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Julian Assange, the founder and editor-in-chief of secret-spilling international organization WikiLeaks, is in court today for the first of a two-day hearing in England, which will decide whether Assange is extradited to Sweden in order face questions about potential rape charges. Assange, wanted since October for a sit-down with Swedish authorities, would be met by “accusations of unlawful coercion, sexual molestation and rape made by two women in Stockholm last summer.” Assange’s lawyers argue that should he be shipped back to Sweden, he could face “illegal rendition” to the United States, where he might be imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay, “or even subject to the death penalty.”
Via the New York Times:
Though officials from the United States Department of Justice have subpoenaed the Twitter accounts of five people, including Mr. Assange, connected with WikiLeaks, no new information about a possible United States prosecution has emerged this year.
Close friends of Mr. Assange, who did not want to be identified, have said in recent weeks that the fear of extreme measures by the United States is a strong motivator in his decision to fight the accusations so vigorously — he has said he will appeal to Britain’s highest courts, and even to the pan-European tribunals, if the decision in the extradition hearing goes against him.
The Guardian is live-blogging the hearing, which is now done for the day. But the summary includes more information on Assange’s defense, which includes discrediting the Swedish prosecutor representing the women claiming sexual assault:
Defence witness Brita Sundberg-Weitman, a retired Swedish judge, made an eye-catching attack on the “malicious” Swedish prosecutor. She said Marianne Ny had a “rather biased view against men” and is “so preoccupied with the situation of battered women and raped women that she has lost balance”. She was also cross-examined on the proportionality of the European arrest warrant by Montgomery, to which she replied that while she did not believe it was she acknowledged that two Swedish courts had.
Don’t expect this one to reach its conclusion anytime soon.