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Why Britain is likely to send WikiLeaks' Assange to Sweden on rape charges

The legal team of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange may fight his potential extradition to Sweden on human rights grounds, but it's unlikely Mr. Assange will avoid it, say legal experts.

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Judge rejects bail

There was some surprise in court Tuesday when the judge, Howard Riddle, refused bail for Assange on the grounds that there was a risk he would fail to surrender. Others pointed out, however, that bail was difficult to secure in rape cases.

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The next crucial hearing to deal with Assange's arguments for why he should not be extradited to Sweden must take place within 60 days of his arrest this morning. He would be likely to be extradited on the 61st day if unsuccessful.

Since its introduction, the EAW has largely been hailed as a success for removing the political and administrative elements of decisionmaking that had dogged the previous system of extradition in Europe. Instead, the process is run entirely by the judiciary.

Could Assange be US-bound?

If Assange is ultimately extradited to Sweden under the EAW system, he could also be vulnerable to extradition requests to the US, which has an extradition treaty with the Scandinavian nation dating back more than five decades.

The arrest comes at a time when WikiLeaks is facing a near existential threat.

It is regularly being battered by cyber-attacks, while and a number of other US Internet companies severed their links with the site, forcing it to move to alternative servers and adopt a new primary Web address,, in Switzerland.

Authorities in Switzerland also closed Assange's bank account on Monday, while MasterCard has pulled the plug on payments to WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks defiant

WikiLeaks remains defiant, signaling in a message posted on Twitter that the arrest would not derail the ongoing release of sensitive US diplomatic cables, stating: “Today's actions against our editor-in-chief Julian Assange won't affect our operations: We will release more cables tonight as normal.”

Assange can also count on ample support from many who regard him as a hero.

Already, a group calling itself Justice for Assange has sprung up the Internet.

It posted a plea Tuesday for supporters to turn up at Westminster Magistrates Court to state a silent protest.

They were asked to bring gags and copies of Time magazine, which recently bore a front-page photograph of Assange to accompany a recent interview with him.

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