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ASSANGE EXTRADITION FIGHT

WIKILEAKS

Extradition doesn’t apply to Assange: judge

A Swedish supreme court judge discussing his country's legal system and the case of WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange with Australian students has said that Swedish law prohibits extradition for military or political crimes.

Extradition doesn't apply to Assange: judge

Assange, who is an Australian citizen, stands accused of rape and sexual harassment by two women in Sweden.

He has fought a return to Sweden to give his version of accounts, citing fears that Sweden would extradite him to the US.

“Basically, I think there are some misunderstandings, especially when it comes to the issue of extradition,” Swedish supreme court chair Stefan Lindskog told an audience at Adelaide University, according to the AP news service.

“Extradition shall not be granted when alleged crimes (are) military or political in nature.”

Lindskog also expressed his frustration at how the ongoing media scrutiny of the Assange and its effects on the criminal investigation.

“I think it is a mess,” he said.

The Swedish judge also explained that suspects are only extradited from Sweden if they are charged with crimes in another country that are also similar to crimes under Swedish law, a point which is debatable in the case of Assange.

“What is classified under US law is probably not classified under Swedish law, and enemies to the US may not be enemies to Sweden,” Lindskog told the audience, according to the Australian news webiste news.com.au.

When the lecture at Adelaide University was announced, local press cited experts who said it was highly inappropriate for a judge to discuss an ongoing case.

Lindskog’s lecture was publicized by the university, which announced that “as one of Sweden’s most eminent jurists, he is uniquely able to provide an authoritative view of the Assange affair”.

“That a Swedish supreme court judge thinks this is acceptable tends to confirm the fears people have about the impartiality and robustness of the Swedish judicial system,” Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesman Greg Barns told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“It gives great currency to the belief that Mr Assange’s case in Sweden has been heavily politicized.”

WikiLeaks went further in its critique, tying Lindskog’s visit into what the organization believes is a political conspiracy.

“The head of Swedish Supreme Court campaigning on a case they expect to judge with $ from the embassy in the run up to an election,” WikiLeaks tweeted.

Assange, meanwhile, having exhausted his options in fighting an European Arrest Warrant issued by Sweden to the UK, remains holed up in the London embassy of Ecuador, which has granted him political asylum.

Last month, one of his former top allies, British journalist Jemima Khan who was rumoured to have helped post his bail when Assange was first detained, did a volte-face. In a lengthy opinion piece in the New Statesman, she asked Assange to respect that the two Swedish women also have human rights.

TT/The Local/at

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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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