London High Court ruled that the WikiLeaks founder can apply to the Supreme Court in an attempt to block his extradition to Sweden
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will spend a second Christmas under house arrest in England, Britain's High Court has ruled.
Momentary relief: Julian Assange dressed in a dapper blue suit looks at peace after the High Court allowed him to challenge his extradition to Sweden. Assange must now petition the Supreme Court for another hearing within 14 days. pic/afp
The 40-year-old Australian behind the secret-spilling website has spent almost a year fighting extradition to Sweden for questioning over claims of rape and molestation made by two Swedish women.
He enjoyed a minor win when the High Court refused his bid to take his appeal to the highest court in Britain, the Supreme Court, but did acknowledge that his appeal was of "general importance".
Their decision allowed Assange and his legal team a few weeks to apply directly to the Supreme Court to hear his extradition appeal.
If the Supreme Court refuse the request, Assange will be on a plane to Sweden within days.
But if it is upheld, he could continue his British legal fight into mid-next year.
It was the Australian's tenth appearance in a British court in what has been a lengthy battle to avert his extradition.
The District and High Courts had already upheld the order to send Assange to Sweden.
Assange has not been charged, but Swedish authorities seek to extradite him to face questioning over the sex crimes allegations. His lawyers last night argued their long-held view that the European Arrest Warrant issued by Swedish public prosecutor Marianne Ny was not technically sound.
Extradition law expert Mark Summers, who represented the Australian, told the court that a high number of European Arrest Warrants had been found to be "unjust, oppressive or abusive".
Clare Montgomery, QC, for the Swedish government, argued that Assange's appeal was "not of general public importance".
WikiLeaks supporters responded with relief online, but also threatened to protest if Assange was extradited. "Whatever the outcome, supporters of human rights and transparency will respond with non-violent direct action," supporter Asher Wolf tweeted.
Supporters fear that once he is in Sweden, the US could then seek to extradite him over WikiLeaks release of secret diplomatic cables last year.