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Supreme Court rejects Assange’s attempt to reopen appeal

QC had the opportunity to discuss Vienna Convention

14 June 2012

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The Supreme Court has unanimously rejected an attempt by Dinah Rose QC, counsel for Julian Assange, to reopen his appeal against extradition by Sweden to face rape allegations..

The court ruled last month that the Wikileaks founder should be extradited. Delivering judgment in Assange v the Swedish Prosecution Authority [2012] UKSC 22, Lord Phillips, Walker, Brown, Kerr and Dyson rejected Assange’s appeal. Lady Hale and Lord Mance dissented.

Within an hour of handing down the ruling, the Supreme Court issued a statement saying it might have to reopen the case, after Rose complained that the majority of justices had based their decision on the Vienna Convention, which had not been discussed during the hearing.

However, the seven justices who heard the original appeal said in a statement this afternoon that Rose had given five headings for the submissions she intended to make, and the third of these included EU instruments and the practice of EU states.

“A considerable volume of documentary material that had been placed before the court related to these matters,” the justices said.

“In the course of her submissions under her third heading, as she has accepted, Lord Brown expressly put to her that the convention applied to the interpretation of the framework decision.

“That convention, as Ms Rose has recognised, sets out rules of customary international law. Had Ms Rose been minded to challenge the applicability of the convention, or the applicability of state practice as an aid to the construction of the framework decision, or the relevance and admissibility of the material relating to state practice, she had the opportunity to do so.

“She made no such challenge. Her submissions were to the effect that caution should be exercised when considering the effect of state practice. For these reasons the court considers that this application is without merit and it is dismissed.”

The justices accepted a minor point that the court should not have referred in its ruling to offences to which Assange “stands charged”, since no charges have yet been brought by the Swedish authorities.

The judgment will be corrected to read “offences in respect of which his extradition is sought”.

The Supreme Court ordered that the required period for Assange’s extradition under section 36 of the Extradition Act 2003 would not begin for 14 days.

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