WikiLeaks founder in heated extradition battle

Julian Assange is pulling out all the stops to prevent his pending extradition to Sweden where the WikiLeaks founder faces charges of sexual assault. 

Assange – who denies the accusations – is concerned that extradition to Sweden could ultimately lead to his eventual transfer to the United States.

As such, the WikiLeaks founder has asked Britain’s Supreme Court to re-open his appeal. 

“Lawyers for Julian Assange have lodged papers to apply to re-open the appeal, as expected, for the reasons set out in the hearing,” a court spokesperson told AFP. 

Unfortunately for Assange, the chances of re-opening the extradition case are quite slim, as such a procedure is rare and could be perceived as a major embarrassment for Britain’s most senior judges.

“It would be very damaging for their reputation,” Julian Knowles, a lawyer with London’s Matrix Chambers, told The Associated Press. 

Assange, who holds Australian citizenship, has been the subject of intense discussions between Canberra and Washington in recent months – with Prime Minister Julia Gillard ultimately acknowledging that the “Australian government cannot interfere in the judicial processes of other countries.”

Nevertheless, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr was quick to emphasize the United States “has said nothing to indicate they’re planning an indictment,” as US Ambassador to Australia Jeffrey Bleich claimed America had little interest in Sweden’s extradition bid succeeding.

“It’s one of those narratives that has been made up. There’s nothing to it,” Bleich added.

Assange, however, remains unconvinced.

“The big risk, the risk we have always been concerned about, is onwards extradition to the United States. And that seems to be increasingly likely,” the WikiLeaks founder told the BBC. “A lot of face has been lost by some people and some… have careers to make by pursuing a famous case.”

Assange became a household name in 2010 after WikiLeaks released hundreds of thousands of classified US documents, including a video that showed US forces firing at Iraqi civilians and journalists whom they had mistaken for armed insurgents.