A panel of three U.K. supreme court justices has ruled that Julian Assange can appeal his extradition to Sweden because it is "of general public importance" to determine "whether a prosecutor is a judicial authority," the Press Association reported Friday.[1]  --  A two-day hearing on the question will begin on Feb. 1, 2012.  --  "The appeal will be heard by a panel of seven of the 12 supreme court justices."  --  Even if Assange loses this appeal, "he may still be able to appeal against extradition to the European court of human rights in Strasbourg," the London Guardian reported in a separate article.[2]  --  The BBC reported that "The [Crown Protection Service] said if the court in Strasbourg did decline to take the case then Mr. Assange would be extradited to Sweden as soon as practicable."[3]  --  "Claes Borgstrom, the lawyer in Sweden representing the two women, said the decision would cause more strain for his clients, and predicted Assange would eventually face extradition," AP reported.[4]  --  COMMENT:  None of these articles makes clear that although neither Julian Assange nor any other member of WikiLeaks has been charged with committing any crime, Assange has been held in house arrest for more than a year and his organization has had its ability to receive donations online shut down.  --  BACKGROUND:  "A 24-country poll [of 18,829 adults online between March 2 and March 14, 2011, with a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points] found that most people believe WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange is not a criminal and should not be charged by the U.S. government for releasing thousands of secret U.S. documents," Reuters reported in April.[5]  --  "The poll by Ipsos found 79 percent of people were aware of WikiLeaks and two-thirds of those believed Assange should not be charged and three-quarters supported the group's bid to make public secret government or corporate documents."  --  "The countries found least likely to support legal action against Assange by the U.S. government were South Africa, Germany, Russia, and Argentina, while the highest support was in the United States, South Korea, Britain, India, and Indonesia."...

 


1.

News

Media

Julian Assange

JULIAN ASSANGE CAN APPEAL AGAINST EXTRADITION, SUPREME COURT RULES


** The supreme court says the WikiLeaks founder's appeal raises questions of general public importance on extradition law **

Press Association
December 16, 2011

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/dec/16/julian-assange-appeal-extradition-court


The highest court in the land has granted permission for Julian Assange to appeal against his extradition to Sweden, where he faces sex crime allegations.

The supreme court said it would hear the appeal because the WikiLeaks founder's case raised a question on extradition law "of general public importance."

The two-day hearing will begin on 1 February, the court said.

The appeal will be heard by a panel of seven of the 12 supreme court justices "given the great public importance of the issue raised, which is whether a prosecutor is a judicial authority," a supreme court spokesman said.

He went on: "The supreme court has today considered an application by Julian Assange for permission to appeal to the court, following the divisional court's certification of a point of law of general public importance.

"A panel of three supreme court justices -- Lord Hope, Lord Mance and Lord Dyson -- has considered the written submissions of the parties; this is the court's usual practice for considering applications for permission to appeal.

"The supreme court has granted permission to appeal and a hearing has been scheduled for two days, beginning on 1 February 2012."

2.

News

Media

Julian Assange

SEVEN JUDGES TO HEAR JULIAN ASSANGE EXTRADITION APPEAL

By Owen Bowcott and Rob Booth

** Supreme court says size of panel reflects 'great public importance' of issues raised by WikiLeaks founder's hearing **

Guardian (London)
December 16, 2011

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/dec/16/julian-assange-appeal-seven-judges


A panel of seven supreme court justices will hear Julian Assange's appeal against extradition to Sweden to face accusations of rape and sexual assault.

The large number of judges employed reflects "the great public importance of the issue," according to a statement from the U.K.'s highest court.

The supreme court said there would be a two-day hearing of the appeal by the Australian-born founder of WikiLeaks beginning on 1 February.

A panel of three supreme court justices -- Lord Hope, Lord Mance and Lord Dyson -- examined Assange's application on Friday following the high court's "certification of a point of law of general public importance."

