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ASSANGE EXTRADITION FIGHT

EXTRADITION

UK court sets Assange extradition ruling date

Britain's Supreme Court said on Wednesday it will give its judgement in the case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's long-running fight against extradition to Sweden on May 30th.

UK court sets Assange extradition ruling date

The court announced the date in a statement on its website, saying the judgement would start at 9:15 am CET next Wednesday and would last around 10 minutes.

Assange took his case to the Supreme Court in February in a last throw of the dice within the British legal system, arguing that the Swedish prosecutor who ordered his arrest in December 2010 was not a proper judicial authority.

“This appeal involves a single issue of law which can be very simply stated. The question is whether a Swedish prosecutor has judicial authority for the purposes of the extradition act,” Assange’s lawyer Dinah Rose told the court at the time.

Rose argued that legal principles going back 1,500 years were “undermined” by the fact that the warrant for Assange’s arrest was issued by a prosecutor, saying there was no guarantee they would be independent and impartial” like a judge’s.

But Clare Montgomery, a British lawyer acting on behalf of the Swedish prosecuting authorities, rejected the claims made by the lawyers for the 40-year-old Australian.

“The issuing member state has the task of identifying who it regards as the judicial authority competent to issue the European Arrest Warrant,” she told the panel of seven judges in February.

Sweden wants to question the 40-year-old Australian over allegations of rape and sexual assault, but Assange insists the sex was consensual and has argued that the attempt to extradite him is politically motivated.

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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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