19 May 2017
Edward Grange discusses Julian Assange and the risk of extradition to the US in The Telegraph, The Times and The Times Law Brief
Sweden’s top prosecutor has said she has dropped a rape investigation into Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.
Juan Branco, a lawyer representing Mr Assange, said he would now seek political asylum in France, though did not elaborate on how the campaigner planned to get there without being arrested.
Mr Assange has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, after allegations of rape were brought against him. It remains unclear how the development will affect Mr Assange’s risk of being extradited to the US if he leaves the embassy.
“If the Swedish authorities withdraw the domestic warrant against Mr Assange then this would also result in the European arrest warrant being withdrawn and the extradition proceedings against Mr Assange would be discharged,” says Edward Grange, an extradition expert at Corker Binning.
However, there still exists an extant arrest warrant issued for Mr Assange by Westminster Magistrates’ Court for his failure to surrender to the court.
“Unless this is withdrawn, which is by no means a certainty just because the extradition proceedings are discharged, should Mr Assange step foot outside the Ecuadorian embassy he would be liable for arrest and, if arrested, would be likely to receive a custodial sentence for his deliberate failure to surrender.
There is also the risk of the USA seeking Mr Assange’s provisional arrest.
In either circumstance, the news today that the Swedish prosecutor has discontinued her investigation, will not result in Mr Assange walking free from the Ecuadorian embassy.”