Assange Slams ‘Rubber-Stamp’ Extradiction Decision

Julian Assange has gone on the offensive after a British Judge approved his extradition to Sweden

The decision by a British Judge to approve the extradition of Julian Assange, has brought a swift reaction from the Wikileaks founder, who criticised the ‘rubber-stamp’ extradition.

Assange now has seven days to appeal against the decision, made at Belmarsh magistrates’ court, to extradite him to Sweden to face charges of rape and sexual assault. The 39-year-old Australian is accused of sexually assaulting one woman and raping another, when he visited Sweden last August.

In his ruling, District Judge Howard Riddle rejected arguments that Assange would not get a fair trial in Sweden, where the press and public are excluded from sexual assault trials.

Public Enemy Number One

This is despite the Swedish prime minister recently calling Assange ‘public enemy number one’.

Riddle also said it is a “reasonable assumption” that Assange “was deliberately avoiding interrogation” before the period he left Sweden, when prosecutors were in negotiations with his attorney to question him.

“What is clear, however, is that Assange has not made himself available for interview in Sweden,” the judge said.

“It does not seem unreasonable to me” that Sweden would request Assange’s presence for questioning “in a matter as serious as this,” Judge Riddle said. “I must order that Mr. Assange be extradited to Sweden.”

Appeal Failure?

Although Assange has pledged to appeal his case to the British High court, a legal expert believes the appeal will probably fail.

This is because the chance of successfully contesting a European arrest warrant is “very, very small,” said Neill Blundell, a lawyer with Eversheds LLP in London, quoted by Bloomberg.

“This case isn’t about WikiLeaks,” Blundell said.

“Whether we accept or don’t accept that Sweden was being pressured by the US, the European arrest warrant is there to streamline the process for one EU member state extraditing someone from another,” he said.

Rubber Stamping

But speaking outside the court to the press, Assange hit back and denounced the decision as “a rubber-stamping process that comes as no surprise, that is nonetheless wrong.”

Assange then complained that he has not been able to present his side of the story.

“In this case we are not able to present my side of the story,” Assange said. “We have never been able to present my side of the story. The case has been confined to procedural arguments about some abuses of process, and the validity of the warrant on its face, but not what props it up. This seems to me an injustice as someone going through this matter.”

Mark Stephens, one of Assange’s lawyers, criticised the European arrest warrant system.

Tickbox Justice

“This is what we reasonably expected, and reaffirms our concerns about the form of tickbox justice that is the European arrest warrant,” said Stephens. “What the judge has done today has confirmed that this a tickbox exercise.”

Stephens went on to say that they were optimistic about the appeal.

“We are still hopeful that the matter will be resolved in this country,” he added. “What is important to remember at this stage is that Julian remains uncharged.”

Meanwhile Assange said that the work of WikiLeaks continues.