Remember Julian Assange, the world’s most famous whistleblower? He’s back in the headlines and, from the looks of things, he might be staying there.
Assange has kept a lower-than-usual profile in recent months as he’s been under house arrest in England in the wake of rape accusations. However, he was present as judges John Thomas and Duncan Ousely ruled in London’s high court Wednesday that he would be extradited to Sweden where he’s been accused of raping one women and sexually molesting another in August of 2010.
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Assange’s official appeal to block the extradition was made on the claim that the arrest warrant issued against him was invalid because it had been issued by a prosecutor, and not a higher authority. Unofficially, however, he’s been quite vocal that he believes the charges — which he adamantly denies — are political and have more to do with his involvement with WikiLeaks than any actual sex crimes.
WikiLeaks, often called the world’s foremost whistleblowing website, had its most sensational leak last year when it published scores of private diplomatic cables that portrayed most of the world’s leaders as fickle and salacious as a back-stabbing high school clique. While the site, and Assange, were once widely extolled for shedding light on covert political operations, both have taken a hit in credibility in the public’s eyes, in no small part due to the rape charges.
So it wasn’t all that surprising that the high court disagreed with Assange’s appeal, ruling that the Australian-born hacker should be extradited to Sweden. “This is self evidently not a case relating to a trivial offense, but to serious sexual offenses,” the judges said in their decision.
Outside the courthouse shortly after the ruling, Assange addressed the crowd of reporters and WikiLeaks supporters, again declaring his innocence. It’s unlikely that this is the last we’ve heard about the extradition. Assange has 14 days to appeal the high court’s decision, and if he can make the case that the appeal is warranted, his case would go all the way to Britain’s supreme court. Outside the court, a somber Assange suggested that he’d continue to fight extradition noting that he would be working with his legal counsel and, “we will be considering our next step in the days ahead.”