After being on house arrest in the U.K. for more than 500 days, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will face extradition to Sweden in the coming weeks.
There, he will be imprisoned, at least briefly, until a preliminary hearing on sex crime allegations against him has been completed, the Swedish government announced Friday.
Sweden’s announcement comes just a day after the top British court refused to hear his appeal. The court had previously ruled that he may be extradited, but it placed a stay on that decision pending a final appeal from Assange’s attorneys.
Assange and his supporters have said they believe the extradition to Sweden is part of an attempt to place him in U.S. custody, where he could be interrogated or face espionage charges over his website’s publication of U.S. military and diplomatic secrets.
U.S. prosecutors have reportedly empaneled a grand jury to investigate whether espionage crimes were committed in publishing the leaks, which were also covered by media outlets like The New York Times, The Guardian and The Raw Story. It is not clear if the jury has returned a sealed indictment or not.
Assange is due to be brought to Sweden within 10 days of June 28.
The only court that can stop his extradition now is the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. It is not yet clear if he will file an appeal.
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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