Julian Assange loses extradition fight in UK court, lawyers have 14 days to appeal

The highest UK court has ruled that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden to face accusations of rape and sexual assault. The decision is the result of a legal battle spanning a year and a half. In a Wikileaks statement released before the ruling, Assange maintains that the sexual misconduct case is part of a "coordinated effort" engineered by "US, UK, Swedish and Australian governments" to bring him closer to extradition to the US, "to face espionage charges for journalistic activities."

His attorneys have two weeks to appeal today's decision, over the point of whether the UK court is correctly interpreting international treaties.

From the Guardian:

The highly unusual legal development came after the supreme court justices decided that a public prosecutor was a "judicial authority" and that therefore Assange's arrest warrant had been lawfully issued. Assange, who is wanted in connection with accusations of sexual assault and rape in Sweden, was not in court; there was no legal requirement for him to be present. According to his solicitor, Gareth Peirce, he was stuck in central London traffic and never made it to the court in Westminster. Assange denies the accusations.

The obscure but potentially pivotal issue raised by Dinah Rose QC, Assange's barrister, relates to Article 31.3 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. It states that treaties can be interpreted bearing in mind the "subsequent practice" of their application.

More coverage: Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times.

From the Wikileaks statement released in advance of the ruling:

* The US Grand Jury reportedly possesses a sealed indictment, which could be used to extradite Assange to the United States.

* Secret subpoenas have been served on ISPs and online services for the private data of WikiLeaks staff and supporters.

* Special task-forces have been setup by various various US intelligence agencies, including the Pentagon, CIA, FBI, and the US State Department.

* Associates of WikiLeaks have been detained and interrogated at US and UK airports, their equipment confiscated, and attempts have been made to turn them into informants.

* If the indictment is unsealed upon Assange's extradition to Sweden he faces further removal from Sweden to the United States.

* Meanwhile, an unprecedented extralegal denial of service by Visa and Mastercard has cut off funding to WikiLeaks, almost shutting down WikiLeaks' publishing activity.

* If the extradition to Sweden is quashed in the outcome of the court judgement, he faces extradition from the United Kingdom.

* Both Swedish and UK governments have been coordinating with the US, taking steps to facilitate a US extradition request in either eventuality. Assange cannot take steps to avoid either risk. For 539 days he has been detained without charge in the UK under house arrest.

* Under US pressure the Australian government has relaxed its own extradition law, smoothing any possible extradition from Assange's home country. The Gillard government has also amended legislation to give Australian intelligence agencies powers of surveillance over WikiLeaks supporters.

Photo: Protesters supporting Wikileaks founder Julian Assange hold placards outside the Supreme Court in London. (REUTERS)


  1. I assume he welcomes the chance to face his accusers and prove his innocence in open court with all of its attendant transparency.

    1. Given that the Swedish Director of Prosecution countermanded her own department in order to nail him, I wouldn’t be so sure about a transparent process. Why were the charges dropped then reapplied?

  2. Since when is he facing charges of rape and sexual assault, Xeni? He is wanted for questioning regarding sexual misconduct. Per the Prosecuter “I don’t think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape.” Sweden has pretty enlightened legal standards for evaluating the degree of consent entailed in sex, and Assange is alleged to have gone past the line. He has not however been charged.

  3. Worth considering again at this time:
    “Never in twenty-three years of reporting on and supporting victims of sexual assault around the world have I ever heard of a case of a man sought by two nations, and held in solitary confinement without bail in advance of being questioned — for any alleged rape, even the most brutal or easily proven. In terms of a case involving the kinds of ambiguities and complexities of the alleged victims’ complaints — sex that began consensually that allegedly became non-consensual when dispute arose around a condom — please find me, anywhere in the world, another man in prison today without bail on charges of anything comparable.” – Naomi Wolf

    1. “…sex that began consensually that allegedly became non-consensual when dispute arose around a condom — please find me, anywhere in the world, another man in prison today without bail on charges of anything comparable.””

      a woman wrote that?

      ok. after R’ingTFA it makes more sense.

      as a stand-alone quote, that looks like incredulity over the notion that a disagreement over condom use could change consent to non-consent.

        1.  A woman and a prominent feminist with more than 23 years experience working with victims of rape.  It’s really an enlightening  article, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

          1. I, too, am a woman and a feminist with experience working with victims of rape. FYI, Ms. Wolf does not speak for all women, any more than [black op-ed writer] speaks for [all black people].

