The U.S.-U.K. extradition treaty excludes “political offenses,” which could help Julian Assange as the U.S. seeks to take him to trial.
The U.S.-U.K. treaty contains provisions aimed at preventing a bait-and-switch, where a suspect is extradited on one set of charges, only to have them swapped for another. But executive branch officials in the U.K. could waive that, leaving the door open to additional or new charges against Assange.
Bellinger, now a partner at the law firm Arnold & Porter, said British courts tend to have a broader view of what constitutes political offenses than do American courts. However, he said he would not be surprised if the U.S. and Britain agree or have already agreed to limit the scope of any future charges in order to increase the chances of British courts approving the extradition.
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A British magistrate is expected to consider the extradition request at a hearing set for May 2. Whatever ruling comes out of that hearing could be appealed through the British courts and perhaps even to the European Court of Human Rights. (Despite Britain’s Brexit vote, the U.K. government has agreed to remain under that court’s jurisdiction, at least for now.)