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Extradition law: Lawyers representing Assange launch Supreme Court appeal

The legal team which represents the embattled founder of the controversial Wikileaks website have launched a legal challenge to his extradition to Sweden in the UK Supreme Court.

Julian Assange is wanted by Swedish authorities over allegations that he committed sex offences.

Mr Assange, a 40-year-old Australian, shot to worldwide fame after launching Wikileaks, a free-to-access website which contains thousands of confidential US military communications on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr Assange is wanted in the US to face charges relating to the content published on the website.

Mr Assange's legal team are challenging the extradition order granted by the UK on the basis that it is invalid and unenforceable. They told Supreme Court judges that the Swedish prosecutor who issued his European arrest warrant did not have the authority to do so.

The Swedish charges relate to an incident in Stockholm in August 2010. Mr Assange stands accused of raping one woman and sexually molesting and coercing another. He claims that the allegations made against him are politically motivated, designed to smear his name and get him behind bars.

His appeal will pose a key legal question to the seven Supreme Court judges: did the Swedish prosecutor have the legal authority to issue an arrest warrant according to the terms of the Extradition Act 2003?

Mr Assange's lawyer, Dinah Rose QC, will argue that it is a fundamental principle of the Act that the person issuing the warrant is impartial and independent of both parties to any case. They claim that the Swedish prosecutor is a party in the case and therefore meets neither of these criteria.

"The EAW is a draconian instrument which affects individual liberty, freedom of movement and private life: it should only be resorted to if other less invasive measures for achieving the general interest have failed or are unavailable," she said.

Related links:

Read more on the story (BBC)

What is extradition? (FindLaw)

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