        1.  But but but, she’s a woman! She can’t simply state facts related to a rape inquiry! I demand more bias!

    2. He’s not in solitary confinement, he’s under house arrest because he VERY clearly presents a flight risk.  Conflating solitary confinement with house arrest is pretty nasty.  Claiming that no one has ever been held without bail in advance of questioning for alleged rape is absurd and disgusting.

    3. Probably also worth noting that Wolf apologized for that article after having her disgusting hypocrisy called out by basically every other feminist on the planet.

  4. Well that’s weird, having breakfast at a restaurant this morning, Mexican TV news (Milenio Noticias) went on a long report with the caption that Assange will NOT be extradited.  The TV was on ‘mute’, so I didn’t get a chance to hear what they were saying.

  5. Nobody should be extradited for questioning about an alleged crime, when they’ve already stated they’re happy to be questioned in their country of residence.

    Sweden wants him over there at the behest of the US Government; so they can get their hands on him without going through proper extradition proceedings, because of the two countries’ ‘bilateral agreement’.

    And then he’ll get … what? Guantanamo? Waterboarding? The Bradley Manning treatment? Worse?

    I wonder what leverage the US is using on Sweden.

    1. Thing is, as a conspiracy to silence Wikileaks, it’s about as misdirected and incompetent as it could possibly be. It has drawn extra attention to Wikileaks, it makes the US look exactly like a fascist state desperate to silence and punish all critics even to the extent of fabricating dubious criminal charges in other jurisdictions, and finally, even if they get him and lock him up next to Bradley Manning, it won’t do them any fucking good. Wikileaks isn’t Julian Assange.

      In a sense the more they do against him personally, the more credibility Wikileaks has, and the greater the risk that someone involved will get disgusted and leak embarrassing details about who ordered this, and what illegal means they used.

      What we are dealing with here are wildly incompetent and destructive wielders of unaccountable power. It would be funny how blatant it is if it were in a work of fiction.

    2.  I have heard but have been unable to verify (maybe some international readers can help) that extradition from the UK is only granted if there is a guarantee he can not be put to death. The US doesn’t like that idea and wants him extradited from Sweden. Assange has stated on a few occasions that he is worried about being killed in the US..

  6. One of the reasons he is being extradited is because he has refused to be questioned – or rather, neither he nor his lawyer answered when the prosecutor wanted to question him. That counts as disregarding the court here.

    He may have stated that he is happy to be questioned, but he _has_ evaded that.

    And the UK has a far better track record of extraditing people to the US than Sweden has. Sweden has refused quite a few requests.

    Assange is, frankly, full of it.

      1. Does he not have the right to remain silent?

        In Sweden?  Has the US annexed them?

        1.  Enough so that the US government can use the Swedish government to extradite someone they deem a criminal.

    1. After curiously re-opening the case, even after the Chief Prosecutor publicly stated “I don’t think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape”, it is my understanding that the new prosecutor has never attempted to re-question Assange (he had previously been questioned by Swedish police and released).

    2.  My understanding was that he was willing to answer questions over videoconferencing, phone, etc. He was not willing to go to Sweden to answer questions (for fear of being grabbed).

  7. The entire argument that Sweden wants him as a way to get him to the US is not plausible.  Sweden has considerably greater obstacles to such an extradition than Britain does.

    1. The extradition agreements are different.  If Assange is under arrest in Sweden, he can be “loaned” to the US for prosecution “temporarily” without undergoing formal extradition procedures.

      1. lafave: Does the “loan” procedure also sidestep the extradition hearing of the European court that is require for Swedish extraditions to the US?  Can you provide any information on where to read about this?

        1. OK: http://justice4assange.com/US-Extradition.html#TR
          Sweden does have a possible streamlined “temporary” extradition.  However it requires permission of the Swedish supreme court, tacit cooperation of the Swedish administration, and approval from Britain.  So although it is easier than I thought to extradite him from Sweden it is still not as easy as extraditing him from Britain.

          1.  I just read (most) of the webpage to which you linked, and it basically contradicts everything you wrote in that paragraph.  I suggest you re-read it.

          2. “requires the Swedish government to apply to the Supreme Court for permission to exercise the “conditional release” mechanism.Sundberg-Weitman notes, however, that the government could ignore that requirement with little risk to itself; the legal and/or political repercussions, if any, would most likely be negligible.”

            So they’re saying Supreme Court Approval is required but the government might choose to break the law.

