Assange wants top UK court to review extradition

LONDON Tue Nov 15, 2011 3:51pm EST

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange leaves the High Court in central London November 2, 2011.    REUTERS/Andrew Winning

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange leaves the High Court in central London November 2, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Andrew Winning

LONDON (Reuters) - WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange will ask senior British judges next month to refer his fight against extradition to Sweden for questioning over alleged sex crimes to the country's highest court, a WikiLeaks spokesman said on Tuesday.

Assange, 40, and his legal team have lodged an application with Britain's High Court to consider whether to refer the case to the Supreme Court, said spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson.

The application rests on two legal questions: Is the warrant for Assange's arrest valid and can he be considered an "accused" person as required under extradition laws when no decision has been taken over whether he will be prosecuted?

The case is expected to be heard at the High Court in London on December 5. A decision could come on the same day, followed by an extradition within 10 days if the appeal fails. Assange and his lawyers had no immediate comment on the case.

Swedish authorities want to question Assange over accusations of rape and sexual assault made by two female former WikiLeaks volunteers.

Assange lost his last attempt to avoid being sent to Sweden on November 2 after two High Court judges upheld a previous ruling that said the extradition was lawful and proportionate.

He denies any wrongdoing, saying the case is politically motivated, possibly at the direction of U.S. officials angry over WikiLeaks' release of secret State Department and Pentagon documents.

In 2010, WikiLeaks posted 391,832 secret papers on the Iraq war and 77,000 classified Pentagon documents on the Afghan conflict. It has also made available about 250,000 individual cables -- the daily traffic between the State Department and more than 270 American diplomatic outposts around the world.

Assange was arrested in Britain in December 2010 and has since been living under strict bail conditions at the country house of a wealthy supporter.

(Reporting by Peter Griffiths; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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