Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was back in the High Court in London, arguing for a second time that the court should block his extradition to Sweden for questioning over allegations of sexual misconduct. Assange’s lawyer Ben Emmerson noted that Assange has not been charged with any crime, and the defense had been denied access to all the case materials detailing allegations against Assange. Without a “fair, accurate, and proper” description of Assange’s alleged misconduct, Emmerson argued the European arrest warrant issued for Assange is illegal.
Swedish prosecutors are attempting to extradite Assange to Sweden for questioning regarding one allegation of rape and three allegations of sexual assault last August in Sweden. Both women were Wikileaks volunteers.
Assange has denied the allegations.
A judge originally dismissed arguments from Assange’s legal team that extradition to Sweden would violate Assange’s human rights. Assange’s legal team appealed that ruling. If the High Court rules the extradition can proceed, Assange could potentially appeal to Britain’s Supreme Court.
Assange’s lawyer Emmerson allowed that the women may well have found Assange’s sexual behavior pushing the boundaries of what they were comfortable with, “discourteous,” and even “disturbing,” but claimed the events had taken place with consent and, unlike Sweden, could not be criminalized under UK law.
Assange has indicated he believes the Swedish case is motivated by a political effort to besmirch Wikileaks, which has been publishing a purported cache of more than a quarter million U.S. diplomatic cables. Wikileaks’ initial release of the confidential material caused an international uproar; shortly thereafter, Assange was arrested. The U.S. government is still conducting an investigation into whether a criminal case can be brought against Assange. Assange has stated he believes extradition to Sweden would likely be a stepping stone to extradition to the United States.
Assange has been free on bail since December.
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