            “Sweden would be bound by the Article 28.4 rules on seeking permission from the UK (which would be judicially reviewable). If they tried to ignore those obligations, then a preliminary reference to the ECJ (on the super-fast track urgent) route would likely compel them to get the UK’s permission.”

            Hence UK permission.

            “Sweden’s extradition treaty with the United States explicitly prohibits political and military extraditions. The final decision lies in the hands of the executive, who can block an extradition if it believes that political/military motivations underlie the extradition order. However, it it difficult to prove the underlying motivations of an extradition order. The US is likely to issue an order under charges that are not overtly political.”

            Hence, tacit cooperation of the Swedish Administration.

            As far as I can tell I’m reading the article for legal content and you’re reading it for the commentary which basically says Sweden would ignore all it’s own laws to make the extradition happen.  But if you’re going to make that assumption, Britain is more likely to do that, and would require fewer steps to do so.  At the moment, the largest obstacle to British extradition to the US is the Swedish extradition request itself.

          3.  your statement (or belief) that it would be easier to extradite Assange from the UK rather than Sweden is still false.

  8. his defence team, some time ago now, tried the following line of defence:

    jullian did penetrate a sleeping woman and he did use force against another but this is not rape and it’s just normal sexual activity.

    at the same time assange began talking about how he would be campaigning for men who where ‘unfarly’ accused of rape.

    thing is what he admitted to IS rape under both swedish and british law so they changed tack quickly and the stories disappeared from the internet but folks: ASSANGE ADMITTED TO RAPE.

      1.  Oh!  how can anyone doubt a story that has “…disappeared from the internet…”

    1. I’m fine with Assange going on trial for rape.  But that’s not the issue that makes this story worth mentioning on this site.  Sweden tries him for rape = correct operation of the justice system.  US tries him for running Wikileaks (or even gets their hands on him, frankly) = blatant, disastrous, lethally dangerous abuse of power.

    2. Huh? Why didn’t I see a link to any of this info?
      How else can we know who made it up?

        1. Assange talked about it in an interview as well, not just his lawyers.  But I suspect neither of those things will matter to the person you’re replying to.

    3. This.  It’s seriously fucked up how many people are ignoring what Assange and his own lawyers have admitted he did.  Namely have sex with a sleeping woman and another woman, both without condoms, both of whom told him to stop because of the lacking condom, and Assange refused to stop.

      He now insists that what he himself says he did doesn’t constitute rape because the women were “into him” beforehand.  And of course he blames the whole thing on “radical feminists” and the CIA.  Again, that’s what he admits to doing.  And it’s clearly rape by any normal, legal, modern definition.  Absolutely disgusting to see people continue to try and defend him, just because they support Wikileaks.  

      1. If it were anyone else, everyone here would be howling that he should stand trial and defend himself in court.

        When it comes to Assange, I’ve seen all the duplicity from people that I care to ever see.

        1. I don’t know about everyone.  There are a lot of creepy “Men’s Rights” dudes around that would likely agree with Assange’s defense of his actions no matter who he was.  But yes, his connection to Wikileaks has made a lot of otherwise normally decent people go all sorts of wrong, as with the Naomi Wolf article linked above.

          1. I think for most people, they aren’t trying to defend any of these actions. They’re prepared to believe that Assange perhaps went over the top in a fairly ambiguous manner, but they’re hoping against hope that it’s just that the CIA ‘got to’ people around him. It just looks so much like the kind of character assassination that we were all expecting. I bet some people were already making protest banners in anticipation of just such an accusation that would essentially destroy his support base in one go. The fact that Assange could be such an outrageous douchebag that he would treat women like that and simultaneously sabotage a campaign that so many people have been fighting for is still only sinking in.

      2. I agree with you. He should go to trial for the rape. Assange probably realizes he’s stuck there. Whether right or wrong, because of the specific circumstances I would predict he’d get a conviction but a light sentence (e.g. probation) though I don’t know how that sort of case is treated in Sweden.

        The problem is that Assange’s situation really has nothing to do with the rape. He’s afraid – and rightfully so, I think – that he’ll end up being extradited to the US. He apparently feels that he can’t be brought to Sweden for further questioning and a trial for the rape case without danger of being extradited. He hasn’t been held for over 500 days without charges because of the rape case.

        Remember that to any rational person, and under international jurisdiction in any case, what Wikileaks has done does not constitute a crime. But the US government clearly wants him eliminated. There’s no way that if he was brought to trial in the US that he’d be found not guilty. Fears of Guantanamo or extra-judicial killing are probably overstated, but he would not get off lightly in any case.

