Julian Assange continues extradition fight

 

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has asked the Supreme Court to block his extradition to Sweden on the grounds that the European arrest warrant issued against him is “invalid and unenforceable”.

A QC for the 40-year-old Australian said the Swedish public prosecutor who signed the warrant could not issue a valid document because she lacked "impartiality and independence".

Assange, who is on bail living with friends, was at the UK's highest court in person for his latest attempt to block his removal to face questioning on sex crime allegations.

He is appealing against a High Court ruling that it would not be unfair or unlawful to extradite him.

Some of his supporters had been queueing since 5.45am to attend the two-day hearing before a panel of seven judges.

The Swedish authorities want him to answer accusations of "raping" one woman and "sexually molesting and coercing" another in Stockholm in August 2010 while on a visit to give a lecture.

Assange, whose WikiLeaks website published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables that embarrassed several governments and international businesses, says the sex was consensual and the allegations against him were politically motivated.

Dinah Rose QC, for Assange, told the judges that today's appeal raised the single issue of law as to whether the Swedish public prosecutor constituted a "judicial authority" capable of issuing a valid warrant under the provisions of the 2003 Extradition Act.

It was common ground that if she did not, "there is no legal basis for the extradition of Mr Assange to Sweden".

Ms Rose suggested it was "obvious" that a public prosecutor whose function it was to investigate and prosecute an individual "cannot exercise judicial authority in relation to that individual".

As "a matter of fundamental legal principle dating back hundreds of years" a judicial authority had to be impartial and independent both of the executive and the parties in a case.

"Since the Swedish prosecutor cannot fulfil those conditions, she is not a judicial authority and not capable of issuing a warrant for the purposes of the 2003 Extradition Act," she said.

She was breaching the principle that "no-one may be a judge in their own cause", Ms Rose added.

Clare Montgomery QC, for the Swedish Prosecution Authority, urged the judges - Lord Phillips, Lord Walker, Lady Hale, Lord Brown, Lord Mance, Lord Kerr and Lord Dyson - to reject the Assange appeal.

She argued that the High Court was plainly correct to accept that the term "judicial authority" had a wide and autonomous meaning, and it was not restricted in the way contended for by Ms Rose.

When the European arrest warrant (EAW) framework was set up, the drafters had intended it to include the prosecutors of many countries, submitted Ms Montgomery.

This "broader approach" recognised the "historic role" of public prosecutors within EU member states in authorising arrests and making extradition requests.

She said in her written submissions that the principle of "mutual recognition" underpinning EU efforts to achieve co-operation between member states "requires the UK to recognise and act on EAWs issued by those identified as 'judicial authorities' under the domestic law of the issuing state".

She added: "Since the start of the EAW scheme it has been the practice of a number of prominent member states to issue EAWs through public prosecutors.

"There is no conceivable breach of fundamental rights involved in such a process."

The hearing continues tomorrow.

PA

News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
football

Arts and Entertainment
music
Life and Style
tech

Company reveals $542m investment in start-up building 'a rocket ship for the mind'

News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album