Assange extradition hearing resumes

Feb. 8, 2011 at 9:37 PM
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LONDON, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Swedish police should have arrested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as soon as prosecutors wanted to question him on rape allegations, a witness said Tuesday.

Sven-Erik Alhem, a former Swedish prosecutor called by Assange's defense team, said during the second day of an extradition hearing in London Assange should have been permitted to offer his version once two women alleged he raped them, The Guardian reported.

Prosecuting and defense attorneys are arguing whether Assange, 39, should be extradited to Sweden to face sex-crime accusations for which he has yet to be charged. Swedish prosecutors said they want to discuss the accusations with him and could get him back to Sweden only through a European arrest warrant. Assange has denied allegations of raping the two women, saying the relations were consensual.

Judge Howard Riddle Tuesday suggested lawyers will give their final arguments Friday, The Washington Post reported. The judge has not said whether he will reserve judgment in the case, and once he does release his opinion appeals are likely to go on for months.

Alhem said it was a "golden rule" that a suspect be allowed to know about accusations made against him before prosecution, The Guardian said. He also says there is no reason why Assange could not be questioned in Britain, which he repeated under cross-examination by British prosecutor Clare Montgomery

Asked to comment on the conduct of Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny, Alhem said it went "completely against proper procedure" for her to confirm Assange's name to the media and questioned her use of the word "accused" in documents, saying "suspect" was better.

Under cross-examination from Montgomery, Alhem said he would have gone to Swedish officials immediately to clear his name if he were "in his shoes," The Guardian reported.

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