Yesterday’s Dagens Nyheter carried an article by two leading Swedish lawyers on the Assange extradition case. ‘Assange’s criticism of Sweden is right on several points,’ the headline says. There’s a report on it in English here. Their criticisms centre on (a) the lack of a jury system in Sweden (verdicts are arrived at by a judge flanked by two party appointees); (b) the fact that accused people awaiting trial are kept in prison for months, without bail, and often in solitary confinement (the European Court has already condemned Sweden for this); and (c) the fact that in some cases (such as rape) trials can be held in secret.
When a few months ago I wrote here that considerations like this might help one to understand why Assange was nervous of extradition to Sweden – I wasn’t claiming that the Swedish system was worse overall, only that it operated in a different culture, which those from an Anglo-American tradition might find it difficult to understand or to trust – it was resented by most of my Swedish friends, though it turned out that none of them had more than the haziest idea about their own system (how could they, when they play no part in it?); and attacked in some of the comments on my post. One of the latter more or less accused me of being a BNP fellow-traveller. So it’s good to have a bit of support from the Swedish side.
I still have no settled opinion on the virtues of the Swedish legal system. I’m sure there are ways in which it’s superior to the English one. (Most Swedish things are.) I was hoping to learn of these from comments on my earlier post, but none was forthcoming before the discussion degenerated (into one on the practice of pseudonymity!). Perhaps things will be different this time?