Britain’s Supreme Court has rejected WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange’s bid to reopen his extradition case. The decision means the controversial transparency campaigner could be sent to Sweden by the end of the month. Assange is wanted for questioning in Sweden after two women accused him of sexual assault during a visit to the country in mid-2010.
His legal struggle to stay in Britain has dragged on for the better part of two years, clouding his website’s work exposing the world’s secrets. In a brief, five-point judgment, the court rejected arguments that Assange’s legal team hadn’t been given the chance to properly cross-examine the evidence that justices relied on to deny the Australian’s appeal against extradition. Claes Borgstrom, the lawyer for Assange’s accusers, said that yesterday’s ruling is “an obvious and expected decision that has been delayed for too long.”
The development effectively exhausts Assange’s legal options in Britain. He could still apply to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, but legal experts say the 40-year-old stands little chance there. Attorney Jennifer Robinson, who has represented Assange, said it wasn’t clear whether he would try to get the European Court involved. “(That’s) still being considered,” she said in a tweet.
Assange denies any wrongdoing in the Swedish case, saying that while he had sex with the women involved, it was consensual. He and WikiLeaks’ supporters have suggested the case was being manipulated to political ends by foes angered over the group’s spectacular revelations. The website has been responsible for the largest leaks of classified documents in US history, among them some 250,000 State Department cables.
Britain’s Supreme Court has given Assange a two-week-long grace period before extradition proceedings can start. Once that period is up, officials have 10 days to fly Assange to Sweden. If the European Court does not intervene, he could be sent out of Britain between June 28 and July 7.Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny declined to comment on the decision, saying she would hold a news conference once Assange arrived in Sweden. Under Swedish rules, a detention hearing would have to be held within four days of Assange’s arrival.