        I won’t defend Assange as a person regarding the rape. But I’ll give him some benefit of the doubt; I’d like to hope that he wants to settle that case and accept the consequences. He’s in a very sticky situation where he’s being prevented from settling a true charge against him because of the threat of additional bogus charges that spell serious and unjust problems for him.

        1. This situation has everything to do with Assange being accused of crimes that fall under sexual assault. It is under those accusations that Assange should be defending himself on.

          Every person who has been accused of a crime has a right to be afraid. However, this idea that the accusations is some how connected U.S. wanting him to be extradited there is unreasonable. The reason is it dismissed the accusations without recognizing that there are actual two view points on the events in dispute.  This dispute has to be address, whether it is merely further questioning or a criminal trail.

          Wikileaks can do what ever they want to with any document that they receive. Any organization has the right to investigate how documents in it possession had been obtained by others without their consent. This right does include individuals, but most individuals ability is limited in finding out how.

          Julian Assange and Wikileaks fear about the implication of Bradley Manning’s trail is understandable. That fear relates to whether or not Manning will implicate some associated with Wikileaks in the leaking of the video, diplomatic cables, and other documents. That includes whether or not Manning is forces to make false statements.

          Just like any organization the US government has moved to addressing the issues surrounding the leaked information. This includes reviewing polices on access to the information it possesses, and having support structures for government employees.

  9. More likely, the US doesn’t want custody of Assange; they would then have a messy process on their plate.
    They seem instead to be perfectly happy to have him interminably detained by a game of EU judicial 3 card Monte.
    Wikileaks has been damaged, the American’s flunky countries are doing the messy job of imprisoning Assange, and US hands don’t get too dirty.
    Business as usual.

  10. First off, whatever he may have done in Sweden, the prosecutor’s office there decided there was not enough evidence to bring charges against Assange. He remained in Sweden until they told him it was okay to leave. Once he left, a 2nd prosecutor decided out of the blue to open up the whole case once more, despite the statement from the prosecutor’s office that there was insufficient evidence. Now, Sweden has its own laws concerning sexual assault, and multiple terms indicating degree of offense. This is something we generally lack in the UK/US/Canada (and likely elsewhere), so its a bit of a misnomer to say he is wanted for questioning (and thats all it is at this time) about “rape” when that is not quite what the Swedish law terms it for the level of offense that apparently applies. We hear “rape” here and lots of buttons are pushed, but he is accused of a lower level of offense that we do not make the distinction for that Swedish law evidently does. Now, if he’s guilty, then let him be charged and punished appropriately, I have no problem with that.
    However, I personally think its highly likely that the reason they want to extradite him – and have refused to interview him in the UK or via videoconferencing/telephone/Skype etc, is so that he can be handed over to the US authorities so they can charge him. At the very least they want him so they can use him in the Manning trial. Don’t forget Sweden has been party to extraordinary renditions in the past (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/20/AR2005052001605.html ) so the government there is more than willing to cooperate with the US even to the point of violating its own laws. I am sure that when he sets foot in Sweden, he will be given over to the Americans. I sincerely hope he gets a fair trial but I imagine they will simply send him to Guantanamo for questioning. Does anyone think that the US isn’t capable of putting pressure on a foreign government to grab someone like this and then hand him over? Given its track record (Kidnapping, Torture, Assassination), I don’t have much problem believing that the US Government will do whatever it takes to accomplish its goals.
    Now, if he was extradited from the UK he could not be charged with anything capital according to UK law which will not extradite anyone if they face the death penalty. Does anyone know if this is also true with Swedish law? Might the reason they want him in Sweden be connected to differences in what he can be charged with under the law? I am sure that if its possible for the US to get him, charge him and execute him, they will do so – they want to prevent anyone else from considering publishing their classified documents. If they can get Assange, they can get anyone.

  11. I just wanted to mention – in the orchestrated distraction of personality failures and sex crimes – WikiLeaks belongs to the people in every nation on Earth. Don’t let them write laws to prevent the use of tools for transparency like WikiLeaks. Iceland is right to nominate Bradley Manning for the Nobel Peace Prize, as his actions sharing evidence of war crimes and government corruption globally has led to a string of populist revolutions. The Occupy movement brings it right to the doorstep of power/corruption. The question: is government more corrupt now? or is digital media simply making it more transparent and self-evident? WikiLeaks is a democratic tool that is more dangerous than Al Qaeda. 

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