Julian Assange gets a supreme court hearing in front of no less than seven judges! Is that a legal first since we had a supreme court? No matter, it’s certainly exceptional.
And over what? An extradition hearing. That being extradition to a friendly European country whose democratic credentials and legal system are pretty-much as trustworthy as anywhere in the world. Aren’t they? And his alleged crimes for which he’s being extradited are also mundane, no matter how potentially serious. How the **** is that so legally interesting and important as to merit a hearing in front of their Lordships, let alone seven of them?
The public line is that it raises a legal question over whether the authority requesting the extradition has the right to do so. That’s a fine legal technicality, and one which under normal circumstances a judge would undoubtedly be happy to decide either way, depending on what outcome (s)he wanted. So we must conclude there’s an unspoken point of legal interest to consider at the very highest level.
Well of course there is. There’s the suspicion that the alleged sex crimes are merely a device in a politically-motivated persecution. It’s hard to think of a less likely country than Sweden to engage in such political persecution, but that’s not saying much! And in today’s decision, it seems Their Lordships are implicitly raising precisely that suspicion, and saying to the Swedish authorities we don’t trust your motives. Interesting!
Of course if it had been extradition to the US to face charges in connection with Wikileaks, it would indeed raise important and unique issues of public interest to merit Their Lordships’ attention. Gary McKinnon got a Lords hearing, but not Assange’s seven judges!