WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange may be extradited to Sweden to face rape charges after losing an appeal in the UK.
Today, a UK high court ruled that the European Arrest Warrant for Assange’s arrest and extradition to Sweden was valid.
Assange’s lawyers stated they may decide to take the appeal to the country’s supreme court. That decision will be made within the next two weeks.
Originally, Assange had appealed, denying that the rape charges included descriptions of Assange’s activities during a trip to Sweden were “fair and accurate” and saying that the warrant and other proceedings were disproportionate.
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In August 2010, two women living in Sweden alleged that Assange had sexually assaulted them while in that country to give a lecture.
Assange surrendered himself voluntarily to British police later that year. At that time, Assange denied the allegations and stated his intention to resist extradition to Sweden.
To date, Assange has spent 330 days under house arrest.
Assange made a brief public statement, saying, “I have not been charged with any crime in any country. … We will be considering our next step in the days ahead.”
Assange supporters claim the investigation is politically motivated and was initiated in response to WikiLeaks’ work. An Assange-run website about the case quotes a Swedish attorney as saying, “It’s not unrealistic to suspect there are things going on behind the scenes that have influenced how the case has been handled.”
Also, Assange and his supporters claim that if he is extradited to Sweden, he may then be extradited onward to the U.S., where they fear he may be taken to task for WikiLeaks’ publication of U.S. state secret documents. While several U.S. pundits and members of the government have made threatening statements about Assange and WikiLeaks, the U.S. government has taken no formal steps against either the man or the organization.
WikiLeaks itself recently suspended its publishing operation to focus on fundraising. The organization’s own legal defense is its single largest expense.