Assange in court to appeal British extradition ruling

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrived at the High Court in London on Tuesday to start his appeal against a ruling that he can be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of rape.

Wearing a grey suit, blue tie, white shirt and glasses, the 40-year-old Australian got out of a black car and walked slowly into the court building surrounded by a scrum of cameramen and journalists.

He refused to answer repeated questions on the appeal, aimed at reversing a ruling by a judge in February which rejected defence arguments that Assange would face an unfair trial in Sweden.

A supporter yelled: "Keep fighting the American empire, Julian." Other supporters including campaigning journalist John Pilger also arrived at the court.

The hearing on Tuesday and Wednesday will take place before two judges. The decision is expected to be deferred until a later date.

Even if the ruling goes against him, Assange's lawyers have signalled he is prepared for a lengthy legal battle and could take his challenge all the way to the Supreme Court.

The former computer hacker has been living under strict bail conditions, including wearing an electronic ankle tag and a curfew, at a friend's mansion in eastern England since December.

He was arrested in December after two Swedish women accused him of sexual assault, allegations that Assange denies, as his whistleblowing website was in the process of releasing a huge cache of leaked US diplomatic cables.

© 2011 AFP

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