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Wikileaks' Assange Appeals UK Extradition Decision

Common Dreams staff

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange arrives at the Supreme Court in Westminster, on the second day of his extradition appeal, in central London, February 2, 2012. (REUTERS/Andrew Winning)

Lawyers for Julian Assange on Tuesday challenged the UK Supreme Court’s decision to extradite the WikiLeaks founder to Sweden to face sexual assault charges.

Assange - who denies the accusations - is concerned that extradition to Sweden could ultimately lead to his eventual transfer to the United States.

The 40-year-old Australian lost his appeal against a lower court’s ruling on May 30th.

Assange’s lawyer argued last that the court's ruling had been based on a legal point that had not been argued in court in February, preventing his defense lawyers from presenting a defense.

If that argument is accepted, then the UK’s top court will re-open Assange's appeal.

If not, then Assange will have seven days to challenge the ruling at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France – his last legal recourse to halt his extradition.

Reopening a UK Supreme Court case after a ruling has been made is virtually unheard-of, and legal experts in London say it would be a major embarrassment for Britain's most senior judges.

"It would be very damaging for their reputation," Julian Knowles, a lawyer with London's Matrix Chambers, told The Associated Press late last month.

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Reuters reports:

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has appealed against Britain's Supreme Court's decision to back his extradition to Sweden over alleged sex crimes.

Two weeks ago, judges at Britain's top court rejected his argument by a 5-2 majority that a European arrest warrant for his extradition was invalid, seemingly putting an end to an 18-month legal battle.

However, his lawyers argued that some of the judges had reached their decision based on a legal point that had not been argued in court, preventing the defense team from making a counter-submission.

The court agreed to give Assange 14 days to challenge the decision and a spokeswoman said on Tuesday that an appeal had been submitted.

"No time has been set to look at the evidence," the spokeswoman said. "We are hoping it will be done promptly." [...]

His lawyers argue the European arrest warrant was invalid because it was issued by a prosecutor and not a judge or a court, as required in Britain. Prosecutors say different legal procedures are allowable under the internationally agreed format.

Even if he loses the appeal in Britain, the Australian could take his case to the European Court of Human Rights, potentially holding up the extradition process for months.

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