Swedish police want to question Assange over allegations of rape and sexual assault, but the Australian activist says the accusations are politically motivated and that Sweden would eventually extradite him to the US to face trial and a possible death penalty.
If Sweden were to receive an extradition request from a country that practices capital punishment, such as the US, “guarantees must come from the other state (requesting extradition) that … the death penalty will not be handed down or carried out,” Swedish justice ministry advisor Per Hedvall told AFP.
“The guarantees do not come from our side, they have to come from the other end,” he said.
Assange has been holed up in Ecuador’s London embassy for two months after a British court in June ruled he could be extradited to Sweden for questioning, and Ecuador last week granted Assange asylum.
In a bid to break the deadlock, WikiLeaks has urged Sweden to guarantee it would not extradite Assange to the US.
Swedish law and the European human rights convention ratified by Sweden ban extradition of a defendant to a country where he could face the death penalty.
Hedvall refused to speak about Assange’s case in particular and stressed his remarks regarded Swedish legislation in general.
He said that when an extradition request is issued for a crime that doesn’t carry the death penalty, “each case is reviewed based on the legislation in that individual case”, but then “Swedish legislation does not provide for guarantees.”
Stockholm has received no extradition request from Washington.
Washington said Tuesday it had nothing to do with efforts by Britain to extradite Assange to Sweden, and denied Assange’s allegations it was carrying out a “witch-hunt” against him.