UK court to rule in Assange extradition case

WikiLeaks founder to learn whether he will be sent to Sweden for questioning over sexual assault allegations.

    Assange's lawyers argue the case against the WikiLeaks founder is legally flawed [AFP]

    A London court will rule whether WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange, who angered the US government by publishing thousands of secret diplomatic memos, can be extradited from Britain to Sweden for questioning over alleged sexual crimes.

    London's High Court is due to hand down its ruling on Wednesday morning. If it backs extradition, then Assange, who was arrested almost 11 months ago, will have two weeks in which to lodge an appeal.

    However, any appeal to the supreme court, the UK's highest judicial body, can be done only on a point of law considered to be of general public interest.

    Swedish authorities want to quiz the 40-year-old over accusations of rape and sexual assault made by two former female volunteers for his WikiLeaks organisation.

    The case has cast a shadow over Assange and his whistle-blowing website which published a cache of more than 250,000 secret US diplomatic cables last year and caused a media sensation.

    A British judge approved the Swedish request for the computer expert's extradition in February, but Assange appealed against that decision.

    His lawyers have argued the Swedish demand is legally flawed and that the sex was consensual.

    Assange, who is free under strict bail conditions, has also accused the United States of putting pressure on Britain, Sweden and the media.

    Last month, Assange, an Australian citizen, said WikiLeaks would stop publishing secret cables and devote itself instead to fundraising because of a financial blockade on payments to the site by US firms such as Visa and MasterCard.

    He said if the blockade was not ended by the turn of the year, WikiLeaks would not be able to continue.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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