Police bundle WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, center right, from the Ecuadorian embassy into a police van in London after he was arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police and taken into custody Thursday April 11, 2019. Police in London arrested WikiLeaks founder Assange at the Ecuadorean embassy Thursday for failing to surrender to the court in 2012, shortly after the South American nation revoked his asylum. (@DailyDOOH via AP)
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UK pressured not to overlook Swedish claims to Assange

15 Comments
By GREGORY KATZ

British lawmakers are heaping pressure on the government to make sure that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange faces Swedish justice if prosecutors there reopen a rape investigation against him.

There is mounting concern that Assange should not be allowed to sidestep the Swedish investigation stemming from his 2010 visit to Sweden. The complaints from two women eventually led him to seek refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London rather than return to Sweden for questioning.

Some are calling for the British government to extradite Assange to Sweden, if it makes an official request, rather than to the U.S., which seeks him on conspiracy charges.

More than 70 British lawmakers signed a letter late Friday urging Home Secretary Sajid Javid to "do everything you can to champion action that will ensure Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden in the event Sweden makes an extradition request."

Prominent Conservative Party lawmaker Alistair Burt, a former Foreign Office minister, said Saturday that it's "quite disturbing" to see the sexual allegations minimized.

He said the testimony of the two women makes it "essential" that Assange face justice, to either be cleared in a Swedish court or be convicted.

Assange, 47, has denied the sexual misconduct allegations, which he claims are politically motivated. He claims the sex was consensual.

Sweden suspended its investigation into possible sexual misconduct against Assange two years ago because he was beyond their reach while he was living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London with political asylum status. Prosecutors said the investigation could be revived if his situation changed.

Assange was arrested Thursday after Ecuador withdrew his asylum. He is now in Belmarsh Prison in southeast London, waiting to be sentenced for jumping bail in Britain and facing an extradition request from the United States on charges of conspiring to break into a Pentagon computer.

WikiLeaks says Assange will fight the U.S. extradition request and has been meeting with his legal team to plan his defense.

He has not had a chance to enter a plea in response to the U.S. charge, but he says all of his WikiLeaks actions are those of a legitimate journalist.

If Britain receives competing extradition requests, lawyers say the Home Secretary would have some leeway in deciding which takes priority. Considerations usually include which request came first and which alleged crime is more serious.

Most of the lawmakers who signed the letter are from the opposition Labour Party, whose leader, Jeremy Corbyn, wants Britain to refuse to send Assange to the U.S. After Assange's arrest, Corbyn praised him for exposing U.S. atrocities committed in Iraq and Afghanistan when WikiLeaks released tens of thousands of confidential U.S. documents in 2010.

British politicians are free to lobby the government for a certain course of action, but it's up to the courts to decide whether the U.S. request for Assange's extradition — and a possible future request from Sweden — should be honored.

The Home Secretary, a senior Cabinet official, can block extradition under certain circumstances, including cases where a person might face capital punishment or torture in the country seeking their extradition.

Swedish prosecutors opened an investigation into Assange after two women accused him of sexual offenses during a 2010 visit to Sweden. Some of the sexual misconduct accusations are no longer viable because their time ran out. But Swedish prosecutors have said a rape case could be reactivated since the statute of limitations for that runs until August 2020.

After Assange's arrest this week, Swedish prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson was tapped to look into a request from a lawyer for one of the accusers, to find out whether the case can be pursued.

Elisabeth Massi Fritz, the lawyer for the woman who reported being raped by Assange, told The Associated Press that she would "do everything" to have the Swedish case reopened so Assange can be extradited to Sweden and prosecuted.

The extradition process is not swift, and Assange could appeal several times if decisions go against him. It's expected it would take a year or longer for him to be sent to the United States or possibly to Sweden even if he ultimately loses in court.

© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


15 Comments
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Why are politicians such petty, vindictive creatures? Thanks in part to these MPs the UK is falling apart while all they can do is obsess over Assange's past pecadillos. I, like everyone else, don't know what happened between him and the two women, but it appears that all the Swedes involved have lost interest in the case. Those prurient MPs should let it rest and get on with the more serious matter of saving the people they are paid to serve.

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The Swedes are the only country who may have a valid claim on Assange.

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Does Sweden torture its prisoners? If so, Assange should be sent to the US.

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There's a 88gb insurance file anyone can download from Wikileaks. Just wait for the encryption key that will be coming out soon.

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Very strange that Wikileaks doesn't have anything against Russia or Trump. Hmm...

I would not put Snowden and Manning in the same group as Assange. For one, I don't think the former two ever smeared dirty things on the walls.

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Very strange that Wikileaks doesn't have anything against Russia or Trump. Hmm...

Well, with Russia, they do and have published it, and, well, with Trump, pretty much all the bad stuff is out and his deplorable base doesn't seem to care.

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British lawmakers are heaping pressure on the government to make sure that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange faces Swedish justice if prosecutors there reopen a rape investigation against him.

British politicians are free to lobby the government for a certain course of action, but it's up to the courts to decide whether the U.S. request for Assange's extradition — and a possible future request from Sweden — should be honored.