At full strength the supreme court has 12 justices.  The more significant the case, the greater number of judges will hear it.  The central issue to be examined, the court said, is "whether a prosecutor is a judicial authority."

Assange has been detained under a European arrest warrant (EAW) issued by a Swedish public prosecutor over allegations that he sexually assaulted two women during a visit to Sweden in August 2010.  He denies the claims.

At an earlier hearing his barrister, Mark Summers, argued that public prosecutors were not "judicial authorities" able to issue warrants under extradition law, and so the warrant was invalid.  If Assange, 40, loses this appeal he may still be able to appeal against extradition to the European court of human rights in Strasbourg.

Meanwhile, Assange has moved from Ellingham Hall, Norfolk, where he has been staying for more than a year at the home of Vaughan Smith, owner of the Frontline Club for journalists.

Assange and a group of his supporters had been holed up in the country house with Smith and his family including his pregnant wife.  Assange's bail conditions meant he had to sign in at nearby Bungay police station every day.

There have been times when as many as 20 people from WikiLeaks stayed at the house.

"I'd open a cupboard and another one would fall out," Smith has joked.

On one occasion Assange reportedly upset the estate's farm manager when he let out some pigs to make a video about credit card companies that have denied him the means to raise donations.

"My wife is eight months pregnant and they felt if they stayed longer it would not be right," Smith said on Friday.  "I think Julian thinks a year is a long time to be with anybody."

Smith has spoken proudly of his decision to stand by Assange and support him through the legal process of challenging his extradition, but he has also admitted to minor domestic bother.

3.

U.K.

ASSANGE EXTRADITION CASE GOES TO SUPREME COURT


BBC
December 16, 2011

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-16221895


The U.K. Supreme Court has said it will consider an appeal by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange against his extradition to Sweden.

Britain's highest court said seven judges would hear the case in February.

Mr. Assange, who remains on conditional bail in the U.K., is wanted by Swedish authorities for questioning over allegations of sexual assault.

The 40-year-old Australian denies the allegations and claims they are politically motivated.

The High Court previously approved his extradition, a decision that Mr. Assange argues was unlawful.

The Swedish authorities are seeking to put him on trial on accusations of raping one woman and "sexually molesting and coercing" another in Stockholm in August 2010.

Mr. Assange's Wikileaks website published a mass of material from leaked diplomatic cables embarrassing several governments.

The U.S. Army analyst suspected of leaking the documents appeared in an American military court on Friday, where he faces 22 charges of obtaining and distributing government secrets.

Bradley Manning made his first appearance in a courthouse in Maryland.  He faces a court martial next year and, if convicted, could face life in prison.

The U.S. government has already said it will not seek the death penalty, which is the maximum sentence for "aiding the enemy," one of the charges faced by Mr Manning.

'GREAT IMPORTANCE'


Earlier this month in the U.K., two High Court judges, Sir John Thomas and Mr Justice Ouseley, decided that Mr. Assange had raised a question on extradition law "of general public importance" and gave him 14 days to ask the Supreme Court for a final U.K. ruling.

On Friday, a Supreme Court spokesman said its justices had agreed to hear the case "given the great public importance of the issue raised, which is whether a prosecutor is a judicial authority."

He said:  "A panel of three Supreme Court Justices -- Lord Hope, Lord Mance and Lord Dyson -- has considered the written submissions of the parties; this is the court's usual practice for considering applications for permission to appeal.

"The Supreme Court has granted permission to appeal and a hearing has been scheduled for two days, beginning on 1 February 2012."

The Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement:  "If, after the Supreme Court has heard the case, it dismisses Mr. Assange's appeal, then his only further remedy is to apply immediately to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, which will respond within 14 days.

"If it confirms that it does not agree to take the case then that is an end of the matter."

The CPS said if the court in Strasbourg did decline to take the case then Mr. Assange would be extradited to Sweden as soon as practicable.

4.

