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Julian Assange Extradition Hearing to Continue on Friday

3 years ago
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LONDON -- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange returned to British court Tuesday for what was meant to be the second and final day of his extradition hearing. But after a long day of questioning, the judge has still not rendered a verdict, and the case will resume on Friday.

Assange is fighting his extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning concerning allegations of sexual assault made by two women in August. On Monday, both the defense and the Queen's Counsel (acting on behalf of the Swedish government) presented their opening arguments.

Today, much of the testimony surrounded the actions of Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny and whether she had overstepped her bounds in her pursuit of Assange. The defense called a retired Swedish prosecutor (now legal commentator) to the stand. The expert witness, Sven-Erik Alhem, opined that while a European arrest warrant for Assange was not inappropriate under the circumstances, he would have allowed Assange to give his version of events before issuing it and would also have tried harder to interview him in the U.K. The legal expert also said that the prosecutor should not have disclosed Assange's name to the press.

The defense also called Assange's Swedish lawyer, Bjorn Hurtig, to the stand. Hurtig said that he'd seen dozens of text messages sent by one of the women in question which "went against" her allegation last August that she was raped while she was asleep. According to Hurtig, the texts also pointed to a "hidden agenda" this woman may have held against Assange, possibly entailing revenge. He further disclosed that Nye had tried to discourage him from mentioning the texts to anyone.

The atmosphere in court has been quite lively at times. Yesterday afternoon, a retired Swedish Judge described Ny as a "malicious" radical feminist who is "biased against men."

Dramatic flourishes have been no less visible outside the court. Speaking to reporters at the conclusion of yesterday's hearing, Assange likened his ordeal in recent months to a "black box," on which the words "rape" had been written. He maintains that as we open that box -- in a public trial, before the media -- "we see that the box is, in fact, empty."

But it was Assange's British lawyer, Mark Stephens, who stole the show. Describing today's hearing to a group of assembled journalists as "Hamlet without the Princess," he openly challenged Nye -- by name -- to come to London on Friday and answer questions about her handling of the case.

With or without Ms. Ny, the court resumes Friday at 10:30 GMT.

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