Huffpost World
Karin Wasteson Headshot

Assange: Sweden, US and the 'Ifs and Buts'

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

Assange says he's expecting to stay in the Ecuadorian embassy for up to a year, while hoping Sweden drop the legal case against him. Let's imagine that he walked out on the embassy steps and agreed to being surrendered to Swedish authorities by British police. This could become reality if Sweden guaranteed that he wouldn't be sent to the US once the sex allegations case investigation is completed. But Swedish officials maintain that no such promises can be made. Many are wondering then; why can't such a guarantee be offered?

The answer is that Sweden is bound by an extradition treaty with the USA. If the US manages to satisfy a number of certain conditions, the American government could get Assange extradited to their shores. It's the Swedish Supreme Court who decides whether the conditions -that the accusation is also a crime in Sweden; the crime should not be considered political; capital punishment is not used; the UK has to approve the transfer as well, among other things- have all been satisfied.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has stated that Sweden wouldn't extradite a suspect to a country where they would face the death penalty. Does that constitute a guarantee of sorts? Not really.

Pål Wrange, Associate Professor of International Law at the Faculty of Law at Stockholm University, says that there are ways for the Americans to get around the above conditions. In line with the European Convention, it is also illegal to extradite someone to a country where they face the risk of being tortured. But, explains Wrange, in specific cases extraditions could still proceed if a promise has been made not to exercise torture. This was infamously misjudged in the case of Ahmed Agiza and Mohammed Alzery in 2001. Sweden controversially handed over the two Egyptians to the American authorities, who then deported them back to Egypt where they were, in fact, tortured.

Sweden was severely criticised domestically as well as by UN authorities for the decision made by the Social Democratic government at the time. The two Egyptian men have since been compensated financially.

According to Law Professor Wrange, there is a risk that Assange could be extradited to the US from Sweden. But there is one major misunderstanding inherent in the notion that he needs to be "lured" over to the Scandinavian country. It's a misconception because the UK also has an extradition treaty with America, which is more generous than the Swedish equivalent. It's no secret that the UK and US are even better pals than the US and Sweden, so to speak.

Therefore, says Wrange, it's nonsense that it's somehow easier transferring Assange once he's in Sweden, than extraditing him from Great Britain. If anything, it's the other way around.

Even though the possibility exists in theory however, the question is whether Sweden would consider blindly following Washington's order of a politically motivated extradition again, with the media closely following Julian Assange's every move?

Around the Web

Julian Assange - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Julian Assange | Media | The Guardian

Julian Assange arrest plan revealed accidentally | Media | guardian ...

Julian Assange predicts year-long stay in Ecuadorean embassy ...

WikiLeaks

In with Assange

An Excerpt From 'This Machine Kills Secrets': The Education Of Julian Assange

From Arab Spring to Autumn Rage: The Dark Power of Social Media

Ecuador's free-press watchdog under assault

JULIAN ASSANGE should be Channel 10's white knight.