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Intro: "Julian Assange's fight against extradition to Sweden may stagger on to a second round at the supreme court after he was granted permission to submit fresh arguments."

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange: judges ruled his arrest warrant had been lawfully issued. (photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange: judges ruled his arrest warrant had been lawfully issued. (photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

Julian Assange Given 14 Days to Challenge Extradition Ruling

By Owen Bowcott and Esther Addley, Guardian UK

31 May 12


ulian Assange's fight against extradition to Sweden may stagger on to a second round at the supreme court after he was granted permission to submit fresh arguments.

Despite losing by a majority of five to two, his lawyers have been given 14 days to consider whether to challenge a central point of the judgment on the correct interpretation of international treaties.

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.

Assange's lawyers believe that several of the justices on the seven-judge panel relied on that principle of subsequent practice in deciding that a public prosecutor had become accepted across Europe as a judicial authority.

Significantly, the court appears prepared to consider whether arguments about the Vienna Convention were raised sufficiently during the hearing. Because of security concerns the judgment was not circulated beforehand, so Assange's lawyers did not receive it in time to make representations at an earlier stage.

His lawyers may also, concurrently, begin the process of appealing against the judgment to the European court of human rights in Strasbourg. According to the supreme court, the Crown Prosecution Service cannot start extraditing Assange until 13 June at the earliest.

"The majority of the judges believe that parliament was seriously misled when it approved the European arrest warrant system," said Peirce.

"Parliament thought a 'judicial authority' meant a judge or court but the majority of supreme court judges based their decision on what is the practice in Europe and decided it on the basis of the Vienna Convention, which was never argued before the court."

The two judges who found in Assange's favour were Lord Mance and Lady Hale, who said that the court should not construe a UK statute contrary to the evidence of what parliament thought it was doing at the time.

Even though another judge, Lord Brown, has retired – at the age of 75 – since the original hearing, he may yet be called back to ensure there are an uneven number of justices on the panel if the court has to consider an emergency application from Assange.

This is the first time the supreme court has agreed to receive a challenge to one of its rulings. It happened in the past when the House of Lords was the country's highest court.

Outside the supreme court, supporters of the Wikileaks founder were holding placards declaring "Free Assange" and "Free Bradley Manning", referring to the US serviceman who is accused of sending diplomatic and security cables to the site. "Revealing the truth about war is no crime," another poster said.

The veteran Australian journalist John Pilger, who has been supporting Assange, said: "I don't think this judgment is a blow. We are disappointed but it came so close. Three of the judges [who found against Assange] were tipping in our favour.

"There was a consensus [on the bench] that parliament had been misled on this law. The court has now agreed to allow Julian Assange's legal team to go back and reconsider this. This case moves in mysterious ways and we are about to move into another mysterious stage of this whole unnecessary process."

Jago Russell, chief executive of Fair Trials International which monitors the use of European extradition warrants, said: "[This] ruling takes Julian Assange one step closer to being extradited to Sweden. Although Sweden is rightly proud of its justice system, its overuse of pre-trial detention means that, if extradited, he is likely to be imprisoned and placed under extremely restrictive conditions."

The Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman, London MEP Sarah Ludford, said: "I fully support reform of the European arrest warrant to stop misuse for minor cases or for the investigation stage and to stop people being whisked off to a foreign jail long before a trial is genuinely imminent." your social media marketing partner


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+11 # seeuingoa 2012-05-31 13:27
If Assange should be sent to US
from Sweden, there will be a universal boycott of everything swedish, from
tourism to big companies.

Is Sweden really ready to lose their
enormous goodwill in the world for being
a fair and just democracy, just in order
to appease a fascist policestate.
+2 # Innocent Victim 2012-05-31 17:17
Right on, Mr Goa!

The British High Court seems to be the only British institution that shows such deference to the French. The President of the Court said, in explaining its decision, the term "judicial authority" in the French could mean a prosecutor, not only a court or a judge. He continued that the more demanding meaning of the British legal tradition has to be put aside in favor of the French understanding. Why? Is it because the U.S. says so? Did the British adopt the euro? The French did. Do the British now drive on the right-hand side of the road? The French do. If the French decided to guillotine their judges, should the British do that, too? Well, maybe!
0 # Innocent Victim 2012-05-31 17:28
Another thought: if Assange were before a French high court for extradition to Sweden, would the French judges decide that, because in English a "judicial authority" means a court or a judge, Assange cannot be extradited - especially considering that the gentleman is an Australian, a member of the British Commonwealth with British traditions. Much as I like the French, I don't think they would defer to the British.
+3 # Lowflyin_Lolana 2012-05-31 17:28
This is the guy we can probably thank for ending the Iraq war.
+1 # Innocent Victim 2012-05-31 17:46
What ended the presence of U.S. combat forces in Iraq was not Julian Assange, much as he deserves praise for exposing U.S. lies. The Iraqi prime minister refused to allow the U.S. armed forces to remain any longer in Iraq. They had killed one civilian too many, and the PM was adamant about not renewing the status of forces agreement.

Our mercenaries remain in Iraq, in the huge embassy compound, thousands of them.
0 # treadlightly 2012-06-01 14:03
Dare to challenge the protectors of the 1% and this is the result. Slow motion public defamation. Who do these secrets REALLY endanger? You know as well as I.... M.I.C
+1 # RMDC 2012-06-01 18:43
This is really a fucked up ruling. The extradition of Assange has not been made by a court where charges have been filed. The extradition request was made by a prosecutor. The original complaintents have withdrawn their complaints and say they will not take part in any trial if one were to occur. And if one did occur, the penalty is a misdemeanor.

So this Swedish prosecutor is spending all his time on this sort of case!!! Clearly there is a hidden agenda and that agenda is quite well known. There's a sealed grand jury indictment in Alexandria just waiting to be served if Assange is transferred to Sweden.

Obama is really out of control. He could stop this if he cared. But he does not. He is determined to murder Assange, just like he murders his other enemies every week. Assange will disappear into some military prison. He will be tortured. Tried by a secret court. And finally executed. Do the Swedes understand this? There's a law prohibiting any nation from handing over a person to a nation where torture and the death penalty exists. What is wrong with the Swedes?
0 # giraffee2012 2012-06-02 12:31
Are we still in a democracy? Big $$ (corporations = people) are permitted by the RATS to buy our elections, Manning (US Citizen held without charges - even military law in USA requires charges), protesters cracked over heads, pepper-sprayed, etc, and persons found guilty are sentenced by a judge - often negating weeks of deliberation, wall street bilkers of billions are not even questioned, brought to court (etc) - and thus not IN JAIL --- and Sunday night I'll find out if my number is chosen to serve on a jury: I just made my argument I will tell the judge WHY HE SHOULD REJECT ME: I just will sit there are refuse to participate OR I'll judge the case based on my own prejudices (and give him examples - such as "stand your ground is a good rule ONLY for a White Male"

Assange my have had monetary or other goals included in his freedom of speech right to publish -- and furthermore, why isn't the NY Times and other papers that printed Wiki Leaks documents also ready for the noose (after all, corporations are people today and those papers are corporations). Assange should incorporate himself into a corporation!

I'm off topic but these are my thoughts about Assange's plight. BTW: THANK YOU Mr. Assange. You have done more for democracy than meets the eye today.

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