Assange fights extradition on sex allegations

February 8, 2011

CNN Wire Staff

London (CNN) — Lawyers for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange are due to wrap up their case Tuesday against sending him from the United Kingdom to Sweden over allegations of sexual misconduct.

Swedish prosecutors want him sent back to face questioning over claims which he denies.

Assange said Monday that the hearing is finally lifting the lid on allegations he says are false and have blighted his reputation for months.

Assange was at Woolwich Crown Court in south London, where celebrities watched as Assange’s lawyers argued against his transfer to Sweden.

Assange has not been charged with a crime, but Swedish prosecutors want to question him in connection with sexual misconduct allegations related to separate incidents last August.

“For the past five and a half months, we have been in a condition where a black box has been applied to my life,” Assange told the media in a brief statement after the day’s session. “On the outside of that black box has been written the word ‘rape.’ That box is now, thanks to an open court process, being opened, and I hope over the next day we will see that that box is, in fact, empty and has nothing to do with the words that are on the outside of it.”

Assange thanked his supporters and lawyers and said the process “surely lets you understand who your friends are.”

His lawyers argue Assange could ultimately end up at Guantanamo Bay or be executed if he is extradited to Sweden, according to papers they released Monday.

His lawyers say Sweden could send him to the United States to face espionage charges related to the site’s disclosure of thousands of secret U.S. military and diplomatic documents.

Assange has denied the sexual misconduct allegations and is free on 200,000 pounds ($310,000) bail while he fights extradition.

Prosecutor Clare Montgomery, representing Sweden, dismissed the defense claim that Sweden would hand Assange over to the United States.

The “suggestion that Sweden provides no protection against human rights violations is unfounded,” she argued, adding that Britain would have the right to intervene if Washington asked Sweden for Assange.

The British courts are requiring Assange to stay at the mansion of a supporter outside London each night and check in daily with police. He is also required to wear an electronic tag that monitors his location.

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