WIKILEAKS FOUNDER MAY APPEAL AGAINST EXTRADITION ON SEX-CRIME CHARGE


Associated Press
December 17, 2011

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/wikileaks-founder-may-appeal-against-extradition-on-sex-crime-charges/story-e6frg6so-1226224657846

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has won the right to appeal against his extradition to Sweden, where he faces allegations of sex crimes.

Britain's Supreme Court panel overnight granted a two-day appeal to begin on February 1, after considering submissions, meaning there is no prospect of the Australian, out on bail in England, being sent to Stockholm until at least next year.

The court said it had "decided that seven justices will hear the appeal given the great public importance of the issue raised, which is whether a prosecutor is a judicial authority".

Mr. Assange's legal team argue that police and prosecutors -- like the Swedish prosecutor seeking to bring him back to the country for questioning -- are not a proper judicial authority, and shouldn't have the right to order extraditions.

Earlier this month, High Court judges John Thomas and Duncan Ouseley said Mr. Assange could apply to the Supreme Court to argue that point and seek to prove that Europe's process of carrying out extradition was flawed.

However, Justice Thomas warned Mr. Assange that his chance of success "may be extraordinarily slim."

Mr. Assange -- who leads the Wikileaks anti-secrecy website -- was accused of rape, coercion and molestation following encounters with two Swedish women in August 2010.  Swedish authorities issued a European arrest warrant on rape and molestation accusations, and Mr. Assange was arrested in London in December 2010.

The 40-year-old denies wrongdoing and is on bail on the condition that he live under curfew at a supporter's country estate in eastern England and wear an electronic tag.

Claes Borgstrom, the lawyer in Sweden representing the two women, said the decision would cause more strain for his clients, and predicted Assange would eventually face extradition.

"It is stressful for my clients that there is yet another extension," Mr. Borgstrom told A.P. by telephone.

"I assume that the Supreme Court will rule that Assange should be extradited according to the European arrest warrant. If not, you can scrap it," he said.

In a hearing in London last February, Justice Howard Riddle had ruled that Mr. Assange may be extradited to Sweden to face questions about the allegations, rejecting his claims that he would not receive a fair trial there.

Mr. Assange appealed to the High Court, and will now take his legal battle to the country's highest legal authority.

The hearing will be his last avenue in Britain to avoid extradition, although lawyers have said they could consider a further appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

5.

WIKILEAKS' ASSANGE IS NOT A CRIMINAL -- GLOBAL POLL


Reuters
April 26, 2011

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/26/usa-wikileaks-assange-idUSN2629178720110426


A 24-country poll found that most people believe WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange is not a criminal and should not be charged by the U.S. government for releasing thousands of secret U.S. documents.

The poll by Ipsos found 79 percent of people were aware of WikiLeaks and two-thirds of those believed Assange should not be charged and three-quarters supported the group's bid to make public secret government or corporate documents.

U.S. respondents had a far more critical view, with 81 percent aware of WikiLeaks and 69 percent of those believing Assange should be charged and 61 percent opposing WikiLeaks' mission.

The countries found least likely to support legal action against Assange by the U.S. government were South Africa, Germany, Russia and Argentina, while the highest support was in the United States, South Korea, Britain, India and Indonesia.

WikiLeaks obtained more than 250,000 leaked U.S. cables and since late last year has released embarrassing disclosures that exposed U.S. intelligence and views and revealed confidential discussions with foreign governments.

On Sunday, the *New York Times* and several other news organizations reported on a cache of classified U.S. military documents provided to them by WikiLeaks that revealed intelligence assessments on nearly all the 779 people who have been detained at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.

The U.S. military has charged a soldier, Bradley Manning, who is accused of leaking the sensitive documents to WikiLeaks, and U.S. prosecutors are looking at where charges can be brought against Assange.

Assange, an Australian computer expert, is fighting extradition from Britain to Sweden over alleged sex crimes.

Ipsos polled 18,829 adults online between March 2 and March 14 and had a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

The countries surveyed were Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Britain, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Mark Egan and Peter Cooney)