2012-05-30 UK Supreme Court rules against Assange appeal

Today at approximately 09:20AM the UK Supreme Court ruled against Julian Assange, upholding the European Arrest Warrant which orders his extradition to Sweden. Mr Assange's battle against extradition has so far spanned 540 days, 530 of which he spent electronically tagged under house arrest, the other 10 held in solitary confinement. He has not been charged with any crime and is being extradited solely for the purpose of questioning.

The main point of the court was that the term 'judicial authority' can include public prosecutors because the term is a direct translation from the French version of the EU framework agreement and that version implies that public prosecutors may be regarded as judicial.

The decision was not unanimous: two of the seven judges were in dissent.

Dinah Rose asked the court for 14 days to prepare a comment on the ruling.

The full decision and the press summary are available here.

What happens next?

Julian Assange will remain under house arrest for 14 days while his legal team prepares a submission. The submission regards the ruling being based on the Vienna Convention, something which was not considered in the February hearing.

After the 14 day period, the judges will consider the submission and re-rule on the case.

Julian Assange then has 7 days to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. This would not prevent his extradition, but it could possibly overturn the ruling at a later date.

If the Supreme Court upholds the ruling today to extradite Mr Assange, he will be sent to Sweden within 10 days. Once there, he will be immediately placed in prison, in solitary confinement, incommunicado. Sweden does not have a bail system, and he is likely to spend up to a year in custody.

Implications of the ruling

By ruling to extradite Julian Assange, the UK Supreme Court effectively enforces the potential extradition of any persons to any EU country without evidence or charge being placed.

Potential U.S. extradition

Julian Assange is at high risk of further extradition to the United States. The U.S. and Sweden have a "temporary surrender" agreement which allows the extradition of persons while bypassing usual safeguards of the process. Sweden has not refused an extradition request by the U.S. since 2000.

Stratfor emails released by WikiLeaks revealed that the U.S. has a sealed indictment against Julian Assange. A secret grand jury into WikiLeaks has also been active in Alexandria, Virginia since September 2010.

Cables from the Australian Embassy recently revealed that Julian Assange remains the target of a criminal investigation by the U.S. Government. He is also the focus of intelligence exchanges between the U.S. and Australia.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be in Sweden on June 3 to meet with Swedish officials regarding internet freedom.

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