Assange loses fight against extradition
Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, has lost the first round of his battle against extradition after a judge ruled that he should be sent to Sweden to face a possible rape trial.
Senior District Judge Howard Riddle threw out claims by Mr Assange's legal team that he would not receive a fair trial if he was forced to return to the country where two women have accused him of separate sexual assaults.
The 39-year-old Australian, who denies any wrongdoing, announced his intention to appeal against the decision and attacked the European Arrest Warrant system, which he said had "run amok".
Speaking outside Belmarsh magistrates' court in south-east London, he said the warrants, brought in as a response to increased terrorist threats after the 9/11 attacks, were open to "abuses".
He said: "There was no consideration during this entire process as to the merit of the allegations made against me, no consideration or examination of the complaints made in Sweden and of course we have always known we would appeal.
"Why is it that I, a non-profit free-speech activist, am subject to a $360,000 (€234,000) bail? Why is it that I am kept under electronic house arrest when I have not been charged in any country, when I have never been a fugitive?"
Judge Riddle, giving his ruling following a three-day extradition hearing earlier this month, said Mr Assange was facing "serious" allegations and should return to Sweden to be questioned over claims that he raped a woman by having unprotected sexual intercourse with her while she was asleep and sexually assaulted a second woman last August.
He rejected claims that the Swedish prosecutor, Marianne Ny, had failed to follow the correct procedures in applying for a warrant, and did not accept that Sweden's system of hearing evidence in rape trials behind closed doors amounted to a breach of human rights.
He also accused Mr Assange's Swedish lawyer, Bjorn Hurtig, of deliberately misleading the court by saying Ms Ny had not tried to interview Mr Assange before he left Sweden last September.
"In fact this is untrue," said the judge.
Mr Assange was allowed to remain on conditional bail, and will continue living under effective house arrest at a country house in Norfolk. (© Daily Telegraph, London)