Wikileaks Assange to quit extradition fight?

November 15, 2011

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has hired a Swedish public relations company in an indication that he is ready to abandon his appeal against his extradition to Sweden to face sexual misconduct allegations.

In a statement on his website, Harald Ullman confirmed he had been taken on by Assange, but there was no indication as to when – if at all – the WikiLeaks founder might travel to Sweden.

“After researching the case it is clear to me that JA is innocent of the rape allegations,” the Independent quoted the statement, as saying.

“Many wonder why he just doesn’t go to Sweden. The reason why is that he is scared that he will be extradited to the US,” it added.

The United States is yet to file charges against Assange, although a grand jury has been tasked with deciding whether he or WikiLeaks broke any US laws through their leaks.

Legal experts say any extradition to the US from Sweden would have to be approved by Britain first, under the terms of the European arrest warrant that he is sought on.

Assange had earlier this month lost his London High Court appeal against extradition to Sweden.

Assange, an Australian, had decided to fight the case at London’s High Court after a judge at Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court ruled in February that the WikiLeaks head should be extradited.

The 40-year-old has not been charged with a crime, but Swedish prosecutors want to question him in connection with sexual misconduct allegations related to separate incidents in August 2010.

Assange has been denying the accusations.

This article was published by ZeeNews on November 14, 2011.

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

————————————————————–

We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and Sweden here.

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


WikiLeaks’s Assange to Get U.K. Appeal Ruling on Extradition

November 1, 2011

Julian Paul Assange, founder of the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, will find out tomorrow, November 2nd, if the U.K. Court of Appeal backs his extradition to Sweden to face rape claims almost 11 months after he was arrested in London.

Assange, 40, has argued that the case is politically motivated and that the sex, with two women who let him stay in their apartments, was consensual. The Australian has been under police surveillance at a friend’s mansion in Suffolk, England, since shortly after being detained on Dec. 7, 2010.

The alleged misconduct was revealed as WikiLeaks was being condemned by U.S. authorities for posting thousands of classified military and diplomatic communications. WikiLeaks temporarily suspended its operations last month to raise money during what it called a U.S. “financial blockade.” Visa Europe Ltd., MasterCard Inc., American Express Co. and eBay Inc.’s PayPal halted payments to the site, Assange says.

“Extradition appeals are an uphill task — there are so many limitations on what you’re able to do with a defense,” said Dan Hyde, a lawyer with Cubism Law in London. “It would be a significant victory for Assange if he’s successful.”

Assange is accused of failing to use a condom in one incident and having sex with a woman who was sleeping, in another in August 2010. The alleged crimes, for which no charges have been filed, took place in Stockholm and Enkoeping, Sweden, while Assange was lecturing to supporters about the publication of U.S. military documents.

Lawyer Change

The extradition was ordered in February by Judge Howard Riddle in London, prompting lawyers to question the strategy of Assange’s legal team, which had labeled Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny as a “radical feminist.” Assange replaced his lawyers in July.

During the February hearing, Assange’s lawyers introduced evidence of mistakes by Ny in the arrest process and questioned the political motivation of her and other prosecutors.

Assange’s appeal was argued by Gareth Peirce, who in 2005 represented the family of a Brazilian electrician who was shot and killed by London police after being mistaken for a suicide bomber. She also assisted at least three British men who were arrested by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In July, Pierce said any ruling from the Court of Appeal can be brought to the U.K. Supreme Court.

Pierce wasn’t immediately available to comment before the hearing.

A rape sentence in Sweden normally leads to between two and six years in prison. A “serious” case, which involves violence and threats, has a maximum sentence of 10 years. A “less serious” case has an upper limit of four years, Sweden’s Deputy Director of Public Prosecution said last year.

Assange, born in Townsville, Australia, began as a computer hacker in his native country and pleaded guilty in 1996 to 24 counts of violating the Crimes Act by accessing and inserting information into computers, including those of Nortel Networks Corp. He received a fine and three years probation.

