Corbyn says Assange should answer questions about sexual allegations

Craig Murray

Craig Murray

Mr Assange spent nearly seven years in the embassy in London where he sought political asylum in 2012 when he failed in his legal battle against extradition to Sweden.

But within 60 days from Thursday, when British police bundled Assange out of the Ecuadorean embassy in London where he had taken refuge seven years ago, US authorities must submit a formal request outlining all the legal charges Assange would face if he is transferred into USA custody.

Assange was remanded in custody Thursday at a hearing in front of a London judge, who pronounced him guilty of disobeying his bail terms by fleeing to the embassy in June 2012.

Meanwhile a group of over 70 British MPs has urged the UK Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, to give priority to Sweden over the United States, if the Swedish authorities request his extradition.

Sweden suspended its investigation into possible serious 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. They also confirmed he would resist extradition, saying that it set a "dangerous precedent where any journalist could face USA charges for publishing truthful information about the United States".

The written request comes after Javid and Abbott argued over Assange's arrest by British police on Thursday without discussing the rape allegation.

"A kneejerk response that presumes that hacking is acceptable if the perpetrators can claim that their motives were journalistic is particularly risky when it emanates from those aspiring to become prime minister or home secretary, such as Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott".

His separate extradition case on charges of computer hacking is set to be next heard by video-link at Westminster Magistrates' Court on May 2.

WikiLeaks "confirmed" that Assange's cat is safe and sound after being "rescued" from the Ecuadorian embassy in mid-October 2018 upon request from the whistleblower.

The sexual assault charges were dropped but Assange refused to leave the embassy, prolonging his self-imposed exile.

Should the extradition of Mr Assange go through, it would set a bad precedent, eroding the progress made by press freedom campaigners to democratise access to information and its attendant redistribution of power to the people.

But Swedish prosecutors say they are now re-examining the 47-year-old's case at the request of the lawyer acting for the alleged rape victim.

"But the only extradition request is from US, because he's a whistle-blower on atrocities caused by USA military ops".

Assange denies the Swedish allegations, which have a limitation period that expires in August 2020.

"I think the top priority, as we say in our letter, is to ensure that if the Swedish authorities wish to have him extradited there to face those charges, they must take priority above all else". He could be jailed for up to a year when he is sentenced at a later date.

However, legal experts have said the Government has very limited powers to block extradition even if there is the political will to do so. He also sought refuge because of fears that Sweden would ultimately extradite him to the U.S.

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