At his extradition hearing today in London, Julian Assange's lawyers laid out their defense for the enigmatic WikiLeaks founder. Trying to prevent his extradition to Sweden, his lawyers raised the specter of Assange winding up in Guantanamo Bay or, worse, subject to lethal injection in the U.S. "There is a real risk he could be made subject to the death penalty," said his lawyer, citing statements in the U.S. by Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee. The sequence of events, in this hypothetical, would be Assange getting extradited to Sweden to answer questions regarding sexual abuse allegations. Then Sweden could extradite Assange to the U.S. for charges related to his leaking of classified U.S. documents. Is this a plausible scenario?
Earlier today, Laura Emmett at RT News spelled out the defense's chances:
The death penalty argument is key because if they manage to successfully argue that Assange may be subject to the death penalty an EU country can not extradite to a jurisdiction where a suspect would face the death penalty so that really would be the end of this extradition argument.
Still, if the London court rejects the death penalty argument, Emmett says the Swedes would have to jump through a number of legal hoops before Assange was sent to the U.S.
We know that the Swedish prosecutors office has come out and said that Assange, even if he was extradited to Sweden from here would be protected by strict EU rules and in fact Sweden wouldn't be able to do whatever it liked with Assange once he got there. Sweden would have to get approval from the UK to agree to another extradition request from another country, in this case the United States.
Interestingly, Emmett's report is followed by a slightly paranoid-sounding piece on Sweden's relationship with the U.S., suggesting that the U.S. could get anything it wants from the Nordic country (begins at the 3:20 mark):
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