Pirate Bay lawyer to take over Assange defence

Julian Assange has dumped his Swedish lawyer in favour of a new defence team which includes an attorney involved in the Pirate Bay trial, as the WikiLeaks founder continues to fight his extradition to Sweden to face questioning over sex crimes accusations.

Pirate Bay lawyer to take over Assange defence

In a petition filed with the Stockholm District Court on Thursday, Assange said he wanted to work with attorneys Per E. Samuelson and Thomas Olsson rather than Björn Hurtig, who has representated Assange since September 2010.

Olsson told the TT news agency that he’s only had contact with Assange for a short period of time.

“He’ll have to explain his motivation behind changing defenders,” said Olsson.

Olsson has now begun reviewing Assange’s case, including the details of the sex crimes allegations against him – and plans to provide his view on the case at the beginning of next week.

He refused to speculate, however, on whether the decision to changes attorneys had any connection to plans Assange may have to come to Sweden.

On Tuesday, Assange applied for Britain’s Supreme Court to hear his appeal against a decision by the High Court in London ruling that the 40-year-old Australian could be sent to Sweden to face questioning over claims of rape and sexual assault made by two women.

Hurtig said that there is “absolutely no” conflict between him and Assange that lies behind the decision to change lawyers.

“You’ll have to ask him why he’s decided to change. But it’s not unusual that someone change lawyers and he’s chosen two superb new representatives. I wish him the best of luck,” Hurtig told TT.

Hurtig was also unaware as to whether the change of attorneys had anything do to with the possibility that Assange may be coming to Sweden before the expected December 5th decision by the Supreme Court in Britain about whether or not it will take up Assange’s case.

Hurtig took over the Assange case in September 2010 after the WikiLeaks founder dropped Leif Silbersky due to difficulties staying in contact with the attorney.

Samuelson previously represented financier Carl Lundström, one of the four defendants in the 2009 Pirate Bay trial, all of whom were found guilty of being an “accessory to breaching copyright law”.

Olsson has previously represented Thomas Quick, a convicted Swedish serial killer currently serving a life term in a psychiatric institution after being convicted of eight murders committed between 1976 and 1988.

However, after withdrawing his confessions in 2008 he has been granted several retrials and been acquitted of two of the killings.

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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.