Assange v Swedish Prosecution Authority
|Assange v Swedish Prosecution Authority|
|Court||Supreme Court of the United Kingdom|
|Full case name||Julian Paul Assange v Swedish Prosecution Authority|
|Date decided||30 May 2012|
|Citation(s)|| UKSC 22|
|Judges sitting||Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers
Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe
Baroness Hale of Richmond
Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood
Lord Kerr of Tonaghmore
|Prior action(s)||Assange v The Swedish Judicial Authority  EWHC 2849 (Admin)
(2 November 2011)
|Appealed from||Administrative Court
(Sir John Thomas P · Ouseley J)
|Appealed to||Supreme Court|
Julian Assange v Swedish Prosecution Authority is the set of legal proceedings in the United Kingdom relating to claims that Julian Assange committed sexual offences in Sweden.
On 18 November 2010 the Stockholm District Court upheld an arrest warrant against Assange on suspicion of rape, unlawful coercion and three cases of sexual molestation. The warrant was appealed to the Svea Court of Appeal which upheld it but lowered it to suspicion of rape (less serious crime), unlawful coercion and two cases of sexual molestation rather than three,  and the warrant was also appealed to the Supreme Court of Sweden, which decided not to hear the case. At this time Assange had been living in the United Kingdom for 1–2 months. An extradition hearing took place in an English court in February 2011 to consider an application by Swedish authorities for the extradition of Assange to Sweden. The outcome of the hearing was announced on 24 February 2011, when the extradition warrant was upheld. Assange appealed to the High Court, and on 2 November 2011, the court upheld the extradition decision and rejected all four grounds for the appeal as presented by Assange's legal representatives. £19,000 costs was also awarded against Assange. On 5 December 2011, Assange was refused permission by the High Court to appeal to the Supreme Court. The High Court certified that his case raised a point of law of general public importance. The Supreme Court subsequently granted permission to appeal, and heard the appeal on 1 and 2 February 2012. The court reserved its judgment and dismissed the appeal on 30 May 2012. Assange has said the investigation is "without basis". He remained on conditional bail in the United Kingdom until on 19 June 2012 Assange sought refuge at Ecuador's Embassy in London and was granted temporary asylum. On 16 August 2012 he was granted full asylum by the Ecuadorian government.
 Swedish investigation
 Complaints and initial investigation
The next day, the case was transferred to Chief Public Prosecutor (Chefsåklagare) Eva Finnè. In answer to questions surrounding the incidents, the following day, Finné declared, "I don't think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape." However, Karin Rosander, from the Swedish Prosecution Authority, said Assange remained suspected of molestation. Police gave no further comment at that time, but continued the investigation.
After learning of the investigation, Assange said, "The charges are without basis and their issue at this moment is deeply disturbing."
The preliminary investigation was discontinued by Finné on 25 August, but two days later Claes Borgström, the attorney representing the two women, requested a review of the prosecutor's decision to terminate part of the investigation.
On 30 August, Assange was questioned by the Stockholm police regarding the allegations of sexual molestation. He denied the allegations, saying he had consensual sexual encounters with the two women.
 Investigation reinstated
On 1 September 2010, Director of Public Prosecution (Överåklagare) Marianne Ny decided to resume the preliminary investigation concerning all of the original allegations.
On 18 August 2010, Assange applied for a work and residence permit in Sweden. On 18 October 2010, his request was denied. He left Sweden on 27 September 2010. The Swedish authorities have asserted that this is the same day that they notified Assange's lawyer of his imminent arrest.
On 18 November 2010, the Stockholm District Court ordered Assange detained in absentia, on request by prosecutor Marianne Ny. As basis for the ruling, the court stated Julian Assange to be suspected on reasonable grounds to have committed våldtäkt, olaga tvång, and two cases of sexuellt ofredande— which has been variously translated as "sexual molestation", "sexual assault", "sexual misconduct", "sexual annoyance", "sexual unfreedom", "sexual misdemeanour", and "sexual harassment".
As special reasons for the detention, the court named a risk of the suspect absconding or avoiding justice; that the penalty for the alleged crimes is at least two years imprisonment; and the lack of any obvious reason not to detain.
The decision was appealed by Assange on November 22 to the Svea Court of Appeal, which rejected the appeal two days later, and to the Supreme Court of Sweden on November 30. The Supreme Court decided not to consider a further appeal as no principle was at stake.
