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Why Assange should allow his extradition to Sweden – Dr Kimberley Brownlee

Dr Kimberley Brownlee, an Associate Professor of Legal and Moral Philosophy at the University of Warwick, argues that Julian Assange should allow himself to be extradited to Sweden to face questioning over sexual assault allegations. She claims he can strengthen his cause by allowing the criminal justice process to proceed.

Dr Brownlee said: “Although Julian Assange might not expect to see justice from Sweden, or from the United States if he were to be extradited to the US, nevertheless he has good reasons to allow the criminal justice process to go forward in the alleged sexual assault cases.

“The reason for this is not the familiar thought that, in being willing to accept punishment, he’d show that he’s sincere and serious about his cause. Accepting punishment doesn’t necessarily show that. It can strategic. Martin Luther King Jr highlighted the strategic value of accepting punishment: ‘If you confront a man who has been cruelly misusing you, and say “Punish me, if you will; I do not deserve it, but I will accept it, so that the world will know I am right and you are wrong,” then you wield a powerful and just weapon.’

“That weapon is the increased profile of your cause, which can make you a martyr and a rallying point for others.

“The reason Assange should allow the Swedish cases to proceed is that conscientious disobedients are distinguished by their willingness to engage in a dialogue with society about the merits of their conduct. They act non-evasively with the aim of rationally persuading others of the merits of their view. This means they take the trial process seriously as a public forum in which to make a case, and consequently they accept the risk of being punished.

“Even though there is small hope for Assange that he would go unpunished, sometimes judges and juries are rightly sensitive to the contributions that disobedients can make to democratic deliberation and the rectification of injustices, and they honour that as well as they can in their handling of such cases.”

Note to Editors:

Dr Kimberley Brownlee is available for interviews over the phone or via Skype. Contact

Issued by Lee Page, Communications Manager, Press and Policy Office, The University of Warwick. Tel: +44 (0)2476 574 255, Mob: +44 (0)7920 531 221. Email:

Dr Kimberley Brownlee

Lee Page, Communications Manager

Tel: +44 (0)2476 574 255

Mob: +44 (0)7920 531 221