Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Court to Rule on Julian Assange Extradition Today

The founder of WikiLeaks faces extradition to Sweden to face sex crime allegations. Julian Assange , who wears an electronic monitoring device on his ankle while in Britain, maintains that these accusations are politically motivated. The Press Association reports:
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will hear on Wednesday if he has won or lost his high court bid to block extradition to Sweden where he faces sex crime allegations.
His lawyers asked two judges to rule that extraditing the 40-year-old Australian would be "unfair and unlawful".
The Swedish authorities want Assange to answer accusations of raping one woman and sexually molesting and coercing another in Stockholm in August last year.
Assange, whose WikiLeaks website has published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables that embarrassed several governments and international businesses, denies the allegations and says they are politically motivated.
The high court in London is having to decide whether to uphold or overturn a ruling in February by District Judge Howard Riddle at Belmarsh magistrates' court in south London that the computer expert should be extradited to face investigation.
Judgment will be handed down by President of the Queen's Bench Division Sir John Thomas, sitting with Mr Justice Ouseley.
The Assange legal challenge, which has attracted worldwide attention, centers on a European arrest warrant (EAW) issued by a Swedish prosecutor, which led to Assange's arrest.
His QC, Ben Emmerson, argued at a two-day hearing in July that the prosecutor was not a "judicial authority" entitled to issue the EAW.
The warrant had also contained "fundamental misstatements" of what had occurred in Stockholm last August while Assange was in Sweden to give a lecture, said the QC.

This extradition case is not  linked to the Australian's notorious work as editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, which has so upset U.S. authorities. Assange's organization, which enables the anonymous uploading of secret information onto its website, has published around a quarter million confidential U.S. diplomatic cables in the past year, embarrassing to the government and possibly putting some named informants in potential danger. If the court rules in his favor, he will walk free.

UPDATE:  The British judges have ruled against Assange, but he has two weeks to appeal his case to the highest court, according to the Associated Press. It is increasingly likely that Sweden will be his next destination.

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