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Assange™ can request final hearing against Swedish extradition

WikiLeaker-in-chief to take fight to Supreme Court

Julian Assange can request a final appeal against his extradition to Sweden, judges ruled this morning.

They accepted that the WikiLeaks founder could ask the Supreme Court for permission to appeal on the grounds of "general public importance".

Technically, the High Court in fact refused to let Assange have the right to appeal, but the Supreme Court gets the final say on whether he can now fight the extradition one last time.

If Assange's bid is successful, than this will be a very high-profile test of the Supreme Court's decision making capabilities.

In early November, Assange lost his battle in High Court and was ordered by Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Ouseley to return to Sweden to face rape and sexual molestation allegations brought against him by two women.

It's been almost a year to the day since Assange was arrested on 7 December 2010 by Scotland Yard officers from the Met's extradition unit on behalf of Swedish authorities.

He was cuffed on a European arrest warrant issued by Sweden.

The Metropolitan Police said at the time that Assange had been "accused by the Swedish authorities of one count of unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation and one count of rape, all alleged to have been committed in August 2010."

However, the Swedish authorities are yet to file any charges against the Wikileaker-in-chief.

Australian-born Assange, 40, was granted bail earlier this year, after his lawyers secured funds of around £200,000 from a number of celebrity friends. His High Court appeal hearing, against an extradition order to Sweden in relation to the allegations, began in June.

In February, Assange – whose website has leaked 250,000 of confidential diplomatic cables – was told by Judge Howard Riddle at Belmarsh Magistrates Court, in south east London, that he would be extradited to Sweden.

Since then, the WikiLeaks boss has been operating under strict bail conditions and has an electronic tag around his ankle.

Assange has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and has said that his relations with both women, who allege rape and sexual molestation, were entirely consensual.

He has spent much of the year unsuccessfully battling the extradition request.

Assange has previously described himself as a "a non-profit free speech activist" and a "journalist". He also applied for a trademark covering own name.

It was registered on 13 May this year with the UK's Intellectual Property Office. That mark states that Assange is a UK resident.

Had his appeal been denied today, Assange could have been on his way to Sweden within 10 days of such a ruling.

Instead, he will remain effectively under house arrest and has 14 days to apply to the Supreme Court for permission to appeal.

Meanwhile Bradley Manning, the US army private who allegedly supplied the great bulk of interesting information published by WikiLeaks, will get his first hearing on 16 December in the military trial brought against him.

Manning has been in custody in Virginia and then Kansas for 18 months, after he was arrested on suspicion of being WikiLeaks' major source for the diplomatic cables published by the website and various news outlets.

The private faces severe penalties if convicted on multiple charges of lifting information from classified US computer networks to which he had access while serving as a junior intelligence analyst in Iraq. ®

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