This article was written by Erik Larson and published by Bloomberg Businessweek on November 01, 2011.

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Judgment due next week in Assange extradition case

October 27, 2011
Wikileaks' Julian Assange
© Jillian Edelstein For Forbes

Associated Press (AP) on October 27, 2011 released the following:

“By DAVID STRINGER

LONDON (AP) — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will learn next week of the verdict in his fight against his extradition to Sweden to answer allegations of sexual misconduct, the organization said Thursday.

WikiLeaks staffer Joseph Farrell said that Britain’s High Court had informed Assange it will deliver judgment on his appeal on Nov. 2,

“The court told us. We have no further details,” Farrell said in a text message.

In February, a judge ruled that Assange should be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual molestation against two women. Lawyers for Assange filed an appeal at the High Court, and insist the activist would not receive a fair trial.

Britain’s Royal Courts of Justice could not immediately be reached to confirm details of next week’s hearing.

Allegations against Assange date back to a visit to Sweden in August 2010, shortly after the activist’s organization had released secret U.S. files on the war in Afghanistan. Assange became involved with two women — one of whom later accused him of coercion and molestation, another of whom alleged that he had had sex with her as she slept.

Swedish prosecutors have not charged Assange with any crime, but have demanded that he returns to Scandinavia to face questions about the case.

Assange, who was briefly detained in prison custody, has been living under curfew at a supporter’s rural mansion in eastern England while he has contested the demand for his extradition.

The activist has been made the subject of an overnight curfew, must wear an electronic tag and report to police daily.

Assange has claimed the Swedish case is being politically manipulated following his organization’s disclosure of classified U.S. documents.

At an appeal hearing in July, Assange’s lawyer Ben Emmerson said that the women involved in the case may have found sex with his client “disrespectful, discourteous or disturbing,” but added that it had been entirely consensual.

Emmerson told that hearing that Assange’s actions wouldn’t be illegal in the context of English law. “The conduct that is complained of would not constitute a crime in this jurisdiction,” he said.

Assange had previously vowed to take his case to Britain’s Supreme Court or the European Court of Human Rights if his appeal is rejected by the High Court.”

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


WikiLeaks is Not About to Dry Up, Assange Warns

October 20, 2011

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Monday told Latin American media that his organization was far from financially endangered despite sanctions slapped on it by the United States.

Purportedly “our biggest problem is an economic problem related due to that US banking and financial embargo. But we’re not taking this lying down,” Assange told the general assembly of the Inter-American Press Association by teleconference.

“We have been presently in a strong enough cash position to survive entirely on our cash reserves for the past 11 months, and there are not many staff organizations that are in such a strong cash position,” Assange stressed from London where he is living until a court rules on his potential extradition to Sweden.

In a 50-minute speech, he said whistleblowing website WikiLeaks was nowhere near financial Armageddon because “we have thousands of pending disclosures for publications, we have signed contracts with more than 50 media organizations around the world.”

Assange is currently living under stringent bail conditions in Britain, fighting extradition to Sweden where he is wanted for questioning over alleged rape and sexual assault. Assange supporters argue that the United States may seek extradition of Assange once he if he is extradited to Sweden.

This article was published by 9 News on October 18, 2011.

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

————————————————————–

We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and Sweden here.

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Julian Assange Extradition Appeal Hearing – Day 2 Live Coverage

July 13, 2011

Full coverage of the second day of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s battle to avoid being sent to Sweden to face rape and sexual assault allegations

4.51pm: Lord Justice Thomas said there would be another hearing to hand down the judgment. He thanked both sides and said: “We will take time to consider the numerous arguments and authorities.”

It is estimated that it could be at least three weeks before the judgment is handed down.

4.45pm: Mark Summers is speaking now for Assange: “The prosecutor has never sought to explain why she has not engaged all other mechanisms [i.e. other than extradition] to progress this investigation … The reason there is a stand-off is entirely of Sweden’s making. What a waste of time.”

