UK SC grants Assange`s extradition appeal

Assange, who remains on conditional bail in the UK, is wanted by Swedish authorities for questioning over allegations of sexual assault.

Last Updated: Dec 16, 2011, 22:59 PM IST

London: Britain`s Supreme Court on Friday said
it will hear an appeal by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
against his extradition to Sweden where he is accused of rape
and sexual assault.

Britain`s highest court said seven judges would hear the
high-profile case from February 1.

Assange, who remains on conditional bail in the UK, is
wanted by Swedish authorities for questioning over allegations
of sexual assault.

The 40-year-old Australian denies the allegations and
claims they are politically motivated and linked to the
activities of WikiLeaks, which angered the United States by
publishing thousands of secret documents.

He spent much of the last year under virtual house arrest
since he was first detained in December 2010.

A Supreme Court spokesman said the judges had agreed to
hear the case "given the great public importance of the issue
raised, which is whether a prosecutor is a judicial
authority".

"A panel of three Supreme Court Justices - Lord Hope,
Lord Mance and Lord Dyson - has considered the written
submissions of the parties; this is the court`s usual practice
for considering applications for permission to appeal.

"The Supreme Court has granted permission to appeal and
a hearing has been scheduled for two days, beginning on 1
February 2012," the BBC quoted the spokesman as saying.

The High Court previously approved his extradition - but
Assange argues that decision was unlawful.

The Swedish authorities are seeking to put him on trial
for the alleged rape of one woman and "sexually molesting and
coercing" another in Stockholm in August 2010.

Earlier this month two High Court judges refused Assange
permission to appeal but they gave him 14 days to ask the
Supreme Court justices to give a final UK ruling.

PTI