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Assange stays mum over Swedish sex crime case

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said on Wednesday that he would not be addressing the Swedish sexual assault and rape allegations against him in his run for office in Australia, as "Australian men don't like to talk about their private lives".

Assange stays mum over Swedish sex crime case

Assange, standing for election to the upper house in September 7 national polls, also said Australian men did not bad-mouth their lovers, when asked whether he would explain himself to voters on the sex crime claims that have seen him holed up in London’s Ecuadoran embassy for more than a year.

“Unfortunately, to a degree, I am an Australian and therefore Australian men don’t like talking about their private lives,” the former computer hacker said in an online election forum published by Fairfax Media on Thursday.

“They don’t like saying bad things about their lovers. I’m not going to do that.”

Assange has been living inside Ecuador’s embassy since June 2012 as he fights extradition from Britain to Sweden, where authorities want to question him over alleged sex crimes.

The activist has voiced fears that he will be sent on to the United States to be tried over huge leaks of sensitive diplomatic correspondence and material on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

He told the Fairfax forum, conducted Wednesday, he had “nothing to hide” on the Sweden allegations and there was “extensive information about the case” available at the site justice4assange.com.

“I have not been charged. It’s an extraordinary situation that someone could be detained for three years without charge. That’s part of the abuses in this case,” he said.

Assange acknowledged that he is not a typical politician, with questions over whether he will even be able to assume his Senate seat if he wins given his status in the embassy, but said he still felt that he could connect with voters.

“As an individual I haven’t just been an activist… I understand what it’s like to be a father, to start small businesses, to have problems of many different kinds,” he said.

“I think Australians can relate to that sort of character. Even though I’m in a very unusual position for sure, I’ve also had the life experiences that many Australians have had.”

Assange is one of seven candidates running for election to the Senate for his WikiLeaks Party, which has vowed to be an “independent scrutineer of government activity” on a range of issues including tax reform, asylum-seekers and climate change policy.

The Australian whistle blower believes he stands a good chance of winning his seat, saying this week that polling numbers are positive.

AFP/The Local/og

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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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