Assange appeals against extradition to Sweden

British Supreme Court backed a European arrest warrant for his extradition to Sweden on rape, sexual assault charges.

Reuters June 12, 2012

LONDON: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has appealed against Britain's Supreme Court's decision to back his extradition to Sweden over alleged sex crimes.

Two weeks ago, judges at Britain's top court rejected his argument by a 5-2 majority that a European arrest warrant for his extradition was invalid, seemingly putting an end to an 18-month legal battle.

However, his lawyers argued that some of the judges had reached their decision based on a legal point that had not been argued in court, preventing the defense team from making a counter-submission.

The court agreed to give Assange 14 days to challenge the decision and a spokesperson said on Tuesday that an appeal had been submitted.

"No time has been set to look at the evidence," the spokesperson said. "We are hoping it will be done promptly."

The former computer hacker gained international prominence in 2010 when WikiLeaks began releasing secret video footage and thousands of US diplomatic cables about Iraq and Afghanistan, in the largest leak of classified documents in US history.

That made him a hero to anti-censorship campaigners but Washington was furious about the release of classified documents.

Swedish prosecutors want to question Assange over allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two female former WikiLeaks volunteers. He denies any wrongdoing and has been fighting extradition since his arrest in Britain in December 2010.

His lawyers argue the European arrest warrant was invalid because it was issued by a prosecutor and not a judge or a court, as required in Britain. Prosecutors say different legal procedures are allowable under the internationally agreed format.

Even if he loses the appeal in Britain, the Australian could take his case to the European Court of Human Rights, potentially holding up the extradition process for months.



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