Wikileaks' Assange back in court to challenge extradition ruling


Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, centre, arrives at the High Court in central London, on July 12, 2011.



Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on Tuesday appeared in the British High Court in London for a second attempt to block his extradition from Britain to Sweden to face allegations of sexual assault.

Outside the court in London, a group of banner-waving protesters gathered in support of Assange, with one sign reading: “The First Casualty of War is Truth”.

Opening the two-day hearing, lawyers for Assange, who was arrested in Britain in December and is free on bail, argued that the Swedish case was legally flawed.

Defense lawyer Ben Emmerson told two judges the European arrest warrant on which Assange was being held failed to provide "a fair, accurate and proper" description of his alleged sexual misconduct in Sweden, London's Daily Telegraph reported.

Emmerson said there was a "philosophical and judicial mismatch" between what was considered to be a sex crime in Sweden, compared with in England, and that Assange was paying the price for this.

Emmerson also argued that given Assange, 40, is only wanted by Sweden for questioning, and has not been formally charged with any crime, extraditing him would be disproportionate.

The Associated Press said Assange, who has denied any wrongdoing, was surrounded by supporters in court on Tuesday, with members of public gathered in the upper gallery.

Assange has in the past suggested that his case is politically motivated. His lawyers have argued that Assange's extradition to Sweden could lead to him being sent to the United States, where a federal grand jury is investigating Wikileaks.

There have even been suggestions he could face the death penalty.

In February, Assange lost an initial challenge to the extradition order when a British District Court judge found in favor of the Swedish authorities, saying there was no reason to believe that he would not receive a fair trial in Sweden.

If the High Court upholds the extradition order, Assange could take his case to Britain's Supreme Court.