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Assange v Swedish Prosecution Authority - 2012 Case Summary

459 words (2 pages) Case Summary

12th Jan 2024 Case Summary Reference this In-house law team

Jurisdiction / Tag(s): EU Law

Legal Case Summary

Assange (Appellant) v The Swedish Prosecution Authority (Respondent) - [2012] UKSC 22

Short case name: Assange v Swedish Prosecution Authority

See also: USA v Assange


Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, was accused of sexual offences in Sweden in August 2010. From 2012, he sought refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden. In 2014, Assange filed a complaint to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which ruled in his favor in February 2016, stating his stay in the Embassy was a "deprivation of liberty". Assange maintained that he would be extradited from Sweden to the USA and prosecuted for his WikiLeaks activities if he were to be extradited to Sweden (United Nations Human Rights Council, 2016).


The key issue in this case was whether the arrest warrant issued by Sweden and the extradition request were valid. Assange argued his extradition would result in "deprivation of liberty", exposing him to "inhumane and degrading treatment" contravening Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) (Assange v Swedish Prosecution Authority, 2012).

Holding and Rule

The Warrant issued by Sweden's Prosecution Authority was upheld by the UK courts, which decided that the allegations Assange faced constituted extraditable offences. Regarding the ECHR Article 3 claim, the court upheld that Assange failed to show a real risk of such treatment in Sweden. The UN's ruling on "deprivation of liberty" was non-binding and did not influence the decision of the UK courts. UK courts concluded that any "deprivation of liberty" Assange experienced was self-imposed (Bail Act 1976).


The UK courts upheld the validity of the arrest warrant while dismissing Assange's human rights and "deprivation of liberty" claims. Assange remained in the Ecuadorian Embassy until April 2019 when Ecuador withdrew its asylum. He was subsequently arrested by UK authorities and is currently imprisoned in the UK pending extradition proceedings to the USA (BBC News, 2019).


United Nations Human Rights Council (2016). ‘Opinions adopted by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention at its seventy-fourth session’, A/HRC/WGAD/2015, PP. 52-60. 

Assange v Swedish Prosecution Authority (2012) EWHC 308 (Admin). - Bail Act 1976 (UK). 

BBC News (2019). Julian Assange: Wikileaks co-founder arrested in London.

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Content relating to: "EU Law"

EU law, or European Union law, is a system of law that is specific to the 28 members of the European Union. This system overrules the national law of each member country if there is a conflict between the national law and the EU law.

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