How Unusual Would Assange's Extradition to Sweden Be?

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Swedish prosecutors lost a small battle Tuesday in UK court in their efforts to seek the extradition of Julian Assange to Sweden to face allegations of rape, when his legal team won an initial judgment that he should be released on £200,000 bail.

The Swedes have vowed to appeal within the next 48 hours. The prosecutors have argued that, despite the media circus, the case has nothing to do with Assange's notoriety as the founder of WikiLeaks, an organization you may have heard is releasing some State Department documents.

But I've been wondering how often Swedish officials go to the effort to get people in Assange's position extradited.

I could only track down statistics from two time periods, calendar year 2005 and business year 2009-2010, but both show that extraditions are not common. In 2009-2010, a mere six people were sent from the UK to Sweden under the rules of the European Arrest Warrant agreement.  In 2005, just a one single person was extradited from the UK to Sweden.

I am still looking for breakdowns of the statistics by charge, but even the aggregate statistics show that extraditions from the UK to Sweden are rare, though not unheard of. It's important to remember, as Howard Weaver pointed out to me on Twitter, that Swedish authorities have not formally filed rape charges against Assange.

In total, the UK surrendered 699 people in 2009-2010 to all countries for all crimes, up from 516 and 415 in the two previous years.

H/T @Dozykraut

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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