Assange loses fight against extradition

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden, a judge has ruled.

At Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in London, Judge Howard Riddle has decided that Assange should be sent back to the country to face three charges of sexual assault and one of rape. He was arrested in December, and has since been out on bail.

Assange says he plans to appeal.

In a packed court-room, his lawyers argued that Sweden's judicial process is flawed, with the case having had near-hysterical coverage in the Swedish press. They also point out that the charges simply wouldn't be extraditable offenses in the UK.

And they're concerned that Assange might be handed over to the US, where he's under investigation for leaking classified information. He's said he fears being sent to Guantanamo Bay or even facing the death penalty.

But the judge said there was no evidence for Assange's fears, with the Swedish authorities promising that he European Court of Human Rights would intervene if Mr Assange was to face the prospect of 'inhuman or degrading treatment' or an unfair trial.

And he criticized Assange's lawyers for making 'personal' attacks on Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny.

The Swedish prosecutor's office is refusing to comment on the result.

But, points out prosecutor-general Anders Perklev, "Julian Assange is, of course, entitled to construct his defence in any manner he so wishes, and he, as with all other suspects of crimes, is to be regarded as innocent until proved guilty in a court of law."

Assange's legal papers are here.