UK court refuses to reopen Assange appeal

Britain's Supreme Court said on Thursday it has rejected an application by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to reopen his appeal against extradition to Sweden.

UK court refuses to reopen Assange appeal

“The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom has dismissed the application made by Ms Dinah Rose QC, counsel for Mr Julian Assange, seeking to reopen their appeal,” the court said in a statement.

Seven Supreme Court justices unanimously dismissed the move by Assange’s lawyers as being “without merit”.

The court added that the 40-year-old Australian behind the whistleblowing website could not be extradited for at least two weeks.

“In addition, the Court has ordered that… the required period for extradition shall not commence until the 14th day after today,” it said.

The ruling means that Assange has exhausted all of the legal options available to him within the UK judicial system in his efforts to avoid extradition to Sweden.

Attorney Claes Borgström, who represents the women who have accused Assange of sexual assault and rape said there is now little recourse left for the WikiLeaks founder.

“Well, that’s it then. Assange has talked about the European Court of Human rights, and he has every right to do so, but it’s not going to affect the carrying out of the extradition,” he told the TT news agency when informed of the UK court’s decision on Thursday.

Now that the decision to extradite Assange has come into force in the UK, Swedish police have ten days to bring him to Sweden so he can face questioning from the Swedish prosecutor investigating the sex crime accusations against him.

“Within four days of his arrival, he’ll be put before a remand judge,” Karin Rosander, a spokesperson with the Swedish Prosecution Authority (Riksåklagaren) told TT.

The court’s decision comes in response to a highly unusual move in which Assange’s lawyers asked the court to re-open his appeal.

Last month, the court rejected Assange’s last-ditch effort to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning about allegations of rape and sexual assault.

The court, Britain’s highest, handed down its initial dismissal in the 18-month legal marathon after rejecting Assange’s argument that the Swedish prosecutor who issued the arrest warrant for him was not entitled to do so.

Assange has said previously he is prepared to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights, considered to be the final venue in which he could appeal of lower British court’s decision paving the way for his extradition to Sweden.

TT/AFP/The Local

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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.