WikiLeaks founder Assange in court for extradition hearing
Published 12/07/2011 | 11:25
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrived at the High Court in London today for an appeal against being extradited to Sweden over sexual assault allegations.
Julian Assange is challenging a ruling by District Judge Howard Riddle at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in south London that extradition would not breach his human rights.
He has described the extradition ruling as ''rubber-stamping'' and the result of a ''European arrest warrant system run amok''.
Mr Assange says the allegations were politically-motivated, particularly after the WikiLeaks website published a mass of leaked American diplomatic cables that rocked the US government.
He said nothing as he arrived at the court in London with lawyers today.
A handful of supporters gathered outside the entrance to greet him.
Mr Assange hosted a lavish 40th birthday party at the weekend attended by celebrity guests and supporters.
His lawyers are expected to argue that the alleged offences are not extradition offences and sending him to Sweden would be an abuse of process and incompatible with his rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.
They are also expected to challenge the validity of the arrest warrant and complain that it did not contain a proper, fair and accurate description of the alleged sexual misconduct.
Although not charged, the Australian computer expert faces questioning on three allegations of sexual assault and one of rape, said to have been committed in Stockholm last August. The accusations were made by two female WikiLeaks volunteers.
At a hearing in February, Judge Riddle dismissed all Julian Assange's arguments that, if charged, he could not get a fair trial.
Mr Assange has expressed fears that extradition to Sweden could be a stepping stone to being sent to the US to stand trial on fresh charges relating to WikiLeaks, and he could even face the death penalty.
If his High Court appeal is unsuccessful, he could take his case to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land.
Julian Assange, who won bail in December, has been staying at Ellingham Hall, the 10-bedroom Norfolk farmhouse owned by Vaughan Smith, director of the Frontline media club, which was the venue for his birthday party.
Bail conditions include having to wear an electronic ankle tag and check in daily at a nearby police station.