We received word last week that a decision would me made today in regards to Julian Assange’s bid to avoid extradition. It would appear that he he has lost that bid as the UK Supreme Court issued their verdict today and they are letting the extradition go ahead.
Here’s the judgement from the document released by the UK Supreme Court:
The Supreme Court by a majority of 5 to 2 (Lady Hale and Lord Mance dissenting) dismisses the appeal and holds that an EAW issued by a public prosecutor is a valid Part 1 warrant issued by a judicial authority within the meaning of section 2(2) and 66 of the 2003 Act.
As we reported, Assange’s lawyers were challenging whether or not the Swedish public prosecutor could be considered a “judicial authority” when issuing a European arrest warrant. That argument obviously failed before the court. In their decision, the court says that the Vienna Convention extends “judicial authority” to prosecutors.
“…the Supreme Court is not bound as a matter of European law to interpret Part 1 of the 2003 Act in a manner which accords with the Framework Decision, but the majority held that the court should do so in this case. The immediate objective of the Framework Decision was to create a single system for achieving the surrender of those accused or convicted of serious criminal offences and this required a uniform interpretation of the phrase ‘judicial authority’. There was a strong domestic presumption in favour of interpreting a statute in a way which did not place the United Kingdom in breach of its international obligations.”
The two dissenters – Lord Mance and Lady Hale – said that the framework decision was unclear. In their statement, the two said:
“In this case, the correct interpretation of ‘judicial authority’ in the Framework Decision, a question of EU law, was far from certain. Thus if Parliament had intended to restrict the power to issue EAWs to judges or courts, that would not have required a deliberate intention to legislate inconsistently with the Framework Decision. As the words in the statute were ambiguous, it was appropriate to have regard to ministerial statements, and those statements showed that repeated assurances were given that an issuing judicial authority would have to be a court, judge or magistrate.”
After the verdict was made, RT reports that Assange’s legal team requested a 14-day extension. It’s reported that Assange’s defense lawyer, Dinah Rose, argued that the court’s decision was made based upon legal precedents that were not discussed during the appeal. In this case, the legal precedent is the
So what’s next for Assange? Fair Trials International put together a informative document that details what the future holds for the Wikileaks founder. They say that Assange’s only hope at the moment is to appeal the decision to the European Court of Human Rights, but Fair Trials says that his extradition being stopped is very unlikely.
As for Assange’s trip to Sweden, Fair Trials says that he can expect to be arrested upon landing in Sweden and then held in detention until his first court hearing. From there, it’s unlikely that he will be granted bail so he will most likely be stuck in detention until his actual court date. Fortunately, Sweden usually gets prisoners through the court system fairly quickly and Assange will have access to his lawyer throughout all of this.
For their part, Wikileaks has been rather quiet since the ruling came this morning. Their Twitter account announced the verdict and gave out some resources regarding the trial. There has been no formal announcement from Assange or anybody on his legal team.
It looks like the fight against extradition is not over yet. We’ll keep an eye out for any developments today and throughout the week. It will be interesting to see the reaction from both sides of the debate.
[Lead image: Protests outside of Supreme Court this morning courtesy of @_cypherpunks_]