WikiLeaks founder and director Julian Assange is to extradited to Sweden so that he might be questioned regarding to and possibly charged with sexual assault and rape, decreed today the British judge presiding over the extradition hearing.
Elaborating on his decision, Judge Howard Riddle pointed out every single argument against the extradition that Assange’s legal team trotted out and proceeded to cut them down with short explanations:
- Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny had, in his opinion, the authority to issue the European arrest warrant that started this whole procedure
- Some of the alleged offenses Assange perpetrated against the two women might not be covered by English law, but they are enough to warrant an extradition – even if he wasn’t formally charged by a Swedish court
- Assange’s Swedish lawyer intentionally mislead the court and apparently aided Assange in deliberately avoiding interrogation and the Swedish justice system prior to leaving that country
- Regarding the claims that Assange wouldn’t have a fair trial in Sweden because of the bad publicity and negative comments from the country’s prime minister, and the fact that such trials in Sweden go on behind closed doors, the judge commented that if such concerns existed, they should be addressed in a Swedish trial.
According to the Guardian, Assange’s legal team will be appealing the decision. If they don’t succeed, he will be extradited in 10 days.
Assange still maintains his innocence and says his main problem with this whole thing is the fact that he can be extradited to the US from Sweden. In fact, he thinks it highly likely that such a request will be made and granted.
The four years in jail he might spend if the Swedish court finds him guilty of the charges is nothing compared to a potential death penalty that the US might sentence him to – if they find a way to formulate the charges is such a way as to allow it.
In the meantime, Bradley Manning – the US Army Private that allegedly passed the confidential US diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks – is having trouble with his own defense efforts. PayPal has frozen the account of Courage to Resist, an organization that is currently collecting donations for his legal defense expenses and public awareness efforts.
“We’ve been in discussions with PayPal for weeks, and by their own admission there’s no legal obligation for them to close down our account,” noted Loraine Reitman of the Bradley Manning Support Network, which collaborates with Courage to Resist. “This was an internal policy decision by PayPal.”