And that’s it. The judgment will be reserved so we will not be getting it today.

4.25pm: AA, who slept with Assange, “did not even say she had been exposed to abuse; she didn’t even want to go to the police,” says Emmerson.

4.24pm: The Italian journalist taking a photo in court earlier provoked a warning from the judge that members of the media and the public attending court can “tweet – but not snap”, the Press Association reports.

Alessandro Carlini, a freelance writer, had his mobile phone confiscated and was told that he had committed contempt of court and under normal circumstances would be taken down to the cells until legal representation could be provided and the matter dealt with.

Alessandro apologized in court and said later he had mistakenly pressed “the wrong button” on his mobile.

Lord Justice Thomas ordered him to stand up in the crowded court after the midday break and warned him he was committing contempt of court.

Thomas said the media were now allowed to use mobiles and other technology to keep the public informed of court proceedings, but “it has always been made very clear photographs are not to be taken”.

The judge said he understood Alessandro may not have been entirely to blame, but the case should serve as a warning to everyone that in future such conduct would lead to contempt proceedings.

4.19pm: Emmerson, Assange’s barrister, says one complainant felt “railroaded” by police and colleagues and only wanted Assange to get a blood test, not to press charges.

4.13pm: Ben Emmerson QC, for Assange, says: “The clearest possible facts have been concealed through the terminology of the warrant. That is wrong.”

4.05pm: Emmerson (left) is now restating Assange’s case that the charges on the European arrest warrant are not a proper version of the claimants’ allegations.

4.01pm: Emmerson, for Assange, says of his client:

He’s lying beside her in a single bed, my lord. Men will get erections involuntarily during a night’s sleep. In a single bed with a man there’s a strong possibility she will come into contact with an erect penis.

The judge replies: “I agree.”

3.58pm: The question is did she consent to his getting an erection, says Emmerson, Assange’s barrister.

“The question is what he does with it,” says Mr. Justice Ouseley.

3.50pm: Emmerson goes into detail about Assange’s sharing a single bed with a woman – to laughter in the court.

3.42pm: From the high court, Robert Booth says Ben Emmerson is talking in a deliberately emphatic manner in an attempt to change the atmosphere of the court in Assange’s favor.

3.36pm: Ben Emmerson, Assange’s barrister, says the idea of isolating a moment of lack of consent in an encounter that was consenting both before and after “is crazy”.

He says: “A lot of what has been said to your lordships is simply a waste of time.”

He says, a little facetiously, that Clare Montgomery, for Sweden, posited “some very progressive and some may say desirable definitions of consent”.

3.24pm: Lord Justice Thomas is vexed about the unwillingness of Sweden to allow Julian Assange to be interviewed without extradition in the spirit of “EU co-operation”.

He asks: “Why are we precluded from acting with sense in this European Union when the commission talks about judicial co-operation?”

3.14pm: The Press Association notes details told to the court about how Assange met the two women.

The first woman, AA, worked for a political group that had invited Assange to Sweden to give a lecture, the court heard. She said that Assange could stay in her apartment in Stockholm, lawyers said.

She had “thrown a crayfish party” in Assange’s honor and had sent a tweet saying “… with the world’s coolest people, it’s amazing … ”

Lawyers said the second woman, SW, became captivated with Assange when she saw a television interview with him. She had found out where he was speaking then attended the talk.

She had “helped” by buying a computer cable for Assange, attended an “intimate lunch” with him and Assange had flirted with her.

The first woman told police that Assange’s physical advances were “initially welcomed” but “then it felt awkward” since he was “rough and impatient”, Assange’s lawyers told judges.

She described one encounter by saying that Assange “continued to have sex” and “she just wanted to get it over”. Talking about another encounter, she described Assange’s behavior as “very strange”.

