Assange loses extradition appeal

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has lost his appeal against an extradition order to face rape and sexual assault charges in Sweden, prompting his lawyer to call on the Australian government to intervene.

The 40 year-old Australian citizen, whose whistle-blowing website has published thousands of secret cables from governments and organisations worldwide, now has 14 days to appeal to Britain’s highest court.

The former computer hacker’s lawyer, Counsel Geoffrey Robertson, claims the allegations are politically motivated and that Assange will not receive a fair trial in Sweden. After the ruling last week, he called on the Australian government to step in and help his client.

“I think Canberra may have to do something about it,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “It’s got a duty to help Australians in peril in foreign courts.”

Referring to an Australian formerly held in Guantanamo Bay, Robertson added, “It [the Australian government] didn’t do anything for David Hicks and that was something of a disgrace.”

Robertson went on to say that he was unhappy about the legal conditions in Sweden. “As far as Julian Assange is concerned, Sweden doesn’t have bail, doesn’t have money bail for foreigners, so he’s likely to be held in custody,” he said. “He’s going to be tried in secret, and this is outrageous by our standards and by any standards.”

Assange, who was first arrested in December, denies the allegations and believes they are part of a plan to eventually extradite him to the US to face espionage charges. WkikLeaks recently made public a huge amount of classified military information with the help of US soldier Bradley Manning.