(1) The government of Ecuador continues its attempts to obtain assurances from either Britain or Sweden that Julian Assange's appearance in Stockholm for questioning on sex crimes allegations will not be used to extradite him to the US. This week, the Sydney Morning Herald reported on several interesting new developments in the case in Sweden, including the fact that the high-profile prosecutor driving the case from the start has now "abruptly" left it. Moreover, both Alexa O'Brien and Ryan Gallagher note that the Obama DOJ continues to say that its Grand Jury investigation of Assange and WikiLeaks is ongoing. Leaked documents from last year reflect that Australian diplomats believe the US is still intent on prosecuting WikiLeaks (a threatened prosecution which former New York Times General Counsel James Goodale recently described as "absolutely frightening" and "the biggest challenge" to press freedoms today).
Those of us who believe there is a valid fear that WikiLeaks will be prosecuted by the US for its journalism have long advocated -- along with the Ecuadorians -- that Assange immediately go to Stockholm to face the accusations against him in exchange for the Swedish government agreeing that his presence there will not be used as a pretext to turn him over to the US. In response, numerous WikiLeaks critics, led by New Statesman legal blogger David Allen Green, insisted that it would be impossible for the Swedish government to agree to this proposal because, as he put it last year, "any final word on an extradition would (quite properly) be with an independent Swedish court, and not the government giving the purported 'guarantee'." As I've detailed previously on several occasions, that claim is absolutely false: even if Swedish courts rule that extradition is legally proper, the discretion lies with the Swedish government (as it does with most governments in extradition cases) to decide if extradition should occur. The final decison-maker on extradition is the Swedish government.