Supreme Court clears the way for Assange appeal over extradition

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The highest court in the land yesterday granted permission for Julian Assange to appeal against his extradition to Sweden, where he faces sex crime allegations.

The Supreme Court said it would hear the appeal after the Wikileaks founder raised a question on extradition law “of general public importance”.

The two-day hearing will begin on February 1, the court said.

The appeal will be heard by a panel of seven of the 12 Supreme Court justices “given the great public importance of the issue raised, which is whether a prosecutor is a judicial authority”, a Supreme Court spokesman said.

He went on: “The Supreme Court has considered an application by Julian Assange for permission to appeal to the Court, following the Divisional Court’s certification of a point of law of general public importance.

“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.”

Earlier this month, two High Court judges certified that Assange had raised a question on extradition law “of general public importance”, paving the way for the appeal.

Sir John Thomas, sitting in London with Mr Justice Ouseley, refused the 40-year-old Australian direct permission to appeal after Sir John described Assange’s chances of winning as “extraordinarily slim”.