WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was back in court on Tuesday for the latest instalment in his fight against extradition to Sweden, where the 40-year-old Australian is accused of rape and molestation.
Mr. Assange’s disclosures on WikiLeaks of classified U.S. documents has infuriated the Pentagon, embarrassed State Department diplomats and energised critics of American foreign policy, but allegations of sexual misconduct during a trip to Scandinavia last year have tarnished his reputation.
Mr. Assange denies any wrongdoing, and he and his supporters have suggested that the Swedish prosecution is being manipulated to political ends — possibly with an eye toward sending him to the United States, where a federal grand jury is investigating WikiLeaks’ activities.
Swedish authorities reject the charge, and on February 24 a British judge found in their favour, saying that there was no reason to believe he wouldn’t receive a fair trial in Sweden.
Mr. Assange vowed to fight the decision, and meanwhile has continued to work from a supporter’s mansion in eastern England.
In an interview last month, Mr. Assange complained that the strict bail conditions — he’s under an overnight curfew, must wear an electronic tag and report to police daily — had hampered his activities.
His website has not accepted any new material in months, although WikiLeaks’ latest release in April —hundreds of detainee assessment forms covering the inmates at Guantanamo Bay — offered never-before-published information on those being held at the U.S. military prison.
Mr. Assange’s appeal hearing will last until Wednesday. Judgement is expected to be reserved, which means that a ruling might not be made public for days or weeks. Mr. Assange has vowed to take his case to Britain’s Supreme Court or the European Court of Human Rights if his appeal is rejected. Hindu