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ASSANGE EXTRADITION FIGHT

WIKILEAKS

Ecuador due to reveal Assange plans ‘this week’

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said he expects to respond to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's application for political asylum some time this week.

Ecuador due to reveal Assange plans 'this week'

“Hopefully this week we will be able to make a statement on the matter,” the leftist leader said in an interview with public broadcaster ECTV late Monday.

Assange, 41, took refuge at Ecuador’s embassy in London on June 19 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is accused of sexual assault.

“We expect to have a meeting no later than Wednesday,” Correa said, referring to his diplomats in London.

The WikiLeaks founder fears that from Sweden, he could subsequently be re-extradited to the United States to stand trial for espionage, after a trove of leaked US diplomatic cables and military logs were published on his website.

Correa has often been at odds with Washington and offered Assange asylum in 2010.

He has said the mere possibility that Assange could face capital punishment in the United States could be reason enough for his government to grant the activist’s asylum request.

He has vowed that his government would not yield to pressure from Britain, Sweden or the United States in deciding whether to grant Assange asylum.

Assange’s mother and former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon recently traveled to Ecuador to argue in favor of granting him asylum.

Even if Ecuador decides to grant Assange political asylum, it remains to be seen if British authorities would allow him to leave the country. In the absence of a safe conduct agreement between Quito and London, he could stay on embassy grounds indefinitely

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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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