Sweden's statement for the OAS Meeting of Foreign Ministers

Check against delivery.

Statement by Sweden at the Organization of American States, OAS, Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs on the Situation between Ecuador and the United Kingdom, Washington 24 August 2012.

The statement was delivered by Karin Höglund, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Swedish Embassy in Washington.

Mr Chairman, Secretary General, Ministers, Representatives, Observers

Thank you for offering me the opportunity to address this assembly today.

First of all, I would like to thank the UK for clarifying important legal points, and thereby correcting the misunderstandings that have been circulating recently, not least in the media.

Allow me to clarify, and in some parts reiterate, the state of Swedish law in this case.

State of the law

The issue at hand is exclusively a question of surrender to Sweden under a European arrest warrant on Mr Assange, who is under criminal investigation in Sweden suspected of sexual offences against two Swedish women.

I would like to stress that no request for Mr Assange's extradition to a third country has been issued. The question of extradition to a third country is hypothetical speculation that shifts the focus away from what this case is actually about, which is that Mr Assange is suspected of sexual offences in Sweden. Swedish prosecution proceedings must be allowed to take their course, not least bearing in mind the victims of the alleged offences.

Sweden has an independent judiciary and, if the issue were to arise, any request for extradition would be handled in accordance with Swedish laws. Swedish legislation does not foresee the possibility of issuing guarantees that extradition will not take place.

Let me take this opportunity to clarify a few relevant points regarding Swedish legislation. Swedish law, the European Convention on Human Rights and Sweden's extradition agreement with the United States all state that Sweden is not allowed to extradite a person at risk of capital punishment. The offences that the person is accused of must also be punishable under Swedish law. The Extradition Act also includes grounds for refusal of extradition, such as political or military offences and situations in which the person who is extradited is at risk of persecution. If the person sought does not consent to the extradition, the request for extradition is examined by Sweden's Supreme Court before a final decision on extradition is made.

Moreover, Sweden is obliged to obtain the consent of the transferring State - in this case, the UK - in order to be able to re-extradite the surrendered person to a third state.

Sweden is bound by its international law obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights not to extradite any person at risk of capital punishment or inhuman treatment. These undertakings under the European Convention are also Swedish law.

In the hypothetical event of an extradition request being received, all the legal guarantees under Swedish law and Swedish obligations under international law will be respected fully.

In conclusion

Sweden reiterates its strongest rejection of the serious accusations made against the Swedish judicial system in relation to this issue and underlines the importance of Swedish prosecution proceedings against Mr Assange being allowed to take their course. It is unacceptable that the course of European judicial cooperation is hindered in this manner.

I thank you Mr Chairman.