Julian Assange has been arrested by the Metropolitan police for jumping bail and also pertaining to an extradition request from the US.

Also the lawyer for one of the alleged victims of sexual assault in Sweden has asked the Swedish prosecutor to re-open the investigation. This could result in the prosecutor asking the UK for Assange to be extradited to Sweden to face charges.

I would expect that Assange would serve any sentence for the bail violation in the UK prior to being extradited. However, what would the priority be between the US and Swedish extradition requests were Sweden to request such?

And as a follow on, if the UK granted both requests and extradited Assange to the US, say, is the US obligated to then send Assange to Sweden following the completion of their process?

  • 3
    This might be more appropriate on Law.
    – phoog
    Apr 11, 2019 at 17:54
  • 1
    This is definitely more appropriate on Law. Though I'd stick my neck out to suggest the extradition cases are processed on a first come first served basis.
    – Denis de Bernardy
    Apr 11, 2019 at 18:04
  • @DenisdeBernardy so, do we get to keep the question because it was asked here first?
    – JJJ
    Apr 11, 2019 at 18:42
  • @JJJ: in other SEs you've an option to migrate elsewhere. Over here I presume a flag is the right approach. FYI I've already flagged the question to invite moderators to migrate the question.
    – Denis de Bernardy
    Apr 11, 2019 at 18:44

3 Answers 3


It may simply be a case of which extradition order is deemed valid first - extradition to Sweden and to the US involve two different parts of the Extradition Act 2003, and involve different timescales.

Extradition to Sweden under the European Arrest Warrant solely involves the judiciary - once all appeals have been heard and ruled on, if the extradition warrant is still deemed valid by the judiciary then the extradition must be carried out within 10 days of the final ruling.

Extradition to the US involves a decision by both the judiciary and the Secretary of State - once all appeals have been heard and ruled on, if the extradition warrant is still deemed valid by the judiciary, the Secretary of State must make a determination on whether or not to allow the extradition. If the Secretary of State does determine the extradition must go ahead, then the extradition must ordinarily be carried out within 28 days of that determination.

Government guidance on extraditions

Thus, if both the US and Sweden put forth extradition requests, it may simply come down to which one clears all hurdles first.


This is both a legal and political question.

All three countries have extradition treaties with each other. Citizens of a country are usually more difficult to extradite from that country, but Assange is not a citizen of any of those countries. All extradition requests would proceed in accordance with these treaties. But these treaties can be complex: the US one with Sweden is a 20 page pdf, and the US one with the UK is a 147 page pdf—though this covers a lot more than just the United States, which is a "category 2 territory" in the terms of the treaty.

And there is always a political component, especially when there are multiple countries looking to extradite someone. If Assange was first extradited to the United States, as you suggest, then in accordance with what's known as the doctrine of specialty the US could not then extradite him to Sweden unless they were given permission to do so by the UK; nor would Sweden extradite him to the US without permission, if the order was reversed. Negotiating such permission would be a political matter between the involved countries.

Additionally, Ecuador, in revoking Assange's asylum and handing him over to British authorities, required that the UK promise not to extradite him to any country where he may face torture or the death penalty. This could be viewed as a veiled "do not extradite him to the US" demand, as the US both has the death penalty and an apparent willingness to torture people (especially those foreigners associated with the events Assange is also associated with). The US could, however, promise the UK that he would not face these dangers, and as long as the UK accepts these assurances then they could extradite him to the US without formally violating their promise to Ecuador. Though whether or not Ecuador or other nations would see it that way is another matter. These are in fact common conditions, and many countries which lack a death penalty will refuse to extradite someone to a country where they may face it, even if they accept the accused is likely guilty.

So while matters will proceed according to the treaties, where he gets extradited, if anywhere, and in what order and under what conditions, will involve a series of political negotiations and calculations.

  • I believe that the ECHR requires European countries extraditing to the US to first gain assurance that the prisoner will not be subject to the death penalty, and this is routinely given and accepted. Torture is illegal in the USA proper (all cases of US torture AFAIK have happened in foreign countries) so from a legal POV its not an issue. Apr 12, 2019 at 9:24
  • @PaulJohnson Assuming, of course, that he is not intercepted outside the US and spirited away. But, yes, it is pretty likely that reasonable assurance could be provided. Apr 12, 2019 at 9:27
  • Not to mention that the crime he is accused of in the US is not a capital crime. But the general point is correct. Canada also won't extradite to the US an individual liable for death penalty.
    – Damila
    Apr 12, 2019 at 19:30
  • @Damila The crimes he has been accused of and charged with thus far are not capital crimes, anyway. Pompeo has described Wikileaks as a "hostile non-state intelligence agency", and that doesn't sound like it's very far from justifying throwing him before a military court or otherwise trumping up far more serious charges. But, news reports say that the US has already been offering assurances against torture and the death penalty, and I'm quite willing to believe that's genuine. Apr 13, 2019 at 8:21

Yes, you are correct that England will probably force him to deal with any proceedings he faces there first.

There are a lot of things that come into this, but normally, the parties will work together to find the most efficient way to force the person to go to court in each location. Logistically, one of the locations the defendant has to go to will make the most sense to attend first.

For Assange specifically, if the U.S. requested extradition first, he would probably be sent to the U.S. first.

If the country that wants you doesn't pick the person up, or takes an extremely long time to pick the person up, sometimes a judge will let him/her go.

  • Just a note but Assange has already been convicted of the offence he is wanted for in the UK - that was done hours after his arrest. He is currently awaiting sentencing - and of course, he has been remanded to custody until that date. Thus, the proceedings he faces in the UK are pretty much done and dusted, unless he appeals against his conviction.
    – user4210
    Apr 11, 2019 at 21:37
  • @Moo he will need to serve his sentence before he can be extradited
    – Dale M
    Apr 11, 2019 at 21:42
  • @DaleM not necessarily - he could be extradited during his sentence, theres no requirement for him to serve his sentence here in the UK prior to being extradited.
    – user4210
    Apr 11, 2019 at 22:25

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