Assange granted Supreme Court appeal

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange can appeal to the Supreme Court against extradition to Sweden to face sexual coercion charges, three Supreme Court justices have ruled

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been granted leave to appeal to the Supreme Court against extradition to Sweden to face questioning on sexual assault charges.

Julian Assange at court

Julian Assange (pictured in July) has won the right to appeal to the Supreme Court against extradition to Sweden. Photo credit: acidpolly/Flickr

A group of seven justices will hear Assange's appeal in the highest UK court, the Supreme Court said in a statement on Friday. The legal basis of the appeal will be whether a prosecutor is a judicial authority for the purposes of issuing a European Arrest Warrant.

"The Supreme Court has granted permission to appeal and a hearing has been scheduled for two days, beginning on 1 February, 2012," said the statement.

One of the mainstays of Assange's defence arguments has consistently been that Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny did not have the authority to grant a European Arrest Warrant against Assange, to extradite him from the UK to Sweden. Swedish law enforcement authorities want to question Assange over allegations of sexual coercion made by two women.

Supreme Court justices Lord Hope, Lord Mance and Lord Dyson considered written applications from Assange's defence team and UK prosecutors acting on behalf of Swedish authorities, and decided that the point of law to be considered was of 'general public interest' — the benchmark that cases have to reach to be considered by the group of law lords.

Assange's current bail conditions will remain in force, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said in a blog post on Friday. Assange's bail conditions include that he must wear an electronic tag, and report to Beccles police station, which is close to Ellingham Hall in Suffolk. Assange has been residing at Ellingham Hall, the residence of Frontline Club founder Vaughan Smith, for over a year, and under bail conditions should remain there for Christmas. Smith told ZDNet UK in November that he hoped Assange would be with him and his family for Christmas.

Should the Supreme Court reject Assange's appeal, he may have a further avenue for appeal with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the CPS said in its blog post.

Assange would have to apply immediately to the ECHR in Strasbourg, which would have 14 days to respond. If Assange's appeal were rejected, "that is an end of the matter", the CPS said. If the ECHR decided to hear the case, Assange could not be extradited while the ECHR considers it.

"If the ECHR declines to take the case, then [Assange] will be extradited to Sweden as soon as arrangements can be made," said CPS.

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