A British high court has dismissed Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s appeal to reopen his efforts to fight extradition. Assange could now face deportation by the end of the month to Sweden, where he faces questioning on allegations of sexual abuse brought by two women in August of 2010.
Two weeks ago, the court had rejected his lawyers’ argument that a European arrest warrant for his extradition was invalid. Today, they also dismissed arguments that Assange’s lawyers had not been able to sufficiently cross-examine evidence that the justices had used in denying his extradition appeal.
Assange was present for initial questioning by Swedish police in 2010 but then fled to London and has spent the past two years fighting extradition back to Sweden. The 40-year-old Australian has been on conditional bail and subjected to electronic monitoring, curfew and regular reports to local police; he has been staying at the country estate of a supporter. After a two-week grace period, officials have ten days to fly him back to Sweden.
Assange has not been formerly charged in Sweden; prosecutors have been wanting to question him further regarding the sexual assault allegations. Assange contends that his sexual encounters with both women, who were Wikileaks volunteers, were consensual and that the charges against him are politically motivated.
The BBC says that Assange still has some channels of recourse. He has until June 28 to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg. Legal experts, though, say that it is unlikely that the ECHR will block his extradition. Fair Trials International chief executive Jago Russell noted that Sweden’s “over-use” of pretrial detention means that “he is likely to be imprisoned and placed under extremely restrictive conditions.” A detention hearing would have to be held without four days of Assange’s arrival in Sweden, under its rules.
Wikileaks is responsible for the largest leak of classified documents — including some 250,000 State Department cables — in US history.
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