LONDON — Time seems to be running out for Julian Assange, whose long battle to avoid extradition to Sweden appears likely to end in failure.
A major setback Wednesday in London's High Court means the founder of WikiLeaks has only a few more legal cards to play before being sent back to Sweden to face questioning on alleged sex crimes.
Two British judges rejected Assange's appeal against extradition and the 40-year-old Australian said he will now consider whether to take his case to Britain's highest court.
Wednesday's ruling is the latest reversal for Assange, whose secret-spilling organization is on the brink of financial ruin. The group has suspended publishing the sensitive documents that drew the ire of governments worldwide because of the money woes.
Assange has denied any wrongdoing in the alleged rape of one woman and the molestation of another in Stockholm last year. He and his followers have maintained the sex crimes investigation is politically motivated by those opposed to WikiLeaks.
Experts said his legal options are now extremely limited.
"I think it's highly likely that he'll be in Sweden before the end of the year," said Julian Knowles, an extradition lawyer not involved in the case.
Assange has 14 days to decide whether to apply to the High Court and then must try to persuade judges that there is a point of law to justify an appeal to Britain's Supreme Court.
The ruling means Assange will remain in Britain for at least several more weeks and could potentially extend his fight against extradition into next year. Assange remains on bail, held under virtual house arrest at a friend's rambling country estate in southern England.
Assange also faces possible legal action in the United States.
Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army analyst suspected of disclosing secret intelligence to WikiLeaks, remains in custody at Fort Leavenworth prison in Kansas. His case is pending in a military court.