by Tolu Orekoya
Britain’s Supreme Court today ruled that WikiLeak’s Julian Assange can be extradited back to Sweden to face questioning by Swedish authorities over sex crimes allegedly committed by Assange.
The WikiLeaks founder had argued against extradition, and over a series of legal back-and-forths, had been fighting to stay in Britain. He has just lost his latest appeal, leaving him with few manoeuvres left to prevent being sent back to Sweden.
From the Wall Street Journal:
The ECHR, based in Strasbourg, France, would have 14 days to decide whether to take Mr. Assange’s case. If the ECHR declines to take the case, British authorities would extradite Mr. Assange. If the ECHR accepts the case, the WikiLeaks founder can remain in Britain under his current bail conditions until proceedings in Strasbourg have concluded, the Crown Prosecution Service said.
To remain in Britain for the proceedings, Mr. Assange technically would have to receive an order from the ECHR or a High Court injunction suspending the Swedish extradition request for the duration of the Strasbourg court case.
The U.K. Supreme Court has indicated that it will issue an order putting Mr. Assange’s extradition on hold temporarily until June 13, while the WikiLeaks founder’s lawyers submit their request to reopen the proceedings, a spokesman for the court said. Separately, it’s unclear whether the clock has started ticking on the 14 days the ECHR has been given by the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether to accept an appeal.
Mr. Assange’s attorney introduced a new wrinkle on Wednesday, however. The U.K. Supreme Court case turned on a relatively obscure legal point: whether a Swedish prosecutor, such as the one who issued the arrest warrant for Mr. Assange, qualified as a proper “judicial authority” to make an extradition request under European law.
Dinah Rose, a lawyer for Mr. Assange, told the court that the WikiLeaks founder may apply to the U.K. Supreme Court “to reopen the matter” because she wasn’t invited to make arguments on the precise aspect of that debate that some justices may have relied upon.
Mr. Assange’s legal team has 14 days to make that application directly to the U.K. Supreme Court. His extradition will be stayed for those 14 days.
Julian Assange rose to fame as a hacker through his website, Wikileaks, which last year released classified diplomatic cable that embarrassed a host of countries, including Nigeria, has refuted the allegations of rape levelled against him, saying that the relationships were consensual and that the accusations are “honey pot” traps meant to silence him.