The judgment was handed down by High Court judges John Thomas and Duncan Ouseley with Assange in attendance, wearing a dark suit and a Remembrance Day poppy.
In their ruling, the judges said that the European Arrest Warrant that triggered Assange’s arrest and subsequent proceedings by the Swedish authorities were “proportionate.”
A British judge ordered Assange’s extradition in February, but his legal team appealed, arguing that the arrest warrant was flawed and the sex was consensual and would not be considered a crime in England.
After Wednesday’s ruling, Assange delivered a short statement to the jostling throng of reporters outside of the Royal Courts of Justice. It was a marked contrast to the lengthy, defiant speeches he made after previous hearings,
“I have not been charged with any crime, in any country. Despite this, the European Arrest Warrant is so restrictive that it prevents U.K. courts from considering the facts of a case, as judges have made clear here today,” Assange said. “We will be considering our next steps in the days ahead.”
He also urged people to visit swedenversusassange.com, a Web site commissioned by Assange’s defense fund,“if you want to know what’s really going on in this case.”
Joshua Rozenberg, a legal expert, said that a decision on whether the Supreme Court would hear Assange’s appeal could stretch out for “certainly weeks.”
While Assange is wanted in Sweden for an alleged connection to a sexual misconduct case, it is unclear whether the warrant is for his arrest or merely for questioning. As Erik Larson explained:
“The fact that the term ‘accused of the offense’ is not used does not matter if it is clear” from the arrest warrant “that he was wanted for prosecution and not merely for questioning,” the court said today.
Assange has been staying with his friend Vaughan Smith, who runs a club in London for journalists. Smith said after today’s ruling that Assange has become “part of the family” and that his children think of him as an uncle.
The case shows the ease with which European arrest warrants can be used to gain access to an individual before a country has formally proved its case, said Neill Blundell, a lawyer who leads the fraud practice at Eversheds LLP in London.
“It is simply enough that the allegations have been made and that these allegations are crimes in both Sweden and the U.K.,” Blundell said. “Quite clearly allegations of sexual assault pass this test.”
The extradition was ordered in February by Judge Howard Riddle in London, prompting lawyers to question the strategy of Assange’s legal team, which labeled Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny as a “radical feminist.” Assange replaced his lawyers in July.