November 3, 2011 in Nation/World

WikiLeaks founder loses extradition appeal in U.K.

Cassandra Vinograd Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Julian Assange, center, arrives for his extradition hearing in London on Wednesday.
(Full-size photo)

Allegations about sex

 The allegations against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange stem from separate encounters he had with two women in August 2010 in Stockholm, Sweden. The women say he refused their requests that he use a condom during sex; one of the women also accuses Assange of initiating intercourse with her while she was asleep and unable to give her consent.

 Assange says the sex was consensual. His lawyers also contend that, even if the allegations were true, the behavior would not necessarily constitute crimes under British law. Swedish laws on sexual assault are more sweeping than those in Britain.

 But British prosecutors, acting on behalf of their Swedish counterparts, said the allegations were sufficiently serious because they involved some physical force. One of the women accuses Assange of using his body weight to keep her pinned beneath him while he had sex with her.

McClatchy

LONDON – Time seems to be running out for Julian Assange, whose long battle to avoid extradition to Sweden over suspected rape and molestation cases appears likely to end in failure unless he can get Britain’s highest court to hear an appeal.

In a major setback Wednesday in London’s High Court, two British judges rejected Assange’s move to block extradition to face questioning in Sweden. Court officials said Wednesday that Assange plans to try to take the case to Britain’s Supreme Court.

“He has indicated that he plans to launch an appeal,” a spokeswoman for the Judicial Office said.

It is possible his request for an appeal will be turned down, making extradition virtually inevitable.

Wednesday’s ruling is the latest reversal for Assange, whose secret-spilling organization is on the brink of financial ruin. The group has suspended publishing the sensitive government documents that drew the ire of governments worldwide because of money woes.

Assange has denied any wrongdoing in the alleged rape of one woman and the molestation of another in Stockholm last year. He and his followers have maintained the sex crimes investigation is politically motivated by those opposed to WikiLeaks.

He has deeply polarized public opinion, appearing on Europe’s Most Wanted List while winning praise in some quarters as a brave advocate for freedom of speech and for challenging government power.

Assange did not seem angry or visibly upset outside London’s High Court.

“We will be considering our next steps in the days ahead,” he told reporters and supporters.

But experts said his legal options are now extremely limited.

“I think it’s highly likely that he’ll be in Sweden before the end of the year,” said Julian Knowles, an extradition lawyer not involved in the case.

Vaughan Smith, the owner of the country mansion where Assange is living out on bail, said his friend’s prospects appeared bleak. “It’s not good news,” he said.

© Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email