British Supreme Court to hear Julian Assange appeal


Lawyers for WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange wrapped up their arguments Wednesday against his extradition to Sweden to face rape allegations, as they pursued a new 'quiet' approach to his defense strategy.


Leon Neal

The British Supreme Court granted Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder, the right to appeal his removal from Britain to Sweden on Friday, The New York Times reported.

The extradition hearing is scheduled for Feb. 1 and 2 and will review whether the Swedish prosecutor who issued a warrant for Assange’s arrest can be considered a “judicial authority,” according to a Supreme Court statement, the Wall Street Journal reported. Assange’s lawyers argue that a prosecutor isn’t a judicial authority, therefore making the arrest warrant invalid under European law.

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A statement from the Supreme Court said a panel of three senior judges had considered Mr. Assange’s request to appeal and had “granted permission to appeal and a hearing has been scheduled for two days, beginning on February 1, 2012,” The Times reported.

Assange, 40, was given permission earlier this month to seek an appeal. The legal battle has been going on for over a year and Assange has spent that time under house arrest at a friend’s country mansion in eastern England, The Times reported.

The WikiLeaks website anti-secrecy leader and founder was accused of rape, coercion and molestation following encounters with two Swedish women in August 2010, the Associated Press reported. He was arrested in December 2010 after Swedish authorities issued a European Arrest Warrant on rape and molestation accusations. He denies all accusations.

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Assange’s personal legal battle comes at the same time as WikiLeaks’ faces numerous difficulties, including troubled finances. WikiLeaks has said that infighting between Assange and some of his former colleagues led to the disabling of the site’s anonymous submission system, which leaves WikiLeaks without new material, WSJ reported.