Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Assange loses extradition battle

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange outside the Royal Courts of Justice after the ruling

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has condemned the European arrest warrant system that has led to moves to extradite him to Sweden over sex crime allegations.

Assange hit out after losing his High Court battle to block his extradition.

"I have not been charged with any crime in any country," said Mr Assange outside London's High Court.

"The European arrest warrant (EAW) is so restrictive that it prevents UK courts from considering the facts of a case, as judges have made clear here."

He added: "We will be considering our next step in the days ahead... No doubt there will be many attempts made to try and spin these proceedings as they occur today but they are merely technical."

The WikiLeaks website published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables which embarrassed several governments and international businesses. Assange has become a minor celebrity, with investigative journalist and documentary film-maker John Pilger accompanying him to court.

The Swedish authorities want Assange to answer accusations of "raping" one woman and "sexually molesting and coercing" another in Stockholm in August last year. Assange denies the allegations and says they are politically motivated. Two judges have rejected his lawyers' claims that extraditing the 40-year-old Australian would be "unfair and unlawful".

Dressed in a sharp, navy blue suit and wearing a Remembrance Day poppy, the world's most famous whistleblower was earlier mobbed as he approached the Royal Courts of Justice and police had to redirect him away from the crowd.

The judges ruled that the issuing of the European arrest warrant that led to Assange's arrest and all subsequent proceedings to achieve extradition were "proportionate". They dismissed Assange's argument that the warrant was invalid because it had been issued by a prosecutor, and not a "judicial authority".

The judges held that the action of the prosecutor was subject to the independent scrutiny of Swedish judges, "which, as judges of another (EU) member state, we must respect". The court also rejected Assange's assertion that the descriptions of the offences were not a fair and accurate description of the conduct alleged against him.

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