Via The Law & Lawyers Blog / Obiter J on Saturday some news that won’t have escaped those of you with a keener eye..
It is reported that the Home Secretary – Priti Patel MP – has approved the extradition of journalist Julian Assange to the USA – Julian Assange’s extradition from UK to US approved by home secretary | Julian Assange | The Guardian. Further legal proceedings appear likely as a result of Patel’s decision.
In January 2021, the extradition request by the USA was refused by District Judge Vanessa Baraitser sitting at Westminster Magistrates’ Court – judgment 4 January 2021. The basis for the judge’s decision was that the extradition would be oppressive given Assange’s mental condition – see Extradition Act 2003 section 91.
Judgment in an appeal by the USA was handed down
in December 2021 – United States of America v Assange  EWHC 3313 (Admin) (10 December 2021) (bailii.org). The USA appeal was allowed on two grounds – referred to as grounds 2 and 5 – which involved consideration of whether the judge should have given the USA an opportunity to consider offering assurances before she made her decision to discharge Mr Assange, whether the High Court could and should have received the assurances offered subsequent to the judge’s decision and whether those assurances effectively answered all the points which led the judge to decide that extradition would be oppressive. (Three other grounds of appeal were rejected by the court).
A useful summary of the case is at CASE SUMMARY: The Government of the United States v Julian Assange  EWHC 3313 (Admin) – Extradition UK (petersandpeters.com)
The High Court, having allowed the USA appeal, quashed the decision of Judge Baraitser to discharge Assange and he was remanded in custody under the Extradition Act 2003 section 106(9).
On 15 March 2022, the Supreme Court (Lords Reed, Hodge and Briggs) rejected an application to hear a further appeal stating that the application did not raise an arguable point of law – Supreme Court reject Julian Assange’s appeal – Extradition UK (petersandpeters.com).
Assange has now been held in custody in the UK since he left the Ecuadorean Embassy in 2019. He was almost 7 years in the Embassy.
18 June 2022
*** Note – Grounds of Appeal at December 2021 ***
- The USA appeals against the order discharging Mr Assange on five grounds:
i) Ground 1: The judge made errors of law in her application of the test under section 91. Had she applied the test correctly she would not have discharged Mr Assange;
ii) Ground 2: Having decided that the threshold for discharge under section 91 was met, the judge ought to have notified the USA of her provisional view to afford it the opportunity of offering assurances to the court;
iii) Ground 3: Having concluded that the principal psychiatric expert called on behalf of the defence (Professor Kopelman) had misled her on a material issue, the judge ought to have ruled that his evidence was incapable of being relied upon (or that little weight should be attached to it) or that his lack of independence rendered his evidence inadmissible. The district judge failed to interrogate or adequately assess the reasons for Professor Kopelman misleading her (seemingly concluding that it was sufficient that he had misled her for ‘human’ reasons) or to assess adequately how his willingness to mislead her impacted upon the overall reliability of his evidence. Had she not admitted that evidence or attributed appropriate weight to it, the judge would not have discharged Mr Assange pursuant to section 91;
iv) Ground 4: The judge erred in her overall assessment of the evidence going to the risk of suicide, in particular in her predictive assessment of a future, long term risk which was based upon several contingencies which might or might not eventuate;
v) Ground 5: The USA has now provided the United Kingdom with a package of assurances which are responsive to the judge’s specific findings in this case. In particular, the US has provided assurances that Mr Assange will not be subject to SAMs or imprisoned at ADX (unless he were to do something subsequent to the offering of these assurances that meets the tests for the imposition of SAMs or designation to ADX). The USA has also provided an assurance that they will consent to Mr Assange being transferred to Australia to serve any custodial sentence imposed on him if he is convicted.
Britain has a decision to make: the rule of Boris Johnson – or the rule of law? | Jonathan Freedland | The Guardian