The prolonged legal issues of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has taken a turn for the worse. According to several news sites, Assange has now lost his appeal in the British high court against extradition from the UK to Sweden, where he is due to face charges of sexual assault.
Assange has been fighting extradition in the UK for over a year, and now has 14 days to make an application to reopen the extradition case. He was not present in court to hear the ruling.
Judge Nicholas Phillips ruled that the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued against the white-haired firebrand for his extradition was legal under the Vienna Convention.
“The request for Mr. Assange’s extradition has been lawfully made and his appeal against the extradition is accordingly dismissed,” said Phillips.
Assange legal counselors immediately asked for a 14-day extension to reopen the case, saying that they thought the ruling would be made under the UK legal system and were not adequately prepared. Attorney Dinah Rose highlighted the fact that the judgment was made based on legal precedents not argued in the appeal. Said Assange's attorney, “It would appear that a majority of the members of this court have decided the point on the basis of the interpretation of the Vienna Convention. A point that was not argued in the appeal and which we have had no opportunity to address.”
Assange’s lawyers had argued the extradition order against him was invalid as it was made by a Swedish prosecutor. However, the British court ruled that under the Vienna Convention the prosecutor was a “judicial authority.” Therefore, the Australian Assange may be sent to Sweden to face sexual assault and rape charges filed by two former WikiLeaks volunteers.
Assange could eventually be extradited to the US, where he would join Private Bradley Manning, who is currently facing a court-martial for providing classified documents to Assange's website. Since February 2012, Assange has had a talk show on RT, a television network based in Russia, where he interviewed prominent guests. RT says that Assange's 'The World Tomorrow' program will continue despite the May 30 ruling.