The woman told police that “Assange tried to make sexual advances towards her every day after that evening when they had sex”‘. She had rejected Assange, which he “had accepted”.

“Her words may indicate she was not particularly enjoying what was going on, but they certainly do not go anywhere near what we would regard in this country as lack of consent,” said Ben Emmerson QC, for Assange, yesterday.

3.09pm: This is getting baroque: “Assange is accused in a popular sense if not in a technical sense,” says Montgomery.

3.07pm: Robert Booth writes from the high court that the way the case is developing in Clare Montgomery’s submission on behalf of the Swedish prosecution authority suggests that Julian Assange’s future – freedom from house arrest or extradition for questioning – will rest on the application of the controversial and complex European arrest warrant system.

The details of the allegations in the case are vividly clear and have been rehearsed here in court four but they are not the issue the two judges are wrestling with in what often sounds like an academic comparative law exercise.

Among other things, the judges are being taken on a tour of variation in criminal procedure in the EU and in particular when a charge is firm enough for a warrant to apply; how different states use different authorities to press charges; and language, for example whether suspicion, accused and other terms mean the same thing in different languages in different systems.

The complexity of all this is a feature of EU law, it seems: the clash and confusion with member states’ different systems when the intent of a single EU system was to simplify.

Even the judges seem to be feeling overwhelmed by the range of variation between say Belgium, France and Germany. So it is no surprise that Assange’s destiny is becoming no more clear as the case winds on. Does the Supreme Court loom or is this case not sufficiently in the public interest?

2.54pm: Regarding the most serious allegation, that Julian Assange had sex with SW while she was asleep, the Associated Press reports that Clare Montgomery, for the Swedish authorities, attacked Ben Emmerson, Assange’s barrister, for quoting testimony stating that “she let him continue”. Montgomery accused Emmerson of “effectively winding the law on consent back to the 19th century”, adding:

At best, the words “I let him” amount to submission, not free consent.

2.45pm: Montgomery says the allegations against Assange are valid for the European arrest warrant. It lists “concrete offences with reasonable specifics” in “unmistakable language”.

2.37pm: Montgomery says the EU directive “deliberately does not identify any point in the process” when the warrant can be issued. “It is deliberately vague,” she says.

2.34pm: Montgomery is now detailing the EU framework decision on the European arrest warrant as a rebuff to the Assange team’s contention that a charge is needed first before a suspect can be extradited.

2.33pm: More from the Press Association news agency.

Clare Montgomery QC, speaking for the Swedish authorities, said the evidence was “absolutely clear” in relation to the fourth charge – the allegation that Assange raped SW. Montgomery said:

The evidence is absolutely clear that this complainant may be legitimately described as given evidence that she had been penetrated whilst asleep. Furthermore, being penetrated in a way which [it] is absolutely clear … she had not consented to, namely unprotected. It is doubly clear there is no consent.

Montgomery said the fact that the woman may later have agreed to let Assange continue did not change the “initial” act. “She may later have acquiesced,” said Montgomery. “That didn’t make the initial penetration anything other than an act of rape.”

Montgomery said SW had later told a friend that Assange “had unprotected sex with her when she slept”. SW had also told the friend Assange “wanted to impregnate women” and “preferred virgins because he would be the first to impregnate them”, as mentioned earlier.

She told the friend she had been “shocked and paralyzed” and had “not really understood at first what was happening”, said Montgomery. SW’s boyfriend had told police that “this is a woman who never had unprotected sex”, judges heard.

2.17pm: The case has started again for the afternoon. Alexi Mostrous tweets:

A foreign reporter just got a VERY scary shock after taking photo in court. Judge made him stand, told if u do it again you go to prison

2.15pm: Robert Booth has sent his summing up of this morning’s exchanges.

The case laid out by Clare Montgomery QC, appearing for the Swedish authorities, is that Julian Assange must be extradited to Sweden to face the accusations of rape and sexual assault, because the prosecutors’ case against him clearly alleges that there was no consent during a string of sexual encounters in Stockholm last August.

