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Lawyer: Assange a victim of judicial mismatch

Lawyer: Assange a victim of judicial mismatch

Published: 12 Jul 2011 11:18 GMT+02:00
Updated: 12 Jul 2011 15:00 GMT+02:00

WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange arrived at the High Court in London on Tuesday to open his appeal against a ruling to extradite him to Sweden to face allegations of rape.

The appeal began with Assange's defence lawyer telling a British court the case against him was legally flawed. In the February ruling in a lower court judge rejected his defence's arguments that he would face an unfair trial in Sweden.

The 40-year-old Australian's lawyer, Ben Emmerson, said the conduct described in the European arrest warrant issued by Sweden "fails to provide a fair, proper and accurate description of what is alleged against the appellant."

He said that Sweden was seeking his extradition for questioning over the claims of rape and sexual molestation by two women "not for the purpose of prosecution".

Emmerson also argued that Assange was a victim of a "philosophical and judicial mismatch" between English and Swedish law on what constituted sex crimes.

Assange arrived at the court in central London in a black car and refused to answer questions about the appeal from a scrum of cameramen and journalists. He was wearing a grey suit, blue tie, white shirt and glasses.

A supporter yelled: "Keep fighting the American empire, Julian." Other supporters including campaigning journalist John Pilger also arrived at the court.

The hearing on Tuesday and Wednesday will take place before two judges. The decision is expected to be deferred until a later date.

His Swedish lawyer, Björn Hurtig, said Tuesday he believes there are strong chances the court will decide to extradite his client.

"I think there is a big risk he will come here," Hurtig told Sveriges Radio.

"I hope this is going to go as Julian wants but I believe the chances for change are fairly small," he said, adding he thought Assange's British legal team would concentrate more this time on formalities than on criticising the Swedish legal system and Assange's accusers.

Hurtig was censured by the judge in the previous case for being "unreliable" and for making a deliberate attempt to mislead the court.

Even if the ruling goes against him, Assange's lawyers have signalled he is prepared for a lengthy legal battle and could take his challenge all the way to the Supreme Court.

The former computer hacker has been living under strict bail conditions, including wearing an electronic ankle tag and a curfew, at a friend's mansion in eastern England since December.

He was arrested in December after two Swedish women accused him of sexual assault, allegations that Assange denies.

The Australian's whistleblowing website was in the process of releasing a huge cache of leaked US diplomatic cables at the time.

It was the site's latest dump of US government documents, following the release of secret military files about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and angered Washington.

Swedish authorities want to question him over the sex assault claims, although he has not been formally charged. He has claimed that the allegations are politically motivated.

Assange has shaken up his legal team ahead of the hearing, replacing vocal media lawyer Mark Stephens with Gareth Peirce, a high-profile human rights lawyer.

In recent years Peirce has represented Muslim terror suspects, and a former Guantanamo Bay inmate. She made her name in the 1970s and 80s defending people wrongfully jailed over bombings by Northern Irish paramilitary group the IRA.

Despite the tight restrictions on him, Assange managed to celebrate Sunday his 40th birthday, which occurred on July 3rd, with a party.

Assange has claimed his greatest fear is eventual extradition to the United States, where his lawyers argued he could be sent to the Guantanamo Bay detention facility or face the death penalty.

US authorities opened a criminal investigation against Assange in July 2010 but are yet to bring any charges against him.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

13:53 July 12, 2011 by muscle
oh he is still alive?
16:10 July 12, 2011 by big5
Win-win situation. I despise the militant feminists who accused him of such a non-crime and can't wait to see them and the ditzy collection of prosecutors who supported them humiliated in court. But at the same time, the self-aggrandizing twit Assange with his hate-on-USA agenda deserves every bit of trouble he gets.

I hope he gets extradited and the whole process is painful and embarrassing for all concerned. Popcorn.
16:43 July 12, 2011 by Frobobbles
This is the coalition to end all coalitions: the swedish feminazis with the american empire
16:44 July 12, 2011 by William Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha
He's looking a bit chubby in that photo. Too much fish'n'chips.
17:07 July 12, 2011 by Swedesmith
Thought so too.
17:36 July 12, 2011 by Rick Methven
Maybe he should of been held on remand and eaten prison grub, that would have slimmed him down a bit
20:06 July 12, 2011 by sgt_doom
Extraordinary!!!!

The British government should be spending all their time extraditing super-crook and spy, Rupert Murdoch, to the UK, instead they are once again playing lapdog to the Americans!

Or else someone should be extraditing Carl Bildt to the Hague, to answer for those massacres of Sudanese while he was a director with Lundin Petroleum.

No justice left, I guess.....
22:15 July 12, 2011 by William Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha
Where should they be extradicting Murdoch from? (Seeing as he arrived in the UK at the weekend)
00:46 July 13, 2011 by Keith #5083
Very interesting report in the Guardian.Seems he did actually put on a condom when requested to do so.Any attempt at penetration before that had not been permitted yet there had been no verbalisation of a condom request.

So, if an adult woman consents to sex and does not specify, with that consent (whether by physical action or verbally) that she requires her partner to wear a condom, then the partner is accused of attempted rape!!! I understand we are not talking about women who have no experience in these matters but about mature,experienced women.

Make sure your deaf aids have new batteries, guys...oh, and carry some form of audio recording device so you can fully record all the conditions your partner requires you to fulfill.
13:54 July 13, 2011 by Nomark
Funny how its all developing. I recall pointing out that his first of lawyers were talking rubbish. Basic legal precedents and conventions would prevent any of the nastiness they were screaming about regarding further extradition to the US. However, lots of readers seemed to buy the hype and were rather loud and abusive here.

Similarly, I also pointed out that the core of the issue is the way the European Arrest Warrant is being used. I'm glad his new lawyers have decided to focus on this area.

Finally, like others, I remarked at the start of all of this that it could best be understood by reference to the peculiar feminist environment in Sweden and not as a CIA plot. Even Assange came round to that notion in the end though his supporters dutifully followed the CIA party line until they realised that they had to change when the party line changed.

I certainly wasn't the only one to have a fair degree of prescience. However, its notable that Assange's supporters were and are very easily led... There is a limited number of times someone can be wrong and still claim to have any meaningful grasp of the situation.
11:16 July 14, 2011 by johnny1939
This whole affaire seems like entrapment to me or the very foolish behavior of two foolish women for whatever reason.

Sex is not fun in my country but serious business w/ a lot of pitfalls. How I miss the times when flirting was fun and not sexual harrassement. Oh well
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