LONDON – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Wednesday lost his appeal against extradition to Sweden to answer sex crime allegations after judges rejected claims that moves to return him to Scandinavia were unfair and unlawful.
Judges John Thomas and Duncan Ousely said Assange should be sent to be questioned over the alleged rape of one woman and the molestation of another in Stockholm last year.
The 40-year-old has denied wrongdoing, and insists the case is politically motivated by those opposed to the work of his secret-spilling organization.
Wearing a gray suit, Assange flipped through piles of documents and shook hands with supporters as he appeared in court to hear the verdict.
It was not immediately clear whether Assange, who has spent much of the past year under virtual house arrest at a supporter's country estate, will now have the right to take his case to Britain's Supreme Court.
In their ruling, the appeal judges said the decision by Swedish authorities to issue a European Arrest Warrant could not "be said to be disproportionate."
"In any event, this is self evidently not a case relating to a trivial offense, but to serious sexual offenses," the judges said.
Before the judgment, extradition lawyer Julian Knowles had said Assange would only be able to appeal to Britain's Supreme Court -- the country's highest court -- if the appeals court's ruling involved an issue of "real legal significance."
Knowles said that if Assange is permitted a further appeal, he would likely stay on bail for a couple of months. If not, "he'll be extradited within 10 days," he predicted.
Assange had claimed in his appeal that the alleged offenses would not have been regarded as crimes under English and Welsh law, a stance the judges rejected.
"There can be no doubt that if what Mr. Assange had done had been done in England and Wales, he would have been charged," the ruling said.