WIKILEAKS WHISTLEBLOWER Julian Assange has one last chance in UK courts to avoid being extradited to Sweden over sexual assault charges after the High Court told him that he can go to the Supreme Court to seek one final appeal.
The High Court refused to give Assange direct permission for appeal, deferring that approval to the Supreme Court itself. However, it did not rule out the option, saying that his case is one of general public importance.
The problem for Assange is that the appeal is not automatically granted. He has 14 days to first lodge his request for appeal with the Supreme Court and then convince it that an appeal is warranted. Then if his appeal is accepted, he has to argue and win his case, presenting several more hurdles as the time for possible extradition draws closer.
While the Supreme Court is the highest court in the UK, it is not necessarily the last stop that Assange can visit in his attempt to avoid prosecution. He can try to appeal his extradition to the European Court of Human Rights, for example.
The Wikileaks founder faces charges over the alleged rape of one woman and the sexual molestation of another during a stay in Sweden last year. Assange has dismissed the allegations as an attempt to damage his reputation after he leaked government documents and cables online.
A House of Commons vote on extradition laws could help Assange's case, provided that legislative changes are made before the Supreme Court decision, which seems unlikely. It also appears unlikely that Prime Minister David Cameron will intervene in Assange's case, leaving the matter firmly in the hands of the courts.
Assange commented on the High Court decision as he left court today, saying, "I think that is a correct decision and I am thankful. The long struggle for justice for me and others continues." µ