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Assange’s mother slams Swedish legal system

A London High Court decision upholding Julian Assange's extradition to Sweden makes it more likely he will be sent to the United States and even tortured, his mother was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

Christine Assange called on Australians to put pressure on the government to secure guarantees that her son would not be extradited to the United States, fearing for his safety, the Australian Associated Press reported.

“Now Julian’s even closer to a US extradition or rendition,” Assange told AAP. “It’s now up to the (Australian) people to use their democracy or lose it.

“If they don’t stand up for Julian, he will go to the US and he will be tortured. And he is the person who stood up for the world to expose the truth.”

She said she further feared that her son, if extradited to Sweden, could be held indefinitely without charge and without access to visitors, including lawyers, and that any trial could be conducted behind closed doors.

“People think that because Sweden is a Western country that they have a legal system the same as ours, that’s completely untrue,” she told AAP.

“From the time he hits Sweden, he is going to be lost to any kind of observation from anybody to understand if his human rights are being breached.”

But Petter Asp, a professor of criminal law at Stockholm University, said that claims by Assange’s mother were off base.

“That’s a clear misunderstanding,” he told The Local.

While he acknowledged that Sweden’s legal system has certain shortcomings, he said that they were no more severe than shortcomings in any other country governed by the rule of law.

According to Asp, much of the criticism directed at the Swedish legal system is unfounded and that Assange would “definitely” receive a fair trial in Sweden.

“One reason for people questioning the Swedish legal system is that a lot of people have sympathy with what he’s done in other parts of his life,” said Asp.

“But what is quite clear is that even people who do good things can also do bad things.”

Earlier on Wednesday, two judges at the High Court in London rejected arguments by the 40-year-old Australian, whose anti-secrecy website has enraged governments around the world, that his extradition would be unlawful.

Assange said he would consult his lawyers about whether to make a further appeal to England’s Supreme Court, but doing so would be difficult as judges must first decide that the case is of special public interest.

While Asp refused to pass judgement on the merits of the case or speculate on how long prosecutors may need to pursue their investigation once Assange lands in Sweden, he didn’t expect the extradition order to be reversed.

“I can’t see how it would be overturned,” he said.

Assange has strongly denied the allegations, claiming they are politically motivated and linked to the activities of WikiLeaks. He has been under virtual house arrest since he was first detained in December.

mother called for Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to do more for Assange, who she said had done nothing more than speak the truth.

“Julia Gillard should be standing up to the US and saying ‘not this time. You’re not going to take one of our countrymen and torture them just because they told the truth’,” she told AAP.

“He’s been crucified for doing what he was brought up to do,” she added.

“I brought my son up to tell the truth, to believe in justice. He was brought up to believe he lived in a democracy and to right any wrongs that he saw… Now I believe that’s not true.”

Assange now has 14 days to decide whether he will try to take the case to the Supreme Court of England and Wales.

But leave to appeal can only be granted by either the High Court or the Supreme Court, and then only if it there is a point of law of general public importance.

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JULIAN ASSANGE

Assange will cooperate with Sweden, but fight US warrant: lawyer

Julian Assange would cooperate with Swedish authorities if they reopen a rape case against him but will continue to resist any bid to extradite him to the United States, his lawyer said Sunday.

Assange will cooperate with Sweden, but fight US warrant: lawyer
Julian Assange's lawyer Jennifer Robinson in London on Thursday. Photo: AP Photo/Matt Dunham/TT

“We are absolutely happy to answer those queries if and when they come up,” Jennifer Robinson told Sky News television about the rape claims.

“The key issue at the moment is US extradition, which we have warned about for many years,” she added.

The WikiLeaks founder is in custody in London awaiting sentencing for breaching his British bail conditions in 2012 by seeking refuge in Ecuador's London embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden.

He was arrested at the embassy on Thursday after Ecuador gave him up, and is now also fighting a US extradition warrant relating to the release by WikiLeaks of a huge cache of official documents.

The Australian has always denied the claims of sexual assault and rape in Sweden. The first expired in 2015 and the other was dropped in 2017, but the alleged rape victim has now asked for the case to be reopened.

If Stockholm makes a formal extradition request, the British government will have to decide whether to consider it before or after that of the United States.

Robinson said Assange would seek assurances from Sweden that he would not be sent on to America, saying: “That is the same assurance we were seeking in 2010 and the refusal to give that is why he sought asylum.”

She added: “He's not above the law. Julian has never been concerned about facing British justice or indeed Swedish justice. This case is and has always been about his concern about being sent to face American injustice.”

The US indictment charges Assange with “conspiracy” for working with former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to crack a password stored on Department of Defence computers in March 2010.

He faces up to five years in jail.

Manning passed hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, exposing US military wrongdoing in the Iraq war and diplomatic secrets about scores of countries around the world.

The conspiracy charge against Assange seems intended to sidestep limits on prosecution potentially arising from the US Constitution's First Amendment guarantee of press freedom.

But Robinson insisted: “This indictment clearly engages newsgathering activities and the kinds of communications that journalists have with sources all the time.”

The lawyer condemned as “outrageous” claims made by Ecuador about Assange's behaviour in the embassy, including that he smeared his faeces on the wall, saying: “That's not true.”

Quito also accused him of failing to care for his cat. WikiLeaks said Assange had asked his lawyers to “rescue him (the cat) from embassy threats” in October, adding: “They will be reunited in freedom.”

Assange's father, John Shipton, on Sunday urged Australia to bring his son home.

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