Julian Assange is preparing to take his extradition battle to the Supreme Court after mounting an attack on “restrictive” European laws.
The founder of WikiLeaks, the whistle-blowing website, dismissed an appeal court ruling that he should be sent to face sexual assault allegations in Sweden as “merely technical” and insisted he had not been charged with any crime.
He is accused of raping one woman and molesting and coercing another into unprotected sex during a visit to Stockholm to promote the work of WikiLeaks last year.
The 40-year-old Australian believes the allegations are politically motivated and could pave the way for him to be sent for trial in the US accused of leaking official secrets.
Mr Assange has infuriated the US government by disclosing thousands of sensitive and highly embarrassing diplomatic cables about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other issues.
Earlier this year a British district judge approved an order for Mr Assange to be extradited to Sweden to be questioned about sexual encounters with two women, whom he stayed with in August last year.
He is said to have held one of them down to prevent her reaching for protection and made sexual advances to another, who had allowed him to share her bed, while she was asleep.
At the Court of Appeal in London the President of the Queen’s Bench Division, Sir John Thomas, and Mr Justice Ouseley rejected arguments by his lawyers that the allegations were inaccurate, unfair or would not amount to a crime in England and Wales.
They added that it was “difficult to see” how Mr Assange could “reasonably” have thought that one of the women consented to sex if, as she claims, she was asleep.
The judges also noted that the strength of the women’s evidence was a “matter with which this court cannot be concerned”.
His lawyers now have 14 days to lodge an application to challenge the decision at the Supreme Court.
Speaking outside court Mr Assange said he was pondering his “next steps” and argued that the European Arrest Warrant system was curtailing the powers of British courts.
He told supporters: “I have not been charged with any crime in any country.
“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.”