2012-05-31 Understanding the Supreme Court verdict in Julian Assange's case

Mainstream media around the world has been plastered with headlines stating Julian Assange's impending extradition to Sweden. But the ruling is far more complicated than that, and the case currently has the potential of being reopened. This is nearly unprecedented, as Britain has not reopened a case since Pinochet in 1999.

The Supreme Court's Ruling

On May 30, the Supreme Court dismissed Julian Assange's appeal by a majority of five to two. The five judges who ruled in favor of the extradition believed that the public prosecutor who issued the arrest warrant for Mr Assange was considered a 'judicial authority' with regards to both the European Union framework deicison on extradition and the Extradition Act.

Dinah Rose QC's Argument

After Lord Phillips read the ruling, Dinah Rose QC, a lawyer for Mr Assange, brought up a concern with the ruling being prinicipally or solely based on interpretation of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. This point was not brought up during the February 1 and 2 hearings, therefore the defence did not have a chance to argue it.

Ms Rose asked for the opportunity to make an application based on this concern. Lord Phillips accepted her request.

What happens next

Julian Assange's legal team must make a submission by June 13 regarding the basis of the ruling.

Until then, Mr Assange's extradition is stayed, and he remains under house arrest under the same conditions he has endured for the past 17 months.

If the application is accepted

If the Supreme Court accepts the application, they will re-open the appeal and accept further submissions. The court may accept paper submissions, or could arrange for a further hearing on the case.

If the application is denied

If the Supreme Court denies the application, then their ruling on Julian Assange's extradition will stand. He will be sent to Sweden within 10 days.

Mr Assange may appeal further to the European Court of Human Rights, though this would not prevent his extradition.

Further Resources:
UK Supreme Court - Full Judgment (PDF)
UK Supreme Court - Press Summary (PDF)
UK Supreme Court - Further statement
WL Central - Transcript of judgment hearing
Fair Trials International - Statement on verdict
Justice for Assange - Supreme Court appeal

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