What Would Happen if There Is a Split Decision in the Assange Case?

What would happen if Magistrate Vanessa Baraitser renders a split decision on the Julian Assange extradition case on Monday?, asks Alexander Mercouris.

By Alexander Mercouris
in London
Special to Consortium News

One possibility that must be considered in the Julian Assange extradition case on Monday is a split decision in which Magistrate Vanessa Baraitser may decide to extradite Assange on one indictment but not on the other. For instance, she could rule, for argument’s sake, against extradition on the Espionage Act charges, but in favour of extradition on the conspiracy to commit computer intrusion charge (which carries a maximum five year sentence as opposed to 170 on espionage.)

What would likely happen in that case is that the British authorities would accept Baraitser’s decision and would try to reach an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice whereby, in return for Assange’s extradition, the U.S. would commit itself to try Assange only on the computer intrusion charges, and not on the Espionage Act charges.

The British over the course of the negotiations would tell the U.S. that if the U.S. were not willing to give that commitment then the British would not be able to extradite Assange to the U.S.

Of course the British (if Assange were extradited to the U.S. on such a basis) would be in no position to compel the U.S. to abide by such a commitment if the U.S were to go back on it once Assange was on U.S. soil.

Since that has to be a very likely possibility, one would think it would be a point which Assange’s lawyers would make in the appeal they would be bound to make to the High Court against Baraitser’s decision.

In fact in such a scenario it’s not impossible that both sides would appeal to the High Court:

(1) the U.S. against Baraitser’s decision to refuse to extradite on the basis of the Espionage Act;

(2) Assange’s lawyers against Baraitser’s decision to extradite on the computer intrusion charges.

It would be a fascinating battle and it would be fascinating to see how it would play out.

Logically, the balance ought to tip in Assange’s favour since Baraitser would presumably have rejected extradition on the Espionage Act charges because they were not properly made out and because they were overtly political.

In light of that, would the High Court be prepared to allow Assange’s extradition on computer intrusion charges to a country which had tried unsuccessfully to bring overtly political charges against him which the lower Court had rejected?

Nothing is predictable in this case.

Alexander Mercouris is a legal analyst and editor of The Duran.

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4 comments for “What Would Happen if There Is a Split Decision in the Assange Case?

  1. Mike from Jersey
    January 3, 2021 at 14:35

    I have always considered it a forgone conclusion that Assange will be extradited.

    This is just a “show trial.”

    And even if there was a “split decision,” the Untied States would break any promise to limit prosecution.

    You are dealing with one lawless country doing the “extraditing” and another lawless country doing the “prosecution.”

    The whole thing is for show.

  2. richard Coleman
    January 3, 2021 at 14:00

    Monstrous. Words fail . Monstrous.

  3. January 2, 2021 at 13:35

    A huge cry must go out to the world to never let Assange be sent to the U.S. for letting the world know the rot that exists here
    especially in our government that has caused so much suffering to the world. He did no wrong in telling the truth. Freedom of
    speech is at stake here especially for truth tellers. Assange must be freed and given a safe residence for himself and his family for the
    rest of his life. Free Julian Assange!

  4. January 2, 2021 at 12:01

    In terms of a guarantee from the US to limit their prosecution to the computer intrusion charge, we have to look at the evidence from expert witness Lindsay Lewis about Abu Hamza, the double-amputee they said wasn’t going to be placed under SAMs. Lewis claimed that the court was misled. As for the charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, expert witness Paul Eller pointed out that there was no evidence Assange was even a party. Eller also put paid to the assertion that a password was needed by Manning to access the classified material she leaked. Nor could an alternative login have hidden her identity. For these reasons, the conspiracy charge appears to be the weakest.

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