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Assange™ in court to fight extradition order

WikiLeaks' boss appeal hearing begins

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrived at London's High Court this morning to begin his challenge against an extradition order that relates to allegations of rape and sexual molestation brought by two women in Sweden.

In February this year, Assange was told by Judge Howard Riddle at South East London's Belmarsh magistrates court that he would be extradited to Sweden.

A few days later, the Australian-born WikiLeaker-in-chief – who was granted bail only after his lawyers secured funds understood to total £200,000 from a variety of celebrity chums – set out his bid to appeal that ruling at the High Court.

Riddle concluded that the allegations brought against Assange were extraditable offences.

The WikiLeaks man said at the time that the decision was "the result of a European arrest warrant system run amok".

Assange, whose whistle-blower website caused a sensation on both sides of the Atlantic when it leaked 250,000 confidential US diplomatic cables, has previously claimed that the rape and sexual molestation allegations brought against him were politically motivated.

He has denied any wrongdoing, and claimed sexual relations with both women were entirely consensual. Swedish prosecutors have repeatedly requested that Assange make himself available for questioning. They issued a warrant for the WikiLeaker's arrest, but haven't filed charges in the case.

The appeal hearing is expected to last for two days, during which time Assange's lawyers may reiterate the argument that he could end up being forcibly transferred to the US, detained at Guantanamo Bay, and eventually executed.

On a related note, Assange recently replaced media lawyer Mark Stephens with human rights solicitor Gareth Peirce. ®

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