WikiLeaks's Assange May Appeal Extradition
By Erik Larson – Dec 5, 2011 7:12 AM ET
Julian Assange, founder of the anti- secrecy website WikiLeaks, will be able to ask the U.K. Supreme Court to block his extradition to Sweden after judges today rejected his request to appeal the sexual-assault case.
Assange would have to petition the U.K. Supreme Court directly on whether Swedish prosecutors had the authority to issue European arrest warrants. While a London court today denied Assange permission to appeal, it said the question of whether Swedish prosecutors had exceeded their authority was one of public importance.
Assange, 40, is accused of failing to use a condom in one incident and of having sex with a woman who was sleeping in another. In the Court of Appeal ruling last month, judges John Smith and Duncan Ouseley said it’s “difficult to see how a person could reasonably have believed in consent if the complaint alleges a state of sleep or half-sleep.”
The court determined that the issue was of “general public importance,” Assange said outside the court. “The struggle for justice, for myself and others, continues.”
Assange’s lawyer, Mark Summers, today argued the U.K. shouldn’t carry out European arrest warrants when they are issued by public prosecutors because they aren’t actually judicial authorities, as is required under the law for the cross-border warrant procedure. He also said the warrant was invalid because Assange hasn’t been charged in Sweden.
‘Ripe for Consideration’
“The issue is ripe for consideration by the Supreme Court,” Summers said. “This warrant has not been issued by a court or a judge.”
The alleged crimes, for which no charges have been filed, took place in August 2010 in Stockholm and Enkoeping, Sweden, while Assange was lecturing to supporters about the publication of U.S. military documents.
The alleged misconduct was revealed as WikiLeaks was being condemned by U.S. authorities for posting thousands of classified military and diplomatic communications.
Australian Senator Scott Ludlam, a member of the Greens party, said the Australian government should take “a much more active role” to ensure Assange isn’t sent from Sweden to the U.S.
“We are concerned that Mr. Assange, if extradited to Sweden, could subsequently be extradited to the United States to face trumped-up charges arising from the work of the WikiLeaks website,” Ludlam said in a statement.
WikiLeaks temporarily suspended its operations in October to raise money during what it called a U.S. “financial blockade.” Visa Europe Ltd., MasterCard Inc. (MA), American Express Co. (AXP) and eBay Inc. (EBAY)’s PayPal halted payments to the site, Assange says.
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