WikiLeaks' Assange takes appeal to UK Supreme Court

The two-day hearing focuses on the validity of an arrest warrant issued by the Swedish prosecutor

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange launched his appeal in the U.K. Supreme Court on Wednesday in his last attempt in Britain to avoid extradition to Sweden to face sexual assault allegations.

Assange is once again challenging an arrest warrant issued by Swedish prosecutors, who want to question him over incidents in August 2010 with two women. Assange maintains the encounters were consensual.

His appeal centers around whether the Swedish public prosecutor is a valid judicial authority with the right to issue a European Arrest Warrant (EAW).

Assange's representative, Dinah Rose, argued before the seven Supreme Court justices that the Swedish prosecutor is not a valid authority because she is an adversarial relationship with Assange and should not act as a judge in relation to the same action.

Assange has lost two other appeals that pursued the same argument. If he loses the Supreme Court appeal, he could take his case to the European Court of Human Rights, according to the Crown Prosecution Service.

In February 2011, District Judge Howard Riddle found the EAW was valid and that Assange "was deliberately avoiding interrogation" before the period he left Sweden, when prosecutors were negotiating with his attorney to question him.

In a second appeal, a two-judge panel on the U.K.'s High Court found in November that the EAW issued for Assange was proportionate and valid, and the offenses alleged against him are considered criminal in both the U.K. and Sweden.

Although he has not been charged, Assange faces potential charges of unlawful coercion, sexual molestation and rape. If he is extradited and eventually convicted, he could face up to four years in prison.

The Swedish government started its case on Wednesday afternoon, represented by Clare Montgomery. The hearing will conclude on Thursday with the Supreme Court expected to issue its ruling in a few weeks.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com

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