Investigative journalist Tony Gosling believes it is a very dangerous decision that is being made and essentially WikiLeaks is being sabotaged by the British judicial system.
“There have not even been charges laid in Sweden against Assange and it just seems to me that this is a blatant piece of victimization,” he said “There is some evidence, but it doesn’t seem even in Sweden enough evidence to reach the stage of charging him with rape, even though rape criteria in Sweden is very different to some other parts of Europe.”
Gosling says that it is very important for the international community to have sites like WikiLeaks around.
“This is a very important way we can get round some of the obsessive secrecy that is going on in the international diplomacy right now,” he said.
WikiLeaks founder can be sent to Sweden, Belmarsh magistrates court rules
The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is to be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault. Assange will appeal, his legal team has confirmed. If they lose he will be sent to Sweden in 10 days.
Speaking outside Belmarsh magistrates court in south-east London after the judgment, Assange attacked the European arrest warrant system.
“What does the US have to do with a Swedish extradition process?” he asked. “Why is it that I am subject, a non-profit free speech activist, to a $360,000 (£223,000) bail? Why is it that I am kept under electronic house arrest when Assange had earlier heard the chief magistrate, Howard Riddle, dismiss each of the defence’s arguments.
Assange’s legal team had contended that the Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny did not have the authority to issue a European arrest warrant. The magistrate ruled that she did possess this authority and the warrant was valid.
Julian Assange’s lawyer Mark Stephens reacts to the extradition ruling Link to this video
Ny’s credibility had been questioned by the defence team but Riddle said those doubts amounted to “very little”. A retired judge who had criticised her, Brita Sundberg-Weitman, had no firsthand knowledge or evidence to back up her opinion, he said.
The defence had argued that the allegations against Assange were not offences in English law and therefore not grounds for extradition. But Riddle said the alleged offences against Miss A of sexual assault and molestation met the criteria for extradition, and an allegation made by Miss B if proven “would amount to rape” in this country.
In his summary Riddle accused Assange’s Swedish lawyer, Björn Hurtig, of making a deliberate attempt to mislead the court. Assange had clearly attempted to avoid the Swedish justice system before he left the country, Riddle said. “It would be a reasonable assumption from the facts that Mr Assange was deliberately avoiding interrogation before he left Sweden.”
The judge was severely critical of Hurtig, who had said in his statement that it was “astonishing” Ny had made no effort to interview his client before he left Sweden. “In fact this is untrue,” said Riddle. Hurtig had realised his mistake the night before he gave evidence and corrected his evidence in chief, said the judge. But it had been done in a manner that was “very low key”. “Mr Hurtig must have realised the significance of … his proof when he submitted it,” Riddle said. “I do not accept that this was a genuine mistake. It cannot have slipped his mind. The statement was a deliberate attempt to mislead the court.”
Riddle acknowledged there had been “considerable adverse publicity against Mr Assange in Sweden”, including statements by the prime minister. But if there had been any irregularities in the Swedish system the best place to examine them was in a Swedish trial.
Outside the court Assange’s lawyer, Mark Stephens, said the ruling had not come as a surprise and reaffirmed the Assange team’s concerns that adhering to the European arrest warrant (EAW) amounted to “tick box justice”.
“We are still hopeful that the matter can be resolved in this country,” he said. “We remain optimistic of our chances on appeal.”
European arrest warrants were introduced in 2003 with the aim of making the process swifter and easier between European member states. But campaigners have raised concerns about their application, arguing they are sometimes used before a case is ready to prosecute and have been extended far beyond their original purpose of fighting terrorism. Last year 700 people were extradited from the UK under the system.