The hearing on whether Julian Assange should be extradited to Sweden for alleged sex crimes in that country has just concluded. He has 2 more weeks in the U.K.
Swedish prosecutors have been pushing for Assange to be extradited to Sweden from the U.K. on charges of allegedly raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in 2010.
Authorities wish to question him on these allegations - but many fear that this could lead to him eventually being extradited to the U.S.
Lawyers for Assange have repeatedly called on the 7 Supreme Court judges to block the extradition. They state that the initial European Arrest Warrant that put Assange under house arrest in London over 500 days ago, was "invalid and unenforceable" and that the Swedish prosecutors have no authority to issue such a warrant.
Assange has not yet been officially charged with any offense, and at the moment he is merely wanted “for questioning.”
Assange feels that the case against him is politically motivated due to the WikiLeaks releases of thousands of diplomatic cables, which sparked outrage in governments of many countries. He is very concerned by rhetoric heard from the U.S. as many senators have accused him of terrorism and want to try him on those charges. Some of these statements can be heard in the video above.
Gareth Peirce, Assange's U.K. lawyer, has also voiced concerns about the temporary surrender agreement between Sweden and the U.S. This agreement would give an opportunity to avoid the normal avenues of extradition.
Interesting to note is that U.S. Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton and a team from the State Department plan to visit Stockholm on June 3-4, merely 4 days after the decision on Assange's extradition.
Protesters outside the Extradition hearing for Julian Assange.
Video screen capture
The BBC has reported that Assange has lost the extradition appeal. The court's president, Lord Phillips told the hearing that judgment was reached by a majority of 5 to 2.
While Assange's lawyers had asked the court to block his removal from the country, stating that a European arrest warrant issued against him was "invalid", the court has ruled that the extradition request was "lawfully made".
Phillips said the point of law which had to be considered had not been simple to resolve. Implementation of this judgment will be deferred for 2 weeks.
The Guardian blogged the entire hearing live. They report that Joshua Rozenberg, a legal commentator, told BBC news that Dinah Rose, Q.C. for Assange, had requested 2 weeks to decide whether to appeal the decision. He said, "This is a very unusual thing. It's not happened since this court was set up. It happened in the Pinochet case in the House of Lords. Very unusual, and means there's everything left to play for still."
Assange did not attend the court hearing, and his lawyers had been unable to take instructions on what he wishes them to do.
Rozenberg continued, "We're waiting to see what he says. In the meantime, he can stay in this country for at least 2 weeks, while they consider making this unprecedented application to reopen the case on the basis that it was decided on a point of law in the Vienna Convention on the Interpretation of Treaties that was simply not argued by either side and which the court gave no notice to either the Crown Prosecution Service, representing the Swedish authorities, or Mr Assange's lawyers, that they were considering taking into account."
"It would be very embarrassing if the supreme court felt the need to reopen the case and it's extraordinary, isn't it, that they might have considered something which they gave the parties no opportunity to argue. From time to time judges do their research and they add points, minor points, that have not been considered, but it appears that the decisive point in this case was one that wasn't argued, and that's something which is pretty unusual, and that's what prompted this unexpected intervention from Dinah Rose which took Lord Phillips so much by surprise that he mixed her up with the other counsel, Clare Montgomery."
The previous high court hearing on the extradition was held in February this year, and since that hearing, Assange has launched his own controversial talk show on RT. The current episode can be viewed here on Digital Journal. Each episode features an interview with prominent guests worldwide on topics which the global mainstream media consider to be highly provocative.
The last few episodes will still be aired, whatever the outcome of the extradition ruling, as they have already been recorded.
Video below is an extract from the hearing today: