Speaking on the final day of Julian Assange’s extradition hearings, UK prosecutor Claire Montgomery warned the British Supreme Court that it would create a dangerous precedent if it refused to extradite the WikiLeaks founder to Sweden to face sex crimes charges.
Assange’s defense team has argued that the warrant is invalid under English law because it was issued by a public prosecutor and not a judicial authority. The prosecution insists that is legal under the current European Arrest Warrant system.
Indeed, the prosecution warns, Sweden is not the only country that routinely issues extradition warrants this way. Others, including France, Belgium and the Netherlands, do so as well, and a ruling in Assange’s favor could threaten extradition deals with them in the future.
The extradition to Sweden would normally be straightforward, but there have been major concerns surrounding the Swedish government’s comments, as well as concerns that Sweden might ignore prosecution and simply ship Assange to the US, where he would disappear into a legal black hole for his role in leaking embarrassing US classified data.
The British government normally extradites people to Sweden as a matter of course, but would not send someone to the US for likely torture and open-ended detention. These circumstances make the Assange case an extremely complex and unique one, meaning that any ruling is unlikely to set a major precedent.
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