Decision on Assange''s extradition expected on Friday

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H S Rao

London, Feb 8 (PTI) A decision on the extradition ofWikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is expected to be deliveredat the Belmarsh Magistrates'' Court at Woolwich in southLondon on Friday.

The 39-year-old Australian faced a second day in aBritish court today fighting a legal bid to extradite him toSweden on accusations of sexual misconduct.

During the day the court heard that a woman whoaccused Julian Assange of raping had sent text messagesspeaking of getting revenge on the WikiLeaks founder andmaking money by "giving him a bad name".

Assange''s Swedish lawyer, Bjorn Hurtig, said he hadseen dozens of texts sent by Miss W which "go against" herallegation last August that she was raped while she was asleepand suggest she has a "hidden agenda".

The existence of the texts was disclosed as Hurtiggave evidence on the second day of an extradition hearing todecide whether Assange should be sent back to Sweden, where aprosecutor wants to indict him for rape and sexual assault.

Assange denies any wrongdoing, saying the allegationsmade by Miss W and a second woman, Miss A, involved consensualsex.

Hurtig told the court that he had never been given acomplete copy of the prosecution case against his client, buthad been allowed to view excerpts, including the texts fromMiss W''s phone.

He said: "There was information in the text messageswhich was not good for the claimants. Regarding the rape,there are texts speaking of revenge, making money out ofJulian Assange by having contact with the media and giving hima bad name.

"There was a text message saying that the woman whosaid she was asleep (during the alleged rape) was half asleep,which in my world is the same as being half awake."

Hurtig told the court in south east London thatMarianne Ny, the Swedish prosecutor who is seeking Assange''sextradition, had tried to persuade him not to mention thetexts to anyone.

In documents submitted to the court Hurtig alsorevealed that Miss A had posted messages on the Twitterwebsite in which she seemed happy in Assange''s company afterhe had allegedly assaulted her, and had also written a blogdetailing how a woman could get revenge on an ex-lover.

He said the texts and blogs suggest "they may have ahidden agenda, which casts serious doubt on their accusationsand their trustworthiness".

The hearing was adjourned. Judge Howard Riddle, thechief magistrate for Westminster, reserved judgment in thecase and is expected to give his ruling on Friday.

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