WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday lost his two-year long legal battle against extradition to Sweden over allegations of sexual assault after the Supreme Court dismissed his appeal to reopen the case.
A seven-member bench unanimously rejected his request as being “without merit” but granted a two-week grace period before extradition proceedings can start.
After two weeks, the British authorities will have 10 days to deport Mr. Assange to Sweden where he faces allegations of sexual assault brought by two Swedish women.
Experts said he could still appeal to the European Court of Human Rights but it was “unlikely to block” his extradition.
Mr. Assange, who was arrested in 2010 on an E.U.-wide Swedish warrant, would remain on bail until he is extradited.
Campaign group Fair Trials International said the decision brought Mr. Assange “one step closer to being extradited to Sweden”.
“Although Sweden is rightly proud of its justice system, its over-use of pre-trial detention means that, if extradited, he is likely to be imprisoned and placed under extremely restrictive conditions,” said its chief executive Jago Russell.
Mr. Assange had sought a review of the Supreme Court’s own May 30 verdict, allowing his deportation, arguing that it was reached on points not argued before the court. He had asked for the verdict to “be set aside and the appeal reopened, on the ground that the decision of the majority was reached on a basis which was not argued before the Supreme Court, and on which the appellant was accordingly not given a fair opportunity to be heard.”
His legal team argues that the arrest warrant is “invalid and unenforceable” as it was issued by a public prosecutor who was not a “judicial authority” under the 2003 Extradition Act but British courts have consistently rejected that view . The Supreme Court upheld a High Court ruling that the warrant was “lawfully made” and Mr. Assange could be extradited.
Mr. Assange denies the allegations and fears that Swedish authorities might hand him to the United States, which has threatened to prosecute him for leaking classified and confidential documents.