 Extradition process
 First instance proceedings
 Detention and bail
Assange presented himself to the Metropolitan Police the next morning and was remanded to London's Wandsworth Prison.  On 16 December, he was granted bail with bail conditions of residence at Ellingham Hall, Norfolk, and wearing of an electronic tag. Bail was set at £240,000 surety with a deposit of £200,000 ($312,700).
On release on bail, Assange said "I hope to continue my work and continue to protest my innocence in this matter," and told the BBC, "This has been a very successful smear campaign and a very wrong one." He claimed that the extradition proceedings to Sweden were "actually an attempt to get me into a jurisdiction which will then make it easier to extradite me to the US." Swedish prosecutors have denied the case has anything to do with WikiLeaks.
 Extradition hearing
The extradition hearing took place on 7–8 and 11 February 2011 before the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court sitting at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in London. Assange's lawyers at the extradition hearing were Geoffrey Robertson QC and Mark Stephens (solicitor), human rights specialists, and the prosecution was represented by a team led by Clare Montgomery QC. Arguments were presented as to whether the Swedish prosecutor had the authority to issue a European Arrest Warrant, the extradition was requested for prosecution or interrogation, the alleged crimes qualified as extradition crimes, there was an abuse of process, his human rights would be respected, and he would receive a fair trial if extradited to Sweden.
 Extradition decision
The outcome of the hearing was announced on 24 February 2011, when the extradition warrant was upheld. Senior District Judge Howard Riddle found against Assange on each of the main arguments against his extradition. The judge said "as a matter of fact, and looking at all the circumstances in the round, this person (Mr Assange) passes the threshold of being an accused person and is wanted for prosecution." Judge Riddle concluded: "I am satisfied that the specified offences are extradition offences."
Assange commented after the decision to extradite him, saying "It comes as no surprise but is nevertheless wrong. It comes as the result of a European arrest warrant system run amok."
 Appeal to the High Court
On 2 March 2011, Assange's lawyers lodged an appeal with the High Court challenging the decision to extradite him to Sweden. Assange remained on conditional bail. The appeal hearing took place on 12 and 13 July 2011 at the High Court in London. The judges' decision was reserved, and a written judgment was delivered on 2 November 2011, dismissing the appeal.
 Appeal to the Supreme Court
The High Court refused permission to appeal to the Supreme Court, but this was granted by the Supreme Court itself, after the High Court certified that a point of law of general public importance was involved in its decision.
The point of law certified was whether the wording Judicial Authority in the 2003 Extradition Act was to be interpreted as a “person who is competent to exercise judicial authority and that such competence requires impartiality and independence of both the executive and the parties” or if it “embraces a variety of bodies, some of which have the qualities of impartiality and independence …and some of which do not.” 
 Ecuador asylum request
|Wikinews has related news: Assange seeks asylum in Ecuadorian embassy|
Since 19 June 2012, Assange lives in the Embassy of Ecuador in London, where he had asked for and was granted political asylum. Ecuador offered to allow Swedish prosecutors to question Assange at the Embassy in London, but this was turned down by the Swedish prosecutors. Assange has claimed he would go to Sweden if provided with a diplomatic guarantee that he would not be turned over to the United States but the Swedish foreign ministry stated that Sweden's legislation does not allow any judicial decision like extradition to be predetermined.
 Common objections
Assange has not yet been formally charged with any offence. The prosecutor said that, in accordance with the Swedish legal system, formal charges will be laid only after extradition and a second round of questioning. Observers note however that Assange has not yet been interviewed about several of the allegations, including the most serious, and that Swedish law allows interviews to be conducted abroad under Mutual Legal Assistance provisions.
On 16 September 2012 it was reported that no DNA material could be secured from the condom provided by one of the accusers as evidence. However, neither Assange nor either of the women dispute that they respectively had sexual intercourse.
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- SwedenVersusAssange.com - extensive information on the case from the Committee to Defend Julian Assange
- Assange in Sweden: The Police Protocol (Translated)
- The judicial authority in Sweden-v-Julian Paul Assange - Findings of facts and reasons - judiciary.gov.uk - 24 February 2011
- "Legal Myths About Assange Extradition" from the New Statesman
- "Assange and Legal Myths"