WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is likely to fail in his appeal against extradition to Sweden, according to legal experts.
Senior district judge Howard Riddle today identified sufficient grounds for extradition, dismissing the defence's arguments that the legal process had been abused and that extradition would breach Assange's human rights.
The judge ruled that the European Arrest Warrant issued by Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny was "valid on the face of it".
Ny was also deemed to have had the power to issue the warrant, despite three arguments put forward by the defence suggesting that she did not have the necessary authority.
The extradition will not be "unjust or oppressive", and does not breach Assange's human rights, Riddle noted in his 28-page judgement (PDF).
Assange's claim that he had presented himself for questioning in Sweden was rejected in court.
"What is clear, however, is that Assange has not made himself available for interview in Sweden," the judge said.
"Assange is not known to have returned to Sweden since September. I have no doubt that this defendant is wanted for prosecution in Sweden."
The defence had argued that the allegations against Assange are not offences in English law, and that he should not therefore be extradited.
However, in a damaging blow to the defence, the judge ruled that the allegations against Assange "would amount to rape" in the UK.
Neill Blundell, partner and head of the fraud group at international law firm Eversheds, believes that the chance of Assange's appeal succeeding are "very, very small".
"The European Arrest Warrant process is designed to streamline and speed up extradition between member states," he said.
"Sweden has a well respected judicial process, and it is for this process to decide Mr Assange's guilt. Under this extradition process there is no way to test the strength of the evidence here."
Although part one of the saga is over, the next stage will be the High Court, said Adam Wagner, a barrister specialising in public, human rights and medical law.
"But given that European Arrest Warrants were created to ensure easy extradition between European states, and the comments of the judge today, it looks like it will be difficult for Assange to convince the appeal court that he should remain in the UK," he noted on the Human Rights blog.
Assange was originally arrested in December, and was accused of sexually assaulting two women when he visited Sweden in August, allegations which he denies.
He was detained and granted bail nine days later after supporters put together £200,000 worth of surety.
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