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Extradition 'undermines' legal principles: lawyer

AFP/The Local · 1 Feb 2012, 13:38

Published: 01 Feb 2012 13:38 GMT+01:00

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The 40-year-old Australian's lawyers told the Supreme Court in London that the Swedish prosecutor who issued the European Arrest Warrant in December 2010 was not a proper judicial authority.

"This appeal involves a single issue of law which can be very simply stated. The question is whether a Swedish prosecutor has judicial authority for the purposes of the extradition act," Assange's lawyer Dinah Rose told the court.

Rose said legal principles going back 1,500 years were "undermined" by the fact that the warrant for Assange's arrest was issued by a prosecutor, saying there was no guarantee they would be independent and impartial" like a judge.

She said it was "a serious interference with individual liberty".

Seven judges -- six male and one female -- are hearing Assange's appeal over two days at the court in London and are not expected to return their judgment for several weeks.

Dozens of supporters gathered in bright winter sunshine as Assange arrived as a peace activist outside sang "he shall be released".

He sat in court flanked by female supporters and near supporter Vaughan Smith, at whose mansion in eastern England Assange has spent most of the last year under virtual house arrest.

If the court rejects his appeal, the former computer hacker will have exhausted all his options in Britain but he could still make a last-ditch appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, prosecutors have said.

Assange denies the rape and sexual assault allegations made by two women in Sweden, and insists the sex was consensual. He has also claimed that the allegations against him are politically motivated.

WikiLeaks has enraged Washington by leaking thousands of classified US documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Assange has said he fears he will eventually be handed over to the United States.

While the legal battle has dragged on, Assange's celebrity status has grown -- he is to host his own TV show and will make an appearance as himself later this month on the 500th episode of the US cartoon show Simpsons.

Announcing the chat show, WikiLeaks described its founder as "one of the world's most recognisable revolutionary figures" and promised interviews with "key political players and thinkers".

WikiLeaks claims it has secured licensing commitments covering more than 600 million viewers across cable, satellite and terrestrial networks. So far Russia's state-run RT is the only channel to confirm it will broadcast the show.

Assange's extradition to Sweden was initially approved by a lower court in February 2011. An appeal to the High Court was rejected in November, but it subsequently granted him permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Story continues below…

If this appeal fails, the WikiLeaks founder will have only one other option to stop his extradition - an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

"If the ECHR takes the case then his current bail conditions would remain in force and he would remain in the UK until the proceedings at the ECHR have concluded," the Crown Prosecution Service said in a commentary on the case.

"If the ECHR declines to take the case then he will be extradited to Sweden as soon as arrangements can be made," England's state prosecutor said.

Concerning Assange's case before the Supreme Court, Julian Knowles, an extradition law specialist with the Matrix Chambers law firm, said the question of whether a public prosecutor was a valid judicial authority had been comprehensively tested.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

14:33 February 1, 2012 by Kevin Harris
International law clearly says a warrant must be issued by "a judicial authority". A prosecutor is not a judicial authority.

Assange's lawyers have a point. The Supreme Court is going to have to work hard to get out of this one.
14:52 February 1, 2012 by Rick Methven
The problem lies with the way that the EAW system works. Under European law, any member state must accede to a request for extradition from any other member state, which is why the UK has been sending Poles back to Poland for such things as 'suspicion that the accused left a cafe without paying for his coffee'

Theoretically, the EAW should only be granted for crimes that would carry more than a six month sentence in the country where the accused is currently living. In practice people are being extradited because countries are demanding it and saying that by refusing the other states are belittling their legal system.

Whatever happens to Assange, Sweden's reputation as a country with a fair and open legal system is already shot to pieces
15:28 February 1, 2012 by tgolan
Sweden has never had a fair and open legal system , it is a system that would make a Russian proud.
15:46 February 1, 2012 by William Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha
I'm so torn on this one. On the one hand, he's such an odious little man, I want him to be extradicted and to face the consequences of his alleged actions.

On the other hand, based on what has been presented in court to date, I believe it would be a bad day for British justice if this happens.

On the third hand, it's not really Britain's problem and really he should be put on a plane back to own country and Sweden should take it up with them.
16:43 February 1, 2012 by engagebrain
Sweden does not have juries - just officials whose career depends upon the state.
17:03 February 1, 2012 by prince T
engagebrain. you are so right. they are always careful not to rule against the one that pays the salary or renew contract.
20:09 February 1, 2012 by TheWatchman
I'll just say that as an American, I was at first happy that he was being extradited because of his release of US documents, but I realized not that long after that no major intelligence was released to the enemy or any I could identify at all, but rather secrets that merely expose the wrongdoings of my country were revealed, and this is something I would not mind being exposed.

I believe that until he is proven guilty in an unbiased court of law, his extradition is immoral and should not occur.
20:37 February 1, 2012 by bcterry
"Assange's refusal to test for HIV led to charges'


"WikiLeaks' Swedish co-ordinator said in an exclusive interview that the two women, who say Assange sexually assaulted them, would never have complained to police if he had agreed to take an HIV test, reports the Daily Mail.

He further added that he repeatedly begged his boss to have the test, both to head off the possible police investigation and for Assange's own peace of mind, given his promiscuous sex life. "

"Assange 'rape' victims just wanted HIV test: report"


"WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could have headed off Swedish rape allegations if he'd simply agreed to an HIV test after unprotected sex with two women, London's Sunday Mail reported today.

The British paper quoted an unnamed Swedish colleague who said he practically begged Assange, 39, to allay the women's fears, but Assange called the request "blackmail" and refused."

09:00 February 9, 2012 by pjtaipale
"International law clearly says a warrant must be issued by "a judicial authority". A prosecutor is not a judicial authority. "

There's a due process, and it's being followed.


A request for extradition from a non-Nordic state, for purposes of prosecution, of a person who is suspected of an offence in Sweden or is a defendant in a criminal case in this country, is made by a prosecutor. The request is sent to the Office of the Prosecutor-General, who decides whether it should be passed on to the Central Authority for forwarding to the other state.
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