Martin Daly, February 4, 2012
LONDON: The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, faces a tense wait for some weeks after seven judges of Britain’s Supreme Court adjourned to decide whether he will be extradited to Sweden where he faces allegations of sexual assault.
The two-day appeal by Mr Assange against a lower court’s decision to uphold the validity of a Swedish arrest warrant marks the end of a year-long legal battle to avoid extradition, sparked by allegations by two women last year that he sexually assaulted them.
The appeal ended in a war of words – between Mr Assange’s barrister, Dinah Rose and Clare Montgomery, QC, representing the Swedish Judicial Authority – as each sought to persuade the judges to support their positions not only on the fate of Mr Assange but also on the future of a controversial extradition treaty that operates throughout the European Union.
The court must decide if the European arrest warrant under which Mr Assange is being sought for extradition is valid because it was issued by a prosecutor in Sweden and not, as Mr Assange claims it should have been, a judge.
Ms Montgomery argued the warrant was valid, partly because it was normal for prosecutors in Europe to issue them, while Ms Rose said the warrant breached natural justice and should not stand.
The court was packed each day, the public and the media accommodated in overflow rooms, while outside Assange supporters braved the cold as they waited to see him pass by.
”I’m here because I want to support Julian and WikiLeaks,” said Susan Gianstefani, from Melbourne, who has protested with her husband in support of Mr Assange outside various courts for more than a year.