In a 5-2 vote, the British Supreme Court upheld the validity of an arrest warrant presented by a Swedish prosecutor to question Assange over accusations of sexual assault from two Swedish women.
“The request for Mr. Assange’s extradition has been lawfully made and his appeal against extradition is accordingly dismissed,” Supreme Court president Nicholas Phillips said as he delivered the ruling to a hushed courtroom.
In its ruling, the court dismissed Assange’s argument that the Swedish Prosecution Authority, who issued the warrant in November 2010, didn’t have the legal authority to do so.
In a last-minute effort to prolong Assange’s battle to stay in England, where he has been under house arrest at a supporter’s country manor during the 18-month legal struggle, his lawyer asked the justice who announced the decision for another 14 days to make an application to reopen the case.
The judge agreed, giving Assange and his legal team until June 13 to submit the application, which the British Supreme Court would then use to consider whether or not to resurrect the appeal.
Assange was not present at the 10-minute court hearing.
The WikiLeaks founder has been under house arrest in a mansion in the British countryside since December 2010. He has been hosting a television talk show on the cable channel Russia Today from the house since March.
In Assange’s autobiography, “Julian Assange: The Unauthorized Autobiography,” which was published in September of last year over Assange’s objections, he called the assault accusations a “misunderstanding” with former friends.
Many consider the charges against Assange to be suspect at best, given his prominent role in several major leaks of top secret U.S. government documents.
Naomi Wolf, author of “End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot,” writes on The Huffington Post:
“Never in twenty-three years of reporting on and supporting victims of sexual assault around the world have I ever heard of a case of a man sought by two nations, and held in solitary confinement without bail in advance of being questioned — for any alleged rape, even the most brutal or easily proven. In terms of a case involving the kinds of ambiguities and complexities of the alleged victims’ complaints — sex that began consensually that allegedly became non-consensual when dispute arose around a condom — please find me, anywhere in the world, another man in prison today without bail on charges of anything comparable.”
Julian Assange denies the sexual assault charges and his fight against extradition is based on the contention that, once in Sweden, he could be extradited to the U.S. to face charges for leaking State Department documents on the internet.
- Julian Assange Loses UK Supreme Court Appeal — Will Be Extradited To Sweden (businessinsider.com)
- Live tonight: Julian Assange extradition judgement (abc.net.au)
- Julian Assange extradition verdict – live coverage (nextlevelofnews.com)
- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to be extradited to Sweden (todayonline.com)