WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange fears he will be put on death row if he is extradited to the US, his lawyers revealed.

Assange, 39, who is fighting to stay in the UK believes that if he is sent to Sweden to answer sex charges, it could be the first step towards him being passed on to the US – where there have been calls for him to get the death penalty.

The Australian claims that calls by Sarah Palin, the former US vice-presidential candidate, for him to be “pursued like al-Qaeda” prove that he is in “real risk” of the death penalty or that he could end up in Guantanamo Bay.

The US are expected to take legal action against him relating to the thousands of American embassy cables revealed on WikiLeaks.

Assange: “WikiLeaks bad for guilty”

Assange appeared at a 10 minute hearing at Woolwich Crown Court, South East London and is due to fight extradition at a two-day hearing next month.

Among his high profile supporters in court were Jemima Khan and Bianca Jagger.

Assange is accused of sexually assaulting two women in Stockholm last year. He denies the charges claiming that the accusations are politically motivated.

However Assange remained unbowed by his recent legal woes and vowed to “step up” WikiLeaks activity by publishing up to 250,000 sensitive US documents.