Related to What is the priority of potential extraditions in Assange case?

  • Julian Assange has been arrested and convicted for failure to appear in court.
  • The USA has requested his extradition to face charges of conspiring to access classified DoD information
  • It is expected that Sweden might request his extradition to face charges of rape and sexual assault.

The BBC report

Extradition proceedings are dealt with by the courts.


Lawyer Rebecca Niblock said that, if Sweden made an extradition request, it would be for the home secretary to decide which would take precedence, considering factors such as which was made first and the seriousness of the offence.

The home secretary is a politician and a member of the cabinet. The judiciary are expected to act independently. I expect politicians who are cabinet members to set policy for their departments but not to direct the outcome of individual cases that come before the courts.

Why is it the home secretary and not the judiciary that decide priority?

  • Under the Extradition Act 2003, the Secretary of State only has a role to play in extraditions to Category 2 countries, which include the US. Extraditions to Category 1 countries (European Arrest Warrant countries) are dealt with solely by the judiciary and the Secretary of State plays no part. www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/41/contents
    – user4210
    Apr 13, 2019 at 10:09

2 Answers 2


As noted in my answer in the linked question, the Secretary of State (and therefore the government) only play a role in extraditions to Category 2 countries, which includes the US, under the Extradition Act 2003. Extraditions to Category 1 countries, which include Sweden, are solely dealt with by the judiciary.

The government cannot decide order or precedence between simultaneous valid extradition orders to both Category 1 and Category 2 countries as they have no ability in law to interfere in a Category 1 extradition, so it will probably come down to a race between which extradition proceeding completes first, or a determination made by the judiciary as to which one must be effected first.


The home secretary decides whether to initiate extradition proceedings. This means, that the home secretary is the one with the power to ask a court to extradite Julian Assange, but at the end of the day, it will be a judge that hears the application, and therefore decides if the extradition will actually happen or not.

The judiciary itself doesn't have the power to initiate such proceedings.

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