Irked Assange attacks British judge's order

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Julian Assange
London, Feb 26: Founder of the whistleblowing web site, WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, has attacked a British judge's attempts to extradite him to Sweden, terming it a 'rubber-stamping process'.

The judge ruled that Assange should be extradited to Sweden to answer allegations of sexual assault.

"What does the US have to do with a Swedish extradition process?" Julian Assange asked outside the Belmarsh Magistrates Court after Judge Howard Riddle's ruling.

The Age further quoted him, as asking: "Why is it that I am subject, a non-profit free speech activist, to a $US360,000 bail? Why is it that I am kept under electronic house arrest when I have not even been charged in any country, when I have never been a fugitive?"

For all the indignation and drama that has surrounded Assange, the failure to prevent his extradition was entirely predictable, legal experts say.

His extradition case, in this instance known as a European arrest warrant, is just one of 700 or so processed by British courts each year, of which only a minute number are successfully blocked.

One of Assange's lawyers, Mark Stephens, vowed to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.

But other lawyers say he won't get there, and warned that once the appeal is blocked in the High Court, as is considered likely, Assange's mounting legal fees would be better spent on a credible defence for a rape trial.

Assange is accused of the rape and sexual assault of one woman and the sexual assault of another. The offences are alleged to have occurred during a week-long visit to Stockholm last Aug.

The most serious of the allegations is that Assange had unprotected sex with one of the women while she was sleeping, without her consent. If found guilty on this charge of rape, he faces up to four years in jail. There is no minimum sentence.

ANI

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