Friday, February 11, 2011
WikiLeaks founder back in court
Lawyers fighting over the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange have returned to court Friday to make their final arguments in a high-profile case which has threatened to overshadow the organization’s secret-spilling work.
Assange, famous for publishing a massive cache of confidential U.S. military and diplomatic documents, is wanted for questioning in Sweden on sex crimes allegations stemming from a visit he paid to the Scandinavian country last summer.
The 39-year-old Australian is fighting the extradition
and denies the allegations.
Both sides were expected to recap the arguments made earlier in the week at Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court, with Assange’s side arguing that Swedish prosecutors acted improperly and the Swedish government saying it is seeking Assange only after repeatedly failing to pin him down for questioning.
Assange and his supporters have painted the case against him as riddled with irregularities, with some alleging that it was part of U.S.-led plot to prosecute the WikiLeaks founder or blacken his reputation in retaliation for his spectacular leaks.
Lawyers for Assange’s alleged victims and Swedish authorities have all denied the claims. In an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday, Justice Minister Beatrice Ask defended her country’s court system, saying that Assange was accused of a serious crime and should turn himself in for questioning.
As for the conspiracy claims, Ask said they’d been “taken out of thin air.”
“We don’t have that influence and should not have that influence on the judiciary,” she said.
Judge Howard Riddle may decide to rule on Assange’s case immediately, or, more likely, reserve his judgment for a later date. Whatever the judgment, it’s unlikely to end the legal wrangling as both sides can appeal his ruling.
Meanwhile, Assange is out on bail — albeit under strict conditions — at a supporter’s country mansion in eastern England.