WikiLeaks' Assange awaits extradition decision

A British judge has set a date of Feb. 24 for Julian Assange's extradition proceedings

Attorneys for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange put forth their final arguments before a British judge on Friday, seeking to block an extradition request from Sweden to question him on sexual assault allegations.

District Judge Howard Riddle adjourned the hearing in Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in southeast London in the early afternoon, saying the court will reconvene on Feb. 24.

The 39-year-old Australian stands accused of unlawful coercion, sexual molestation and rape for incidents with two women in August that Assange maintains were consensual. He has not been charged, but if charged and convicted could face a maximum of four years in prison.

Assange's attorney, Geoffrey Robertson, started off the hearing with a request it be delayed until March so the defense could find witnesses to address comments made by Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, who reportedly publicly refuted attacks by Assange's lawyers on Sweden's legal system. Robertson argued the comments would jeopardize Assange's ability to have a fair trial.

“The real evil of this outburst is not that he [Reinfeldt] will have an effect on these proceedings, but in a small country -- Sweden has only 9 million people -- it has created a toxic atmosphere," Robertson said. “He [Assange] is public enemy number one as a result of the prime minister’s statement.”

Clare Montgomery, who is representing the Swedish government's interests, said Assange and his legal team have routinely made statements to the media in regards to Sweden's legal system, and those who fan the flames "can't be too surprised when they get burnt."

District Judge Riddle denied the request for postponement, saying that there was a need for "an element of finality" for the extradition hearing.

During closing arguments, Robertson said if Assange is extradited, he will face a trial that excludes the press and public, as is the custom in Sweden for sexual assault trials. Further, Assange's trial would be held before three lay judges who can overrule the overseeing judge, who is appointed by a political party.

"It shows beyond doubt he [Assange] won't get a fair trail in Sweden where the prime minister himself whips up hostility to him," Robertson argued.

Montgomery said that Sweden is aware of the concerns about how it conducts sexual assault trials, but contested the assertion that the trial would be closed, stressing that evidence is presented in private.

Assange has been free on bail since December on the condition he surrender his passport, wear an electronic monitoring device and regularly check in with police. Assange has been staying at a manor in the East of England owned by Vaughan Smith, founder of the journalism organization the Frontline Club.

Lawyers for Assange have contended that Sweden's pursuit of their client is connected with the whistle-blowing activities of WikiLeaks, which has continued to slowly release some of the 250,000 secret U.S. diplomatic cables it holds.

The U.S. Attorney General's office has said Assange has been under investigation, but so far he has not been charged.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags CriminalInternet-based applications and serviceslegalwikileaksinternet

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Jeremy Kirk

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place