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ASSANGE EXTRADITION FIGHT

WIKILEAKS

WikiLeaks smear effort to reveal Bildt as US ‘spy’

WikiLeaks is planning a smear campaign against Sweden to halt the extradition of founder Julian Assange to the United States, including releasing documents allegedly showing that Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt has acted as an informant for the United States since the 1970s.

WikiLeaks smear effort to reveal Bildt as US 'spy'
Carl Bildt, Julian Assange, Karl Rove

According to an internal WikiLeaks memo reviewed by Swedish tabloid Expressen, WikiLeaks plans to release more classified documents, organize blockades of Swedish embassies and consulates as well as boycotts of Swedish companies.

“This is going to hurt Sweden more than the debate about the Mohammad cartoons,” a source with knowledge of the matter told Expressen.

As Assange enters the final stages of his legal battle to avoid extradition to Sweden, his colleagues at WikiLeaks have begun preparing for how to prevent the Swedish government from extraditing the founder of the whistle-blower website to the United States.

“That the Swedish government doesn’t take this seriously but rather makes it easier for the American government means Sweden finds itself among the countries that don’t support transparency, the rights of the individual, and human rights,” the internal WikiLeaks memo reads.

“That puts Sweden and the country’s reputation in great danger and the Swedish government is going to be forced to answer to global public opinion which will hold them responsible for not letting people around the world access information to which they have a right.”

WikiLeaks officials are convinced that Sweden has already made a deal with the United States that would see Assange extradited there to testify against Bradley Manning, the US soldier suspected of leaking thousands of classified US diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks.

There are also fears that Assange could be arrested and put on trial for espionage against the United States, WikiLeaks sources tell Expressen.

“If he’s extradited, we fear for his life and that’s something Sweden will pay a high price for,” a source said.

Among the documents WikiLeaks plans to make public is a US diplomatic report showing that Carl Bildt has served as an informant for the United States since the 1970s.

“There are secret documents that reveal that Bildt cooperated with the American administration in a way that violates Swedish law,” a WikiLeaks source told the paper.

“He’ll be forced to resign. It will be the end of his political career.”

According to WikiLeaks, Bildt’s original contact is political consultant Karl Rove, a former adviser to President George W. Bush, and someone who Bildt has openly referred to as “an old friend”.

While WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson refused to comment on the details of the report about Bildt, she told Expressen “it’s going to be released soon”.

Swedish foreign ministry spokesperson Anders Jörle said Bildt had nothing to say about the claims.

“We’re going to hold off on commenting. We want to see what sort of document it is before we comment,” he told the paper.

However, Bildt acknowledged the Expressen report on his official Twitter account.

“Media reports that Wikileaks is planning what they describe as a ‘smear campaign’ against Sweden. Good to know,” Bildt wrote, alongside a link to the Expressen article.

He also reacted to the report on his blog, challenging WikiLeaks “this in their opinion damning report”.

“When that happens, this part of their planned ‘smear campaign’ will quickly fall apart,” he wrote.

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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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