In an attempt to avoid extradition to Sweden, Julian Assange dramatically sought refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy and applied for political asylum. Assange made this move only days after his final appeal against extradition had been rejected by the Supreme Court. He outlined his reason for opting for the Ecuadorian embassy in the statement: ‘’I heard that the Ecuadorians were sympathetic in relation to my struggles and the struggles of the organisation with the United States’’. The founder of WikiLeaks argues that extradition to Sweden could be followed by extradition to the US on potential espionage charges, and he could therefore ultimately be at risk of facing the death penalty.
Assange’s request for asylum is being considered ‘’very seriously and responsibly’’ by Ecuadorian diplomats and it is still uncertain when the decision will be made. When talking about a meeting with foreign office officials, the Ecuadorian ambassador, Anna Alban stated: “I took the opportunity to explain that the decision on Mr Assange’s application would be assessed by the department of foreign affairs in Quito and would take into account Ecuador’s long and well-established tradition in supporting human rights.’’ As he has breached the terms of his bail, Assange faces arrest if he leaves the embassy, however whilst he remains within its confines, he is beyond the reach of the police. In addition to this, The Guardian points out that ‘’Assange’s passport is understood to have been surrendered to British authorities, and even were he to be given a diplomatic passport, this would not confer automatic immunity, the British authorities indicated.’’
Lucy Wright, arrested in 2007 for alleged drug trafficking has won her appeal against extradition to Argentina on the basis that article 3 of the EHCR may be violated as the high court ruled that she could be subjected to ‘’inhuman or degrading’’ prison conditions. The Argentinian authorities failed to provide information relating to the prison conditions that Ms Wright might have been exposed to. The relatively uncommon event of the courts blocking an extradition comes at a time of intensified relations between the UK and Argentina over the future of the Falkland Islands.
There is ongoing uncertainty surrounding the arrest of four International Criminal Court officials in Libya. The delegation was in Libya to meet with Muammar Gaddafi’s imprisoned son, Saif al-Islam, who has been charged with war crimes. The Libyan leadership insisted on Wednesday night that it is powerless to influence the undergoing investigation (which is set to last 45 days) and release the officials. The officials were detained under the allegations that they were carrying coded documents from a fugitive and a disguised camera in the form of a pen.
The Justice and Security Bill went for its second reading in the House of Lords this week. During the debate much criticism was expressed towards the bill on the grounds that it ‘’offends the principle of open justice’’. In defence of the bill, the government claims that it is necessary to safeguard sensitive information about cases against the intelligence and security agencies and that there are 29 live cases that could involve closed courts, 15 of which involve people wanting to sue the intelligence and security agencies.
A police decision to retain photographs of two suspects who were never charged has been declared a breach of human rights in a landmark High Court ruling. Two judges ruled as “unlawful” the Metropolitan Police policy on custody photographs.
The last man to be sentenced to death in the UK has had his conviction quashed after a court heard that he confessed to the crime after being waterboarded and subjected to death threats. His successful appeal comes 39 years after his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. Liam Holden served 17 years behind bars after being convicted of being the IRA sniper who shot dead Frank Bell, a teenage member of the Parachute Regiment, in west Belfast in 1972. Holden’s conviction was quashed after the court of appeal heard that he had signed a confession only after being taken to an army base near to the scene of the shooting and subjected to waterboarding and death threats.