Decision in Julian Assange`s extradition case on Feb 24

A decision on the extradition of Assange from UK to Sweden will be announced by a court on Feb 24.

Last Updated: Feb 11, 2011, 21:46 PM IST

London: A decision on the extradition of
Julian Assange, WikiLeaks` founder, from the UK to Sweden will
be announced by a court here on February 24.

Belmarsh Magistrate`s Court announced the date at the
end of the three-day long hearing today.

During the hearing, Assange`s lawyer Geoffrey
Robertson QC said criticism of the WikiLeaks founder by
Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfieldt could damage his
client`s chance of a fair trial.

Reinfeldt`s remarks had shown "complete contempt for
the presumption of innocence," he told the court.

The Swedish authorities` lawyer denied that Assange,
39, had been vilified.

Sweden wants to extradite Assange over alleged sexual
assaults on two women, which he denies.

Robertson said the Prime Minister`s comments this week
had created a "toxic atmosphere" in Sweden.

Reinfeldt had reportedly responded to an attack on the
impartiality of Sweden`s legal system by Assange’s counsel by
saying that they had "patronised" Swedes. He also told Swedish
MPs: "We do not accept sexual abuse or rape."

The counsel said they included claims that Assange and
his lawyers had been "condescending and damaging to Sweden,"
and implied they thought women`s rights were worthless.

"Mr Assange is public enemy number one as a result of
the Prime Minister`s statement," he argued.

Lawyer for Swedish authorities Clare Montgomery QC,
however, denied that the Prime Minister had vilified Assange.

"You might think those who seek to fan the flames of a media
firestorm can`t be surprised when they get burnt."

On the final day of the extradition hearing, the
judge said he was minded to take two weeks to decide on the
possible removal to Sweden.

Assange, an Australian citizen, was released on bail
by a High Court judge in December after spending nine days in
Wandsworth prison.

He denies sexually assaulting two female supporters
during a visit to Stockholm in August and says the Swedish
investigation is politically motivated.

PTI