LONDON (AP) - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared in court Monday for ashowdown with Swedish authorities to fight an extradition bid oversex crimes allegations.
Assange, wearing a blue suit, was flanked by two prison guardsas the hearing opened at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court. Celebritysupporters Jemima Khan and Bianca Jagger, and politician Tony Bennalso attended.
Assange is accused of sexual misconduct by two women he metduring a visit to Stockholm last year. Defense lawyers will arguethat he should not be extradited because he has not been chargedwith a crime, because of flaws in Swedish prosecutors' case - andbecause a ticket to Sweden could eventually land him in GuantanamoBay or on U.S. death row.
American officials are trying to build a criminal case againstthe secret-spilling site, which has angered Washington bypublishing a trove of leaked diplomatic cables and secret U.S.military files. Assange's lawyers claim the Swedish prosecution islinked to the leaks and politically motivated.
Preliminary defense arguments released by Assange's legal teamclaim "there is a real risk that, if extradited to Sweden, the U.S.will seek his extradition and/or illegal rendition to the USA,where there will be a real risk of him being detained at GuantanamoBay or elsewhere."
The document adds that "there is a real risk that he could bemade subject to the death penalty" if sent to the United States.Under European law, suspects cannot be extradited to jurisdictionswhere they may face execution.