Assange extradition imminent

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange
should be extradited to Sweden to face sexual assault allegations, a judge has
ruled.

At Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court in
south London, District Judge Howard Riddle said the extradition would not
breach Mr Assange’s human rights.

Mr Assange said the ruling, which
he will challenge, was due to a “European Arrest Warrant system run
amok”.

The 39-year-old denies three
allegations of sexual assault and one of rape last August in Stockholm.

He believes the claims are
politically motivated because of Wikileaks’ publication of sensitive material –
including leaked US diplomatic cables – from governments and high-profile
organisations that has made headlines worldwide.

Mr Assange has been released on
bail on the same terms he was granted in December.

Bail was granted then after he had
spent nine days in Wandsworth prison in London following his arrest under a
European Arrest Warrant on 7 December.

Following the extradition ruling on
Thursday, Mr Assange said: “What we saw today at Belmarsh was a
rubber-stamping process. It comes as no surprise, but is nonetheless wrong.

“There was no consideration
during this entire process as to the merits of the allegations made against me,
no consideration or examination of even the complaints made in Sweden.”

Judge Riddle dismissed the argument
that Mr Assange would not receive a fair trial in Sweden that had been made by
his lawyers during the two-and-a-half-day hearing earlier this month.

They had argued that criticism by
Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt had made Mr Assange “public enemy
number one” in Sweden.

But delivering his ruling ┬áthe judge said: “The defence refer to the
alleged denigration of the defendant by the Swedish prime minister.

“For this reason and other
reasons it is said Mr Assange will not receive a fair trial. I don’t accept
this was the purpose of the comment or the effect.”