Assange lawyers file appeal against extradition

Last Updated: Sat, Mar 05, 2011 05:40 hrs

Lawyers for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange have filed an appeal against a ruling that he be extradited to Sweden to face sex-crimes allegations, court officials said Thursday.

Officials at the High Court in London and Assange lawyers said the papers had been lodged. No date has been set for a hearing.

Last week, a judge ruled that Assange should be extradited to face allegations of rape and sexual molestation against two women. Judge Howard Riddle rejected arguments by Assange's lawyers that he would not get a fair trial in Sweden.

Assange faces questioning over claims of sexual misconduct made by two women he met during a visit to Sweden last August. Assange denies wrongdoing and says he had consensual sex with the two women.

Lawyers for the 39-year-old Australian have questioned Sweden's judicial process and said their client risks being handed over to the United States, which is investigating whether WikiLeaks violated U.S. laws by releasing tens of thousands of secret government documents.

Riddle dismissed these concerns as a red herring and also rejected the claim that comments made against Assange by Swedish prosecutors and politicians made a fair trial impossible.

Assange's lawyers also said that Sweden's custom of hearing rape cases behind closed doors meant he would not get justice, but Riddle said the practice was common in Sweden.

The appeal process is likely to last for months. Assange remains on bail, living under curfew at a supporter's rural mansion in eastern England.