Julian Assange, the founder of the controversial website Wikileaks, will now be extradited to Sweden to hear allegations of rape and sexual assault by two former volunteers, after his bid to block the extradition failed.
Two judges from the High Court in London rejected his appeal that the extradition was unlawful, ruling that the warrant stands and that Assange should face questioning over the allegations made.
“There can be no doubt that if what Mr Assange had done had been done in England and Wales, he would have been charged and thus criminal proceedings would have been commenced,” the High Court wrote in its judgement rationalising its rejection.
All four of Assange’s grounds to appeal the extradition were rejected.
Assange, who has been on house arrest for almost a year, has criticised their judgement.
“I have not been charged with any crime in any country. Despite this, the European arrest warrant is so restrictive that it prevents UK courts from considering the facts of a case, as judges have made clear here today,” he said in London.
He has continuously denied the allegations, saying that they were politically motivated. He, and his supporters, feared that he could be then sent to the United States to answer charges after publishing the US State Department cables and the logs of Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
Late last year, a London court approved his extradition to Sweden. However, Assange managed to secure an appeal. Assange has now 14 days to file an appeal and could submit this to the Supreme Court, which in London is higher in the judicial hierarchy. If successful, he could have a full appeal hearing, according to the BBC, around May next year – delaying it further.
His lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson QC, told the ABC’s Lateline that Assange will likely face an unfair trial.
“He’s going to be tried in secret, and this is outrageous by our standards and by any standards. t’ll be secret justice. They hold rape trials customarily in secret,” he said.
“He will also be tried – they don’t have a jury, they have a judge and two retired hack politicians, one from each party. So – and both parties have been critical of him, so it’s hardly a fair trial. And those issues will have to be addressed if he does go to Sweden in the next couple of months.”
Robertson is calling for the Australian Government to intervene.
“I think Canberra may have to do something about. It’s got a duty to help Australians in peril in foreign courts. It didn’t do anything for David Hicks and that was something of a disgrace,” he said.