JULIAN ASSANGE has lost his High Court battle to avoid extradition to Sweden but is likely to make a final appeal to Britain’s Supreme Court to avoid facing allegations of sexual assault against two women.

The 40-year-old WikiLeaks founder, wearing demure glasses and a conservative, short cropped haircut, showed no emotion as judges ruled he should be sent to be questioned over allegations of rape against one woman and the molestation of another woman in Stockholm last year.

It is understood that Mr Assange and his team knew they had lost the appeal last week and that the four arguments raised by his new legal team failed on all grounds.

Rejected ... WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange leaves The High Court after losing his appeal.Rejected … WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange leaves The High Court after losing his appeal. Photo: Getty Images

However, the High Court has stated that it will reconvene in 21 days – leaving him on the same bail conditions – to decide if he has the right to appeal to Britain’s highest tribunal, the Supreme Court.

This will be possible only if his new legal team, led by the British human rights lawyer Gareth Peirce, can persuade the High Court that his case is representative of issues of wider ”public importance” and is not merely a matter of a strict legal decision.

Appeal judges Sir John Thomas and Justice Ouseley said the decision by Swedish authorities to issue a European Arrest Warrant could not ”be said to be disproportionate”.

”In any event, this is self-evidently not a case relating to a trivial offence, but to serious sexual offences,” the judges said.

Assange had also claimed in his appeal that the alleged offences would not have been regarded as crimes under English and Welsh law, a stance the judges rejected.

”There can be no doubt that if what Mr Assange had done had been done in England and Wales, he would have been charged,” the ruling said.

Legal sources told the Herald that if a final appeal to the Supreme Court granted, it would potentially allow Assange to remain on conditional bail in the UK while the arguments are formulated and heard, probably not until early next year. The Royal Courts of Justice were packed once again and Assange was accompanied and supported by several backers including the activist and journalist John Pilger, and his protector and host over the past 11 months, the former British Army captain Vaughan Smith, who provided refuge in his 10-bedroom country estate after bail was granted under strict conditions and night curfew.

The decision was handed down nearly four months after an appeal in July, when Assange’s lawyers argued the arrest warrant should be deemed invalid because there were major discrepancies between the statements of the two women who allege sexual assault and the claims in the warrant.

The verdict will add to WikiLeaks’ supporters’ burgeoning anxiety about the future of the whistleblowing website which its founder says may have to close by year’s end after credit card companies and major banks worldwide decided to block payments and donations

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha