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Assange fights extradition in court

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Julian Assange's lawyers are in court now to fight his extradition to Sweden by arguing that prosecutors have failed to follow correct procedures.

Swedish authorities want to question Assange in relation to alleged sex offences. But his defence solicitors claim that prosecutors must charge him with an offence, and therefore disclose the evidence against him, in order to qualify for extradition. Extradition is for people who have been charged with specific offences – Assange cannot be extradited simply in order to be questioned.

His lawyers claim that Swedish prosecutors must either disclose to Assange all the prosecution evidence, including text and Twitter messages sent by his two accusers, or admit that his extradition is not being sought for purposes of prosecution, in which case he should not be extradited anyway.

Lawyers for Swedish prosecutors told the court that the warrant had been issued for the purpose of prosecution, even if specific charges had yet to be made.

The defence team, including Geoffrey Robertson QC, argue that Marianne Ny, a public prosecutor in Gothenburg who issued the European Arrest Warrant, is not entitled to do so. Only the Swedish National Police Board may issue EWAs, says the defence.

Assange's lawyers also claim that his privacy rights have been breached because extracts of the prosecution file have been made available to the media.

They also question whether the alleged conduct, even if proved, would qualify as an offence in the UK.

Assange's defence team also said that his onward rendition from Sweden to the US would breach his human rights.

They claim there is a real risk that if sent to Sweden, Assange could be extradited or illegally rendered to Guatanomo Bay or elsewhere and "there is a real risk he could be made subject to the death penalty". Lawyers quoted comments from Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee in support of this claim.

Assange's defence documents are available for download here.

The two-day trial continues. ®

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