British Court Orders WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Extradited to Sweden
A British court has agreed to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to Sweden to face rape charges. His attorneys have said they will appeal the decision.
Assange is being sought in Sweden for questioning on allegations of rape and coercion stemming from sexual relations he had with two women last year. Assange disputes these claims, and he and his attorneys have argued that the charges are politically motivated. They have fought the extradition, arguing Assange would not get a fair trial in Sweden and suggesting that they fear that Assange could end up being sent to the United States to face charges stemming from WikiLeaks’ release of government documents.
Reuters reports that the judge in the case said that “I have specifically considered whether the physical or mental condition of the defendant is such that it would be unjust or oppressive to extradite him.” But he added that “I am satisfied that extradition is compatible with the defendant’s (European) Convention rights, I must order Mr Assange be extradited to Sweden.”
Assange has been released on bond and has been living under house arrest since mid-December. He has signed a $1.5 million book deal, arguing that while he doesn’t want to write an autobiography, the mounting costs of his legal battles have forced him to. For its part, WikiLeaks has also struggled to keep its coffers full, following the decisions by Visa, Mastercard and PayPal to sever financial ties with the organizations and to refuse payment processing. WikiLeaks now has a number of other ways to support it, including the announcement most recently that it’s opened an online store.