Assange`s extradition fight faces long odds

Last Updated: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - 00:18

London: Julian Assange`s long-running battle
against extradition comes to a climax at Britain`s Supreme
Court this week, and legal experts say that the WikiLeaks
founder faces long odds.

Assange has already failed twice in his bid to block his
extradition to Sweden, where he faces sex crime allegations
stemming from a trip there in mid-2010. The two-day hearing
which begins Wednesday is the last chance his lawyers have to
persuade a British court not to send him to Scandinavia.

"I don`t think he`ll succeed," said Peter Caldwell, an
extradition lawyer familiar with Assange`s legal submission.

European arrest warrants are difficult to beat, and Caldwell
argued that while Assange`s case was "well-argued ... it
doesn`t get beyond the obligation of the UK to give effect to
European law."

Assange is celebrated by some as a champion of
transparency and reviled by others as an enemy of the US
government, but the argument before the Supreme Court has
nothing to do with his career as an online whistleblower or
even the merits of the Swedish sex allegations — which
Assange has always denied.

The Supreme Court justices are being asked to rule on a
purely technical question: Is the European arrest warrant a
valid one - Assange`s legal team argues that it isn`t.

In Britain as in the United States, generally only judges
can approve arrest warrants. In this case, the warrant was
issued by Sweden`s public prosecutor. Assange`s lawyers argue
that the Swedish system is unfair because it puts the power to
issue arrest warrants in the hands of the same prosecutors who
are trying to put him in jail.

Karen Todner, another prominent extradition specialist,
said that Assange`s lawyers were unlikely to overcome the
benefit of the doubt usually afforded to other European
countries` judicial systems.

British judges "absolutely defer" to their European
counterparts` justice systems, she said, adding that she would
be "very surprised" if Assange`s team won the day.

Judges will hear two days of arguments before making
their decision, which is not expected for another several
weeks.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - 00:18

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