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The New Statesman must correct its error over Assange and extradition

By       Message Glenn Greenwald     Permalink
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"Swedish extradition law clearly states that the Swedish government is the body deciding on any extradition request."


"No provision gives any court the right to decide on an extraditions request."

The court's role in extradition requests is limited to this situation:

"The government may not extradite someone for whom the supreme court has found that an extradition would not be in conformity with the law."

As I noted on Wednesday, his analysis of the law (exactly like Professor Klamberg's) shows there are two possible outcomes once the contested extradition request goes to the Swedish court: first, the court rules the extradition request is not cognizable under relevant law, in which case the Swedish government is barred from extraditing; or second, the court rules the extradition request is cognizable under relevant law, in which case the Swedish government has the option not to extradite. As he put it:

"The deciding body is thus the government, with an input by the prosecutor general."

Swedish extradition law is written to ensure that if an extradition is to occur, Swedish government officials, not its courts, are the final decision-makers on whether that should take place.

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More clear evidence of Green's error, first noted by this superb debunking of Green, comes from documents sent by the Australian diplomatic mission in Sweden to its home government on the Assange/extradition matter (they were declassified and released to the public by the Australian government). In response to questions from Canberra about what an extradition request to Sweden would entail, the Australian diplomatic mission explained:

"The process require[s] a request from another state, a decision by Sweden's supreme court on whether extradition was possible, and finally a decision by government to go forward with the extradition." [my emphasis; p61]

The internal communications in the Australian government go on to note:

"The Swedish government could deny an extradition or temporary surrender that the supreme court had approved, but if the supreme court denied an extradition or temporary surrender application, then the matter ended there; ie, the government could not approve a process that the supreme court had rejected."

Again: the Swedish courts simply decide whether extradition is legally possible, but the final decision as to whether to extradite is vested in the Swedish government.

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This is not some sort of strange or exotic feature of Swedish law. As Professor Heller wrote when explaining that the Swedish government possesses exactly the final decision-making authority Green denied it has:

"Nor is that unusual; I don't know of any states that give the final decision to courts instead of to the executive."

In light of this abundant evidence, I trust that even the most hardened Assange critic will acknowledge that Green was radically wrong on this key point. It should be noted that those sources I just cited are not Assange supporters, but rather are the opposite: they are all, to varying degrees, hostile to his fight against extradition to Sweden. Professor Klamberg (along with Professor Heller) is highly skeptical that Sweden would extradite Assange to the US. The Swedish-Moroccon lawyer I cited began his analysis by declaring:

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Glenn Greenwald is one of three co-founding editors of The Intercept. He is a journalist, constitutional lawyer, and author of four New York Times best-selling books on politics and law. His most recent book, No Place (more...)

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