WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange begins his extradition appeal today, appearing in court to fight a ruling that would send him to Sweden to face sexual misconduct allegations.

Assange will appeal at the High Court in London. The WikiLeaks editor-in-chief will battle a ruling in which a judge at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court ruled that he should be extradited to Sweden.

Assange has not yet been charged with a crime in Sweden, but prosecutors want to question him in connection with sexual misconduct allegations made last August.

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A judge originally dismissed arguments by Assange's defence team that he would not get a fair trial in Sweden and that it would ultimately violate his human rights.

Today’s hearing is purportedly not related to Assange's website, WikiLeaks, which made headlines last year for leaking documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as thousands of US diplomatic cables.

However Assange claims that the sexual misconduct case is politically motivated and is part of a smear campaign to damage the credibility of WikiLeaks.

The US government is reported to be examining whether criminal charges can be brought against Assange over the leaks of diplomatic cables.

The WikiLeaks boss says he believes extradition to Sweden could lead to his being taken to the US. His lawyers have in the past argued that if this happens he could be sent to the Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba or even face the death penalty.

The hearing takes place on Tuesday and Wednesday but the decision is likely to be deferred until a later date.

If the High Court upholds the extradition request, Assange can still take his battle to Britain's Supreme Court.

Assange celebrated his 40th birthday at the weekend, inviting 100 guest to party at Ellingham Hall, the 10-bedroom country mansion of English journalist Vaughn Smith where the WikiLeaks boss has been under house arrest for more than six months. Celebrities including Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were said to have been invited.