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Assange Appears In U.K. Court Over Swedish Extradition


WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrives at Belmarsh Magistrates Court in southeast London on January 11.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared in a London court today as part of his fight against extradition to Sweden where he is wanted on sexual misconduct charges.

It was the first time Assange appeared in court after he was released on bail on December 16 after surrendering to British police who wanted him on an European arrest warrant issued by Sweden.

Assange and his supporters say the 39-year-old Australian computer expert is being pursued because he has infuriated Washington by releasing details of secret U.S. diplomatic cables on his website. He denies the charges.

The court decided today that Sweden's extradition request will be examined at the next hearing on February 7-8.

It will also decide elements of the legal process, such as which documents the prosecutors and defense lawyers should provide and whether any witnesses should be called up.

British police arrested Assange last month on a European warrant issued by Sweden following allegations made by two WikiLeaks' volunteers.

After spending nine days in jail, he was released on bail on December 16 after his supporters raised a surety of 200,000 pounds ($312,000).

As part of his bail conditions, Assange must stay at a mansion in eastern England, abide by a curfew, report to police daily, and wear an electronic tag. Assange has described the curbs on him as "hi-tech house arrest."