Julian Assange's Lawyers Vow to Fight His Extradition to the United States

April FrancisApr 14, 2019

Julian Assange may yet face rape charges in Sweden as the battle for extradition of the WikiLeaks founder heats up.

If Sweden also makes an extradition request, it would be up to Britain's Home Secretary to determine which would take priority.

Assange was arrested on Thursday by British police after spending seven years holed inside the embassy. Mr Assange spent nearly seven years in the embassy in London where he sought political asylum in 2012 when he failed in his legal battle against extradition to Sweden.

Noting that other sexual assault allegations in Sweden against Assange were already time-bound due to his asylum, the MPs warned: "There is a serious risk that if the United Kingdom does not give every cooperation to any renewed request by Sweden, there could be a further injustice".

But on Friday, Swedish prosecutors said they were examining the rape case at the request of the alleged victim's lawyer.

A witness who prosecutors were seeking to interview and an associate of Assange based in Europe - who also requested anonymity - said that before his arrest Assange anxious that USA prosecutors would also bring charges related to WikiLeaks' publication of Central Intelligence Agency computer hacking tools, which the website described as its "Vault 7" cache.

Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said in a tweet that the U.S.is trying to extradite Assange because he exposed "evidence of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan".

The U.S. official said that within the 60-day period, U.S. authorities could modify or add to the current charges they have filed against Assange.

It remains unclear whether Mr Assange used his own faeces, or someone else's, to allegedly smear on the walls of the embassy.

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Extradition lawyer Ben Keith said the court will not assess the evidence against Assange in an effort to determine his guilt or innocence, but will scrutinise whether the offence he is accused of in the US would be a crime in Britain.

She said she was "disgusted" the American allegation had been "allowed to eclipse" the sex offence case.

Assange denies both allegations.

In a statement on Friday, Assange's legal time said that United States prosecutors have 65 days to submit a full set of charges.

Assange is due to face Westminster Magistrates Court on May 2 via a video-link from prison over the USA extradition case. But after seven years, Ecuador abruptly withdrew its asylum and invited the police to arrest him on Thursday.

Sweden, meanwhile, has tapped prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson to look into whether the reopening of the rape inquiry can be pursued.

On Friday, several dozen people demonstrated in support of Assange outside the British embassy in Berlin.

The letter, signed by mostly Labour MPs, urges Mr Javid to "stand with the victims of sexual violence" and ensure the rape claim against the 47-year-old can be "properly investigated".

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