Image Hosted by
FACTDROP: British High Court rejects Assange extradition appeal


British High Court rejects Assange extradition appeal

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (C) arrives at London's High Court on November 2, 2011. The British court ruled that he should be sent to Sweden for questioning over alleged sexual misconduct.

Πηγή: Washington Post
By Karla Adam
Nov 2 2011

LONDON — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange lost his battle against extradition Wednesday when Britain’s High Court ruled that he should be sent to Sweden to face questioning over allegations of sexual misconduct.

The judgment was handed down by High Court judges John Thomas and Duncan Ouseley with Assange in attendance, wearing a dark suit and a Remembrance Day poppy.

In their ruling, the judges said that the European Arrest Warrant that triggered Assange’s arrest and subsequent proceedings by the Swedish authorities were “proportionate.”

Lawyers for the 40-year-old Australian are expected to seek permission to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land. The legal team must lodge an application within the next two weeks, and make a case that a “point of law of general importance” is at stake.

Swedish authorities have not charged Assange, but they want to question him over allegations of sexual molestation, unlawful coercion and rape made by two Swedish women following a trip to Stockholm in August 2010. Assange vehemently denies the charges.

A British judge ordered Assange’s extradition in February, but his legal team appealed, arguing that the arrest warrant was flawed and the sex was consensual and would not be considered a crime in England.

After Wednesday’s ruling, Assange delivered a short statement to the jostling throng of reporters outside of the Royal Courts of Justice. It was a marked contrast to the lengthy, defiant speeches he made after previous hearings,

“I have not been charged with any crime, in any country. Despite this, the European Arrest Warrant is so restrictive that it prevents U.K. courts from considering the facts of a case, as judges have made clear here today,” Assange said. “We will be considering our next steps in the days ahead.”

He also urged people to visit, a Web site commissioned by Assange’s defense fund,“if you want to know what’s really going on in this case.”

Joshua Rozenberg, a legal expert, said that a decision on whether the Supreme Court would hear Assange’s appeal could stretch out for “certainly weeks.”

If the Supreme Court hears Assange’s appeal, a decision in the case could take up to a year. If it does not, British law enforcement officers will arrange for Assange to be extradited to Sweden within 10 days.

In Sweden, the maximum sentence is six years for rape, two years for sexual molestation, and one year for unlawful coercion.

In his recently published “unauthorized autobiography,” Assange conceded he was cold to the two Swedish women he calls “A” and “W”, but denied criminality.

“I wasn’t a reliable boyfriend, or even a very courteous sleeping partner, and this began to figure,” he wrote. “Unless, of course, the agenda had been rigged from the start.”

Assange has said that the charges against him are politically motivated — an attempt at revenge after the WikiLeaks publications of a trove of classified military and diplomatic documents that have embarrassed the U.S. government.

The anti-secrecy Web site recently announced it would be scaling back operations so that it could focus on raising money, following an 11-month financial embargo by Visa, MasterCard and other financial firms that accept financial transactions.

Last month, Assange said WikiLeaks faced an “existential” crisis and could close as early as January if it was unable to boost its financial reserves.

Despite mounting legal costs, Assange has stressed that none of the money donated to WikiLeaks has been used to pay for his legal fees in the extradition battle.

Assange remains on bail as his lawyers decide whether to attempt an appeal. Since his arrest in December 2010, Assange has been living under partial house arrest at a supporter’s mansion home northeast of London. He is required to wear an electronic tag and check in nightly with the police.

No comments:

Post a Comment