Montgomery said the charges set out on the European arrest warrant and supported by witness statements amount to valid allegations for which the cross-border warrant is appropriate.

Assange’s side had yesterday argued there was a discrepancy between the allegations of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion set out in the warrant and the witness statements of the two women who complained and so the warrant should not be supported.

Before rehearsing in graphic detail the allegations against the 40-year old Australian, Montgomery told the court the definition of an extradition offence “means the conduct complained of. It has nothing to do with the evidence.”

Lord Judge Thomas appeared to support that position saying: “We are not concerned with whether this is a good case or a bad case but whether what is charged amounts to a crime.”

Montgomery said the witness statements of the two women, known as AA and SW, who complained about Assange “describe circumstances in which they did not freely consent without coercion. They were coerced either by physical force or they were trapped into a situation where they had no choice.”

She described how Assange “roughed up” one woman, broke her necklace and pressed his penis against her. In this case, she said, her consent “may not have been a free choice”. Montgomery said:

AA says in her case the prelude to the offense was Mr. Assange ripping her clothes of, breaking her necklace, her trying to get dressed again and then letting him undress her.

He then had sex with her after pinning her arms and trying to force her legs apart to insert his unprotected penis, which she did not want, Montgomery said.

In another incident four days later with the same woman Assange undressed and pressed his penis against her. “The fact she voluntarily shared a bed with him did not mean she consented,” said Montgomery.

Montgomery said SW had told a friend Assange “said he preferred virgins as he felt he could be the first to impregnate them”.

Earlier, Assange’s legal team had advanced more arguments as to why the European arrest warrant was not valid. Mark Summers questioned whether the Swedish prosecutor could be considered a “judicial authority [which] is independent of both the executive and the parties” and therefore able to issue the warrant.

Lord Justice Thomas said that many prosecuting authorities in Europe issue European arrest warrants, and that if Assange’s argument was right “it drives a substantial wedge into the application of the European arrest warrant”.

By contrast, when Montgomery argued that prosecutors can issue such warrants and have done so for many years, the judge warned of “undermining public confidence” in the warrant system if the definition of judicial authority was drawn too wide.

Summers also said Assange was “suspected with probable cause” in Sweden, but because this stage in an investigation comes before a charge and therefore before him becoming “accused”, the arrest warrant was not valid.

The case continues this afternoon.

1.39pm: More from the Press Association’s report.

Clare Montgomery QC, acting for Sweden, argued that AA had been a victim of “coercive violent sex”. She said:

The statements are clearly describing coercive, violent sex of the sort where the court would be entitled to infer there was no consent and Mr. Assange didn’t believe there was any. The first charge relates to actions which nobody suggested she was positively consenting.

Montgomery said the woman had later made her feelings “crystal clear” to a friend, saying “what had happened had gone beyond the limit of what she consented to”.

She said that AA also complained that Assange had “broken a condom” and added: “The complaint is unprotected sexually intercourse where consent had only been given to protected intercourse.”

On one night the first woman had agreed to share a single bed with Assange but not to be sexually “touched”, Montgomery added.

Prosecutors alleged that the woman’s “sexual integrity” had been “violated”, judges were told.

1.15pm: Montgomery said earlier that the fact AA voluntarily shared a bed with Assange four days after their first encounter “did not mean she consented” to his pressing his penis against her in that first encounter.

She tells the court that one of the alleged victims said that Assange “preferred virgins since he was the first to impregnate them”.

1.09pm: The Press Association news agency has filed its first report on this morning’s session.

According to Clare Montgomery QC, acting for the Swedish authorities, Julian Assange faces genuine accusations of “non-consensual, coerced sex”.

Statements made by the two women who have accused Assange of sexual misconduct – one of whom said she was “roughed up” – plainly showed they did not freely consent, Montgomery said.

