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Lawyer: Assange won't get fair trial if moved

February 8, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange returned to court for a second day on Tuesday. A London court is trying to decide if Assange should be sent to Sweden to face sexual assault allegations.

A defense lawyer argued that Assange won't get a fair trial because of his notoriety and because rape cases there are customarily held without the public present to protect the victim's identity. Sweden contends its trials are fair.

Defense lawyers on Tuesday accused prosecutors in Sweden of irregularities and illegality in the way they built a sex crimes case against the WikiLeaks founder. Assange's Swedish lawyer accused an initial prosecutor of acting against the laws of confidentiality by telling a tabloid newspaper that Assange was a suspect in a rape case.

Assange is accused of sexual assault by two women he met last year during a visit to Stockholm. The defense said Assange had consensual sex with his two accusers and didn't commit any crime.

Sven-Erik Alhem, a former chief prosecutor in Sweden appearing as a defense witness, said prosecutor Marianne Ny "should have made sure Assange was able to give his version of events in detail" before issuing an arrest warrant. Alhem also said it was "extraordinary" that a prosecutor had leaked Assange's name to the media.

But the British lawyer representing Sweden, Clare Montgomery, said Ny had issued an arrest warrant for Assange only after making repeated unsuccessful attempts to arrange an interview with him.

The extradition hearing is set to end Tuesday, but it could take several weeks for the judge to decide on his ruling, which can be appealed by either side.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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