Assange takes extradition battle to Britain's top court
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange took his fight against extradition to Britain's Supreme Court Wednesday, arguing that sending him to Sweden over rape allegations would breach legal principles dating back 1,500 years. In his final roll of the dice within the UK legal system, the 40-year-old Australian is claiming that the Swedish prosecutor who issued the European Arrest Warrant in December 2010 was not a proper judicial authority.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012
"This appeal involves a single issue of law which can be very simply stated. The question is whether a Swedish prosecutor has judicial authority for the purposes of the extradition act," his lawyer Dinah Rose told the court.
Seven judges are hearing Assange's appeal over two days at the court in London, which only deals with cases where there is a wider public interest. They are not expected to return their judgement for several weeks.
Rose said it was not a "parochial" legal issue but a "pillar of natural justice" about the role of a judge, dating from the legal code set down by the Byzantine emperor Justinian 1,500 years ago.
There was no guarantee that a prosecutor would be as "independent and impartial" as a judge, Rose said, adding that allowing a prosecutor to issue warrants was a "a serious interference with individual liberty".
Dozens of supporters gathered in bright winter sunshine outside the court and a peace activist sang "he shall be released" as Assange arrived.
In court, he sat flanked by his lawyers, including high-profile defence attorney Gareth Peirce.