WikiLeaks founder will ask permission to appeal against high court ruling that he must face sex crime charges in SwedenThe founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, is to apply for a supreme court hearing to appeal against extradition to Sweden to face sex crime allegations.
His solicitor, Gareth Peirce, confirmed he will ask senior judges in London on 5 December to certify that his case should be considered by the highest court in the land. He must establish that his case raises “a question of law of general public importance”.
Assange, 40, lost a high court battle against removal on 2 November but has announced he wants to fight on against a European arrest warrant that has been outstanding since last December.
A supreme court hearing would be the third stage of the 40-year old Australian’s appeal against extradition to face allegations of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion by two women he met on a visit to Stockholm in August 2010.
Assange’s decision means a verdict on whether he should be extradited could be delayed until as late as next summer, legal observers said.
If he can persuade the high court that there is a question of law at stake, he must then seek leave to appeal, probably directly from the supreme court. That could take at least three months.
Only then, if he is successful, could a date be set for a supreme court hearing, possibly around early summer. If Assange fails to persuade the high court judges there is a question of law at stake on 5 December, then he could be removed in the following days, under the terms of the warrant.
Earlier this month the president of the Queen’s bench division, Sir John Thomas, sitting with Mr Justice Ouseley, threw out Assange’s four-point appeal against the Swedish prosecutor’s European arrest warrant.
In their judgment, they said Assange had argued the rape claim against him dating from his trip to Stockholm did not in fact amount to rape, but they concluded “the allegation that he had sexual intercourse … without a condom would amount to an allegation of rape in England and Wales”.
The judges also ruled the two alleged offences of sexual molestation against the woman known as AA on two nights, and the allegation of unlawful coercion relating to his alleged use of violence by holding AA’s arms and forcefully spreading her legs while lying on top of her, could be considered offences in England and Wales, which is a prerequisite for extradition.
The warrant was “proportionate”, they said, dismissing Assange’s argument that it was not issued by a valid authority. The court also rejected Assange’s assertion that the descriptions of the offences were unfair and inaccurate.
After the hearing Assange said: “I have not been charged with any crime in any country. The European arrest warrant (EAW) is so restrictive that it prevents UK courts from considering the facts of a case, as judges have made clear here today.
“No doubt there will be many attempts made to try to spin these proceedings as they occurred today but they were merely technical.”
Assange remains on bail, living at Ellingham Hall in Norfolk, the home of Vaughan Smith, founder of the Frontline Club for journalists. The decision to appeal again means it looks likely Assange will be spending a second consecutive Christmas with his host.