Julian Assange Extradition: WikiLeaks Founder Loses High Court Bid To Avoid Removal To Sweden
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has lost his High Court bid to block extradition to Sweden, where he faces rape allegations.
Lord Justice Thomas and Justice Ouseley said that Assange, 40, must return to Sweden on a European arrest warrant to face rape and sexual assault allegations made by two Swedish women after a visit to Stockholm in August 2010.
Dressed in a blue suit and wearing a Remembrance Day poppy, Assange listened as two judges rejected his claim that extradition would be "unfair and unlawful".
The Australian could now be sent to Sweden within 10 days, unless as expected he decides to appeal the decision.
Assange has up to 14 days to appeal to the Supreme Court if he believes there is a larger issue of "public importance". If the appeal is accepted he could remain on bail until 2012. If denied he will be removed from the UK.
Speaking outside the court following the judgement, Assange said that he would be "considering" his next steps "in the days ahead".
He also directed supporters to his website, where he said he intends to make full documentation of the case available.
"I have not been charged with any crime in any country, despite this the European arrest warrant is so restrictive that it prevents UK courts from considering the facts of a case," he said.
"We will be considering our next step in the days ahead."
He added: "No doubt there will be many attempts made to spin these proceedings" he said, but described the ruling as a "merely technical" decision.
Assange's supporters turned out in force outside the London court for the ruling on Wednesday.
Banners reading "Free Assange! Free Manning! End the wars" were affixed to railings, while another supporter held a sign asking: "Why are we persecuting the innocent?"
The Wikileaks founder, whose website is responsible for publishing thousands of leaked documents and diplomatic cables online, denies the allegations and has suggested they are politically motivated.
The High Court decision upholds a ruling made at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in February that Assange should be extradited to face questioning.
At that hearing Assange's legal team had claimed that he would face a "real risk" of death if extradited to Sweden, because of the possibility he would be sent from there to the United States or Guantánamo Bay.
After losing that decision his team adopted a different strategy, arguing that there were discrepancies between the accounts of women behind the allegations and the arrest warrant.
However in their ruling the High Court judges dismissed Assange's argument that the warrant was invalid because it had been issued by a prosecutor, and not a "judicial authority".
They also held that the action of the prosecutor was subject to the independent scrutiny of Swedish judges, "which, as judges of another (EU) member state, we must respect".
The court also rejected Assange's assertion that the descriptions of the offences were not a fair and accurate description of the conduct alleged against him.
Assange has been living under effective house arrest in Norfolk since December 2010. He has to wear an electronic tag and report to officers at a local police station every day, as well as live under a 10pm curfew.
He will appear at a journalism event at the Front Line Club on Wednesday to discuss the Occupy London protests.