Thursday, November 03, 2011

The law takes its course

Julian Assange has lost his appeal against extradition from the UK. Which means that unless he appeals to the Supreme Court, he will be extradited to Sweden to face charges of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion.

This is as it should be. The allegations are serious and deserve to be heard in court. While Assange is a whistleblower who has done humanity a service by exposing government secrets, that doesn't put him above the law.

The real risk is that the US will then attempt to extradite Assange from Sweden on political charges. But they are not likely to be successful. The European Court of Human Rights has prevented extraditions to the US in the past on the basis that the accused would likely face torture by being incarcerated in a "supermax" prison if convicted, and given the treatment meted out to accused leaker Bradley Manning (who spent almost a year in solitary confinement in a supermax while awaiting trial) Assange would have a strong argument that he faced the same risk.