UK - Report

WikiLeaks' Julian Assange in last bid to avoid extradition to Sweden

Reuters/Stefan Wermuth

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared before Britain's Supreme Court on Wednesday, in his last chance to prevent extradition to Sweden. Prosecutors there accuse Assange of raping and sexually molesting two women in 2010. Assange's supporters say that the case has been politicized in order to damage WikiLeaks and stop its founder from gathering more classified information.


Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is up against the wall.

His fight against extradition to Sweden has reached the UK's Supreme Court. It's is his last chance, because this time, there are no appeals.

In the crisp air outside the courts in central London on Wednesday, a dozen of Assange's supporters were on hand with banners and placards calling for his release.

"My name's Ben Griffon, I'm from an organization called Veterans for peace. I see Julian Assange as one of the most important war resistors around at the minute. He's responsible for publishing information about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and about the relationships of our governments that have shone a light on the true nature of war. I think you have to ask the question, 'if he wasn't the head of WikiLeaks, would he be going through this process of extradition to Sweden, and I think the answer's probably not."

Ciaron O'Reilly is another supporter who goes one step further in claiming that Assage's extradition to Sweden is just the first step before the United States attempts to arrest him:"We feel it's more of a persecution than a prosecution, and we feel that the objective is to put Julian Assange in an American prison, in solitary for the rest of his life.

"Well I think he's quite unique in the sense that he's upset the most powerful people in the shortest amount of time. They seem like they're out to get him and of course they've got incredible resources to do that."

Of course, once before the judges, Assange's lawyers aren't using this logic. Laying out the defense, Dinah Rose said that the extradition request shouldn't be valid because it was made by a Swedish prosecutor - and not by an impartial judge.

The system of European arrest warrants and extradition requests is so new that there is very little precedent to act upon - though many legal experts believe that the UK's highest court will give the benefit of the doubt to Swedish officials and reject Assange's appeal.

Clare Montgomery, acting for Sweden, will make her arguments tomorrow in the second and final day of the trial.

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