Assange can be extradited to Sweden
A British court gave the go-ahead on Thursday for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to be extradited to Sweden, where he is accused of sex crimes. Lawyers for Assange, who has angered the U.S. government by releasing thousands of secret diplomatic cables on his website, had argued that he would not get a fair trial in Sweden.
His attorneys said immediately they plan to appeal against the decision to London’s High Court. If the case ultimately goes to the European Court of Justice, it could be months before the legal process reaches its end.
Judge Howard Riddle said “As I am satisfied that extradition is compatible with the defendant’s (European) Convention rights, I must order that Mr. Assange be extradited to Sweden.”
He dismissed claims that the Swedish prosecutor had no power to issue a European arrest warrant and that the allegations did not amount to extradition offences. Judge Riddle said allegation that Assange had unprotected sex with a woman while she was asleep would be called rape in Britain.
The judge added that Assange’s Swedish lawyer Björn Hurtig made “a deliberate attempt to mislead the court” when he said that he had been unable to contact his client to arrange an interview with the Swedish prosecutors. Judge Riddle also rejected claims Assange would not receive a fair trial in Sweden, because some evidence would be presented behind closed doors.
Hurtig has rejected the judge’s criticism, and denies that he tried to mislead the court. He says he began his testimony with a correction to his previous statements.
Claes Borgström, the lawyer for the two Swedish women involved, says it is “regrettable” that Assange is appealing, but that he hopes the case will be over by Summer.