By Polina Chernitsa and Alexandra Dibizheva
The founder of the whistleblower website WikiLeaks Julian Assange has lost his final appeal at the UK Supreme Court and is facing extradition to Sweden.
Only two out of seven judges supported Assange’s appeal. The latter will stay in London under house arrest for another two weeks as his lawyers have been given 14 days to appeal the judgment.
London and Stockholm are now discussing the terms of his extradition and the pre-trial formalities. In Sweden, Assange has been charged with rape and sexual assault which he is alleged to have committed in 2010 when he came to Sweden on business connected to his WikiLeaks project. He denies the charges and calls them politically motivated and fabricated by US authorities whose classified documents he exposed.
Assange’s lawyers are planning to take his case to the Hague-based European Court of Human Rights.
If Sweden extradites Assange to the US, the minimum punishment he would be looking at would be life in prison, experts say referring to an alleged WikiLeaks informer, soldier Bradley Manning who could be sentenced to death.
The decision to extradite Assange was a mistake, says ex-secretary and adviser of Margaret Thatcher Michael Dobbs.
“Even if he had a financial interest in the Wikileaks, in general he has done us all a favor by whistle-blowing the truth. If he is extradited to the United States, than he will have no chance to come out. He will stay there for the rest of his life.”
Rumors about Sweden’s intention to extradite Assange to the US are mere speculation, believes Swedish reporter Malcolm Dixelius.
“In Sweden, publication of classified information is not a crime. Moreover, the US has not issued an extradition request and Sweden cannot extradite Assange without England’s consent. The UK is only entitled to give its consent in relation to the rape case.”
Political analyst Evgeniya Boyko is of a different opinion:
“The case is obviously politically motivated. Assange was arrested after exposing documents related to the conduct of US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and this has become a matter of honor for the US. Washington seems to be determined to fight to the bitter end.”
Experts agree that the US is closely following the developments. According to the media, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans to visit Stockholm in June, which is not a coincidence.