Wikileaks founder Julian Assange loses extradition fight

 

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The Independent Online

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange today condemned the European arrest warrant system that has led to moves to extradite him to Sweden over sex crime allegations.

Assange hit out after losing his High Court battle to block his extradition.

"I have not been charged with any crime in any country," said Mr Assange outside London's High Court.

"The European arrest warrant (EAW) is so restrictive that it prevents UK courts from considering the facts of a case, as judges have made clear here today."

He added: "We will be considering our next step in the days ahead...

"No doubt there will be many attempts made to try and spin these proceedings as they occur today but they are merely technical."

The WikiLeaks website published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables which embarrassed several governments and international businesses.

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 denies the allegations and says they are politically motivated.

Today, two judges rejected his lawyers' claims that extraditing the 40-year-old Australian would be "unfair and unlawful".

They upheld a ruling by District Judge Howard Riddle at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in south London in February that the computer expert should be extradited to face investigation.

The decision, awaited by press and media worldwide, was made by President of the Queen's Bench Division Sir John Thomas, sitting with Mr Justice Ouseley.

Sir John described the case as "technical and complex" and gave Assange time to consider whether to apply to take his case to the Supreme Court for a final ruling.

For that to happen, his lawyers will have to persuade the judges to certify that his case raises issues of general public importance which should be considered by the highest court in the land.

Assange showed no emotion and made notes while Sir John read out a summary of the court's reasons for its ruling.

Dressed in a sharp, navy blue suit and wearing a Remembrance Day poppy, the world's most famous whistleblower was earlier mobbed as he approached the Royal Courts of Justice and police had to redirect him away from the crowd.

Assange nodded and smiled at his supporters, who broke into a round of applause as he passed.

The judges ruled that the issuing of the European arrest warrant that led to Assange's arrest and all subsequent proceedings to achieve extradition were "proportionate".

They dismissed Assange's argument that the warrant was invalid because it had been issued by a prosecutor, and not a "judicial authority".

The judges held that the action of the prosecutor was subject to the independent scrutiny of Swedish judges, "which, as judges of another (EU) member state, we must respect".

The court also rejected Assange's assertion that the descriptions of the offences were not a fair and accurate description of the conduct alleged against him.

PA