Assange ‘guarantees’ spark Amnesty spat

The Swedish division of human rights group Amnesty International said on Friday that it doesn't support demands from its parent that the Swedish government guarantee WikiLeaks-founder Julian Assange would not be extradited to the US should he come to Sweden.

Assange 'guarantees' spark Amnesty spat

“The Swedish chapter of Amnesty International does not agree with the way the organization handled the question of guarantees,” Bobby Vellucci, the Country Information Coordinator with Amnesty in Sweden, told The Local on Friday.

“We do not consider it to be appropriate or possible to ask the Swedish government to give guarantees ensuring Assange is not extradited to the US.”

The comments come after Amnesty International urged Sweden to give Assange assurances that it will not extradite him to the US if he comes to Stockholm for questioning.

Assange has been holed up at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since June 19th to avoid extradition to Sweden to face questioning in a sex crimes investigation.

He was subsequently granted diplomatic asylum by Ecuador, a development which has strained its relations with the UK, which says it is under an obligation to extradite Assange to Sweden.

On Thursday — Assange’s 100th day inside the embassy — Amnesty said it was “time to break the impasse”.

“If the Swedish authorities are able to confirm publicly that Assange will not eventually find himself on a plane to the USA if he submits himself to the authority of the Swedish courts then this will hopefully achieve two things,” Nicola Duckworth, Senior Director for Research at Amnesty Intenational’s headquarters in London, told the AFP.

“First, it will break the current impasse and second it will mean the women who have levelled accusations of sexual assault are not denied justice.”

When Vellucci was pressed to further elaborate on the Swedish Amnesty chapter’s views toward the parent organization’s statements, he refused to offer further details, instead explaining the chapter was focused on Swedish prosecutors’ preliminary criminal probe into the sex crimes accusations levelled against Assange.

“Amnesty’s primary focus is the Swedish preliminary investigation and that Julian Assange’s presence in Sweden would of course assist in the further investigation of the charges against him,” he told The Local.

“If at a later stage however, the USA should request that Julian Assange be extradited to face criminal charges in connection with Wikileaks, Amnesty International would oppose an extradition on the grounds that he would be at risk of serious human rights violations in the USA.”

Oliver Gee

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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.