ANU law expert outlines what comes next for Julian Assange

Recent media reports have suggested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is set to be expelled from London’s Ecuadorian Embassy where he has been since 2012.

Renowned international law expert, Professor Donald Rothwell of The Australian National University explains the next steps of the legal process and likely outcomes should this occur.

For interviews, Professor Rothwell can be contacted directly, or through the media hotline on 02 6125 7979.

“Ecuador's granting to Assange of asylum can be withdrawn at any point in time, with the effect that he could be removed from the Ecuadorian Embassy if he chooses not to leave voluntarily,” Professor Rothwell said.

“Assange has sought to have dismissed the 2012 UK arrest warrant issued against him following his failure to surrender following the Swedish extradition request being upheld.”

“The Westminster Magistrates' Court in two rulings in 13 February 2018 rejected Assange's request to have the arrest warrants withdrawn.”

“The result is that Assange would be arrested by UK police once he leaves the Ecuadorian Embassy.”

“Assange would then be taken before a Magistrate where the breach of his bail conditions would be considered, the outcome of which could be the imposition of a fine, a period of goal, or the case being dismissed.”

“Any goal sentence would most likely be a short period of time, around a month or so given his circumstances.”

“What happens following the conclusion of the bail breach legal procedures will no doubt be the subject of discussions between Ecuador and the UK, in conjunction with Assange's legal team.”  

“It appears Assange’s legal team has sought an assurance from the UK that following the end of the arrest warrant proceedings, it will not act on any extradition request that it may have received from the US. Rather Assange would be deported based on being in breach of whatever status he had in the UK prior to the events of him entering the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012.”

Professor Rothwell believes there are two places where he could be deported:

- Ecuador based on the fact that he became a citizen of Ecuador.
- Australia based on this being the place of his original citizenship.

“Legally, deportation to Ecuador would be the best option as any extradition request from the US would be denied on the grounds that he is an Ecuadorian citizen and Ecuador does not extradite its citizens.”

“He would not enjoy that level of protection if he was deported to Australia,” Professor Rothwell said.

Professor Donald Rothwell
ANU College of Law
T: +61 (2) 6125 8948
M: +61 (0) 414 546 830
E: donald.rothwell@anu.edu.au

For media assistance, contact Aaron Walker from the ANU Media Team on 02 6125 7979, 0418 307 213 or at media@anu.edu.au.

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