WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange loses extradition battle

May 30, 2012

The Washington Post on May 30, 2012 released the following:

“By Karla Adam

LONDON — Britain’s Supreme Court on Wednesday denied WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s appeal against extradition to Sweden to face questions about allegations of rape, sexual assault and unlawful coercion.

At a short hearing in central London, the president of the Supreme Court, Nicholas Phillips, said the court dismissed the defense team’s argument that the warrant that led to Assange’s arrest was flawed.

Speaking to a packed courtroom, Phillips said the case had “not been simple to resolve,” and was decided by a vote of 5 to 2.

In a surprise intervention, Assange’s legal team asked — and was granted — two weeks to consider lodging an application to reopen the case. The lawyers said that the judges decided the case based on the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, but that this point had not been discussed in court.

Assange — who shot to international fame when his anti-secrecy Web site spilled official state secrets in the form of Afghanistan and Iraq military reports and a mammoth cache of diplomatic cables — did not appear in court on Wednesday. His lawyers told reporters he was stuck in traffic.

Swedish authorities want to question Assange — no charges have been laid — about separate encounters he had with two WikiLeaks volunteers. The volunteers say they had consensual sex with Assange, but at some stage, it became non-consensual. One of the women, described in the courts here as “Miss B,” accused Assange of having unwanted sex with her while she was asleep.

Although Assange insists the sex was consensual, his case before the Supreme Court hinged on a single technicality: Was the Swedish prosecutor who issued the European arrest warrant that led to his arrest in December 2010 a valid judicial authority?

Only a “competent judicial authority” can issue a European arrest warrant, a system ushered in to speed up extradition between European nations.

In a 161-page judgment, the Supreme Court haggles over what, exactly, is meant by the words “judicial authority,” ultimately rejecting Assange’s arguments that a public prosecutor cannot fall into the category.

Although the Supreme Court is Britain’s highest appellate court for civil cases, Assange has not yet exhausted all of his legal options.

Assange can still appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, which would decide within two weeks whether or not to take the case. If that court declined to take the case, Assange would be extradited to Sweden “as soon as arrangements can be made,” according to a statement by the Crown Prosecution Service. If the European court accepts the case, analysts say, the long-running legal battle could drag on for more weeks or months.

In February 2011, a lower court in Britain granted Sweden’s extradition request. Assange appealed the ruling and lost, but he won permission to appeal to the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case before seven judges — two more than normal — because, the court said, of the “great public importance of the issue raised, which is whether a prosecutor is a judicial authority.”

Assange’s attorneys have argued that the allegations lodged against him are politically motivated and said they fear Swedish authorities might hand him over to the United States to face charges under the Espionage Act for leaking State Department diplomatic cables.

Over the next two weeks, Assange will remain in Britain under his current bail terms, which include wearing an electronic tag around his ankle and checking in daily with local police.

Such is the worldwide interest in the case that the Supreme Court issued a statement last week encouraging visitors who were not attending the Assange judgment to “choose another day to visit the building.””

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Julian Assange Extradition Appeal: QCs Clash Over ‘Conceptions of Consent’

July 13, 2011

High court judges adjourn case to consider Swedish prosecution authority’s case against WikiLeaks founder.

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, must be extradited to Sweden to face accusations of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion, the high court in London heard.

Clare Montgomery QC, appearing for the Swedish prosecution authority on the last day of Assange’s appeal against extradition, said complaints against him showed a lack of consent during a string of sexual encounters in Stockholm last August. She said the charges set out on the European arrest warrant and supported by witness statements amount to valid allegations.

Speaking to a packed court four at the Royal Courts of Justice before Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Ouseley adjourned to consider their verdict, she spelled out in graphic detail Assange’s alleged behaviour and said the two female complainants known as AA and SW described “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,” Montgomery said. “AA says in her case the prelude to the offence was Mr Assange ripping her clothes off, 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, she said.

In an increasingly hard fought legal battle, Assange’s counsel, Ben Emmerson QC, hit back at what he said were attempts by Montgomery to characterise him as having “19th-century conceptions of consent”. It was “crazy” of Montgomery to isolate a moment of lack of consent within sexual encounters that were otherwise consenting. He said police reports in Sweden showed SW had told a friend, Marie Thorn, that she felt police and others around her “railroaded her” into pressing charges. She had only wanted the police to force Assange to take a blood test after she became worried about HIV after unprotected sex with him, he said.

Emmerson said a friend of AA, Donald Bostrom, said “she didn’t say at all she had been exposed to abuse and didn’t even want to go to the police”, and a charge of sexual molestation arising from Assange sharing a single bed with AA was also unfounded.

The European arrest warrant said Assange “deliberately molested the injured party on 18 August 2010 by acting in a manner designed to violate her sexual integrity”.

In an interview, AA said Assange undressed below the waist and rubbed his erect penis against her. She found it “strange” and “awkward” and moved to sleep on a mattress on the floor. But Assange’s erection was normal, Emmerson told the court.

“He’s lying beside her in a single bed my lord,” he said. “Men will get erections involuntarily and at different times during a night’s sleep. If she chooses to spend a night in a single bed with a man there is a strong possibility she will come into contact with an erect penis. I don’t mean that as a joke.”

“I agree with you,” said Thomas.

However, Montgomery told the court the definition of an extradition offence “means the conduct complained of. It has nothing to do with the evidence.”

Thomas appeared to concur: “We are not concerned with whether this is a good case or a bad case but whether what is charged amounts to a crime.”

In one of several criticisms of the Swedish authorities, Emmerson said: “The clearest possible facts have been concealed through the terminology of the warrant. That is wrong and it is the responsibility of this court to put it right.”

Assange left court without comment and returned to Norfolk to continue his house arrest. A verdict is expected in around a month.

This article was written by Robert Booth and 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.

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