December 5, 2011
Wikileaks Founder Postpones Extradition With High Court Petition
Julian Assange today won the right to ask Britain´s Supreme Court to hear his case, prolonging his stay in Britain, where he has been living since his arrest in December, 2010. Assange has been fighting extradition and denies any wrongdoing.
Swedish authorities want to question the 40-year-old Wikileaks founder over accusations of rape and sexual assault made by two female former WikiLeaks volunteers in August of last year.
Two High Court judges ruled Monday that Assange could petition the Supreme Court to look at his case but that does not guarantee him a hearing. The Supreme Court has the choice to hear his case or reject his petition.
Assange must formally lodge an appeal within the next 14 days, meaning his stay in Britain is certain to stretch into next year. Asked by Reuters as he left the court if he thought the ruling was a victory, the silver-haired Assange said “Yes” before he was whisked away through a crowd of reporters and supporters.
The two judges ruled that this case raised a question “of general public importance” that should be acted upon by the Supreme Court “as quickly as possible.”
Assange has been has since been living at the country house of a wealthy supporter in eastern England since last year after being held in London´s Wandsworth prison for nine days. Assange argues that the European arrest warrant on which he is being held is unlawful as it was issued by a prosecutor in Sweden rather than by a court or a judge.
“I am a bit surprised,” said Swedish Prosecution Authority spokeswoman Karin Rosander, reacting to the ruling. She maintained the prosecution authority has the right to issue an arrest warrant.
The legal troubles for Wikileaks and Assange came shortly after the website published thousands of secret US diplomatic cables that included unflattering views of world leaders and candid assessments of security threats.
Assange maintains the allegations against him are politically motivated in retaliation for his website and has fought a complex and expensive legal battle to avoid being sent back to Sweden.
In 2010, WikiLeaks posted almost 400,000 secret papers on the Iraq war and 77,000 classified Pentagon documents on the Afghan conflict. It has also made available about 250,000 individual cables, daily traffic between the State Department and more than 270 American diplomatic outposts around the world.
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