Why is Theresa May so reluctant to offer assurances?

This article in The Guardian reminds us that the UK Home Secretary Theresa May holds some power in denying or permitting consent to the US to further extradite Julian Assange from Sweden to the US. In order for them to do so they would need to apply for consent from Ms May who has been asked repeatedly to offer assurances that Julian Assange is safe from extradition to the US. She has not offered this assurance.

Contact your MP and demand to know why Theresa May is remaining silent. I have drafted a template below which you can use directly or amend. If you can see where improvements can be made, post your comments over at the forum so that others can share your amendments (or email [email protected] if you prefer).

You can find your MP here or use this tool to email your MP.

If you want to check out the role of the Home Secretary with regards to the specific matter of further extradition see The Extradition Act (2003) and open up section 58.


I am writing with continued concerns about the situation of Julian Assange and the complexities of the political context surrounding his work with the media organisation WikiLeaks.

As you are aware Mr Assange is currently seeking political asylum at the Ecuador Embassy in London. Due to the political reactions towards his work there are some very real concerns that:

– he will not receive a fair treatment if extradited to Sweden
– he will face further extradition to the US from Sweden

I would urge you to look at the following resources to understand why I am so concerned:


I am writing to ask you specifically about the role of the UK Home Secretary Theresa May and her power with regards to the further extradition of Mr Assange to the US. I have recently read (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/jul/26/ecuador-julian-assange-extradition-us) that:

“The senior legal adviser said that under extradition law, the concept of “specialty” ensures an individual can only be extradited to one country – in the case of Assange, Sweden. Once legal proceedings in that country have been completed, the individual is given a 45-day leave, during which they are free to go where they want.

Assange should, therefore, be free to travel to any other state – including the UK, Ecuador or Australia – once legal proceedings against him are completed in Sweden.

However, specialty can be waived by the country granting the initial extradition request – in this case the UK – thereby allowing an individual to be extradited to a third country.

The senior legal adviser to the Ecuadoreans said that the home secretary, Theresa May, would need to waive specialty under section 58 of the Extradition Act 2003, before Assange could be extradited from Sweden to the US.

Despite repeated requests from Ecuador, the Foreign Office has not said whether or not May intends to exercise her powers to allow for any potential future extradition to the US.”
I understand from this that our Home Secretary would be in a unique position with regards to the authorisation of the further extradition of Mr Assange from Sweden to the US and I wish you to clarify certain points for me in light of this.

Mr Assange and the legal team supporting him have made it very clear throughout his detainment in the UK that, with evidence of a secret US grand Jury in relation to WikiLeaks (http://wikileaks.org/Stratfor-Emails-US-Has-Issued.html), there is a very real threat that Mr Assange will face extradition to the US. Being aware of this and the length of time that Mr Assange has been fighting extradition to Sweden due to this fear it would be somewhat prudent for Ms May to directly offer Mr Assange assurances that:

– consent has not been made regarding his further extradition to the US or
– Ms May would not offer consent should such a request be made

It is clear that, despite repeated requests, no such assurances have been made and I would appreciate you explaining to me why such clarity would not be forthcoming. If there are no grounds for Mr Assange to be concerned about his possible extradition to the US why would Ms May not publicly assert this? Would this reassurance not help pave the way for Mr Assange  to defend himself in relation to the allegations made about him in Sweden?

It would be somewhat logical to therefore assume that Ms May is  unable to issue this reassurance and it would follow that she is unable to do so only because consent has, indeed, been sought by the US in relation to Mr Assange facing further extradition. I note that it is stated within subsection 4 of Section 58 of the 2003 Extradition Act that, should she deem it ‘impracticable,’ Ms May would not be obliged to uphold the right of Mr Assange to be made aware that she had received a request for consent.

I would like you to answer specifically and succinctly my following questions:

1) Will you urge Theresa May, Home Secretary, to publicly state that she would waive specialty under section 58 of the Extradition Act 2003 to ensure that Julian Assange could not be extradited from Sweden to the US?

2) Why would the Home Secretary refuse to issue this assurance sought of her regarding further extradition to the US?

3) Do you agree that the consequences of not issuing this assurance work to fuel fears that consent has indeed been requested of Ms May by the US?

4) If consent has been sought for further extradition what reasons would entitle Ms May, under subsection 4 of Section 58 of the 2003 Extradition Act, to deem it impracticable to serve the required notice upon Mr Assange?

5) Will you, if you have not already done so, sign the EDM 128 for the reform of the Extradition Act?

I look forward to hearing from you

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