Assange loses extradition appeal
Julian Assange has lost his Supreme Court fight against extradition to Sweden. The WikiLeaks founder is wanted in the country to face sex crime allegations, a warrant that Assange’s lawyers claim is “invalid and unenforceable”.
His lawyers pled their case to Supreme Court judges in February, asking for the UK’s highest court to block Assange’s removal to Sweden. They argued that the warrant was not valid as it had been issued by a prosecutor and not a “judicial authority” as required by law.
The ruling by the Supreme Court judged on this technical issue, rather than on the validity of the allegations themselves, and decided that the European Arrest Warrant issued was legal and therefore enforceable. Supreme Court president Lord Phillips said that while the point of law considered had not been simple to resolve, Assange’s appeal had been dismissed by a majority of five to two.
The ruling is the culmination of an 18-month battle that began with Assange’s arrest in December 2010. The 40-year-old Australian has been on conditional bail in the UK ever since.
Assange’s presence is requested by Swedish authorities over accusations of the rape of one woman and the sexual molestation of another during a visit to Stockholm in 2010. Assange, however, argues that the acts were consensual and that he is instead being targeted for political reasons due to the actions of his whistle-blowing website, WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks, which was at the height of its notoriety at the time of his arrest, has shamed governments and businesses alike by publishing leaked documents to the public.
Assange, who did not appear in court, has been given a stay of 14 days to respond to the judgement following a request from his lawyer, who wants proceedings to be reopened and re-examined. His only other legal avenue beyond this would be the European Court of Human Rights, but if this fails he is likely to be extradited to Sweden as soon as possible.
The fear is that extradition to Sweden could make way for extradition to the United States, where authorities are considering a range of charges related to his WikiLeaks revelations, including conspiracy and espionage.