08:06, May 13 238 0 theguardian.com

2019-05-13 08:06:05
Assange now faces two extradition requests. What next?

Julian Assange is currently challenging an extradition request to the US, where he faces a charge of helping to hack into Department of Defense computers.

But after a decision to reopen an investigation into an allegation of rape against the Wikileaks founder, he now faces a second request for extradition to Sweden under the European arrest warrant mechanism.

So what happens now?

The Extradition Act provides that where there are requests for a particular individual from two countries, the home secretary may order proceedings on one of the requests to be deferred until the other one has been disposed of, according to Home Office guidance.

The home secretary, Sajid Javid, will have to take into account the relative seriousness of the offences, the place where each offence was committed, the date when each request was issued or received and whether the person is accused or convicted of each offence.

The home secretary’s consideration is not limited to these factors, but they must be taken into account, the guidance explains.

There is pressure to prioritise the Swedish request. Last month, the Labour MP Stella Creasy, with the support of more than 70 other MPs and peers, wrote to Javid requesting that action was taken to ensure Assange is extradited to Sweden.

“We are writing to request that you do everything you can to champion action that will ensure Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden in the event Sweden makes an extradition request,” they wrote.

“This would be so the formal investigation into an allegation of rape can be concluded and, if appropriate, a charge can be made and any trial can take place.

“We do not presume guilt, of course, but we believe due process should be followed and the complainant should see justice be done.”


Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy

WikiLeaks releases about 470,000 classified military documents concerning American diplomacy and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It later releases a further tranche of more than 250,000 classified US diplomatic cables.

A Swedish prosecutor issues a European arrest warrant for Assange over sexual assault allegations involving two Swedish women. Assange denies the claims.

He turns himself in to police in London and is placed in custody. He is later released on bail and calls the Swedish allegations a smear campaign.

A British judge rules that Assange can be extradited to Sweden. Assange fears Sweden will hand him over to US authorities who could prosecute him.

He takes refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He requests, and is later granted, political asylum.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention says Assange has been 'arbitrarily detained' and should be able to claim compensation from Britain and Sweden. Britain and Sweden rebuff the non-binding ruling.

Assange is questioned in a two-day interview over the allegations at the Ecuadorian embassy by Swedish authorities.

WikiLeaks says Assange could travel to the United States to face investigation if his rights are 'guaranteed'. It comes after one of the site's main sources of leaked documents, Chelsea Manning, is given clemency.

Nigel Farage is spotted visiting the Ecuadorian embassy. 

Swedish prosecutors say they have closed their seven-year sex assault investigation into Assange. British police say they would still arrest him if he leaves the embassy as he breached the terms of his bail in 2012.

Britain refuses Ecuador's request to accord Assange diplomatic status, which would allow him to leave the embassy without being arrested.

He loses a bid to have his British arrest warrant cancelled on health grounds.

Ecuador cuts off Assange's internet access alleging he broke an agreement on interfering in other countries' affairs.

US prosecutors inadvertently disclose the existence of a sealed indictment against Assange.

Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno says Assange has 'repeatedly violated' the conditions of his asylum at the embassy.

Police arrest Assange at the embassy after his asylum was withdrawn. Scotland Yard confirmed that Assange was arrested on behalf of the US after receiving a request for his extradition. Assange has been charged by the US with 'a federal charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for agreeing to break a password to a classified U.S. government computer.'

He is jailed for 50 weeks in the UK for breaching his bail conditions back in 2012. An apology letter from Assange is read out in court, but the judge rules that he had engaged in a “deliberate attempt to evade justice”. On the following day the US extradition proceedings were formally started. 

Swedish prosecutors announce they are reopening an investigation into a rape allegation against Julian Assange.

The letter argues that the remaining allegation of rape has a limitation period, which expires in August 2020. Other allegations have expired due to the unavailability of Assange for questioning, after he evaded extradition by taking up asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in Knightsbridge.

Another consideration is the European arrest warrant mechanism, which will not apply if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal.

Furthermore, there has been pressure against extraditing Assange to the US, as human rights and civil liberties campaigners have argued he is being pursued for publishing information, in essence, for journalism and his extradition would set a dangerous precedent.