Julian Assange may still face rape charge in Sweden, prosecutors say

Saul Bowman
April 14, 2019

More than 70 MPs have signed a letter urging the home secretary to ensure Julian Assange faces authorities in Sweden if they request his extradition.

The Parliamentarians have written to Home Secretary Sajid Javid asking him to make sure the Wikileaks founder faces justice in Sweden, before he is extradited to the United States to face conspiracy charges for the leak of government secrets.

On Thursday, UK police finally arrested him at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he has spent the last seven years.

Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2012 after he was released on bail in Britain while facing extradition to Sweden on sexual assault allegations that have since been dropped.

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 letter was copied to Diane Abbott, Labour's home affairs spokeswoman, who has separately cautioned that agreeing to the USA extradition request "would be wrong" because Assange was acting as a whistleblower.

Assange allegedly helped former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning hack into the U.S. Defense Department in 2010.

The official, who wished to remain anonymous, says USA authorities have already sent Britain a provisional arrest warrant regarding Assange's extradition.

Regardless, Assange will have to serve any prison sentence for skipping bail in 2012 for the sexual assault and rape allegations, which a judge will determine at a later date.

A spokesman for the Swedish Prosecution Authority said they were following the news of Assange's arrest.

USA government prosecutors had better tread lightly in bringing Assange to the sort of justice demanded by readers of The New York Times - which is to say: lock him up in some SuperMax solitary hellhole and throw away the key.

The battle between Assange and the USA government was always going to be epic, involving concepts like free speech, journalists' rights, national interests, even treason.

A law change following the case of accused cyber-hacker Gary McKinnon, who has Asperger's, shifted responsibility away from ministers to the courts after then-home secretary Theresa May intervened to stop his extradition to the U.S. in 2012.

Assange's lawyers meanwhile confirmed that USA prosecutors have 65 days to submit a full set of charges, raising the prospect of additional criminal allegations being introduced that would result in a far longer sentence.

The Wikileaks founder will next appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on May 2 by prison video-link in relation to the extradition.

However, under British law the United States has until June 12 to submit full extradition papers.

Legal experts said on Friday that the case could take several years mired in British courts and, if appealed, potentially go all the way to the European Court of Justice.

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