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Assange in Court for Extradition Hearing

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The sun is setting across the pond, and Julian Assange's court date draws to a close.

Assange appeared in a British appellate court today, before Lord Justice Thomas and Mr. Justice Ouseley to contest the Swedish extradition request stemming from two rape allegations.

His defense team initially tried to argue that extradition to Sweden was just a pretext to put him in a jurisdiction more open to allowing extradition to the United States, where they said Assange could face imprisonment in Gitmo and possibly the death penalty. This argument was eventually put to rest, when it was pointed out that the US does not currently have any extradition claims out for Assange, in Sweden or elsewhere (duh, wait until he's there), and that Sweden would not be able to set aside its own case just to hand him off to the US.

It should also be noted that the death penalty is on the decline in the US, being reserved for only the most serious offenses. Assange could not be prosecuted for treason, as he is not a US citizen. He might also be able to avoid an espionage charge on the grounds that since he was outside of the country at the time, the US does not have jurisdiction over the situs of the crime.

The British court's extradition decision will likely come down to two questions. First, since the Swedes want him only for questioning and no charges have been brought, is the proceeding far enough along to warrant extradition? And, were Assange's alleged acts something that would be criminal in the UK? Extradition is often not granted for things that are not crimes in home country.

[Guardian]


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