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Extradition backed for WikiLeaks chief

LONDON (AP) -- Britain's Supreme Court on Wednesday endorsed the extradition of WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange to Sweden, bringing the secret-spilling Internet activist a step closer to prosecution in a Scandinavian court.

But a question mark hung over the decision after Assange's lawyer said she would try to reopen the case.

Assange, 40, has spent nearly two years fighting attempts to send him to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning about alleged sex crimes. He has yet to be charged.

Britain's highest court ruled, 5-2, that the warrant seeking his arrest was properly issued.

His lawyers had contested the warrant, noting that a prosecutor, not a judge, issued it, a practice they called arbitrary and unfair. Swedish officials argued that, in Sweden as in other European countries, prosecutors carry out a quasi-judicial function.



Taylor sentenced to 50 years in prison

LEIDSCHENDAM, Netherlands (AP) -- Former Liberian President Charles Taylor was sentenced to 50 years in prison Wednesday for arming and supporting murderous rebels in Sierra Leone in return for "blood diamonds," a landmark sentence activists hope will send a clear message to despots around the world that they will be held to account for atrocities.

Taylor, 64, stood grim-faced and silent as Presiding Judge Richard Lussick of Samoa imposed what will likely amount to a life sentence.

Lussick said Taylor's position as head of state at the time of his crimes put him in a "class of his own" when judges came to setting the sentence -- one of the longest ever handed down by the Special Court for Sierra Leone or any other international tribunal.

Taylor shipped arms, ammunition and other supplies to rebels in Sierra Leone in return for personal wealth in the form of diamonds mined by slave labor and to gain increasing political clout in the volatile West Africa region.



Pope breaks silence over leaked documents

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI broke his silence Wednesday over the leaked documents scandal that has convulsed the Vatican, saying he was saddened by the betrayal but grateful to those aides who work faithfully and in silence to help him do his job.

Benedict made his first comments on the scandal in off-the-cuff remarks at the end of his weekly general audience. He lashed out at some of the media reports about the scandal, saying the "exaggerated" and "gratuitous" rumors had offered a false image of the Holy See.

The Italian media have been in a frenzy since the pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele, was arrested last week after Vatican investigators discovered papal documents in his Vatican City apartment. He pledged to cooperate with the investigation.

The scandal is one of the biggest breaches of trust and security for the Holy See in recent memory given that a significant number of documents from the pope's own desk were leaked to an investigative journalist.



Former Cameron aide charged with perjury

LONDON (AP) -- The former top media adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron was arrested Wednesday on charges of committing perjury at the trial of an ex-Scottish lawmaker.

Andy Coulson, 44, was detained by Scottish police at his home in London for testimony he gave in a high-profile case at Glasgow's High Court in 2010, when politician Tommy Sheridan was convicted of offering a false account in a legal hearing.

Sheridan had won a lawsuit against the now-defunct News of the World tabloid over its claim that he was embroiled in a sex-and-drugs scandal, but he was later jailed for three years after a jury at the 2010 trial ruled that he had committed perjury when he sued.

Coulson was editor of the tabloid when stories about Sheridan were published and was working as Cameron's communications director when he testified at the 2010 trial.

Coulson, who left the News of the World in 2007 in a phone hacking scandal, told the court that he didn't "accept there was a culture of phone hacking" at the tabloid.