Assange Set For Final Extradition Appeal

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has won the right to one further appeal to the Supreme Court

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has been given teh chance for a fimal petition to the Supreme Court against his extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges.

Assange has been living in Britain on bail, and appealing to progressively higher courts,  since his arrest in December 2010 on accusations of rape, sexual molestation and coercion during a visit to Stockholm in August 2010. WikiLeaks has meanwhile continued its activity, last week launching Spy Files, a new campaign to expose the mass surveillance industry.

Supreme Court

His apeal to the High Court was lost in November, and on Monday the High Court denied Assange permission for a further appeal to the Supreme Court, but said he could directly ask the Supreme Court to rule on the legal questions involved in his extradition.

Assange’s lawyers argue that Swedish authorities may not have the right to issue European arrest warrants in Assange’s case, since he has not been formally charged, but is only wanted for questioning.

The High Court said this issue is a matter of “public importance”. Assange now has 14 days to petition the Supreme Court for another hearing.

“This is positive news for Julian Assange and means he will remain in the UK while the court assesses his appeal,” Assange’s Swedish lawyer Per E. Samuelsson told the Associated Press. “It is something we have fought for.”

Shortly after his arrest in December Assange was released on bail on condition that he live at the country house of one of his supporters, under curfew and electronically tagged.

Extradition

In a February hearing Assange argued that he would not face a fair trial in Sweden, but a judge rejected this argument and said he could be extradited.

At a hearing at the High Court on 12 July Assange argued that the sexual encounters in question were legal under English law. This appeal was rejected by two High Court judges, following which Assange asked for his case to be heard by the Supreme Court.

Assange has argued that the extradition is politically motivated, and that his life would be in danger if he were extradited to Sweden. He has argued that from Sweden he could face rendition to the US, where he could be tried on national security grounds.

WikiLeaks gained notoriety for releasing large numbers of documents related to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as well as confidential US Embassy diplomatic cables.

More recently WikiLeaks has faced funding troubles and issues with its online submissions system, but has begun a new campaign to expose commercial surveillance.

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