Julian Assange
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Image: adamfeuer/Flickr/CC BY-SA

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange lost his appeal against extradition in a British High Court Wednesday. He may be sent to Sweden to face charges of rape and sexual assault.

Further appeal depends on High Court

Assange, 40, who has angered the U.S. government among others with his whistle-blowing cyber exposes, will now have two weeks to decide whether he wants to appeal further to the Supreme Court. However, since an appeal to the highest British court can only be made on a legal point ruled to be in the interest of the general public, Assange will also need permission from the High Court to pursue that final appeal.

Wednesday’s court ruling said:

“There can be no doubt that if what Mr. Assange had done had been done in England and Wales, he would have been charged.”

‘Considering our next steps’

The Australian-born cyber expert showed no signs of emotion as he listened to the decision. He made a brief statement afterward, saying only: “We will be considering our next steps in the days ahead.”

As he left the court, he was swarmed by supporters. Banners outside the court displayed the slogan “Casualty of war and truth.”

Claims charges politically motivated

Assange has been living under strict court conditions at the estate of a wealthy supporter since his arrest last December. He maintains his innocence, saying his arrest was the result of angering political bodies, such as the Pentagon and the U.S. State Department, for releasing their secret documents.

In 2010, Assange’s site created a media storm by posting more than 250,000 diplomatic cables and thousands of classified documents on the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

Swedish prosecutors deny political motives

Prosecutors in Sweden say the charges against him have nothing to do with the content of his political boat-rocking website. The charges of rape and sexual assault were brought against him by two former female Wikileaks volunteers. Assange’s lawyers however, maintain that the sex was consensual.

Claes Borgstrom, one of the women who leveled charges against Assange, was angered that the court took so long to reach its decision:

“This decision was exactly what I expected, but I am very critical about the fact that it has taken the High Court such a long time, from July.”

Sources

MSNBC: http://bottomline.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/01/8582541-chrysler-takes-aim-at-detroits-two-tier-wage-system
Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/02/wikileaks-julian-assange-extradition_n_1070959.html
Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/02/us-britain-assange-idUSTRE7A07OQ20111102

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