Julian Assange to hear extradition ruling

John Aston
Sunday 30 October 2011 23:51 GMT

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will learn next week if he has won or lost his High Court bid to block extradition to Sweden where he faces sex crime allegations.

Lawyers for the 40-year-old Australian say his removal would be "unfair and unlawful".

Two judges sitting in London heard the case in July and are due to give their ruling next Wednesday.

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

Assange, whose WikiLeaks website published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables that rocked the US government, denies the allegations and says they are politically motivated.

The High Court in London is having to decide whether or not to uphold a ruling in February by District Judge Howard Riddle at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court, south London, that the computer expert should be extradited to face investigation.

Assange burst into the public consciousness in April 2010 when Wikileaks released Collateral Murder - video footage of a US air crew shooting Iraqi civilians in 2007.

The whistleblower website, which claimed a database of 1.2 million documents within a year of its 2006 launch, regularly hit the headlines in 2010 with a series of leaks.

The US Embassy Cables, Afghanistan war logs and Iraq war logs, which were drip-fed to the media in 2010, helped raise the profile of Assange, 39.

By the end of the year he had become a minor celebrity. Upon his arrest in December 2010 he had a number of famous friends and supporters who helped him to raise bail of £200,000.

These included film-maker Ken Loach and socialite and charity fundraiser Jemima Khan, who each offered £20,000.

Assange always claimed that the allegations against him were politically motivated and linked to the activities of the whistleblower website.

On Monday Assange revealed that the site is at risk of closure, and is suspending its publishing operations to concentrate on fighting a financial blockade and raising new funds.

The stricken website is running on cash reserves after an "arbitrary and unlawful financial blockade" was imposed by Bank of America, Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and Western union last December, said Assange.


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