Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Please Support CounterPunch’s Annual Fund Drive
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We only ask you once a year, but when we ask we mean it. So, please, help as much as you can. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

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

More articles by:

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

October 17, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
When Saudi Arabia’s Credibility is Damaged, So is America’s
John Steppling
Before the Law
Frank Stricker
Wages Rising? 
James McEnteer
Larry Summers Trips Out
Muhammad Othman
What You Can Do About the Saudi Atrocities in Yemen
Binoy Kampmark
Agents of Chaos: Trump, the Federal Reserve and Andrew Jackson
David N. Smith
George Orwell’s Message in a Bottle
Karen J. Greenberg
Justice Derailed: From Gitmo to Kavanaugh
John Feffer
Why is the Radical Right Still Winning?
Dan Corjescu
Green Tsunami in Bavaria?
Rohullah Naderi
Why Afghan Girls Are Out of School?
George Ochenski
You Have to Give Respect to Get Any, Mr. Trump
Cesar Chelala
Is China Winning the War for Africa?
Mel Gurtov
Getting Away with Murder
W. T. Whitney
Colombian Lawyer Diego Martinez Needs Solidarity Now
Dean Baker
Nothing to Brag About: Scott Walker’s Economic Record in Wisconsin:
October 16, 2018
Gregory Elich
Diplomatic Deadlock: Can U.S.-North Korea Diplomacy Survive Maximum Pressure?
Rob Seimetz
Talking About Death While In Decadence
Kent Paterson
Fifty Years of Mexican October
Robert Fantina
Trump, Iran and Sanctions
Greg Macdougall
Indigenous Suicide in Canada
Kenneth Surin
On Reading the Diaries of Tony Benn, Britain’s Greatest Labour Politician
Andrew Bacevich
Unsolicited Advice for an Undeclared Presidential Candidate: a Letter to Elizabeth Warren
Thomas Knapp
Facebook Meddles in the 2018 Midterm Elections
Muhammad Othman
Khashoggi and Demetracopoulos
Gerry Brown
Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics: How the US Weaponizes Them to Accuse  China of Debt Trap Diplomacy
Christian Ingo Lenz Dunker – Peter Lehman
The Brazilian Presidential Elections and “The Rules of The Game”
Robert Fisk
What a Forgotten Shipwreck in the Irish Sea Can Tell Us About Brexit
Martin Billheimer
Here Cochise Everywhere
David Swanson
Humanitarian Bombs
Dean Baker
The Federal Reserve is Not a Church
October 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Climate Crisis is Upon Us
Conn Hallinan
Syria’s Chessboard
Patrick Cockburn
The Saudi Atrocities in Yemen are a Worse Story Than the Disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi
Sheldon Richman
Trump’s Middle East Delusions Persist
Justin T. McPhee
Uberrima Fides? Witness K, East Timor and the Economy of Espionage
Tom Gill
Spain’s Left Turn?
Jeff Cohen
Few Democrats Offer Alternatives to War-Weary Voters
Dean Baker
Corporate Debt Scares
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Affair and and the Anti-Iran Axis
Russell Mokhiber
Sarah Chayes Calls on West Virginians to Write In No More Manchins
Clark T. Scott
Acclimated Behaviorisms
Kary Love
Evolution of Religion
Colin Todhunter
From GM Potatoes to Glyphosate: Regulatory Delinquency and Toxic Agriculture
Binoy Kampmark
Evacuating Nauru: Médecins Sans Frontières and Australia’s Refugee Dilemma
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail