Julian Assange has lost his challenge to the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) for his extradition to Sweden to face questioning by the Swedish prosecution authority.
Assange had appealed on four grounds against the decision of Westminster Magistrates’ Court. However, the High Court dismissed each of these grounds: the warrant had been validly issued, the offences specified existed in both Sweden and the United Kingdom, the request was proportionate, and the conduct alleged amounted to a criminal offence.
Accordingly, the High Court held that the European Arrest Warrant for Assange in respect of the offences of rape, two counts of sexual molestation, and unlawful coercion, was entirely valid.
This decision is no great surprise; for Assange to have succeeded, it would have effectively required the High Court to undermine the entire EAW system.
The 161 paragraphs of the full judgment completely dismantle the four grounds of the Assange’s appeal. The two judges, including the President of the Queen’s Bench Division, provide detailed and thorough reasoning as to how each of the contentions of the Assange legal team do not succeed. It is thereby unlikely that this is a case that the Supreme Court will hear, even if there is an attempt at a further appeal.
It is not the business of the High Court to try the substantive allegations, that is to determine the guilt of Assange. That is a matter for the Swedish criminal justice system. Assange has not been charged with any offence, but he is required by the Swedish prosecutors to answer important questions about the serious allegations of rape, sexual molestation, and unlawful coercion. There are questions which require answers.
It is difficult to see why there is now any good reason for Assange to seek further delay in returning to Sweden, especially if he has scarce resources for funding his legal defence. He would be well-advised to now return to face the allegations, of which he may well be innocent.
But there seems nothing more he can do in England to avoid this next step. The raising of technical objections to escape extradition for questioning about serious allegations has now effectively come to an end.