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Assange Of WikiLeaks Fights Extradition To Sweden

Julian Assange

Julian Assange

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was back in a London court today to begin his battle against extradition to Sweden.

In Sweden, he faces accusations of sexual assault against two women. He denies those allegations.

Assange, who has released thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables on his website, says the inquiry against him is politically motivated.

His lawyers say extradition is unnecessary since Assange has not been formally charged with any offenses and has offered himself for questioning.

They fear that if Assange is forced to return to Sweden, he could be extradited to the United States, where he could face charges related to the publication of secret documents.

Assange's lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson, told the court today that Assange would face a "flagrant denial of justice" if extradited to Sweden.

Robertson said Assange, 39, could face the death penalty if further extradited to the United States on separate charges relating to WikiLeaks.

The extradition hearing is expected to take two days, and the judge is expected to defer a decision until later this month.

Assange was arrested in England in December on a European arrest warrant issued by Sweden, but a London court released him on bail nine days later.

compiled from agency reports