Assange back in London court
11 Jan, 2011 11:21
The WikiLeaks founder has briefly appeared in a London court, as he continues his battle against extradition.
Julian Assange is wanted in Sweden to face allegations of rape, which he claims have been fabricated in order to eventually prosecute him on espionage charges in the U.S.A case management hearing took place on Tuesday in London, where the final verdict on the extradition will be given. The hearing lasted for about ten minutes, where Assange only confirmed his name, address and age. Also, the court checked whether all the evidence in the case is being prepared in a timely fashion.The full hearing has been set for February 7 and 8. Until then, Julian Assange will remain under house arrest after posting bail.Julian Assange appeared in court after he made a short statement to the media outside.“We’re happy about today’s outcome. I have asked the court to make available to members of the press our skeleton argument, which we produced in a very short time over Christmas,” Assange announced.Following Tuesday’s court appearance, Assange announced the stepping up of WikiLeaks’ publication schedule of secret documents and promised more revelations.According to European Parliament member Gerard Batten, legally there are very few grounds on which Julian Assange could oppose extradition within the EU, and he does not qualify for them. “The only grounds that you can oppose the extradition [are] very narrow: you have to be old enough to have committed the crime, it has to be not in the distant past, 25 years or something, and it must not be because you are being persecuted on the grounds of your political or sexual orientation. Very narrow grounds like that, which he won’t qualify for,” he said.“It seems fairly obvious to the court and the judges hearing the appeal that the evidence has been manufactured by the police.”Following Tuesday’s court appearance, Assange announced the stepping up of WikiLeaks’ publication schedule of secret documents and promised more revelations.In mid-December, after a lengthy fight, Julian Assange was released on bail. The sum for the bail was set at over US $300,000. Assange has been staying at his friend’s house in eastern England ever since, waiting for the extradition to take place, following the European arrest warrant issued by Sweden on sexual assault allegations made by two former WikiLeaks supporters.Assange has repeatedly said that he is believes that the US is planning to extradite him from Sweden. In fact, his lawyers said that there was an extradition request from the US either in progress or already having been launched.The US government seems to be amassing evidence to put Julian Assange on trial for espionage, although there is no official confirmation of this as yet.Last week the US government handed out subpoenas to the social network Twitter seeking the personal details of people who are connected to WikiLeaks, and Julian Assange as well.The first big leak released by WikiLeaks was that of a video footage of a US Apache helicopter shooting civilians in Iraq. The video was issued by the US army employee Bradley Manning, who has already faced charges over the issue. However, according to London’s Daily Telegraph, US authorities are apparently offering him a plea bargain in exchange for incriminating information about Assange and his website. It would therefore not come as surprise if an espionage case was being prepared in the US against Assange.