Assange Loses Extradition Hearing But Fight Not Over Yet

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has lost his appeal against extradition to Sweden, where he is facing charges of rape and sexual molestation.

The UK Supreme Court deemed that the Swedish prosecutor was a lawful judicial authority, meaning the European Arrest Warrant put out for Assange was valid. The  decision was reached by a majority of five to two, the court’s president, Lord Phillips, said this morning.

Assange, who was not at the meeting, is accused of raping one woman and “sexually molesting and coercing” another. The WikiLeaks leader is currently on conditional bail in the UK, having been arrested in December 2010, in order to be

He took his fight to the Supreme Court in December 2012 after losing appeals in other UK courts during the last two years.

Not over yet

The case is not completely over yet, however. Julian Assange’s defence team has 14 days to make an application for the Supreme Court to hear the case again.

“They’re talking about reopening the Supreme Court case because the majority’s decision is based on legal reasons that weren’t raised in the hearing. Very unusual,” Carl Gardner, a barrister and writer of the Head of Legal blog, told TechWeekEurope.

It now remains unclear how long Assange will remain in the UK. “If the case is reopened it could take many weeks or even months again,” Gardner said, adding he was “a bit surprised by the dissent”, as he was expecting the Supreme Court to give a unanimous decision.

Assange can also apply to the European Court if he believes his trial was unfair, as Sweden is a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Finally, he could apply to the High Court for an injunction preventing his extradition, which could lead to a judicial review of his case.

Assange has faced a long battle fighting extradition to Sweden. In early 2011, he lost an appeal against his extradition at the Belmarsh magistrates’ court. The same happened in the High Court in November of the same year.

WikiLeaks raised the hackles of the authorities by publishing material about the Iraq War, as well as US diplomats; secret messages.

The latest verdict on Assange’s case was criticised by Loz Kaye, leader of the UK Pirate Party: “The case has repeatedly raised issues with the European Arrest Warrant system, and many of the more problematic aspects will remain unresolved.  It’s absurd that the Swedish Authorities have been unable to deal with this case outside of the courtroom, something that would have saved court time and taxpayers’ money.

“None of the main political parties have dared to comment on this case, although they haven’t held back from using other extradition cases topush their positions,” said Kaye.  “This shows how scared the Britis establishment is of scrutiny and dissent.

“Wikileaks is bigger than any one person, and the work must still go on. Whistleblowers face impossible situations every day and it is vital that organisations like Wikileaks are there to allow them to expose dangerous practices, illegality and serious issues that are in the public interest.

“I continue to offer my full support, and the Pirate Party’s full support, to Wikileaks and any other organisation that brings light to the darkness.”

Factions of the Anonymous hacktivist collective have already vowed revenge. Anonymous has already claimed hits on the Supreme Court’s website this year.

How well do you know Anonymous? Find out with our quiz!

Thomas Brewster

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

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