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Assange 'guarantees' spark Amnesty spat

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15:00 CEST+02:00
The Swedish division of human rights group Amnesty International said on Friday that it doesn't support demands from its parent that the Swedish government guarantee WikiLeaks-founder Julian Assange would not be extradited to the US should he come to Sweden.

“The Swedish chapter of Amnesty International does not agree with the way the organization handled the question of guarantees,” Bobby Vellucci, the Country Information Coordinator with Amnesty in Sweden, told The Local on Friday.

“We do not consider it to be appropriate or possible to ask the Swedish government to give guarantees ensuring Assange is not extradited to the US.”

The comments come after Amnesty International urged Sweden to give Assange assurances that it will not extradite him to the US if he comes to Stockholm for questioning.

Assange has been holed up at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since June 19th to avoid extradition to Sweden to face questioning in a sex crimes investigation.

He was subsequently granted diplomatic asylum by Ecuador, a development which has strained its relations with the UK, which says it is under an obligation to extradite Assange to Sweden.

On Thursday -- Assange's 100th day inside the embassy -- Amnesty said it was "time to break the impasse".

"If the Swedish authorities are able to confirm publicly that Assange will not eventually find himself on a plane to the USA if he submits himself to the authority of the Swedish courts then this will hopefully achieve two things," Nicola Duckworth, Senior Director for Research at Amnesty Intenational's headquarters in London, told the AFP.

"First, it will break the current impasse and second it will mean the women who have levelled accusations of sexual assault are not denied justice."

When Vellucci was pressed to further elaborate on the Swedish Amnesty chapter's views toward the parent organization's statements, he refused to offer further details, instead explaining the chapter was focused on Swedish prosecutors' preliminary criminal probe into the sex crimes accusations levelled against Assange.

“Amnesty's primary focus is the Swedish preliminary investigation and that Julian Assange's presence in Sweden would of course assist in the further investigation of the charges against him,” he told The Local.

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“If at a later stage however, the USA should request that Julian Assange be extradited to face criminal charges in connection with Wikileaks, Amnesty International would oppose an extradition on the grounds that he would be at risk of serious human rights violations in the USA.”

Oliver Gee

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