Home > International Law, Treaties and Conventions, Uncategorized > The Wikileaks Case: Why Extradition Shouldn’t Happen . . .

The Wikileaks Case: Why Extradition Shouldn’t Happen . . .

December 9, 2010

Wikileaks leader Julian Assange would appear to have a formidable defense against extradition to either Sweden or the United States.

There Is Absolutely No Legal Basis For The Extradition Request By Sweden:

Old Handcuffs by André Karwath aka Aka [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia CommonsThe most basic requirement for extradition is that the person being sought have been charged with an “extraditable offense.” A crime or offense is “extraditable” if it is either explicitly mentioned or comes within a clearly defined-class of crimes enumerated in a treaty. Although the mainstream media has not emphasized the fact, apparently, Assange has not yet been formally charged in Sweden. (Swedish authorities simply want him for questioning and were able to obtain an “EAW” or European Arrest Warrant on that basis.)   Without his having been formally charged with the commission of a specific “offense,” however, there is simply no basis for extradition.  (For a more detailed discussion of this point, see the article by Vikram Dodd in the Guardian, gu.com/p/2yy8t/tw.)


Any Extradition Request By The United States Should Be Refused On  “Political Offense Exception” Grounds

Most treaties – including the treaty between Sweden and the United States – exclude “political offenses” from the class of crimes that can properly be made the basis for extradition.  Both of the crimes with which it is said the United States might charge Assange – “espionage” and “theft of government documents” – would appear to come within that rubric.  After all,  in each instance the party  injured by commission of the offense is the “polis” or the state.

Note:  Emily Bass spent several weeks assisting Telford Taylor in preparing for extradition proceedings before a U.K. Magistrate’s Court in the 1980’s.   Then a Law Professor, Telford Taylor had been a war-crimes prosecutor at Nuremberg.  He testified in the UK proceedings as an expert witness on United States law.  She has also worked on other extradition issues.