British Supreme Court Admits Assange’s Extradition To Sweden
British Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradite to Sweden, where he is expected to answer for charges related to sexual assault. The high court upheld prior rules of lower courts, which had considered that Assange could be extradited to Sweden.
Seven judges voted by 5 to 2 against Assange’s claim that a European Arrest Warrant was invalid. The verdict on Wednesday puts an end to a 18-month legal battle, during which time the Australian-born editor-in-chief attempted to convince the judges that extradition to Sweden could put his life in danger since he is so badly wanted in the United States for indictment in the case of diplomatic cable leaks, which embarrassed America at the end of 2010.
The decision revolved around whether the Swedish prosecutor who made the extradition request was a competent “judicial authority” according to the European Extradition Treaty. After deliberation, which, in the words of one of the judges, was not “easy to resolve,” the decision was made that the extradition was valid because it was made by a prosecutor who had authority to do it.
Assange did not attend the court session due to a delay caused by traffic jam, but his lawyer demanded that a two-week delay be agreed for the implementation of the decision, a request which was granted by the court.
As a consequence, the British Supreme Court will announce its decision in ten days, after which Assange will be taken to a British airport, where he will be picked up by the Swedish authorities, which will take him to Stockholm, where he is to respond to the accusations brought against him.
British prosecutors, acting for the Sweden authorities, said that Assange may still petition the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, and if the court refuses to take his case, then he will have no other option than to go to Sweden and stand on trial. This judicial procedure should happen within days.
New York Times reports that the website WikiLeaks released one day before the ruling of the court that the governments of the United States, Sweden, Britain and Australia are coordinating their efforts to get Julian Assange in custody, and fear that he may be transferred to the United States, where he could face charges related to espionage or national security, which could put him on death row.
Assange’s team based part of its legal argumentation on the fact that the Swedish judicial system may agree to the deportation, presenting in his defense a case of an Egyptian asylum seeker who was turned to the authorities of Mubarak and endured torture back in his native land.
Assange’s lawyers corroborated some of the actions and positions of the American officials and public personalities, pointing out that a case against their client was being made and that he could face either death penalty or deportation to Guantanamo Bay, or both, if found guilty.
One of the most notorious such deposition was the one made by former governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, who is quoted to have demanded that Assange be hunted down. A U.S. General Attorney is said to have alleged that a new legislation must be passed through the Congress if the current legal frame cannot convict Assange for what he did.
An attempt to link him to national security crimes is said to have been made and failed when Bradley Manning, the soldier who is said to have leaked information to WikiLeaks, was called to testify that he was coerced in any way by the WikiLeaks founder or related persons to leak classified information. The case dropped when Manning said he did it out of free will. Had he admitted coercion, Assange would have gone down for espionage and violation of national security protocols.
WikiLeaks took the entire world by surprise when it published, in 2010, tens of thousands of American diplomatic cables sent by operatives in all the embassies around the world. The documents were presenting the way the American diplomats were assessing the country where they were serving, and conveyed many interesting information, both of political bearing or simple upper-crust local gossip, which the diplomats felt compelled to share with their superiors in Washington.
The information covered a wide range of subjects, from the romances of a Central Asian first lady to sensitive issues like the attitude of China to the North Korean regime or the opinion of the diplomats about leaders like Nicolas Sarkozy or other world leaders.
The reaction went from outrage expressed by some embassies to dismissal from the others, but all the same they compelled the United States State Department to present apologies to the world and make promises that something like this would not happen again.
The American authorities seemed to handle well the situation, as they put on a democratic mask and made believe that though they hurt they would find it within themselves to admit that it was a democratic right to inform the population, though the disclosure of classified documents seemed rather unorthodox even when it came to the right of the population to be informed.
Still, Julian Assange came soon under pressure, as the banks and websites which were banking the donations on which the website lived announced they no longer wanted to do business with WikiLeaks.
When the server operators announced that they did not want to host WikiLeaks either, because the danger it was posing was to great to handle, given that it was under intense electronic attacks, Assange decided to move the servers to Switzerland, in Europe.
Then the accusations that had been dormant in Sweden referring to the sexual abuse cases were revived and Assange had to move to Britain, hoping that the British legal procedures would offer him the possibility to mount a defense.
He is accused that in Sweden he had sex with two women, one of which accuses him of refusing to have used protection. He denies that he had abused the women in any way.11