A former extradition specialist for the Crown Prosecution Service today predicted it would be “very difficult” for Sweden to get the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, sent back to face sexual assault allegations. Raj Joshi, a former head of the European and International Division at the CPS, said Sweden’s lack of a formal criminal charge against Assange increased his lawyers’ chances of success in blocking the extradition attempt. Assange’s lawyers are scheduled to visit him tomorrow in prison for the first time since he was jailed on remand yesterday after Sweden requested his extradition. Swedish prosecutors say they want to interview Assange about allegations of sexual assault against two women. His lawyers say they fear the US will attempt to extradite him to face charges over the release of hundreds of thousands of secret diplomatic cables though Washington has not so far taken any legal action against him.
Today, a British group campaigning for more rapists to be punished questioned the “unusual zeal” with which Assange, an Australian citizen, was being pursued over the allegations of sexual assault in Sweden. In a letter to the Guardian, Katrin Axelsson from Women Against Rape said it was routine for people charged with rape in the UK to be granted bail. Assange is yet to be formally charged by the Swedes. Axelsson also said Sweden had a poor record bringing rapists to justice: “Many women in both Sweden and Britain will wonder at the unusual zeal with which Julian Assange is being pursued for rape allegations … There is a long tradition of the use of rape and sexual assault for political agendas that have nothing to do with women’s safety.”
Extradition Act 2003
(1)If the judge is required to proceed under this section he must decide whether the person’s extradition to the category 1 territory is barred by reason of—.
(a)the rule against double jeopardy;.
(c)the passage of time;.
(d)the person’s age;.
(g)the person’s earlier extradition to the United Kingdom from another category 1 territory;.
(h)the person’s earlier extradition to the United Kingdom from a non-category 1 territory..
(2)Sections 12 to 19 apply for the interpretation of subsection (1)..
(3)If the judge decides any of the questions in subsection (1) in the affirmative he must order the person’s discharge..
(4)If the judge decides those questions in the negative and the person is alleged to be unlawfully at large after conviction of the extradition offence, the judge must proceed under section 20..
(5)If the judge decides those questions in the negative and the person is accused of the commission of the extradition offence but is not alleged to be unlawfully at large after conviction of it, the judge must proceed under section 21.
(1)If the judge is required to proceed under this section (by virtue of section 11 or 20) he must decide whether the person’s extradition would be compatible with the Convention rights within the meaning of the Human Rights Act 1998 (c. 42).
(2)If the judge decides the question insubsection (1) in the negative he must order the person’s discharge.
(3)If the judge decides that question in the affirmative he must order the person to be extradited to the category 1 territory in which the warrant was issued.
(4)If the judge makes an order under subsection (3) he must remand the person in custody or on bail to wait for his extradition to the category 1 territory.
(5)If the judge remands the person in custody he may later grant bail.
A person’s extradition to a category 1 territory is barred by reason of extraneous considerations if (and only if) it appears that—
(a)the Part 1 warrant issued in respect of him (though purporting to be issued on account of the extradition offence) is in fact issued for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing him on account of his race, religion, nationality, gender, sexual orientation or political opinions, or
(b)if extradited he might be prejudiced at his trial or punished, detained or restricted in his personal liberty by reason of his race, religion, nationality, gender, sexual orientation or political opinions.