The Supreme Court’s fumbled judgment in the Julian Assange extradition case throws up an interesting anomaly. If you’re a fusty, old-fashioned, nation-state, Euro-sceptic, sovereignty of Parliament sort of chap you’ll be backing Assange, the freewheeling, libertarian Kremlin-supported citizen of the world and destroyer of national security.
Ukip politicians, for example, have rushed to the WikiLeaks founder’s cause since he is defending all they hold dear – or at least battling against all they despise: the European Union and internationalist regulation trampling on our treasured freedoms right back to Magna Carta.
Now Lord Mance has joined these strange bedfellows thanks to his minority judgment in the Supreme Court case.
To explain. This, in brief, is the majority view in the Supreme Court: prosecutors in Sweden have made an application to have Assange extradited to question him about sex allegations; UK law (Section 2(2) of the Extradition Act 2003) says extradition applications under the European arrest warrant (EAW) should be made by a judicial authority. The EU’s Framework Decision that governs EAWs also uses the words “judicial authority”.
Thus Article 1: “(1) The European arrest warrant is a judicial decision issued by a Member State with a view to the arrest and surrender by another Member State of a requested person…”
But international practice has on occasions been that European arrest warrants have been accepted when issued by prosecutors – as in the case of Sweden’s against Assange. The issuing authority’s national laws allow that to happen so the responding states have accepted the warrants.
The result is that contradictory laws and procedures are in existence between member states that are supposed to be singing from the same songbook. Read the rest of this entry