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Assange And The U.K./U.S. Treaty on Extradition: Can They Honestly Extradite Him Legally?


The United States and the U.K. ratified an extradition treaty in 2007 for extraditing serious offenders. Under this treaty between the two countries, “Extradition shall not be granted if the offense for which extradition is requested is a political offense.” By indicting Assange on Espionage the DOJ has proven that the arrest by the U.S. government is politically based. According to an article seen on

Another defense available to Assange—and perhaps his most formidable one—will be to assert that he is being charged with a political offense. If that assertion is deemed correct, it could block his extradition, because, like many extradition agreements, the US-UK treaty forbids any transfer based on such charges. The categorical prohibition under Article 4 of the treaty could not be clearer: “Extradition shall not be granted if the offense for which extradition is requested is a political offense.”

But what is a political offense? Transgressions such as espionage, sedition, and treason are what are known as “pure” political offenses, including under UK law—that is to say, activities that directly target the state but that would not necessarily be criminal in other contexts. A related category, known as “relative” political offenses, covers common crimes that are incidental to purely political activities. Because various jurisdictions have interpreted the expansiveness of this political exception differently over time, a universal definition of a relative political offense is difficult to articulate, but the basic principle of the political exception in extradition has remained unchanged since its origins in the late nineteenth century. It states, in brief, that nations should not return political opponents to face prosecution for challenging the states that would sit in judgement of them.

The fact is, extradition would also be exposing Assange to conditions which would further deteriorate his psychological and physical health if they rule in the U.S.’s favor and also result in possible torture. Several of the indictments against Assange can carry the death penalty and under British law, it is illegal to surrender a prisoner to another country where they may face death.

Keep in mind, Assange sought asylum for fear of being extradited to the United States and remained detained in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for 7 years because of that fear. He knows he will be treated unfairly and under severely harsh conditions in the U.S. He most likely would be in solitary confinement for the rest of his life if he was not given the death penalty and tortured.

The question remains, will the U.K. extradite against it’s own laws? Will the judicial system in regards to Assange continue it’s bias? Will Assange be punished for publishing documents that were in the public interest? When will this injustice end?