UK Supreme Court Upholds Decision To Extradite WikiLeaks Founder
Britain´s highest court upheld a Swedish request today to extradite Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. This is the latest move in Assange´s legal struggle and possibly one of the last, as he is running out of options with which to maneuver.
UK´s Supreme Court made their ruling by a 5 to 2 majority to extradite Assange to Sweden. The Australian-born WikiLeaks founder has been fighting his extradition to Sweden in the British courts since he was arrested in the UK in December 2010. A Swedish prosecutor has issued a warrant against 40-year-old Assange over allegations that he raped one woman and molested another 2 years ago.
Assange was not present for today´s hearing.
Though the UK Supreme Court has upheld this request, Mr. Assange´s lawyer, Dinah Rose, said she would submit a request to reopen the appeal, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Mrs. Rose said the courts didn´t give her proper time to express her opinion about a precise matter on which the entire case hinges upon. Ms. Rose now has until June 13, 2012, to submit her appeals application to the courts. Until then, Assange will have to remain in the UK while the Supreme Court decides if they will accept the application.
Should the court decline this application, Assange and his legal team will only be able to make an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, their final available course of action.
Mr. Assange has denied the allegations of the Swedish prosecutor, describing the sexual encounters as consensual. According to the Wall Street Journal, Assange is calling these claims a “smear campaign” in order to catch him and prosecute him for his other legal issues.
The lawyer representing the allegedly abused Swedish women say their allegations have nothing to do with Assange´s work.
“Not only have they been sexually abused, they have also been described as the villains,” said Claes BorgstrÃ¶m, the lawyer for the Swedish women.
Today´s decision makes the UK´s Supreme Court the third British court to uphold the Swedish request for extradition. Mr. Assange´s first loss in a lower court occurred in February 2011 and again in the country´s High Court nine months later.
Should the European Court for Human Rights (EHCR) decline the case, Assange will be extradited to Sweden, where authorities there will have 4 days to decide whether to hold him in jail.
If the EHCR accepts his case, Assange can remain in Britain under his current bail conditions until the court proceedings conclude.
Either way, the EHCR has 14 days after the application has been received to determine if they will take the case.
Today´s case hinged on one interesting point: Whether a Swedish Prosecutor qualified as a proper “judicial authority,” giving them the right to make an extradition request.
Meanwhile, the Swedish authorities waiting for Assange´s delivery are becoming agitated with the process.
“This process has been dragging on for very long. Due process requires that this case is handled efficiently from now on,” a spokeswoman for the Swedish prosecutor told the Wall Street Journal.
WikiLeaks is best known for releasing all manner of private and sensitive information about the US government and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. While he is currently on bond and seeking refuge in Britain, Assange has also recently begun to host a TV show on Kremlin-funded Russia Today.