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WikiLeaks' Julian Assange due in court today

Assange fighting extradition to Sweden

The controversy-dogged WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is scheduled to appear in court in London today, as he fights extradition to Sweden.

Assange is currently wanted in Sweden, having been accused of unlawful coercion, sexual molestation and rape. He was arrested in London last month, and spent nine days in Wandsworth Prison before being granted bail.

Today's 'case management hearing' is part of the preparations for the main extradition hearing, which begins on 7 February.

However, Assange's supporters have claimed that the sexual allegations are politically motivated.

Assange made powerful enemies when, late last year, WikiLeaks began releasing a cache of more than 250,000 US diplomatic cables containing numerous sensitive and embarrassing revelations, predictably angering the US government and drawing a furious response from major figures in American politics. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential hopefuls Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee were among those who criticised WikiLeaks' actions in the strongest terms, with the latter demanding Assange's execution for treason.

For this reason it has been suggested that the charges against Assange may have been exaggerated or even fabricated in order to discredit and silence him. Assange's lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson, said: "We doubt whether this actual category of rape would be rape under English law."

Assange has told Swiss newspapers that WikiLeaks has been losing money since it leaked the diplomatic cables, and is now considering moving its operations to Switzerland or Australia.

See also:

WikiLeaks founder Assange granted bail

WikiLeaks' Assange arrested in London

Video: Wikileaks founder Assange under attack

Video: Hillary Clinton comments on Wikileaks disclosures

US presidential hopeful calls for WikiLeaks execution

Palin in cyberwar with London based Wikileaks supporters


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