WikiLeaks’ Assange appeals British extradition ruling

LONDON (United Kingdom) – WIKILEAKS founder Julian Assange will on Tuesday start his appeal against a British court ruling that he be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of rape.

The 40-year-old Australian will take his legal battle to the High Court in London for a two-day hearing, in the hope of reversing the February ruling.

A judge rejected arguments by Assange’s defence team that he would face an unfair trial in Sweden that would breach his human rights. He was arrested in December after two Swedish women accused him of sexual assault, allegations that Assange denies, as his whistleblowing website was in the process of releasing a huge cache of leaked US diplomatic cables.

It was the site’s latest dump of American government documents and infuriated Washington. Swedish authorities want to quiz him over the sex assault claims, although he has not been formally charged.

Scores of journalists attended his previous court hearings as well as celebrity supporters including socialite Jemima Khan and human rights campaigner Bianca Jagger. After judge Howard Riddle rejected his lawyers’ arguments during the extradition hearing at Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court in London, Assange lashed out at the decision and blamed the European warrant system under which he was arrested.

‘It is a result of the European Arrest Warrant system run amok. There was no consideration during this entire process as to the merits of the allegations against me,’ he told reporters after the ruling.

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