Julian Assange’s Flying Circus
Julian Assange’s legal arguments for why he should not be extradited to Sweden are particularly comic. Few people realise, for example, that, if the US were to seek to extradite him from Sweden, the British Home Secretary would still be required to approve it under the terms of the European Arrest Warrant.
There is thus less chance of Assange being extradited to the US from Sweden, which would require approval from two governments, than from here.
The ruling by the original judge in the extradition case is well worth reading for the flakiness of Assange’s witnesses, but the last paragraph is a gem:
There was at one stage a suggestion that Mr Assange could be extradited to the USA (possibly to Guantanamo Bay or to execution as a traitor). The only live evidence on the point came from the defence witness Mr Alhem who said it couldn’t happen. In the absence of any evidence that Mr Assange risks torture or execution Mr [Geoffrey] Robertson [Assange's QC] was right not to pursue this point in closing. It may be worth adding that I do not know if Sweden has an extradition treaty with the United States of America. There has been no evidence regarding this. I would expect that there is such a treaty. If Mr Assange is surrendered to Sweden and a request is made to Sweden for his extradition to the United States of America, then article 28 of the framework decision applies. In such an event the consent of the Secretary of State in this country will be required, in accordance with section 58 of the Extradition Act 2003, before Sweden can order Mr Assange’s extradition to a third State. The Secretary of State is required to give notice to Mr Assange unless it is impracticable to do so. Mr Assange would have the protection of the courts in Sweden and, as the Secretary of State’s decision can be reviewed, he would have the protection of the English courts also. But none of this was argued.
(Thanks to Martin Bentham, my well informed colleague on the Evening Standard, for pointing this out to me.)
As David Aaronovitch argued in The Times yesterday (pay wall), Assange is obviously afraid not of being extradited to the US but of being tried for rape and sexual assault in Sweden. Fortunately, not all my colleagues who like to think of themselves as to the left of me have fallen for the festival of anti-US feeling.Tagged in: Julian Assange
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