Julian Assange's fight to evade extradition to Sweden appears doomed, despite the WikiLeaks founder receiving a fortnight's stay of execution at the Supreme Court in London.
The 40-year-old Australian had argued that a European Arrest Warrant relating to allegations of rape and sexual molestation was invalid because the Swedish public prosecutor who issued it did not constitute a "judicial authority".
Mr Assange has always insisted the sex was consensual and the allegations were "politically motivated".
But yesterday, British judges said that a prosecutor could be seen as a judicial authority.
By a majority of five to two, they dismissed his appeal against an extradition order first granted in February 2011 and upheld by the High Court last November.
Nevertheless, the judges granted Mr Assange's lawyers 14 days to apply to have the case reopened after they insisted they had not been given an opportunity to argue on the legal points on which the judges had based their decision.
Once Mr Assange is in Sweden, an indictment is expected within a month, and certainly by the end of the summer.
Mr Assange, who has been on conditional bail in the UK, did not attend the hearing in central London.
His lawyer later told reporters that his client had been "stuck in traffic".
Mr Assange later expressed his disappointment with the decision, tweeting: "We got the news not hoped for."
He rose to international fame in 2010 with the release of leaked US diplomatic cables.
Outside court Mr Assange's supporters -- significantly down in numbers compared with his previous hearings -- said they were preparing a challenge to European Court of Human Rights.
Journalist John Pilger, a long-term supporter of Mr Assange, said: "It is not over. It is certainly not over."
Mr Assange is accused of raping one woman and "sexually molesting and coercing" another in Stockholm in August 2010.
(© Independent News Service)