On 19.12.2011 an article was published in Sydney Morning Herald, which refers to an open letter directed to the Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Mr. Kevin Rudd. It appears that the Minister is being urged to "help" alleged rapist and sexual predator Mr. Julian Assange currently on bail in the UK, where he is waiting to be extradited to Sweden.
In the letter, signed by among others numerous lawyers, concerns are being expressed by stating that "... should Mr Assange be placed in Swedish custody, he will be subject to the process of "temporary surrender", enabling his removal to the United States without the appropriate legal processes that accompany normal extradition cases ..."
This "concern" is unfounded, lacks any substance and is completely without merit. The relevant Article VI of the supplement to the Treaty for extradition between the USA and Sweden which is applied in any extradition between Sweden and the USA reads as follows: "If the extradition request is granted in the case of a person who is being prosecuted or is serving a sentence in the territory of the requested State for a different offense/ the requested State may:
b) temporarily surrender the person sought to the requesting State for the purpose of prosecution* The person so surrendered shall be kept in custody while in the requesting State and shall be returned to the requested State after the conclusion of the proceedings against that person in accordance with conditions to be determined by mutual agreement of the Contracting States."
As anybody (in particular lawyers who went on to sign the above mentioned letter) can see, the so called temporary surrender does not enable Mr. Assange's removal "... to the United States without the appropriate legal processes that accompany normal extradition cases ..." Before temporary surrender can even be asked it requires (i) an extradition request and (ii) a decision granting that extradition. It is not the case, as the letter in question appears to suggest, that with the use of temporary surrender normal procedures could be bypassed. In addition, before that extradition request from Sweden to the USA could be granted, it would require consent from the UK in accordance with Article 15 of the European Convention on extradition concerning so called re-extradition to a third state.
This big publicity campaign for Mr. Assange raises some further thoughts to consider. It turns out, that one could easily draw conclusions that Australia is steered by some kind of double-standards in relation to extradition matters. The above mentioned concerns for Mr. Assange were raised simply because the question is about an Australian citizen subject to extradition proceedings overseas. At the same time, in fact since 2005, an American citizen has been in custody in Australia pursuant to an extradition proceeding to the USA. To cut the story short, in this case Australian authorities together with Dutch and Americans wanted to ensure that the said American individual could be extradited to the USA. As it happened, this American was originally arrested in Holland. However, the Dutch prosecutor advised that his extradition could not be granted to the USA due to statute of limitations. After this, Australian, Dutch and American authorities made an agreement that if he was to be extradited first to Australia, Australia would then extradite him to the USA - assuming, of course, that Holland would grant this re-extradition. Needless to say, Holland granted re-extradition and Australia is happy to extradite him. The case continues.