Julian Assange concludes final day of extradition appeal before Britain’s Supreme Court

In a rebuttal today, a lawyer for the Swedish authorities told Britain’s Supreme Court it must extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to face sexual assault allegations in the Scandinavian country, according to The Associated Press.

Hearings at the apex court began yesterday as Assange, 40, reaches the end of the legal process in Britain in his effort to avoid extradition. His legal team have argued that the warrant for his arrest is invalid as it was not issued by a an impartial judge.

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The hearing will not address the allegations against him. Assange is currently under investigation for suspected espionage in the U.S. after releasing hundreds of thousands of US military and diplomatic records, many of them classified. His suspected source, US Army Pfc Bradley Manning, may face court-martial.

The disclosures have unleashed an international furor, with some politicians calling for Assange to be assassinated and US financial companies placing an embargo on donations to his organization.

Two lower courts in England have ruled that Assange should be extradited.

In court today, Clare Montgomery QC, a lawyer acting on behalf of Swedish prosecutors, argued that failing to extradite Assange would set a bad precedent, according to the AP.

In countries that employ the so-called “civil-law” legal system, in which fact-finding and investigations are entrusted to judges, prosecutors are vested with some judicial authority and can sometimes issue arrest warrants. In common-law countries, such as England and the U.S., warrants are issued by judges.

While like most countries in the world, the Scandinavian countries such as Sweden employ civil law, the Swedish legal system bears little to no relation to other legal systems, according to Wikipedia. While it is based on Old German law, Swedish law has not adopted elements of Roman law and its codification was not influenced by the Napoleonic Code.

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In court today, Montgomery reportedly argued that the dissimilarities of the Swedish legal system should not require the English legal system to reject its arrest warrants.

“The English notion of an arrest warrant issued by a court is very much an exception,” Montgomery was quoted as saying. To find that arrest warrants issued by foreign prosecutors could not be honored in England “would make it impossible for possibly eight, possibly more European partners” to extradite suspects held in England, she was quoted as saying.

The AP said legal specialists believed Montgomery would prevail and cited extradition expert Karen Todner as saying she would be “very surprised” if Assange avoided being sent to Sweden.

However, Geoffrey Robertson QC, the former president of the Special Court for Sierra Leone who has argued on Assange’s behalf, wrote this week that “[t]he notion that a prosecutor is a ‘judicial authority’ is a contradiction in terms.”
 

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