The Supreme Court appeal hearing for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is due to commence on February 1st, and attendees are already being warned to reconsider.
The Julian Assange v Swedish Judicial Authority appeal hearing will be Wednesday 1 and Thursday 2 February 2012 at 10:30 am on both days, but the Supreme Court has already announced that strict rules will be put in place to control the expected overflow of journalists, protestors and supporters.
Arrangements have been made for an ‘overflow’ room where a live feed of the court proceedings will be shown as the courtroom is expected to be quickly filled, the proceedings will also be live on Sky News.
Seats will be filled on a first come, first served basis, which is expected to cause a huge crowd for the publicly open hearings.
The court has already announced that anyone attending will be turned away once the numbers of visitors pass safety capacity, which could see supporters arriving early morning to stake out their spots.
Assange founded Wikileaks, a media website which acts as a portal for worldwide news leaks and pushes a stated purpose of creating open governance. The website published Iraq and Afghan war documents about American happenings in the wars which some of the material was classified.
A European arrest warrant (EAW) was issued for Assange in 2010 after Swedish police requested Assange to be questioned about a sexual assault investigation. On 7 December 2010 Assange turned himself into a police station in England and was taken into custody. Julian Assange appealed a February 2011 decision by courts in England to extradite him to Sweden.
It was determined in November 2011 by the High Court to uphold the decision to extradite Assange however, the High Court confirmed that the case of Assange should be considered by the Supreme Court because a point of general public importance was involved.
Support groups for Julian Assange and Wikileaks like "Veterans for Peace" & the Giuseppe Conlon House network are planning an ‘anti-war solidarity vigil’ throughout the two day hearing. However, these groups will not be allowed in to the courthouse with banners or placards.
The UK Supreme Court summarises Julian Assange’s case as such:
"The Appellant, a journalist well known through his operation of Wikileaks, visited Sweden to give a lecture in August 2010. He had sexual relations with two women. Both women went to the police who treated their visits as the filing of complaints. The Appellant was interviewed by police and subsequently left Sweden in ignorance of the fact that a domestic arrest warrant had been issued for him.
Proceedings were brought in the Swedish courts in the Appellant’s absence, although he was represented, in which a domestic warrant for the Appellant’s detention for interrogation was granted and upheld on appeal.
Subsequently, an EAW for the Appellant was issued by the Swedish Prosecution Authority that set out allegations of four offences of unlawful coercion and sexual misconduct including rape. The EAW was certified by the UK Serious Organised Crime Agency under the Extradition Act 2003. The Appellant surrendered himself for arrest in the UK and, following an extradition hearing, his extradition to Sweden was ordered. The order was upheld on appeal to the Divisional Court."
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