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 Full text 
Tuesday, 16 April 2019 - Strasbourg Provisional edition

The possible extradition of Julian Assange (debate)

  William (The Earl of) Dartmouth, on behalf of the EFDD Group. – Madam President, let us start off with one proposition. It is not a good idea for politicians to seek to intervene in the legal process. In fact it’s a very bad idea. The separation of politics and law is central to western democracy. In the case of Mr Julian Assange, he was taken into custody, came before a court and sentenced, because he was found guilty of jumping bail. There are entirely separate charges of hacking and the like that have been filed against him in the United States. It is these charges that are to be the subject of an extradition hearing. The hearing will take place before an English judge, and what the Council said was factually wrong: the Home Secretary does not decide. Many people, including me, have disliked and disagreed with some rulings of judges in the UK, but no serious person doubts the objectivity and professionalism of the English judiciary. Nevertheless, Ms Gomes and other colleagues want the legal process to be subject to political interference. This is my last speech in the Parliament, but I have to disagree. To debase the legal process to politics is entirely contrary not just to Western values but, Ms Joly, to all the institutions of democracy. We as politicians should leave the legal matter of Julian Assange well alone.

Now, what were the original legal proceedings that caused Mr Assange to jump bail? Well, it was the European arrest warrant, and this warrant was brought not by a Swedish judge but by the Swedish prosecutor. Despite this, with the European arrest warrant there is no real defence against extradition, and this is very worrying. We hear a lot in this place about human rights, but it is the S&D, the ALDE Group, the British Liberal Democrats – all the unthinking supporters of a European superstate – who are also the same people who are big supporters of the European arrest warrant. Their commitment to civil liberties and the European arrest warrant is highly flawed, as it probably was in the case of Mr Assange. Your commitment to civil liberties and legal due process comes to a grinding halt at Calais, and all in the name of yet more integration. If only these people would think again, and I beg you and urge you to do so.

Last updated: 9 July 2019Legal notice