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ASSANGE EXTRADITION FIGHT

ECUADOR

Assange: Sweden likely to ‘drop case’ against me

Julian Assange expects to remain holed up in Ecuador's London embassy for up to a year as the two countries struggle to resolve a diplomatic row over the controversial WikiLeaks founder.

Assange: Sweden likely to 'drop case' against me

Assange took shelter in the embassy in June after exhausting all appeals against extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over sexual assault allegations. Earlier this month Ecuador granted him asylum.

Assange has denied any wrongdoing and said he fears Sweden will hand him over to the United States, where he could face prosecution over the release of a trove of leaked Iraq and Afghanistan war reports and diplomatic cables.

“I believe this will be resolved in six to 12 months,” the 41-year-old Australian said in an interview with Ecuadoran television held inside the embassy and broadcast in dubbed-over Spanish.

“The situation will be resolved either through diplomacy or an unusual event in the world that no one can predict, like a war against Iran, the election in the United States, or the Swedish government dropping the case,” he said.

“I expect the last scenario is the most likely one,” he added, according to the Spanish translation.

Earlier this week, Ecuador’s leftist President Rafael Correa said the case could take years to resolve and depended on London and Stockholm.

He said there were three ways to resolve the diplomatic impasse: either Britain and Sweden could guarantee that Assange won’t be sent to a third country, Swedish prosecutors could question him in the Ecuadoran embassy, or British authorities could allow him to leave without arresting him.

AFP/The Local

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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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