Montgomery said it was “perfectly plain” that the women had made allegations of non-consensual, coerced sex. That was “clearly the only legitimate inference one can draw from the plaintiff’s statements”.

She told Lord Justice Thomas and Mr. Justice Ouseley that the women described circumstances “in which they did not freely consent without coercion” but agreed to sex because of physical force, or consented “already having been trapped into a position where they had no choice, and they submitted to Mr. Assange’s attentions”.

They had “let him continue”, said Montgomery. “This is non-consensual. It is coerced, and the words used – ‘I let him’ – means non-consent,” said the QC.

She referred to a statement made by AA in which she said: “I didn’t make a free choice. He had already roughed me up by tearing off my clothes and breaking my necklace.”

12.57pm: Montgomery says there is “evidence that she [SW] was penetrated while asleep … in a way she made clear she did not consent to” if unprotected.

12.46pm: Montgomery says Assange agrees that he knew that AA had rejected sexual invitations from him.
.
12.27pm: Judge Thomas says: “We are not concerned with whether this is a good case or a bad case but whether what is charged amounts to a crime.”

Helena Kennedy QC has entered court and is sitting on the same bench as Assange.

12.26pm: Montgomery, acting for Sweden, says: “Assange lying on top of her tried to force his unprotected penis into her, which she did not want, and held her arms.”

12.17pm: The first allegation against Assange “relates to actions to which nobody suggests she was positively consenting”, says Montgomery.

12.08pm: The Associated Press news agency sums up some of the earlier exchanges:

Ben Emmerson QC [Julian Assange’s barrister] today attacked the way in which the extradition request was made, arguing that public prosecutors are not allowed to issue European arrest warrants.

The prosecution rejected the accusation and it was greeted with skepticism from one of the judges.

11.58am: On to the testimonies about Assange – Montgomery, acting for Sweden, says she sees them very differently. “They are describing circumstances in which they [the alleged victims] did not consent without coercion. They were coerced by physical force or were trapped.”

Assange’s alleged rough conduct, breaking one alleged victim’s necklace and lying on top of her, do not add up to consent, she says.

11.51am: Montgomery, acting for Sweden, says there is “nothing to suggest the prosecutor has intent to bring the case as described in some of the witness statements rather than as put in charges”.

One of the Assange team’s key contentions is that the differences between what is outlined in the witness statements and what is in the European arrest warrant means the warrant is not valid.

11.47am: Clare Montgomery attempts to undermine the Assange team’s arguments, saying: “Extradition offense means the conduct complained of. It has nothing to do with the evidence.”

11.34am: The court is now debating whether the Assange case is sufficiently developed towards prosecution as to be suitable for a warrant. Sweden’s legal team say: “The fact it is in the investigative phase doesn’t matter. What matters is the underlying motive of the request.”

11.19am: The judge is implying that there is a question over how much the Assange arrest warrant was issued by an arm of the Swedish state, and how much by an independent judicial authority. He is only hinting at that, but it might interest conspiracy theorists who believe US pressure on Sweden precipitated the extradition request.

11.15am: The judge is worried about “undermining public confidence” in the European arrest warrant regime if the definition of judicial authority becomes too wide.

10.59am: Clare Montgomery is sniping at the length of the Assange side’s skeleton argument, saying: “I lost the will to live.” Ben Emmerson QC, Assange’s barrister, is not impressed.

10.56am: Clare Montgomery, for Sweden, starts by saying public prosecutors have long issued arrest warrants that were processed by UK courts as grounds for extradition.

10.54am: Clare Montgomery QC is opening for Sweden now.

10.45am: Judicial authority is independent of both the executive and the parties, Assange’s side is arguing – so is the Swedish prosecutor allowed to issue a European arrest warrant?

If this argument is right, the judge replies, “It drives a substantial wedge into the application of the European arrest warrant”.

