Court approves Julian Assange appeal bid

 

The highest court in the land today granted permission for Julian Assange to appeal against his extradition to Sweden, where he faces sex crime allegations.

The Supreme Court said it would hear the appeal after the Wikileaks founder raised a question on extradition law "of general public importance".

The two-day hearing will begin on February 1, the court said.

The appeal will be heard by a panel of seven of the 12 Supreme Court justices "given the great public importance of the issue raised, which is whether a prosecutor is a judicial authority", a Supreme Court spokesman said.

He went on: "The Supreme Court has today considered an application by Julian Assange for permission to appeal to the Court, following the Divisional Court's certification of a point of law of general public importance.

"A panel of three Supreme Court Justices - Lord Hope, Lord Mance and Lord Dyson - has considered the written submissions of the parties; this is the court's usual practice for considering applications for permission to appeal.

"The Supreme Court has granted permission to appeal and a hearing has been scheduled for two days, beginning on 1 February 2012."

Earlier this month, two High Court judges certified that Assange had raised a question on extradition law "of general public importance", paving the way for the appeal.

Sir John Thomas, sitting in London with Mr Justice Ouseley, refused the 40-year-old Australian direct permission to appeal after Sir John described Assange's chances of winning as "extraordinarily slim".

But the judges gave him 14 days to ask the Supreme Court justices themselves to give a final UK ruling.

If he loses a full appeal, his remaining option will be to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Assange has fought a series of legal battles, arguing that it would be "unfair and unlawful" to order his extradition.

The Swedish authorities want him to answer accusations of raping one woman and "sexually molesting and coercing" another in Stockholm in August last year.

He denies the allegations and says they are politically motivated.

His WikiLeaks website has published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables and other documents, embarrassing several governments and international businesses.

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

Mark Summers, appearing for Assange, said his client was detained under a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued by a Swedish public prosecutor.

Seeking permission to appeal against the High Court decision, Mr Summers said he wanted to ask the Supreme Court to rule that public prosecutors were not "judicial authorities" entitled to issue warrants under extradition law, and therefore the Assange warrant was invalid.

He told the judges a "disproportionately high" number of EAWs found to have been unjust or oppressive emanated from public prosecutors who "should not, in any circumstances, be permitted to issue EAWs".

During the hearing, Sir John told Mr Summers the court's view was that it had "very little doubt that, as a matter of law, the prosecutor was within the scheme" for issuing warrants, and Assange's chances of success in the Supreme Court were "extraordinarily slim".

But at the end of the hearing the judge announced the court felt "constrained" to certify that the case raised at least one question of general public importance.

Assange, who continues to be free on bail, is living in a country house in Norfolk belonging to a friend.

He has said the issue of extradition safeguards concerned many people in the UK, Europe and other countries who were "struggling for justice".

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference