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UK Supreme Court grants Assange's extradition appeal

December 16, 2011 21:08 IST

Britain's Supreme Court on Friday said it will hear an appeal by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange against his extradition to Sweden where he is accused of rape and sexual assault.

Britain's highest court said seven judges would hear the high-profile case from February 1. Assange, who remains on conditional bail in the UK, is wanted by Swedish authorities for questioning over allegations of sexual assault.

The 40-year-old Australian denies the allegations and claims they are politically motivated and linked to the activities of WikiLeaks, which angered the United States by publishing thousands of secret documents.

He spent much of the last year under virtual house arrest since he was first detained in December 2010. A Supreme Court spokesman said the judges had agreed to hear the case "given the great public importance of the issue raised, which is whether a prosecutor is a judicial authority".

"A panel of three Supreme Court Justices - Lord Hope, Lord Mance and Lord Dyson - has considered the written submissions of the parties; this is the court's usual practice for considering applications for permission to appeal.

"The Supreme Court has granted permission to appeal and a hearing has been scheduled for two days, beginning on 1 February, 2012," the BBC quoted the spokesman as saying.

The high court previously approved his extradition - but Assange argues that decision was unlawful.

The Swedish authorities are seeking to put him on trial for the alleged rape of one woman and "sexually molesting and coercing" another in Stockholm in August 2010.

Earlier this month two High Court judges refused Assange permission to appeal but they gave him 14 days to ask the Supreme Court justices to give a final UK ruling.

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