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Why Britain is likely to send WikiLeaks' Assange to Sweden on rape charges

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“I know that there is a suggestion that the warrant is being misused in some way for political purposes against [Assange], but I can’t really see any evidence of that at face value,” says Mark Mackarel, a lecturer at Dundee Law School in Scotland and an expert in the EAW. “I don’t doubt that there are all sorts of efforts to undermine WikiLeaks, even to the extent that individuals are being leaned on to inconvenience or make life difficult for [Assange], but I think that the actual surrender process under the EAW is quite a transparent one."

Mr. Mackarel says Sweden would have a lot to lose by pursuing Assange for purely political reasons.

“OK, there have been some suggestions that Sweden is bowing to political pressure and is, for example, requesting his surrender for reasons other than the prosecution of the offense," says Mackarel. "But there really would have to be some substantial backing or evidence for a British judge to accept that and refuse the surrender on those grounds. For Sweden to misuse the warrant in this way would be potentially hugely damaging for it.”

Judge rejects bail

There was some surprise in court Tuesday when the judge, Howard Riddle, refused bail for Assange on the grounds that there was a risk he would fail to surrender. Others pointed out, however, that bail was difficult to secure in rape cases.

The next crucial hearing to deal with Assange's arguments for why he should not be extradited to Sweden must take place within 60 days of his arrest this morning. He would be likely to be extradited on the 61st day if unsuccessful.

Since its introduction, the EAW has largely been hailed as a success for removing the political and administrative elements of decisionmaking that had dogged the previous system of extradition in Europe. Instead, the process is run entirely by the judiciary.

Could Assange be US-bound?

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