Assange to challenge British extradition ruling

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will Tuesday start his appeal against a British court ruling that he be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of rape.

Updated: Jul 11, 2011, 15:58 PM IST

London: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will
Tuesday start his appeal against a British court
ruling that he be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of
rape.

The 40-year-old Australian will take his legal battle to
the High Court in London for a two-day hearing, in the hope of
reversing the February ruling.

A judge rejected arguments by Assange`s defence team that
he would face an unfair trial in Sweden that would breach his
human rights.

He was arrested in December after two Swedish women
accused him of sexual assault, allegations that Assange
denies, as his whistleblowing website was in the process of
releasing a huge cache of leaked US diplomatic cables.

It was the site`s latest dump of American government documents and infuriated Washington.

Swedish authorities want to quiz him over the sex assault
claims, although he has not been formally charged.

Scores of journalists attended his previous court
hearings as well as celebrity supporters including socialite
Jemima Khan and human rights campaigner Bianca Jagger.

After judge Howard Riddle rejected his lawyers` arguments
during the extradition hearing at Belmarsh Magistrates` Court
in London, Assange lashed out at the decision and blamed the
European warrant system under which he was arrested.

"It is a result of the European Arrest Warrant system run
amok. There was no consideration during this entire process as
to the merits of the allegations against me," he told
reporters after the ruling.

Even if he loses this week`s appeal, Assange has
signalled he is prepared for a lengthy legal battle and could
take his challenge all the way to the Supreme Court.

The former computer hacker has been living under strict
bail conditions, including wearing an electronic ankle tag and
a curfew, at a friend`s mansion in eastern England since
December.

PTI