Assange and Swedish Extradition


In his decision on Thursday, Judge Howard Riddle, district judge of Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court in South London found in favor of Marianne Ny of the Swedish authorities that the Australian national be extradited to Sweden to face interrogation for alleged sexual offences.

The evidence against the prosecution had strengths that Judge Riddle cited in his judgment.  For instance, the Swedish lawyer Brita Sundberg-Weitman’s expert report argued that proper procedures had not been followed, citing the disproportionate nature of the European Arrest Warrant.  The prosecutor was accused of malice and improper motives.  Amongst other problems was the very public nature of the case against Assange.  Confidentiality has been breached by details leaked to the press.  He has effectively suffered a well-directed character assassination in Sweden.

Nor was she the only one to take aim at Ny.  For one thing, there was much head scratching as to why no effort was made on her part to interview Assange once a statement of rape was taken.  For witness Bjorn Hurtig, such foot dragging was inexplicable.  Any credible lawyer was entitled, at that point, to regard the case as closed.

Riddle claims he is following the book on matters regarding extradition between Sweden and Britain that have been in place for some time.  But not even Sundberg-Weitman’s critique of the Swedish procedures could sway him.  No collateral purpose could be discerned in Ny’s case and the prosecution case held up.

Assange’s response was to be expected, calling the court’s response a ‘rubber stamping process’. ‘There was no consideration during this entire process as to the merits of the allegations made against me.’  His lawyers have taken aim at Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt for creating something of a ‘toxic atmosphere’.  Judge Riddle was not convinced.  ‘Politicians,’ he simply asserted, ‘may speak inappropriately.’

Assange was determined to throw the book out a long time ago, as his tracts on free information and authoritarian government suggest.  Assange sees information webs of conspiracy, and these conspiracies will only ever be destroyed if those links of information are severed.  There is little in this case that will make him change his mind – the conspiracy of judicial enforcement is afoot.

There are indeed very troubling points with the case.  One salient point is that no charges have actually even been filed.  In the second instance, there is nothing stopping the Swedish authorities conducting their own interrogations in Britain.  The British authorities are bound to be accommodating in this regard. 

As one of the witnesses Sven-Eric Alhem noted, a prosecutor should not have sought to arrest Assange only for purposes of questioning as long as other options were available.  He should know, having served as the Chief District Prosecutor in Stockholm and subsequently Director for the Regional Prosecution Authority in the same city.

And on the issue of the closed trial for rape, should it ever go to court?  In the words of counsel for Assange, Geoffrey Robertson, ‘Any sense of fair play – that justice must be seen to be done – revolts at this Swedish practice.’  For that reason, the defense argued that Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights would be violated should Assange be extradited.  Judge Riddle fobbed it off.   ‘If the Swedish practice was in fundamental and flagrant breach of human rights I would expect there to be a body of cases against Sweden confirming that.’  The rest, it seems, is silence.

Assange did not do himself any favors by leaving the country in the first place.  His departure  played heavily on the judge’s mind.  But the next stage of the process seems a bit unnecessary, given the means open to those in Stockholm.  The legal saga is set to continue, with an appeal process to be undertaken to see if the extradition order can be reversed.  Assange has become a figure, not merely in the debate on abolishing state secrets, but in the matter of law reform in Sweden.

BINOY KAMPMARK was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com




November 26, 2015
Ashley Nicole McCray – Lawrence Ware
Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving
Joseph Grosso
The Enduring Tragedy: Guatemala’s Bloody Farce
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Imperial Myths: the Enduring Lie of the US’s Origin
Ralph Nader
The Joys of Solitude: a Thanksgiving!

Joseph G. Ramsey
Something to be Thankful For: Struggles, Seeds…and Surprises
Dan Glazebrook
Turkey Shoot: the Rage of the Impotent in Syria
Andrew Stewart
The Odious President Wilson
Colin Todhunter
Corporate Parasites And Economic Plunder: We Need A Genuine Green Revolution
Rajesh Makwana
Ten Billion Reasons to Demand System Change
Joyce Nelson
Turkey Moved the Border!
Richard Baum
Hillary Clinton’s Meager Proposal to Help Holders of Student Debt
Sam Husseini
A Thanksgiving Day Prayer
November 25, 2015
Jeff Taylor
Bob Dylan and Christian Zionism
Dana E. Abizaid
Provoking Russia
Oliver Tickell
Syria’s Cauldron of Fire: a Downed Russian Jet and the Battle of Two Pipelines
Patrick Cockburn
Trigger Happy: Will Turkey’s Downing of Russian Jet Backfire on NATO?
Robert Fisk
The Soothsayers of Eternal War
Russell Mokhiber
The Coming Boycott of Nike
Ted Rall
Like Father Like Son: George W. Bush Was Bad, His Father May Have Been Worse
Matt Peppe
Bad Policy, Bad Ethics: U.S. Military Bases Abroad
Martha Rosenberg
Pfizer Too Big (and Slippery) to Fail
Yorgos Mitralias
Bernie Sanders, Mr. Voutsis and the Truth Commission on Greek Public Debt
Jorge Vilches
Too Big for Fed: Have Central Banks Lost Control?
Sam Husseini
Why Trump is Wrong About Waterboarding — It’s Probably Not What You Think
Binoy Kampmark
The Perils of Certainty: Obama and the Assad Regime
Roger Annis
State of Emergency in Crimea
Soud Sharabani
ISIS in Lebanon: An Interview with Andre Vltchek
Thomas Knapp
NATO: This Deal is a Turkey
November 24, 2015
Dave Lindorff
An Invisible US Hand Leading to War? Turkey’s Downing of a Russian Jet was an Act of Madness
Mike Whitney
Turkey Downs Russian Fighter to Draw NATO and US Deeper into Syrian Quagmire
Walter Clemens
Who Created This Monster?
Patrick Graham
Bombing ISIS Will Not Work
Lida Maxwell
Who Gets to Demand Safety?
Eric Draitser
Refugees as Weapons in a Propaganda War
David Rosen
Trump’s Enemies List: a Trial Balloon for More Repression?
Eric Mann
Playing Politics While the Planet Sizzles
Chris Gilbert
“Why Socialism?” Revisited: Reflections Inspired by Einstein’s Article
Charles Davis
NSA Spies on Venezuela’s Oil Company
Barry Lando
Shocked by Trump? Churchill Wanted to “Collar Them All”
Michael Barker
Democracy vs. Political Policing
Cal Winslow
When Workers Fight: the National Union of Healthcare Workers Wins Battle with Kaiser
Norman Pollack
Where Does It End?: Left Political Correctness
David Macaray
Companies Continue to Profit by Playing Dumb
Binoy Kampmark
Animals in Conflict: Diesel, Dobrynya and Sentimental Security
Dave Welsh
Defiant Haiti: “We Won’t Let You Steal These Elections!”