10.37am: Lord Justice Thomas says “looking at this case … a huge amount of time and publicity has been given that is in no one’s interest”.

10.34am: Europe requires a proportionality check on warrants, Summers says. Is there “an approach less onerous for the person sought and the prosecuting authority”?

10.29am: Mark Summers, acting for Assange, says this about the European arrest warrant: “There was from the outset of this case an easier way to proceed. A more proportionate way.”

10.25am: The argument is currently revolving around whether the Swedes are going to prosecute Assange or only want to question him.

10.12am: Mark Summers, who is acting for Julian Assange, says the WikiLeaks founder is suspected “with probable cause” in Sweden but this comes before any charges – so he is not “accused”, so the European arrest warrant is not valid

10.00am: Assange is in good spirits in court four: kisses on both cheeks for his lawyer Gareth Peirce. But the QC for Sweden, Clare Montgomery, is limbering up.

9.55am: Julian Assange has arrived at the high court. As yesterday, he said nothing but smiled and nodded to his applauding supporters.

9.31am: John Pilger, the campaigning leftwing journalist and Assange ally, got a round of applause as he arrived at the court this morning. He did not look amused at his role as warm-up act.

9.28am: Robert Booth is at the Royal Courts of Justice, where the usual posse of news cameramen have gathered to record Assange’s court entrance. A few more protesters against the legal proceedings have also turned up. One placard reads: “Julian Assange dacks the rich and powerful”, Australian slang for pulling down their trousers.

9.23am: Julian Assange appeared at the high court in London yesterday for the first day of the latest stage of his fight against extradition to Sweden over sex allegations. The WikiLeaks founder will be back in court this morning for what is expected to be the final day of the hearing.

Clare Montgomery QC, speaking for the Swedish authorities, is expected to argue that the decision to allow Assange to be extradited at the last stage of this legal process was correct. They will contend that the European arrest warrant under which Assange was arrested is nothing less than fair, accurate and proper and there is no justification for an inquiry into the validity or accuracy of the statements it contains, as Assange’s legal team suggested yesterday.

Judgment is expected to be reserved, so a ruling might not be made public for days or weeks. If he loses, Assange could take his case to the Supreme Court, although permission to appeal to the Supreme Court would only be granted on a point of law considered to be of general public interest.

Here are the key points from yesterday’s hearing:

• Assange is claiming that the European arrest warrant that led to this hearing contained “fundamental misstatements” of what occurred in Stockholm last August. It falsely claims he used violence and “acted in a manner to violate sexual integrity”, Assange’s legal team said.

• The WikiLeaks founder’s team claimed that his encounters with two women who made complaints against him involved consensual sex and would not be considered crimes in England. Ben Emmerson QC, his barrister, admitted that the women involved may have found Assange’s behavior “disreputable, discourteous, disturbing, or even pushing towards the boundaries of what they were comfortable with” – discussing, for example, Assange’s initiating sex with one woman while she was asleep – but maintained that no crime had been committed under UK law.

• Emmerson also claimed that the use of the European warrant was “disproportionate”, as there were other means available to obtain Assange’s assistance in the Swedish investigation.

Assange’s barrister set out the accusations against Assange in graphic detail yesterday, but as Robert points out Assange’s case against extradition does not hinge on whether he accepts these versions of events and testimonies relating to other incidents because there are no charges against him, Emmerson said. Rather, the barrister said, it was a question of whether the arrest warrant in connection with the allegations is valid on “strict and narrow” legal grounds.

Assange – who is appearing before Lord Justice Thomas and Mr. Justice Ouseley – is wanted to answer questions on three allegations of sexual assault and one of rape involving the women, referred to as AA and SW, in Stockholm last August. He denies wrongdoing.

