Assange 'ready to quit' extradition fight

  • @jerometaylor

Julian Assange has hired a Swedish public relations company in an indication that the WikiLeaks founder is ready to abandon his appeal against his extradition.

The 40-year-old campaigner, who is wanted for questioning in Sweden over allegations of rape and sexual assault, has taken on Ullman PR.

Two weeks ago the High Court upheld the decision by a magistrate judge to deport Mr Assange at the request of Swedish prosecutors. He has been given three weeks to appeal to the Supreme Court but sources close to him say he is reluctant to do so because of the cost involved.

Instead, some followers are advising Mr Assange, right, to save what money he has left for a potentially lengthy legal battle in Sweden. The reluctance to continue fighting the extradition in Britain is partly down to the limited legal avenues open to him. An appeal to the Supreme Court would be granted only if the judiciary were convinced that there were grounds on a point of law of public interest.

His defence lawyers are unable to ask for an appeal based on the evidence Swedish prosecutors have put forward, which Mr Assange claims is part of a wider conspiracy to silence WikiLeaks and engineer his eventual deportation to the United States. The hiring of a Stockholm-based PR company has set off speculation in the Swedish press that Mr Assange will arrive before Christmas. They also say Ullman PR has been asked to find free accommodation for Mr Assange and six colleagues.

In a statement on his website, Harald Ullman confirmed he had been taken on by Mr Assange but there was no indication as to when – if at all – the WikiLeaks founder might travel to Sweden.

"After researching the case it is clear to me that JA is innocent of the rape allegations," the statement said. "Many wonder why he just doesn't go to Sweden. The reason why is that he is scared that he will be extradited to the US."

The United States has yet to file charges against Mr Assange, although a grand jury has been tasked with deciding whether he or WikiLeaks broke any US laws through their leaks. Legal experts say any extradition to America from Sweden would have to be approved by Britain first, under the terms of the European arrest warrant that he is sought on. Mr Assange did not respond to requests for comment.