Peters & Peters

“It’s not the end” – Nick Vamos on UK gov decision to approve Julian Assange extradition to the US

Nick Vamos, our Head of Business Crime, was quoted extensively in the media following the UK Home Secretary Priti Patel decision on Friday to approve the extradition of Julian Assange to the US.

The WikiLeaks founder is wanted in the US for conspiring to hack and then publish classified documents in 2010-11, including in respect of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as US diplomatic cables.

Nick appeared on ITV News and Sky News as well as in numerous media outlets, including The Financial Times, The Washington Post, LBC News, Times Radio, Reuters and ABC Australia (see more comprehensive list below), discussing potential next steps in the case as well as options for appeal.

Nick explained that Priti Patel’s decision was “inevitable” since, under the Extradition Act 2003, she only has “very narrow” grounds for refusing extradition once the courts have given the green light, none of which applied in this case.

Potential appeal

However, an appeal is still on the cards.

“There’s still some way to go yet,” Nick told one media outlet, adding that legal arguments “could run for at least another six months”.

Comparing the case to a game of snakes and ladder, Nick explained that, because the appeal process had been divided into two parts, even though Assange’s case had been up to the High Court on the question of whether the US prison system could protect him from the risk of suicide, he had now “slid all the way back to the start”. However, Nick explained:

“Assange can now appeal on all the grounds on which he lost the first time round in the Magistrates’ Court hearing in January 2021, including political motivation, freedom of speech, CIA assassination or whether he would receive a fair trial in the US.”

Since 2019, Assange has been held in Belmarsh prison, having spent seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he was seeking political asylum after the UK Supreme Court approved his extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges. After Ecuador withdrew its diplomatic protection, Assange was removed from the Embassy and sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment for breach of bail. During that period, the US issued the extradition request which he has been resisting ever since.


Media outlets

Please click on the media outlets below read and hear Nick commenting on this development: