WikiLeaks Assange awaits court ruling on extradition

Two judges will now decide whether Assange should be extradited to face questioning by prosecutors

Lawyers for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange finished their arguments on Wednesday in London's High Court as to why the WikiLeaks founder should not be extradited to Sweden to face questioning on potential charges of molestation and rape.

Assange, 40, is contesting a European arrest warrant issued by Sweden in December. The arrest warrant, which was approved by a district judge in February, followed an investigation into allegations by two women that Assange had sex with them in Sweden in August 2010. Assange has not been charged by Sweden, although the European arrest warrant details two potential charges of sexual molestation along with one charge of unlawful coercion and and one rape charge.

The two women have asserted to Swedish prosecutors that their encounters with Assange were not consensual, although lawyers for Assange argued on Tuesday that the incidents were consensual and that the arrest warrant is inaccurate and invalid.

On Wednesday, Clare Montgomery, who is representing the Swedish Prosecution Authority, rejected the claim that the three incidents were consensual. Descriptions of the alleged incidents were circulated in court on Tuesday within a 73-page document outlining Assange's appeal.

Montgomery went through each of the incidents. For the unlawful coercion incident, Assange is accused of restraining a woman identified as "AA" and forcibly spreading her legs. Assange is also accused at that same time of having sex with her without a condom after she insisted she wanted him to wear one.

Montgomery said from the details of the accusations, "it couldn't be clearer" that the woman did not have want to have sex with him.

"Assange knew it," she said.

Assange's defense team on Wednesday again focused on the European arrest warrant that caused Assange to turn himself into U.K. police in early December.

Assange's attorney Mark Summers said that there hasn't been a decision by Sweden on whether to prosecute Assange and that the investigation remains in the preliminary stages. The issuing of a European arrest warrant is not proportional for the current stage of the case, Summers said.

The judges will release their decision at later date. If he loses, Assange will have the opportunity to appeal to the U.K.'s Supreme Court.

In February at Belmarsh Magistrates Court, Assange's legal team openly linked their client's personal issues with his work with WikiLeaks. They went so far as to say that there was the potential that Assange could be extradited to the U.S. if he were to be charged with crimes related to the release last November of secret U.S. diplomatic cables.

However, the whistle-blowing website has not come up during the hearing, and his legal team has not brought up those speculations during the appeals hearing. Assange changed his legal team and is now represented by Gareth Peirce and Ben Emmerson, two lawyers known for their human rights work.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com

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Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
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