WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told a London court today that he will fight his extradition to Sweden on sex crime charges. Assange has been refused bail and will be remanded in custody till 14 December. It appears the reasons given by the court were that he has a “nomadic life”, refused to give his address and there is no record of his entry to the UK.
This means there will be a long drawn out legal battle, during which, potentially, any number of other actions might be filed while Assange is way-laid in London. Assange turned himself in to Scotland Yard – the HQ of London’s Metropolitan Police – earlier today to face the Swedish arrest warrant.
Asked if he understood that he could consent to the extradition Assange cleared his throat, according to media present, and said: “I understand that and I do not consent.”
Assange denies the allegations, which which stem from a “dispute over consensual but unprotected sex,” during a visit to Sweden in August. We wrote a comment piece at the time detailing the allegations, and arguing that his personal actions were poised to put the whole Wikileaks operation at risk.
Assange and his lawyers claim the accusations are swiftly taking on political overtones, especially as the Swedish authorities only issued the Interpol red notice after he had been in Sweden for about 40 days after the original rape allegation and after he’d left for press meetings in the UK.
Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny has rejected the claims of his laywers.
A Wikileaks spokesperson told media the extradition proceedings against Assange would not would not stop the release of more secret files and that Wikileaks remains “operational”.
The formal charge on which this extradition is based is “rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion,” stemming from consensual sexual encounters with two separate women that – at some point – became non-consensual. Essentially this boils down to such tawdry issues of whether he agreed to use a condom or not and whether it broke or not. Colloquially this is know as “sex by surprise”. No, really.
A charge of “Sex by surprise” normally ends up with a fine of 5,000 kronor or about $715.
The specific charges are:
Charge One: A “Miss A” alleges she was victim of “unlawful coercion” on the night of 14 August in Stockholm. Assange is alleged to have “forcefully” held her arms and used his bodyweight to hold her down.
Charge Two: The second charge alleges he “sexually molested” her by having sex without using a condom, when it was her “express wish” that one should be used.
Charge Three: A third charge claims Assange “deliberately molested” Miss A on 18 August.
Charge Four: A “Miss W”, alleges that on 17 August, Assange “improperly exploited” the fact she was asleep to have sex with her without a condom.
Update 1: Assange’s lawyer has now said that a bail application will be made.
Update 2: Sweden’s Director of Prosecution, Ms. Marianne Ny, will hold a press conference at 16.45 pm in Gothenburg.
Update 3: Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny has told a press conference that says the “sexual misconduct case” against Assange has nothing to do WikiLeaks or his work releasing secret US diplomatic cables. “We have nothing which indicates that this is a plot,” she said.