Judge Rules on Assange Extradition, Death Toll Rises in New Zealand Quake

BY News Desk  February 24, 2011 at 8:59 AM EST

A judge in London ruled that Britain will extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to Sweden to face charges of sex crimes, accusations that the 39-year-old Australian has denied and attributed to a politically motivated smear campaign.

Assange and his attorneys have said that extradition to Sweden will put him at risk of being sent to face possible charges in the United States over the leaking of massive amounts of classified State Department material.

Assange has a week to launch an appeal, a legal process that could then take several months. Assange has been free on bail in Britain since December.

Rescuers Sift Through Rubble as Death Toll Rises in New Zealand

There are at least 98 confirmed deaths days after a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand, with more than 200 still missing in the rubble of one the country’s worst disasters in memory.

The earthquake Tuesday collapsed buildings and some of the city’s historic churches. The rumbling could be felt on an offshore glacier. In September, the area was hit by a 7.0-magnitude earthquake.

The local police superintendent said he had “grave fears” of finding any more survivors. Among the missing are 27 language students visiting from Japan.

The NewsHour’s Hari Sreenivasan spoke to FEMA Deputy Administrator Timothy Manning about rescue operations.

Space Shuttle Discovery Scheduled to Launch

The space shuttle Discovery is scheduled to launch in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Thursday on what is to be its last mission into space. The shuttle will carry a crew of six into space for 11 days on its 39th trip.

The mission, which has been delayed several times because of repairs to Discovery, is one of NASA’s last as it prepares to phase out its shuttle program.

Yemen President Orders Forces to Protect Protesters

President Ali Abdullah Saleh has asked forces to provide security to protesters in growing clashes between pro- and anti-government demonstrators in Sanaa, the capital, after weeks of violence. The government “will continue to protect the rights of its citizens to assemble peacefully and their right to freedom of expression,” Saleh said.

Earlier this week anti-government demonstrators were shot by government supporters at Sanaa University. An estimated 12 protesters have been killed in recent weeks in Aden, in the southern part of Yemen, according to Human Rights Watch.