, though, that the only real criteria for extradition should be:

    0. Was the request made by the legally constituted authorities (the Swedish government, in this case)?
    1. Is the alleged offense illegal in the country receiving the extradition request?
    2. Would the documentary evidence submitted be sufficient to establish guilt, if unrefuted?
    3. Is there a good reason to believe that the extradition request is malicious or politically motivated?
    4. Is there a good reason to believe that the accused would not receive a fair trial in the country requesting the extradition?
    5. Is there a good reason to believe that punishment inflicted (assuming the accused is convicted) would be excessive, given the offense?

    In short, whether the warrant was issued by a prosecutor or a court shouldn't even be an issue, as long as Swedish law was followed; the signature of the Swedish Minister of Justice should be sufficient to satisfy criterion 0.
    John L. Ries
    • here is my problem with the EAW

      The only question to be asked for EAW is:

      Was the EAW issued by a judicial authority? If so then you're extradited no questions asked and there are some awful examples of miscarriages of justice
      the.nameless.drifter
      • Can you cite such an example?

        Can you cite one example where an EAW was issued and some sort of miscarriage of justice was perpetrated?
        Your Non Advocate
      • So many to pick from

        Andrew Symeou was sent to Greece under a EAW with a case that was flimsy and with more than a slight whiff of police brutality and corruption. Extradited, held without bail for 10 months (in shocking conditions) and eventually cleared, however without the EAW no judge in the UK would have granted extradition

        Or how about Edmond Arapi? Convicted in absence of killing a man in Italy in 2004, yet immigration records show he hadn't left the UK at all from 2000-2006! Arrested in 2009 and a year long fight ensued until Italy dropped the EAW, had it not he would have been extradited and thrown into an Italian prison while hoping to get a retrial, again no judge would have ordered his extradition under previous extradition treaties
        the.nameless.drifter
  • Bogus Swedish Charges

    It's a ploy to get him to Sweden then get him to the US. This ruse not only involved the reopening of the case by corrupt Swedish politicians in another jurisdiction AFTER the charges were initially dropped by police, but also in not allowing him to answer questions in Sweden, then ALLOWING him to leave, but then claming he'd fled!

    Many questions... Rixstep has been doing a good job covering these dirty tricks:
    http://rixstep.com/2/20120515,00.shtml
    brunerd
    • illogical

      The UK has a far less stringent extradition treaty with the US that Sweden does
      the.nameless.drifter
  • Wrong - Sweden more likely to extradite

    See detailed reasoning set out at: http://www.swedenversusassange.com/US-Extradition.html#WUKJA
    psdie8
    • That link from the Assange groupie site does not say anything substantive

      Sweden has not denied a US extradiction request since 2000? What does that mean? Next to nothing. How many requests were there? How many requests were "iffy"?

      Sorry, it is hard to take any of the Assange groupie sites seriously.
      Your Non Advocate
    • That link actually strengthens my case

      The logic that the UK governement is more likely to stand up to the US governement and capitulate to public pressure is one of the stupidest things I've read read recently.

      Its right that the UK/US extradition treaty doesn't have a temporary surrender clause but with the US only having to show reasonable suspicion whereas in Sweden it would have to be evidence suitable for a trial, hence it would be easier in the UK
      the.nameless.drifter
  • Too bad...

    Julian should have courted Rupert Murdoch like all the English politicians did. Then he would be free to roam and rape at his leisure.
    ITOdeed
    • Wouldn't have helped

      ...unless he offered to be a lot more selective on what dirt he exposed (something Murdoch might do).
      John L. Ries
  • Well

    The hammer has made its last swing, and now we will see the hammer drop, in a few months. Could not happen to a more deserving person. May the almighty have mercy on his retched soul.
    eargasm