Wednesday, 8 December 2010

How the EU continues to expand its influence over criminal matters

Mr Assange (founder of Wikileaks) has been arrested under a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued by Sweden - see BBC 8th December 2010.  The EAW refers to sexual offences alleged to have been committed in Sweden.  Mr Assange was refused bail by a judge sitting at the Westminster Magistrates' Court.    (Mr Assange remained in the UK even though he must have known that the Swedes were preparing a warrant and, in fact, an earlier warrant was issued but was said to be defective.  It is not entirely clear why the Judge considered Assange to be a bail risk to the extent that bail conditions would not ensure his attendance at the next hearing).

Earlier this year, Law and Lawyers looked at the European Arrest Warrant and at the expanding influence of the EU in relation to criminal matters - see Ever Expanding Influence No. 1 ............ No. 2 and .............  No. 3

The Head of Legal Blog carries an item on the Assange case.  See also the UK Human Rights Blog.  The public interest in the Assange case arises from the fact that Wikileaks published numerous messages which took place between the US and its many embassies.  However, the case will do much to raise awareness in the UK of the extensive and growing influence of the EU in criminal law matters.  The safeguards under European Arrest Warrant procedure are by no means as extensive as they used to be under former extradition arrangements.  Furthermore, under the arrangements in the Extradition Act 2003, the safeguards for an extradition from the UK to the USA are not what they were either as the Gary McKinnon case demonstrates all too well - see "Justice" briefing on the UK-US extradition treaty of 2003.

Comments in the media

Former Australian Prime Minister(and now Foreign Secretary) Kevin Rudd has commented about the Assange case - The Guardian 8th December.  Mr Rudd claims that both the US government and whoever leaked the information ought to bear the responsibility.  The Independent 8th December stated - "Informal discussions have already taken place between US and Swedish officials over the possibility of the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange being delivered into American custody, according to diplomatic sources"


Claes Borgström, the lawyer representing two women in the rape allegations has said that whether Julian Assange will be prosecuted depends on the findings of Sweden’s director of prosecutions - see Guardian 9th December.    Assange's UK lawyer, Mark Stephens, repeated his conviction that the affair was politically motivated. "The honeytrap has been sprung. Dark forces are at work. After what we've seen so far you can reasonably conclude this is part of a greater plan," he said - Guardian 9th December

Assange's lawyers think that the USA may be preparing charges based on their Espionage Act - Guardian 10th December.   Meanwhile it appears that he is now being segregated from other detainees and has only restricted access to telephone etc.

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