Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has asked the UK High Court to block an extradition order to Sweden where he faces questioning on sexual assault allegations. His lawyer, Ban Emmerson, claims the arrest warrant is flawed as Assange has suffered a “mismatch” of Swedish and English law on what constitutes a sex crime.
In February, Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court ruled that allowing the extradition would not be a breach of the 40 year-old former hacker’s human rights. Assange claims, however, that the charges are an attempt to discredit his website, which has leaked thousands of sensitive and confidential US cables about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Although the Belmarsh Court ruled that he would get a fair trial in Sweden, Assange fears the move would eventually lead to him being extradited to the US, where he could face the death penalty for charges relating to Wikileaks.
The Australian computer expert is wanted on allegations of sexual assault, including rape, made by two female Wikileaks volunteers in Stockholm last year. Mr Emmerson, however, told the court the extradition sought “not for prosecution but for the purposes of an investigation”, which he says constitutes a “disproportionate” use of the European arrest warrant.
He added that he is not questioning the women’s credibility, or the “genuineness of their feelings of regret about having had consensual sex with Mr Assange”. He maintains, however, that the sexual activities were consensual and, therefore, cannot be criminalised under UK law.