Crown Prosecution Service
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UK Julian Assange Extradition Case Concludes

By an agreement reached between the US Justice Department and Julian Assange, Mr Assange left the UK yesterday, following arrangements facilitated by the Crown Prosecution Service.

The Crown Prosecution Service’s 14-year involvement in attempts to extradite Mr Assange has now concluded, subject to the formal withdrawal of the US extradition request.

Since 2010, the CPS's Extradition Unit has provided expert legal advice to its Swedish and US counterparts on the extradition process, and represented them as their respective cases progressed through the English courts. It carries out this role under a reciprocal legal obligation to international cooperation in criminal justice.

The English extradition process does not include any finding of guilt or innocence – it just decides whether the wanted individual should be extradited for trial.

Mr Assange was first arrested in December 2010, on a warrant issued by the Swedish prosecutor. Westminster Magistrates’ Court then ordered his extradition in 2012. After this ruling he was subject to court bail pending surrender to the Swedish police. However Mr Assange evaded this by entering the Ecuadorean Embassy, where he remained for seven years. In doing so he also committed a criminal offence by failing to surrender for extradition to Sweden.

Following the withdrawal of the Swedish arrest warrant in 2017, Mr Assange was made subject to new extradition proceedings from the US.

After his departure from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2019 Mr Assange was arrested for failing to surrender, for which he was sentenced to 50 weeks’ imprisonment. He served his sentence, but was held on remand in custody at HMP Belmarsh until his release recently (June 24).

Stephen Parkinson, Director of Public Prosecutions, yesterday said:

“Thirteen-and-a-half years and two extradition requests after he was first arrested, Julian Assange left the UK yesterday, following a bail hearing last Thursday, held in private at his request.

“I am proud of the way our extradition unit has dealt with this case. They have acted with expertise and skill, under international scrutiny, to provide legal advice to both the Swedish and US authorities.

“This case has absorbed considerable time and resource from the criminal justice system over many years. The intended outcome of the plea agreement will be to accomplish the primary objective of delivering justice. It will also save the continuing substantial resource outlay involved in litigating this matter further in England.”

John Sheehan, Head of Extradition at the CPS, yesterday said:

“This has been a highly complex matter involving advising and representing the Swedish and US authorities.

“In this period, the CPS’s extradition unit has faced and dealt with novel and challenging legal issues. Mr Assange has also utilised all the legal protections available to him.

“This has culminated in facilitating the arrangements necessary to enable Mr Assange to leave the UK legally and safely.”  

Mr Assange’s proposed plea agreement to settle his extradition case entered the public domain in March this year. Thereafter, the CPS advised the United States on how to bring the proposed agreement to fruition which required Mr Assange to appear in person before a US federal judge. The CPS has also worked closely with the National Crime Agency to help put in place the necessary practical arrangements to enable Mr Assange to leave the jurisdiction safely, and in accordance with his wishes and those of the US Government.
Following the sentencing by the US Federal Judge, the Government of the USA is expected to formally withdraw the extradition request, bringing the English extradition proceedings to a formal and immediate conclusion. 

Notes to Editors

  • John Sheehan is a Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for the CPS Serious Economic, Organised Crime and International Directorate and Head of the CPS’ Extradition Unit.
  • The CPS Extradition Unit represents foreign authorities that are seeking the return of a requested person. The unit provides advice to foreign authorities on the validity of the request and then act on their behalf in court proceedings. 
  • Northern Mariana Islands are a territory incorporated into the jurisdiction of the US.
  • The Swedish arrest warrant related to alleged sexual offences.
  • The US arrest warrant related to hacking and publication of classified material.
  • As of 25 June 2024, Mr Assange is still subject to an extradition order made on 17 June 2022 by the Home Secretary, which he was appealing at the High Court. 

Timeline:

  • On 2 December 2010 the Swedish Prosecution Authority (SPA) requested the extradition of Julian Assange from the UK in respect of unproved serious sexual assault allegations. 
  • Extradition was ordered by the Senior District Judge and on 30 May 2012 the Supreme Court finally rejected his appeal. Mr Assange entered the Ecuadorian embassy in London on 19 June 2012, and failed to surrender to his bail on 29 June 2012.
  • On 19 May 2017 the SPA withdrew the request, having ended the investigation, and on 22 December 2017 the US requested provisional arrest.
  • Mr Assange left the Ecuadorian Embassy and was arrested on 11 April 2019 for breaching his bail in the Swedish case for which he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment. While a serving prisoner, was then refused bail in respect of the US proceedings.
  • On 17 June 2022 the Home Secretary ordered his extradition to the USA, and appeals were lodged in respect of this and previous court judgments on 30 June 2022.
  • In May 2024 Julian Assange was granted permission to appeal on two out of the nine grounds he had originally argued. The appeal was listed for hearing on 9/10 July 2024.

 

Channel website: https://www.cps.gov.uk/

Original article link: https://rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/commentary/ransomware-life-and-death-form-cybercrime

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