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2 Nov, 2011 16:55

‘Assange’s time in Sweden will be short’

Stockholm will only host the WikiLeaks founder for as long as it takes to send him on to a US court, said liberty campaigner Paul Wiffen after British judges confirmed their ruling to extradite Julian Assange to Sweden.

Assange’s lawyers now have 14 days to seek permission from the British High Court to appeal its decision of extradition in the Supreme Court. They will have to prove this case has a strong bearing on public interest.At the moment, however, the probability of Assange being sent to Sweden is very high, says liberty campaigner Wiffen. The European Arrest Warrant issued against Julian Assange gives little space for legal maneuver as even insufficient evidence against a person cannot prevent his extradition. The implications of the trial suggest the whistle-blower will spend only a short time in Sweden, adds Wiffen.“Assange will have to go through Stockholm as this is a fabricated case to get him out of the UK, which in the past showed it was not willing to bring anyone to American authority,” he says. “We fear that once Assange sets foot on Swedish soil, this case will disappear under an American extradition.”In the US, Assange faces charges of exposing thousands of US government classified cables through WikiLeaks. Assange’s lawyers have expressed concern that if extradited to the US their defendant could face the death penalty as a punishment for his whistle-blowing activities.  The main target of the anti-Assange campaign seems to be his whistle-blowing website, rather than Assange himself, argues journalist Tony Gosling. On Wednesday the British High Court rejected all four points of Julian Assange’s defense, which included the allegation that he would not receive a fair trial in Sweden as well as the fact that the Swedish prosecutor had no authority to issue the European Arrest Warrant against him. Gosling, a British investigative journalist, called Assange’s case “the big test” for the UK justice, underlying that sexual misconduct accusations against Assange brought to the Swedish court have not yet become proper charges. “This looks very Dominique Strauss-Kahn to me,” Gosling told RT. “I think the object here is just to disrupt WikiLeaks, to stop it functioning. They have been successful here.”Indeed, WikiLeaks is experiencing financial troubles and is citing the refusal of major financial transaction companies, such as Visa and PayPal, to transfer donations to the whistle-blowing site. This resulted in WikiLeaks suspending its activities in October until the site management finds the way to evade the blockade.But as mainstream media in the UK is no longer able to bring in its own investigative reports of current events, Assange’s WikiLeaks remains one of the last outlets to expose crime and corruption in high circles, remarks Gosling. This is why many Britons feel it is crucial for Britain to defend Assange.

Journalist and writer Afshin Rattansi is astonished by how Julian Assange’s case is being covered in the British media, as outlets that previously thrived on WikiLeaks reports seem to have adopted an aggressive stance towards the whistle-blower.Rattansi also finds the High Court’s final verdict astonishing.“It is a terrifying indictment as this case is so obviously in the public’s interest. There are no charges against Julian Assange – and yet he has spent a year rightless,” Rattansi told RT. “What on earth is the government of Australia is doing for their citizen?”

Civil rights activist Michael Prysner is sure the US government is behind the slander campaign against Julian Assange. But he questions whether the Swedish court is able to give a fair trial to the founder of the whistle-blowing website. “We know that the trial in the Swedish court which Assange is to face will be conducted entirely in secret. There is also no jury, while the people making the decision are a single judge and two politicians who have already openly spoken out against Julian Assange. His failure is sealed if he answers to this court in Sweden,” Prysner told RT.