Assange loses extradition appeal

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange this morning lost his appeal against extradition to Sweden over charges of rape and sexual molestation.

After a ten-minute hearing, judges John Thomas and Duncan Ousely ruled that the issuing of a European Arrest Warrant by the Swedish authorities could not 'be said to be disproportionate' as the offences concerned were serious.

They dismissed Assange's argument that the warrant was invalid as it had been issued by a prosecutor, rather than a judicial authority.

Assange was accused of the rape and molestation by two Swedish women following a visit to Stockholm in August last year. Assange has admitted being discourteous, but denies any crime.

It's possible that Assange will be able to appeal to the UK's Supreme Court. It will depend on whether the ruling is deemed to involve an issue of 'real legal significance'.

His lawyers, says the Guardian, are considering whether to seek the right to appeal, and also plan to challenge the £19,000 costs award against him. They have two weeks in which to do so.

If there's no appeal, Assange will probably be extradited to Sweden within ten days. His legal team has asserted that, from here, he runs the risk of extradition to the US over charges relating to the release, through Wikileaks, of thousands of classified government cables. There's a danger he could end up in Guantanamo Bay, they say.

However, the prosecutor representing Sweden has dismissed that claim. Indeed, as the judge in the February hearing pointed out, any extradition from Sweden to the US would need the agreement of the UK Secretary of State.