High Court Rejects Assange Extradition Appeal

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has lost his appeal against extradition to Sweden

Julian Assange, founder of whistleblowing site WikiLeaks, has lost his appeal against extradition to Sweden on rape charges.

Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Ouseley handed down their judgement at the High Court this morning, dismissing Assange’s argument that the warrant was invalid because it had been issued by a prosecutor rather than a judicial authority. They also rejected Assange’s assertion that the descriptions of the offences were not fair and accurate.

“This is self evidently not a case relating to a trivial offence, but to serious sexual offences,” the judges said. “Assuming proportionality is a requirement, it is difficult to see what real scope there is for the [appeal] argument in circumstances where a Swedish Court of Appeal has taken the view, as part of Swedish procedure, that an arrest is necessary.”

The full judgement can be read here (pdf).

Assange’s lawyers now have 14 days to convince the High Court that there is a wider issue of public importance at stake, sufficient to warrant an appeal to the Supreme Court.

If Assange (pictured) succeeds in winning a Supreme Court appeal, he is likely to remain on conditional bail until a hearing can take place next year. If he is denied the right to appeal then British law enforcement officers will arrange his removal to Sweden within 10 days.

Politically motivated?

Assange, who turned 40 earlier this year, was arrested in the UK in December 2010, over allegations he had sexually assaulted two female WikiLeaks supporters in Sweden.

The arrest came at the height of the media storm, as WikiLeaks began publishing 250,000 confidential cables leaked from US embassies. Assange and his supporters believe the extradition to be politically motivated, and suspect a plot to have him eventually brought to the US.

The WikiLeaks affair sparked an online “war” in which sites that withdrew financial services from WikiLeaks such as Mastercard and Visa were hit with denial of service attacks. WikiLeaks is now suing Mastercard and Visa over their refusal to handle donations to the site, but has been forced to suspend publishing activity while it fights the “unlawful banking blockade”.

“The attack has destroyed 95 percent of our revenue,” the organisation said in a statement. “The blockade came into force within ten days of the launch of Cablegate as part of a concerted US-based, political attack that included vitriol by senior right wing politicians, including assassination calls against WikiLeaks staff.”

WikiLeaks has commenced pre-litigation action against the blockade in Iceland, Denmark, the UK, Brussels, the US and Australia.

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