News / Europe

London Trial of Wikileaks Founder Adjourned

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrives at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in London, February 11, 2011
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrives at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in London, February 11, 2011
Jennifer Glasse

Lawyers for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange are trying to prevent his extradition to Sweden for questioning on allegations of sex crimes. They claim he will not get a fair trial in Sweden. The trial has adjourned  until February 24.

The extradition hearing for Julian Assange lasted three days. Extradition experts say that’s unusual in itself.

Sweden has requested the extradition of the WikiLeaks founder in connection with allegations of sexual misconduct.

The defense for Assange has said the sex in question was consensual and that the charges are politically motivated.

Assange emerged from court Friday frustrated with the proceedings, because his lawyers were not allowed to address the allegations of sexual misconduct at the exttradition hearing.

"We have not been able to present my side of the story," said Assange. "I have never been able to present my side of the story. We have been confined to procedural arguments about  some abuses of process, the validity of, of a warrant on its face, but not what props it up.  And that is something that seems to me like an injustice as someone who is going through this matter.

Extradition hearings in Britain do not traditionally address the merits of the case against the accused. One of Assange’s lawyers, Mark Stephens, expressed concern over public remarks the Swedish Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, made about Assange.

“His attempt to vilify and prejudge this matter before even Julian Assange has been charged," said Stephens. "It's wholly exceptional, wholly inappropriate, in this country the matter would be dropped as a result of it. I hope that people will look at what is being said in Sweden with some degree of skepticism at the blatant politicization as to this particular piece of action by him.”

In court, the prosecutor arguing on behalf of Sweden, denied that Assange had been vilified and said the allegations against Assange merit extradition.  

The case has been adjourned until February 24.  The presiding judge said whatever he ruled, he expected there to be an appeal. Extradition experts say the whole process could take as long as a year. Assange remains on strict bail conditions that largely confine him to a house in the British countryside.

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