Are these politicians actually demanding that the British government honor a Swedish extradition request THAT DOES NOT CURRENTLY EXIST?

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Are these politicians actually demanding that the British government honor a Swedish extradition request THAT DOES NOT CURRENTLY EXIST?

No.

The European warrant was withdrawn right after the Swedish dropped the rape investigation. However, the investigation was dropped on the grounds that after 7 years, in the words of the public prosecutor "all possibilities to conduct the investigation are exhausted". She also said, which should answer your question, "In order to proceed with the case, Julian Assange would have to be formally notified of the criminal suspicions against him. We cannot expect to receive assistance from Ecuador regarding this. Therefore the investigation is discontinued...If he, at a later date, makes himself available, I will be able to decide to resume the investigation immediately."

If the investigation is resumed, and that is far from certain at this point, it's back to where they started. Sweden can issue a new European Arrest Warrant for Assange; Britain, like all member states, is obliged to comply and proceed with extradition. Although there was some question over whether the EAW applies to a suspect who has not been formally charged (like Assange), that would seem to have already been settled in a British court in the challenge to the previous warrant.

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wipeout - No.

According to the article:

More than 70 British lawmakers signed a letter late Friday urging Home Secretary Sajid Javid to "do everything you can to champion action that will ensure Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden in the event Sweden makes an extradition request."

Actually, the answer is a resounding "YES".  Even the article's author acknowledges that a Swedish extradition request DOES NOT CURRENTLY EXIST.

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Julian Assange

Hillary: "He must answer for exposing my crimes."

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@Serrano so when was she charged?

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Actually, the answer is a resounding "YES". Even the article's author acknowledges that a Swedish extradition request DOES NOT CURRENTLY EXIST.

Yes, the extradition request doesn't currently exist. But you just went and flipped the wording of your original question, which was about honouring a request that doesn't exist. And that's not what they're demanding.

I answered your question as you asked it, not with some supernatural ability to predict all possible future ways in which you might twist the wording in order to answer it yourself. That's beyond my abilities.

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LOL. Has Sweden re-opened the remaining rape case against Assange? Has Sweden re-issued an arrest warrant for Assange's extradition to Sweden? Have more than 70 British lawmakers signed a letter urging the Home Secretary to do everything he can to champion action that will ensure Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden IN THE EVENT SWEDEN MAKES AN EXTRADITION REQUEST?

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Has Sweden re-opened the remaining rape case against Assange? 

Swedish prosecutors have stated that they are examining the case, at the request of the lawyer of the accuser. That means that they are considering reopening the investigation, which would put them in a position to issue a fresh warrant requesting his extradition.

As they did put in their claim first, seven years ago now, while the United States made no move against Assange, they can say with some legitimacy that they have a prior claim, and that they attempted to pursue it. That would be bolstered by the seriousness of the charge (regardless of whether Assange is actually guilty, which personally I somewhat doubt), and the unusual circumstances in which he put himself out of reach, both to the British and Swedish authorities. Unlike a normal fugitive, he acquired diplomatic protection.

Has Sweden re-issued an arrest warrant for Assange's extradition to Sweden? 

What's the time limit? Britain and the US, according to the letter, had advance knowledge that Assange was about to have his asylum rescinded, while Sweden did not. The problem here is not that Sweden has so far "failed" to issue an arrest warrant but that, as the MPs who signed the letter are aware, the United States has a history of high-handed behaviour in its extradition requests and is likely to simply assume that it takes priority over Sweden concerning Assange. And Britain has a bit of a history of caving in to American demands.

Have more than 70 British lawmakers signed a letter urging the Home Secretary to do everything he can to champion action that will ensure Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden IN THE EVENT SWEDEN MAKES AN EXTRADITION REQUEST?

That's right. Which is why your first question is in the realm of tortured logic: "Are these politicians actually demanding that the British government honor a Swedish extradition request THAT DOES NOT CURRENTLY EXIST?"

A European Arrest Warrant is (to the concern of many) a pretty binding document. The country to which the request is made is not entitled to sift the merits of the charges brought; they are expected - required, basically - merely to comply with the request. Sweden may well decide to issue a warrant in the next days or weeks, but that would be pre-empted if the British government rushed into accommodating America's request. It is entirely appropriate for MPs to raise concerns against hasty action that would undermine Sweden's ability to consider its options.

Not that I would expect a redblooded American to have the remotest understanding of why other countries shouldn't just dance to America's tune.

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wipeout - A European Arrest Warrant is (to the concern of many) a pretty binding document. The country to which the request is made is not entitled to sift the merits of the charges brought; they are expected - required, basically - merely to comply with the request.

While the country issuing an international warrant may want/wish/demand that another county merely comply with every warrant request, that is simply not the case in the real world. Every nation would examine every international warrant they receive to see if the warrant meets their own standards, and only then will they agree to detain the subject of the warrant.

Sweden's warrant for Assange expired when Sweden closed the file for Assange's second rape accusation. If Sweden re-issues a warrant for Assange, it will up to the British government to decide which, if any, international warrant they chose to honor. Until then, only the U.S. has an outstanding/active warrant for Assange's extradition.

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