FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Assange and Swedish Extradition

by BINOY KAMPMARK

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

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

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians to the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
Ashley Smith
Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution
Vincent Navarro
Is the Nation State and Its Welfare State Dead? a Critique of Varoufakis
John Wight
Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery
Lawrence Davidson
The New Anti-Semitism: the Case of Joy Karega
Mateo Pimentel
The Affordable Care Act: A Litmus Test for American Capitalism?
Roger Annis
In Northern Syria, Turkey Opens New Front in its War Against the Kurds
David Swanson
ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders
Norman Pollack
American Exceptionalism: A Pernicious Doctrine
Ralph Nader
Readers Think, Thinkers Read
Julia Morris
The Mythologies of the Nauruan Refugee Nation
Ann Garrison
Unworthy Victims: Houthis and Hutus
Julian Vigo
Britain’s Slavery Legacy
Rivera Sun
Accountability: An Abandoned American Value
Philip Doe
Colorado: 300 Days of Sunshine Annually, Yet There’s No Sunny Side of the Street
Joseph White
Homage to EP Thompson
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
DNC Playing Dirty Tricks on WikiLeaks
Ron Jacobs
Education for Liberation
Jim Smith
Socialism Revived: In Spite of Bernie, Donald and Hillary
Robert Koehler
The Heart of Order
David Macaray
Organized Labor’s Inferiority Complex
David Cortright
Alternatives to Military Intervention in Syria
Binoy Kampmark
The Terrors of Free Speech: Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act
Cesar Chelala
Guantánamo’s Quagmire
Andrew Stewart
Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?
William Hughes
From Sam Spade to the Red Scare: Dashiell Hammett’s War Against Rightwing Creeps
Raouf Halaby
Dear Barack Obama, Please Keep it at 3 for 3
Charles R. Larson
Review: Paulina Chiziane’s “The First Wife: a Tale of Polygamy”
August 25, 2016
Mike Whitney
The Broken Chessboard: Brzezinski Gives Up on Empire
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
The Louisiana Catastrophe Proves the Need for Universal, Single-Payer Disaster Insurance
John W. Whitehead
Another Brick in the Wall: Children of the American Police State
Lewis Evans
Genocide in Plain Sight: Shooting Bushmen From Helicopters in Botswana
Daniel Kovalik
Colombia: Peace in the Shadow of the Death Squads
Sam Husseini
How the Washington Post Sells the Politics of Fear
Ramzy Baroud
Punishing the Messenger: Israel’s War on NGOs Takes a Worrying Turn
Norman Pollack
Troglodyte Vs. Goebbelean Fascism: The 2016 Presidential Race
Simon Wood
Where are the Child Victims of the West?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail