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Assange to be put on ice in Sweden

By Jonathan J. Ariel - posted Thursday, 24 November 2011

Last month a Swedish prosecutor, Marianne Ny, raised the possibility that, after first dealing with allegations of sexual misconduct, Assange could be extradited from Sweden to the United States.

He could be indicted by a grand jury meeting in secret near Washington D.C. to consider charges against him related to the publication of leaked American military and diplomatic documents. The Swedish prosecutor expressed little qualm flagging the extradition a non-European Union national to a non-EU jurisdiction. Assuming that the United Kingdom (being the country that surrendered Assange) consents. And it must consent - otherwise there can be no extradition.

Mark Stephens, one of Assange's London lawyers, has often expressed his fear to Al Jazeera that Assange would be travelling to Stockholm to do no more than to change planes for a fateful flight to Washington. But an associate at his practice, Jennifer Robinson, told Salon (an American online news site) that the existence of a grand jury was still "purely speculation."


Robinson also shed light on Assange's fate recently when interviewed by Fran Kelly on ABC Radio National, where she revealed that bail in Sweden is not granted to non-citizens. Assange could be in Sweden forever.

The Americans would surely prefer to extradite Assange from Sweden (rather than Britain) to face charges stemming from the Espionage Act (1917) because they have already spent years trying to get Britain to hand over a computer hacker. Gary McKinnon hacked into over 90 computers belonging to the United States Defence Department and NASA, searching, he asserts, for information about Unidentified Flying Objects.

But, even though a grand jury in Virginia indicted the then 37 year-old hacker back in 2002, the legal battle to remove McKinnon from the United Kingdom is still grinding away over eight years later.

In order to be extradited from Sweden to the United States, Assange has first to get to Sweden. This can take place after he loses every appeal against extradition. And on 2nd November, in the High Court (Divisional Court) in London he came pretty close when the court rejected his arguments against his expulsion from the UK. Assange focused on four points - all of which were rejected by the Court.

The European Arrest Warrant had not been issued by a 'judicial authority'.

Assange contended that for the purposes of the Extradition Act 2003, the authority couldn't be the Swedish prosecutor. Sadly for the Australian, the Court concluded that although a prosecutor issued the warrant, the said prosecutor was a judicial authority under the 2003 Act.


The sexual offences as described did not meet the dual criminality test (a principle of extradition that a person should only be extradited where the conduct is an offence under the laws of both the State requesting extradition and the State from which the person's extradition is sought). The Court ruled that dual criminality was satisfied.

In regards to the offence referred to as "rape", Assange claimed that the allegation does not amount to "rape" as described by the Swedish Prosecutor. This claim the Court also threw out.

If Assange appeals to the Supreme Court and loses, or if he doesn't appeal, Theresa May, the Home Secretary, will be well within her rights to render Assange to Sweden.

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About the Author

Jonathan J. Ariel is an economist and financial analyst. He holds a MBA from the Australian Graduate School of Management. He can be contacted at

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