Julian Assange has been granted an appeal to the UK Supreme Court to halt his extradition to Sweden over sex crimes allegations. If the appeal had been denied the WikiLeaks founder would have been en route to Stockholm within 10 days.
For Assange this means that his stay in Britain — where he lives under house arrest at an affluent supporter’s rural mansion — is likely to last for many more months.
The 40-year-old Australian whistleblower has spent almost a year on bail in Britain fighting extradition and previously both courts he has appeared in have ruled against him.
In order for his case to be forwarded to the Supreme Court of Britain, Assange’s lawyers had to persuade two High Court judges that the case raises a question of “general public importance”.
His lawyers have argued that the he cannot be extradited as the European arrest warrant is invalid, having been issued by the incorrect authority, and because he has not been charged with any crime.
Assange’s hearing on Monday came on the same day as a parliamentary debate on Britain’s extradition rules. The House of Commons debate will be based upon demands to change controversial extradition agreements.
Earlier on Sunday, Assange has told AP that he was heartened that lawmakers are tackling the issue of extraditions, saying that all people ask for is “the right to not be shipped off to foreign lands without formal charges or the presentation of even the most basic evidence.”
Assange had been accused by two women he was involved with during a visit to Sweden in August 2010. One of them accused him of coercion and molestation, the other alleged that he had sex with her as she slept. This happened shortly after WikiLeaks released secret US files regarding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Although Assange has not been charged by Swedish prosecutors with any crime, they demand that he return to Scandinavia for questioning. Assange denies all accusations, saying the sex was consensual and the investigation is politically-motivated by US officials and other governments angry about their secrets being leaked.