Julian Assange loses appeal against extradition

WikiLeaks founder's lawyers given 14 days to decide whether to ask supreme court to reopen case, during which extradition will be stayed

Julian Assange has lost his appeal against extradition to Sweden at the supreme court.

By a majority of five to two, the justices decided that a public prosecutor was "judicial authority" and that therefore his arrest warrant had been lawfully issued.

But lawyers for the WikiLeaks founder submitted an urgent request to the supreme court asking for permission to challenge one of the points made in the judgment.

Assange, who is facing charges of sexual assault and rape, was not in court. There was no legal requirement for him to be present. According to his solicitor, Gareth Peirce, he was stuck in traffic.

The court granted Assange's lawyers 14 days to present their arguments that crucial issues related to Article 31 of the Vienna convention, on which the majority of the justices based their decision, were not raised during the hearing.

The two judges who found in Assange's favour were Lord Mance and Lady Hale.

Assange's lawyers can also, at the same time, begin the process of appealing against the judgment to the European court of human rights in Strasbourg.

According to the supreme court, the Crown Prosecution Service cannot start extraditing Assange until 13 June at the earliest.

"The majority of the judges believe that parliament was seriously misled when it approved the European arrest warrant system," said Peirce.

"Parliament thought a 'judicial authority' meant a judge or court but the majority of supreme court judges based their decision on what is the practice in Europe and decided it on the basis of the Vienna convention, which was never argued before the court."

Even though Lord Brown has retired, at the age of 75, since the original hearing, he may still be called back to ensure there are an uneven number of justices on the panel when the court considers Assange's emergency application.

This is the first time the supreme court has agreed to consider an emergency challenge to one of its rulings. It has happened in the past when the House of Lords was the highest appellate court.

Contributor

Owen Bowcott

The GuardianTramp

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