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Swedish prosecutors present case against WikiLeaks' Assange in British Supreme Court
LONDON (AP) ' Sweden's public prosecutor argued for the extradition of Julian Assange on Thursday, insisting before Britain's Supreme Court that it had the right to order his return to Scandinavia.
The chief of the WikiLeaks secret-spilling site is fighting sex crime allegations stemming from encounters with two Swedish women during a trip there in 2010. Assange denies the allegation and has refused to return to Sweden, saying he fears the case against him has been manipulated for political ends and that he wouldn't receive a fair trial.
Although the WikiLeaks saga is shot through with international intrigue, the case before the Supreme Court hinges on a dry technical point: Whether Sweden's public prosecutor was within its rights to issue a European warrant for Assange's arrest.
The Australian's legal team says it wasn't, arguing that prosecutors were never supposed to issue arrest warrants and that allowing them to do so would effectively allow them to act as judges in their own case.
Clare Montgomery, the lawyer for Sweden's prosecution service, pushed back against the claim Thursday, noting that other European countries allowed public prosecutors to issue warrants and that ' in this case ' the move was endorsed by a Swedish court.
Allowing public prosecutors to seek extraditions was "consistent with long-standing state practice," she told the seven justices gathered at the court's wood-panelled Courtroom 1.
Legal experts say Assange faces an uphill battle as his lawyers seek to quash the extradition effort.
The hearing is due to end later Thursday but a judgment isn't expected for another few weeks.
While fighting extradition Assange has raised his media profile by agreeing to do a talk show for Russian TV and to have his voice used in an episode of "The Simpsons."