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Crucial UK extradition hearing for Assange

Crucial UK extradition hearing for Assange

Published: 04 Dec 2011 14:14 GMT+01:00
Updated: 04 Dec 2011 14:14 GMT+01:00

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange hopes to avoid extradition to Sweden by having his case heard by Britain's High Court of Justice, the final card in a legal battle that has lasted almost a year.

Almost a year after his arrest over claims of rape and sexual assault, the 40-year-old Australian will ask two judges at London's High Court to decide whether his appeal can proceed to the Supreme Court.

For the appeal to be heard in Britain's highest court, the judges must rule the case raises a question of general public importance.

Monday's hearing comes a month after his first appeal against a ruling that he can be sent to Sweden was rejected.

If the ruling goes against Assange, the British leg of his legal battle will end and he faces extradition to Sweden within 10 days, an outcome that would mark a new low for the former hacker after a string of controversies.

Swedish police want to quiz Assange over allegations made by two Swedish women of sex crimes, which he strongly denies.

Assange claims the allegations are politically motivated and linked to the activities of his anti-secrecy website, which angered the United States by publishing thousands of classified documents.

He has already appeared nine times in British courts since his detention under a European Arrest Warrant on December 7 last year.

He has spent much of the last year under virtual house arrest on a supporter's country estate in eastern England, where he has had to stick to strict bail conditions.

A lower court initially approved Assange's extradition in February, but he appealed to the High Court which rejected his challenge on November 2.

Assange made the application for the Supreme Court to hear the case one day before the legal time limit.

The judiciary of England and Wales said the High Court would "consider Julian Assange's application for a certificate of law of general public importance on 5 December."

Legal sources said a decision was expected on the same day but that it was not certain.

According to the website Sweden Vs. Assange, which supports his case, his legal team will question whether a European Arrest Warrant issued by a state prosecutor is valid.

They will also query whether he can be defined as "accused" despite having not been prosecuted, the website added.

Assange has previously expressed fears that his extradition to Sweden would lead to his transfer to the United States to face as yet unspecified charges of spying.

The legal challenge comes despite the fact that a Swedish public relations firm claimed last week that it had been hired by Assange and that he would soon be returning to Sweden to face questioning over the allegations.

Swedish prosecutors want to question Assange on suspicion of two counts of sexual molestation and an accusation of rape made by two Swedish women in August 2010.

If the High Court fails to back his appeal bid on Monday, it will be another blow for Assange after his fortunes deteriorated dramatically in the past year.

When he was arrested, WikiLeaks was riding high having just started releasing more than 250,000 classified US diplomatic cables, following the earlier publication of US military files on the war in Afghanistan.

But support for the eccentric, platinum blond WikiLeaks chief has faded amid a welter of controversies.

Former WikiLeaks colleagues have turned on him, attacking the way he ran the site. He also fell out with newspapers, including the New York Times and Britain's Guardian, that WikiLeaks initially worked with to release documents.

WikiLeaks' work has come under threat, with the site forced to suspend releasing files in October after a funding blockade.

It resumed publication Thursday, however, with the launch of a project on the global surveillance industry.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:22 December 4, 2011 by carolannusa
Mr Assange's support base is stronger than ever; the vindictiveness of a few former employees & journalists has not diminished the determination of those of us who want to see justice done for this man. The investigation in this matter has been fraught with irregularities. The prosecutor had ample time to re-question Mr Assange during his extended voluntary stay in Sweden, making the request for the European Arrest Warrant unnecessary. The lack of chromosomal DNA on a condom kept by one of the complainants suggests the possibility of evidence tampering. The victim in this whole sorry mess is Mr Assange himself.
12:26 December 4, 2011 by William Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha
It's not the final card in this legal battle. Not by a long shot. Once he has exhausted the UK courts he may take it further, to the European Court of Justice or the European Court of Human Rights. If he loses and goes to trial in Sweden then I imagine he'll want the trial to be public, not behind closed doors. So he'll go through the system and back to the ECHR for that too.
13:19 December 4, 2011 by skumdum
What a loser he his.
14:54 December 4, 2011 by Nomark
Didn't he keep on saying that he tried to arrange a meeting in Sweden to clear this all up ? Or is this another one of his porkies which the judge at the first extradition hearing found unconvincing when he examined the submitted evidence and cross-examined the witnesses ?
15:44 December 4, 2011 by William Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha
I believe that he says he did but the Swedish prosecutors says he didn't. The evidence and witnesses to this couldn't be cross examined as they did not attend court. The judge accepted the prosecutor's version without it being questioned.
17:46 December 4, 2011 by Opinionfool
"the Swedish prosecutors" that's part of the problem isn't it? There have been so many Swedish prosecutors involved and each has made a different determination. One, the first, who effectlively said Assange didn't have a case to answer, then a second, with an ardent feminist agenda, who waited till Assange went out of the country before raises charges.

And of course there are the American prosecutors hanging around in the background too. Bradley Manning's legal team are now seeking to have documents from the State Department published that say the WikiLeaks cables did *not* harm US interests or personnel around the world as "much of the material was either old or in the public domain anyway".
19:06 December 4, 2011 by strixy
Swedes, the world s laughing at you. Everyone knows that both women had consensual sex with Mr Assange. Then one (who had a boyfriend in New York btw) started worrying about HIV as there was an 'accident' (a broken condom) during one intercourse. However, they both decided to carry on then. She asked Assange to test himsel. He reused. This may make him not a nice guy but certainly not a criminal. The only was a woman can get free anti0retrovirus treatment in Sweden is when she reports rape... .
20:54 December 4, 2011 by GLO
What a jerk, and same for jerks that defend this criminal.....
21:37 December 4, 2011 by Streja
strixy, you're wrong. Swedes only pay 1 800 kr a year on medicine in total.
23:04 December 4, 2011 by Iraniboy
I guess it would be better for him to be Sweden. It is much safer for him than the UK. He will in wrost case get 2 months jail and that's all.
23:37 December 4, 2011 by sgt_doom
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
11:53 December 5, 2011 by Dogs_Gonads
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16027942

Just now on BBC.
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