News / Europe

Lawyer: WikiLeaks Founder Cannot Get Fair Trial in Sweden

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrives at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in London, February 7, 2011
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrives at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in London, February 7, 2011

A hearing in London to determine if WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden has adjourned, with a decision expected February 24.

Assange is wanted in Sweden for questioning about rape allegations against him made by two women there.

The WikiLeaks founder has denied the allegations, saying they are politically motivated.

Assange has angered U.S. officials over his website's publication of secret U.S. diplomatic cables and military files.  His lawyers argued during the three day hearing that if the 39-year old Australian is extradited to Sweden, he could be passed on to the United States, where he could face execution.  

On the final day of the hearing Friday, Assange lawyer Geoffrey Robertson said comments by Sweden's prime minister have ruined his client's chances for a fair trial in that country.  He said Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt's public remarks Tuesday made Assange "public enemy number one" in Sweden.

A lawyer representing the Swedish prosecution at the hearing denied this and said the allegations against the WikiLeaks founder merit his extradition.

Assange is accused of sexually assaulting one woman by ignoring her request to use a condom and raping another by having unprotected sex with her while she was asleep.

The defense says the sex was consensual.

Assange remains free on strict bail conditions that basically confine him to a house in the British countryside.

He said this week he is optimistic that an open court process will show the charges against him are baseless.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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