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Extradition deadline passes for WikiLeaks' Assange

Julian Assange is seeking to avoid being sent to Sweden over claims of sexual assault.

Story highlights

  • Swedish authorities are seeking to question Julian Assange over sex crime allegations
  • Assange lost his appeal against extradition to Sweden
  • He denies wrongdoing and says he fears extradition from Sweden to the United States
  • Assange founded WikiLeaks, a website that facilitates the leaking of secret documents

A deadline for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to be extradited to Sweden for questioning in sexual assault allegations came and went Saturday with no apparent movement.

Assange is believed to still be inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been holed up since applying for political asylum on June 19.

The South American country has said it is considering his application.

The UK Supreme Court dismissed his bid to reopen his appeal against extradition to Sweden on June 14.

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"The court has ordered that the required period for extradition shall not commence until the 14th day after today," the Swedish Prosecution Authority said at the time.

"In accordance with the framework on European arrest warrants, the court's decision means that Mr. Assange will be surrendered to Sweden within 10 days after the 14th day."

Karin Rosander, a spokeswoman for Sweden's Prosecution Authority, confirmed earlier that Saturday was the expected deadline for Assange's surrender.

UK police say Assange is in violation of his bail by staying at the embassy, and that ignoring the notice to turn himself in is a further violation. However, they are unable to enter the embassy under diplomatic protocol.

London's Metropolitan Police had declined to comment on whether any action would be taken Saturday.

Assange is seeking to avoid being sent to Sweden over claims of rape and sexual molestation. He has been arrested in absentia, Swedish prosecutors have said.

He was arrested in Britain in 2010 because Swedish authorities wanted to question him about the allegations, which he denies. His bail conditions included staying every night at the home of a supporter outside of London.

Two women have accused Assange of sexually assaulting them in August 2010, when he was visiting Sweden in connection with a WikiLeaks release of internal U.S. military documents. He was arrested in Britain that December and has been fighting extradition ever since, saying the allegations are retribution for his organization's disclosure of American secrets.

Susan Benn, of the Julian Assange defense fund, said on June 29 that Assange would not honor a notice served to him by British police a day earlier requiring him to turn himself in to authorities.

Benn said the United States had empaneled a grand jury in its goal to press charges against Assange. Turning himself in would have started a process that would end with Assange being extradited to the United States, she said.

WikiLeaks, which facilitates the anonymous leaking of secret information, has published about 250,000 confidential U.S. diplomatic cables, causing embarrassment to the government and others. It also has published hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. documents relating to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Assange sought refuge at the embassy five days after the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom dismissed a bid to reopen his appeal of the decision to send him to Sweden -- his last option in British courts.

It is unclear when Ecuador will make a decision on Assange's asylum request.

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