This article was written by Paul Owen and Robert Booth. It was published by guardian.co.uk on July 13, 2011.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

Bookmark and Share


Julian Assange’s Lawyer Claims the Arrest Warrant is Invalid

July 12, 2011

WikiLeaks founder’s counsel claims in high court that Swedish judges were misled about sexual assault and rape allegations

The European arrest warrant issued for the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, is invalid, the high court was told on Tuesday, because of significant discrepancies between its allegations of sexual assault and rape and the testimonies of two women he allegedly had sex with.

The warrant details four allegations of unlawful coercion, sexual molestation and rape, relating to encounters between Assange and two Swedish women while on a trip to Stockholm last August.

But Ben Emmerson QC, for Assange, said the warrant was a misinterpretation of the evidence and it was “surprising and disturbing” that Swedish district judges who requested Assange’s extradition had been misled.

Emmerson was opening the latest step in the Australian’s attempt to avoid being sent to Sweden for questioning and possible charges which Assange has said he fears could pave the way for him to be further extradited to the US. There he could face charges relating to the leak of hundreds of thousands of classified government documents through WikiLeaks. An earlier appeal failed and Assange has appointed a new legal team which is taking a more conciliatory approach.

Emmerson told Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Ousely that there was no evidence about there being a lack of consent in the encounters as appeared to be suggested in the wording of the arrest warrant. He said three of the allegations would not amount to criminal offences under English law.

Emmerson said: “The senior district judge found that those factual allegations would establish dual criminality on the basis that lack of consent, and lack of reasonable belief in consent, may properly be inferred from the conduct described, particularly the references to ‘violence’ and a ‘design’ to ‘violate sexual integrity’. However, that description of conduct is not accurate. The arrest warrant misstates the conduct and is, by that reason alone, an invalid warrant.”

Emmerson examined the witness testimonies of the encounters in graphic detail.

Referring to evidence of an encounter on the night of 13 August given by a woman known as AA who was hosting Assange at her apartment, Emmerson said: “The appellant’s physical advances were initially welcomed but then it felt awkward since he was ‘rough and impatient’… they lay down in bed. AA was lying on her back and Assange was on top of her … AA felt that Assange wanted to insert his penis into her vagina directly, which she did not want since he was not wearing a condom … she did not articulate this. Instead she therefore tried to turn her hips and squeeze her legs together in order to avoid a penetration … AA tried several times to reach for a condom which Assange had stopped her from doing by holding her arms and bending her legs open and try to penetrate her with his penis without using a condom. AA says that she felt about to cry since she was held down and could not reach a condom and felt this could end badly.”

But, Emmerson said, crucially there was no lack of consent sufficient for the unlawful coercion allegation, because “after a while Assange asked what AA was doing and why she was squeezing her legs together. AA told him that she wanted him to put a condom on before he entered her. Assange let go of AA’s arms and put on a condom which AA found.”

Emmerson told the court the case did not hinge on whether Assange accepted this version of events and others relating to other incidents because there were no charges against him, but whether the arrest warrant in connection with them was valid on “strict and narrow” legal grounds.

As if to illustrate the change of strategy by Assange’s new legal team, Emmerson said: “Nothing I say should be taken as denigrating the complainant, the genuineness of their feelings of regret, to trivialise their experience or to challenge whether they felt Assange’s conduct was disrespectful, discourteous, disturbing or even pushing at the boundaries of what they felt comfortable with.”

Assange was in court with supporters including Vaughan Smith, the founder of the Frontline Club who is hosting his house arrest at Ellingham Hall in Norfolk, and John Pilger, the veteran investigative journalist.

Assange arrived at about 9.15am, saying nothing to questions as he moved at a snail’s pace through a tight scrum of photographers. He was asked if he was looking forward to his latest day in court and whether he would take the case to the supreme court if he lost over the next two days. He said nothing.

By the court railings, small groups of protesters gathered, including one carrying a banner saying: “Free Assange! Free Manning! End the wars.”

This article was written by Robert Booth and Published by guardian.co.uk on July 12, 2011.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

Bookmark and Share