Judge says WikiLeaks' Assange can be extradited

LONDON (AP) - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to Swedenover sex crimes claims, a judge said Thursday. Assange's lawyersaid he would appeal against the ruling to the High Court.

Judge Howard Riddle ruled that the allegations of rape andsexual molestation by two women are extraditable offenses and aSwedish warrant was properly issued.

Assange has been out on bail during the extradition fight, andhas seven days to appeal the ruling.

Riddle said "there is simply no reason to believe there has beena mistake" about the arrest warrant.

Assange's lawyers have questioned Sweden's judicial process andexpressed concern their client risks being handed over to the U.S.,which is investigating whether Assange's website should be heldresponsible for leaking classified information.

Lawyers for Sweden have argued that authorities made repeatedattempts to interview Assange while he was in Scandinavia, but tono avail.

In his ruling, the judge attacked the defense case againstextradition point by point. He said he was satisfied that thecrimes Assange is accused of extraditable offenses, and rejectedthe claim that comments made against Assange by prosecutors andpoliticians in Sweden would pervert the course of justice.

Assange's lawyers have said that Sweden's custom of hearing rapecases behind closed doors meant he would not get a fair trial.Riddle said the practice was common in Sweden.

About a dozen WikiLeaks and Assange supporters in ski hats andparkas gathered outside the court hours before the hearing on adamp morning, hanging banners and signs saying "Free Julian Assangeand Bradley Manning," the young U.S. Army private suspected ofleaking the documents.