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Assange ‘won’t get a fair trial’ in Sweden: lawyer

Lawyers and the mother of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday ramped up pressure on the Australian government to intervene over his extradition to Sweden, saying he will not get a fair trial.

Assange 'won't get a fair trial' in Sweden: lawyer

Assange, who is Australian, on Wednesday lost a bitter legal battle to block his being sent from Britain to Sweden to face questioning over allegations of rape and sexual assault.

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

Assange, a former computer hacker, now has 14 days to take the case to the Supreme Court, the highest legal authority in Britain.

His legal counsel Geoffrey Robertson called on the Australian government to step in. “I think Canberra may have to do something about it,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“It’s got a duty to help Australians in peril in foreign courts. It didn’t do anything for David Hicks and that was something of a disgrace,” he added, referring to the Australian formerly detained at Guantanamo Bay.

“As far as Julian Assange is concerned, Sweden doesn’t have bail, doesn’t have money bail for foreigners, so he’s likely to be held in custody.”

Robertson added that he does not believe the WikiLeaks founder, who has previously blasted Canberra for not doing enough to protect him amid the fallout from the leaks, will face a fair trial in Sweden.

“He’s going to be tried in secret, and this is outrageous by our standards and by any standards,” he said.

Assange has strongly denied the rape 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.

He has expressed fears that his extradition to Sweden would lead to his transfer to the United States to face charges of spying linked to the leaking of classified military documents by US soldier Bradley Manning.

“We are, I think, most concerned to put at rest his danger of going to America and facing charges under the Espionage Act that could take years in prison,” said Robertson, a renowned human rights campaigner.

Assange’s mother told Australian media she believes her son would go to Sweden voluntarily to fight the charges provided the Australian government brokered a deal to ensure he will not be extradited to the US.

Christine Assange said Canberra should follow its own diplomatic and legal advice that her son was in “clear and present danger” and seek written guarantees he would not be sent on to the US.

“If that was to take place I believe Julian would go to Sweden and not resist it. His concern is that he’ll be rendered on,” she said.

She added that her son had been “crucified for doing what he was brought up to do”.

“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.”

A spokesman for Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd told AFP the government would continue to provide Assange with full consular support.

He added: “The government has made it clear to the UK and Swedish government our expectation of due process, but Australia cannot directly intervene in legal processes of other countries.”

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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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