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WikiLeaks' Assange appeals British extradition ruling

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WikiLeaks' Assange appeals British extradition ruling

Post  mara thon on Tue 12 Jul - 13:52


..WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appears in a British court on Tuesday to start his appeal against a ruling that he can be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of rape.

The 40-year-old Australian takes his legal battle to the High Court in London in the hopes of reversing the February ruling, in which a judge rejected his defence's arguments that he would face an unfair trial in Sweden.

The hearing takes place on Tuesday and Wednesday before two judges but the decision is expected to be deferred until a later date.

Even if the ruling goes against him, Assange has signalled he is prepared for a lengthy legal battle and could take his challenge all the way to the Supreme Court.

"It would be unusual for the High Court to give a decision on the same day. It is normal for a written judgment to be given," said a statement from the office of his lawyer, Gareth Peirce.

"Further appeals from a decision of the High Court lie thereafter to the Supreme Court only if a point of law of public importance is certified. As Mr. Assange's lawyers we are not making statements in advance of his appeal."

The former computer hacker has been living under strict bail conditions, including wearing an electronic ankle tag and a curfew, at a friend's mansion in eastern England since December.

He was arrested in December after two Swedish women accused him of sexual assault, allegations that Assange denies, as his whistleblowing website was in the process of releasing a huge cache of leaked US diplomatic cables.

It was the site's latest dump of American government documents, following the release of secret military files about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and angered Washington.

Swedish authorities want to quiz him over the sex assault claims, although he has not been formally charged. He has claimed that the allegations are politically motivated.

Scores of journalists attended his previous court hearings as well as celebrity supporters including socialite Jemima Khan and human rights campaigner Bianca Jagger.

Assange has shaken up his legal team ahead of the hearing, replacing vocal media lawyer Mark Stephens with Peirce, a high-profile human rights lawyer.

In recent years Peirce has represented Muslim terror suspects, and a former Guantanamo Bay inmate. She made her name in the 1970s and 80s defending people wrongfully jailed over bombings by Northern Irish paramilitary group the IRA.

Despite the tight restrictions on him, on Sunday Assange managed to celebrate his 40th birthday on July 3.

He held a party to which more than 100 guests were invited, according to Vaughan Smith, who owns the country estate where Assange is staying.

Assange has claimed his greatest fear is eventual extradition to the United States, where his lawyers argued he could be sent to the Guantanamo Bay detention facility or face the death penalty.

US authorities opened a criminal investigation against Assange in July 2010 but are yet to bring any charges against him.
mara thon
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