Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, will be extradited from the UK to Sweden to face questioning over rape allegations. Britain’s High Court has decided that there is enough evidence against the Australian citizen to grant the request.
Judges John Thomas and Duncan Ouseley ruled Wednesday that Julian Assange, who attended the court to hear the verdict, should be extradited to Sweden to be questioned over allegations of sexual molestation and rape in Stockholm last year.
“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, as judges have made clear here today. We will be considering our step in the days ahead. The full judgment will be available on SwedenversusAssange.com No doubt there will be many attempts to try to spin these proceedings as occurred today, but they are really technical. Please go to SwedenversusAssange.com if you want to know what is really going on in this case,” Assange stated.
On saying this, the WikiLeaks founder declined to answer questions and immediately made it to a car awaiting him, accompanied by a handler.
Assange, 40, has been consistently denying all allegations, insisting that the case has been inspired by political motivations. WikiLeaks’ Australian founder has been under virtual house arrest in the UK for the last 11 months .
Assange’s lawyers have 14 days to prepare a case to convince the High Court to allow for a third and final appeal to the Supreme Court. Appealing to the Supreme Court in Britain is only allowed if the High Court rules a case creates a major precedent and the results would apply to a wider public.
If it does go to the Supreme Court, it is likely that the entire basis of the European arrest warrant, under which people can be extradited to other EU countries to face questions with very little evidence, will be put under scrutiny. Many in the UK would welcome that.
But civil right groups fear that extraditing Julian Assange to Sweden could result in his landing in an American court to face charges relating to WikiLeaks’ publication of thousands of classified US government documents.
“This case is politically-motivated,” civil rights activist Jim Curran told RT. “If Assange is extradited to Sweden, the major concern among civil lawyers and civil rights groups that this will create an implication for his further extradition to the US. There is great concern in the UK about extradition to the US, as many people fear they cannot get a fair hearing in America.”
Secret cable releases earned Assange mighty political enemies, especially in the USA, remarks Ben Griffin, the spokesman for the British organization Veterans for Peace.
“If this was a private individual and not the head of WikiLeaks facing mere allegations in Sweden, would this whole process be gone through? Would this amount of money be spent?” asks Griffin who with many others came to the High Court premises on Wednesday to support WikiLeaks’ frontman.
Whatever happens to Julian Assange, his life’s work is under threat either way: WikiLeaks is in crippling financial trouble and maybe forced to close in the New Year.