A London magistrate has ruled that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden to face prosecutors over allegations of rape and sexual molestation.
Assange's lawyers have said he will appeal, according to the Guardian, but if he loses he will be sent to Sweden in 10 days.
Assange’s defence, led by Mark Stephens, had argued that the offences outlined in the warrant did not meet the requirements for extradition, however London Magistrate Howard Riddle found otherwise.
“I am satisfied that the specified offences are extradition offences,” Riddle ruled.
The allegations of rape and molestation leveled at Assange would also meet Britain's definitions for the crimes.
“What is alleged here is that Mr Assange “deliberately consummated sexual intercourse with her by improperly exploiting that she, due to sleep, was in a helpless state”. In this country that would amount to rape,” Riddle wrote.
The definition of molestation where an aggressor “consummated unprotected sexual intercourse with her without her knowledge” was also consistent with British law.
“Unprotected sex is wholly different from protected sex in that its potential repercussions are not confined to disease and include pregnancy,” said Riddle.
Riddle shot down claims that Swedish Prosecutor Marianne Ny had not attempted to interview Assange.
Assange’s Swedish defence lawyer Björn Hurtig -- who took over Assange’s Swedish defence on September 8 after Assange fired the nation's most famous defence lawyer Leif Silbersky -- had made a statement that it was astonishing Ny made no effort to interview his client during mid to late September.
“In fact this is untrue,” said Riddle.
Riddle accused Hurtig of making a statement that was a “deliberate attempt to mislead the court”, which he added did mislead two expert witnesses brought in by Assange’s legal team -- former Swedish judge Brita Sundberg-Weitman and recently retired Chief District Prosecutor in Stockholm, Sven-Eric Alhem.
“Had they been given the true facts then that would have changed their opinion on a key fact in a material way,” said Riddle.
Hurtig had conceded during a cross examination that on September 22, seven days before Assange was believed to have left Sweden, Ny had sent him at least two text messages in an attempt to set up a meeting on 28 September.
Riddle also said it would appear that Assange was "deliberately avoiding interrogation in the period before he left Sweden".
While the defence had argued that Ny did not have the authority to issue an extradition warrant, Sundberg-Weitman conceded during a cross examination in early February that Ny had the authority to issue it.
Alhem, who was critical of the legal process undertaken by Swedish prosecutors, had been told by Hurtig that Ny had made no attempt to interview Assange. However, once shown Ny’s statement, he agreed he would “certainly” have applied for an extradition arrest warrant in a similar situation.
Alhem had also said under cross examination that Assange would not be sent to the US, as his defence has argued, adding that it would be “completely impossible to extradite Mr Assange to the USA without a media storm”.