A date has been set by a UK court for Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange, 39. He will appear for the full extradition hearing next month.
On Tuesday, Assange briefly appeared at London’s Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court for a ten-minute hearing (photo, from nytimes.com), where it was decided that the full hearing would take place on February 7. On that day his lawyers will defend him in his fight to avoid extradition.
The defence document was posted on the Finers Stephens Innocent website at Assange’s request. It suggested that extraditing him to Sweden could breach Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which bans torture.
“It is submitted that there is a real risk that, if extradited to Sweden, the US will seek his extradition and/or illegal rendition to the USA, where there will be a risk of him being detained at Guantanamo Bay or elsewhere, in conditions which would breach Article 3 of the ECHR,” the document said.
“Indeed, if Mr Assange were rendered to the USA without assurances that the death penalty would not be carried out, there is a real risk that he could be made subject to the death penalty.”
Outside the court Assange said he was happy with the outcome and promised to hasten the release of additional US diplomatic cables and data that have infuriated Washington.
“Our work with WikiLeaks continues unabated and we are stepping up our publishing for matters related to cablegate and other materials. Those will shortly be appearing through our newspaper partners around the world,” Assange said.
‘Hi-tech house arrest’
The Australian computer expert arrested last month, has denied accusations of sexual misconduct against two women.
After allegations were made by two WikiLeaks’ volunteers, Sweden had issued an arrest warrant.
According to court documents filed by the Swedish prosecutor, Assange was suspected of raping and sexually molesting one woman and unlawfully coercing a second.
His lawyer said the allegations stem from a dispute over “consensual but unprotected sex”.
Although the international arrest warrant was issued at the end of November, Sweden had to reissue it during December because of a procedural error that prevented him from being arrested in Britain.
Assange spent nine days in a UK jail and was then released on bail on December 16, after his supporters raised a surety of $312,000.
Assange’s bail conditions include that he must remain for the most part at the home of a journalist associate in eastern England, abide by a curfew, report to police daily and wear an electronic tag.
Assange described the curbs on him as “hi-tech house arrest”.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Assange said those in the US who have called for him to get killed should be prosecuted : “No organisation anywhere in the world is a more devoted advocate of free speech than WikiLeaks but when senior politicians and attention-seeking media commentators call for specific individuals or groups of people to be killed, they should be charged with incitement to murder.”