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UK court grants Assange extradition appeal

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been granted permission to appeal against extradition from Britain to Sweden over rape allegations and a hearing will start on February 1, a court said Friday.

UK court grants Assange extradition appeal

“The Supreme Court has granted permission to appeal and a hearing has been scheduled for two days, beginning on 1 February 2012,” said a statement from the Supreme Court, the highest court in England.

The decision means Assange will spend a second Christmas at the country mansion of a wealthy supporter in Norfolk, eastern England.

He was arrested last December on a European arrest warrant issued by Sweden after allegations by two women of sexual assault and rape.

The 40-year-old Australian strongly denies any wrongdoing and says the sex with the women was consensual.

He believes the allegations are politically motivated and linked to WikiLeaks’ release of hundreds of thousands of classified US files about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Supreme Court decision comes as Bradley Manning, the US soldier accused of passing the files to WikiLeaks, is due to make his first appearance in a US court on Friday.

The hearing will determine whether the former intelligence analyst, who turns 24 on Saturday, should be tried on charges which could see him sentenced to life imprisonment.

Manning is accused of downloading 260,000 US diplomatic cables, videos of US air strikes and US military reports from Afghanistan and Iraq between November 2009 and May 2010 while serving in Iraq, and transferring them to WikiLeaks.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking on the eve of Manning’s hearing, said it was a “very unfortunate and damaging action… that put at risk individuals and relationships.”

Manning’s supporters say his health has sharply deteriorated while in custody.

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JULIAN ASSANGE

Assange will cooperate with Sweden, but fight US warrant: lawyer

Julian Assange would cooperate with Swedish authorities if they reopen a rape case against him but will continue to resist any bid to extradite him to the United States, his lawyer said Sunday.

Assange will cooperate with Sweden, but fight US warrant: lawyer
Julian Assange's lawyer Jennifer Robinson in London on Thursday. Photo: AP Photo/Matt Dunham/TT

“We are absolutely happy to answer those queries if and when they come up,” Jennifer Robinson told Sky News television about the rape claims.

“The key issue at the moment is US extradition, which we have warned about for many years,” she added.

The WikiLeaks founder is in custody in London awaiting sentencing for breaching his British bail conditions in 2012 by seeking refuge in Ecuador's London embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden.

He was arrested at the embassy on Thursday after Ecuador gave him up, and is now also fighting a US extradition warrant relating to the release by WikiLeaks of a huge cache of official documents.

The Australian has always denied the claims of sexual assault and rape in Sweden. The first expired in 2015 and the other was dropped in 2017, but the alleged rape victim has now asked for the case to be reopened.

If Stockholm makes a formal extradition request, the British government will have to decide whether to consider it before or after that of the United States.

Robinson said Assange would seek assurances from Sweden that he would not be sent on to America, saying: “That is the same assurance we were seeking in 2010 and the refusal to give that is why he sought asylum.”

She added: “He's not above the law. Julian has never been concerned about facing British justice or indeed Swedish justice. This case is and has always been about his concern about being sent to face American injustice.”

The US indictment charges Assange with “conspiracy” for working with former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to crack a password stored on Department of Defence computers in March 2010.

He faces up to five years in jail.

Manning passed hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, exposing US military wrongdoing in the Iraq war and diplomatic secrets about scores of countries around the world.

The conspiracy charge against Assange seems intended to sidestep limits on prosecution potentially arising from the US Constitution's First Amendment guarantee of press freedom.

But Robinson insisted: “This indictment clearly engages newsgathering activities and the kinds of communications that journalists have with sources all the time.”

The lawyer condemned as “outrageous” claims made by Ecuador about Assange's behaviour in the embassy, including that he smeared his faeces on the wall, saying: “That's not true.”

Quito also accused him of failing to care for his cat. WikiLeaks said Assange had asked his lawyers to “rescue him (the cat) from embassy threats” in October, adding: “They will be reunited in freedom.”

Assange's father, John Shipton, on Sunday urged Australia to bring his son home.

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