Julian Assange, founder of the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks, has lost his appeal at the supreme court in London against extradition to Sweden, where he faces sexual assault allegations.

Swedish prosecutors want to question Assange over allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two female former
WikiLeaks volunteers. 

The judges ruled with a majority of five to two on Wednesday that the Swedish prosecutor who issued the arrest warrant was a "legitimate judicial authority".

The decision means that Assange, 40, can be extradited. But his lawyers immediately requested to be given leave to appeal to reopen the case.

The court gave his lawyers two weeks to contest their ruling, and any extradition has been put on hold until
Assange decides whether to challenge the judges's decision.

That means that Assange can stay in Britain for a further 14 days.

Assange was not present at the court hearing but WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said he saw Washington's hand in the ruling. "This is not the final outcome. What we have here is retribution from the US," he said.

Anti-secrecy campaigner


Two lower courts had already ruled in favour of the extradition of Assange, a self-styled anti-secrecy campaigner
seen as a menace by Washington and other governments.

Assange, an Australian, was arrested in London in December, 2010.

He denies the alleged sexual offences and says the Swedish extradition request is politically motivated.

The former computer hacker gained international prominence in 2010 when WikiLeaks began releasing secret video footage and thousands of US diplomatic cables about Iraq and Afghanistan, in the largest leak of classified documents in US history.

That made him a hero to anti-censorship campaigners. But Washington was furious about the release of classified
documents.

Source: Agencies