Julian Assange has won the latest round in his fight to avoid extradition from the UK to Sweden over sex allegations – though it’s probably just a stay of execution.
The Wikileaks founder is accused of sexually assaulting two women in Sweden in August last year. It’s alleged that raped one woman and molested the other.
Assange has been under house arrest for a year, and recently lost his appeal against extradition. His right to continue the fight hinged on whether or not the case could be said to involve an issue of ‘real legal significance’.
Two British High Court judges have now ruled that one of Assange’s justifications for an appeal – that the prosecutor who issued the European arrest warrant for Assange wasn’t a ‘judicial officer’ – does indeed amount to a question of general significance.
Assange now has 14 days to apply to the country’s highest court, the Supreme Court. A hearing could take several months, and, given the earlier decisions, is unlikely to be successful. In his judgment, Judge John Thomas described Assange’s chances of success as ‘extraordinarily slim’.
Assange will continue to live under bail conditions, wearing an electronic tag and checking in daily with police.
Assange claims that the sexual encounters were completely consensual. And he says he’s concerned that, if extradited to Sweden on the sexual assault charges, he might then be handed over to the US for investigation over the leaking of displomatic cables.