Tags: assange extradition

Extradition to Sweden Could Land Assange in US Custody

Tuesday, 11 January 2011 12:56 PM

Lawyers for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will argue extraditing him to Sweden to face questions over rape claims would breach legal due process and may result in him being sent to the U.S., where he could be executed.

Assange’s lawyers claim the Swedish prosecutor seeking his extradition from the U.K. in a rape probe doesn’t have the power to make the request, according to an outline of arguments that were published today on his lawyer’s website. The arguments will be used at a Feb. 7 hearing on the extradition request.

If he is extradited to Sweden there is a “real risk” the U.S. will then seek his extradition from there or attempt an “illegal rendition,” according to the document. The lawyers wrote he could wind up at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay.

“It is well-known that prominent figures have implied, if not stated, that Mr. Assange should be executed,” according to the arguments outlined in the document.

Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee has said those responsible for leaking the U.S embassy cables should be put to death, and former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin has said Assange should be “hunted down just like al-Qaeda,” according to the document, which cited newspaper articles.

Lawyers for Assange have said the accusations in Sweden are politically motivated and tied to the actions of WikiLeaks, an organization that has published secret U.S. military documents on its website. Assange faces allegations, by two separate Swedish women, of sexual molestation and rape. District Judge Nicholas Evans in London renewed Assange’s bail today while he awaits the extradition hearing.

‘Rather Impressive’

Overall the document is a “rather impressive, multi- pronged attack” on the extradition request, Dan Hyde, a criminal lawyer at Cubism Law in London who isn’t involved in the case, said in a telephone interview. “But what we are dealing with now is a request from Sweden.”

Arguments about what the U.S. might do if he gets there are “a bit remote,” he said.

The arrest warrant was sought by Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny, who started her investigation on Sept. 1, after another Swedish prosecutor dropped the rape charge and reduced the molestation charges.

In their arguments, Assange’s lawyers Geoffrey Robertson and John Jones said only the Swedish National Police Board has the power to request a European Arrest Warrant on behalf of Sweden, making Ny’s request invalid. Ny has said in the past that she is seeking Assange’s extradition so she can interview him about the allegations.

‘Mere Suspicion’

“It is a well-established principle of extradition law, pre-dating the introduction of the Extradition Act 2003, that mere suspicion should not found a request for extradition,” his lawyers wrote in the document. “A person’s extradition should not be sought merely in order for him to be questioned.”

Swedish prosecution authority spokeswoman Karin Rosander didn’t return phone calls seeking comment. Ny doesn’t intend to comment today, as the hearing in London “is only of preliminary character,” a statement on her office’s website said.

The dispute is in “a gray area,” Daniel Barnett, an attorney at Outer Temple Chambers in London, said in an e-mailed statement. He isn’t connected with the Assange case.

“Whilst an arrest warrant should not be used to extradite a suspect for mere questioning, it is unclear whether the Swedish prosecutor wishes to do more,” Barnett said. “The arrest warrant does say that it is issued for the purpose of ‘conducting a criminal prosecution,’ and Mr. Assange will have to persuade the U.K. court that this is not the Swedish prosecutor’s real intention.”

WikiLeaks has drawn condemnation for posting thousands of classified U.S. military and diplomatic communications, including a video of a July 2007 helicopter attack in Iraq that killed a Reuters television cameraman and his driver. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Nov. 29 that the Justice Department is investigating the leaks.

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Tuesday, 11 January 2011 12:56 PM
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