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British MPs say WikiLeaks' Assange should face justice in Sweden

14 April 2019

USA prosecutors have just under two months to present British authorities with a final and detailed criminal case to justify the possible extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, a US government official said on Friday.

The 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". In 2012, Assange sought asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, which had issued a warrant for his arrest on sexual harassment and rape charges.

Previous comparable cases, involving accused hackers Lauri Love and Gary McKinnon, took between five and 10 years but eventually resulted in their extraditions to the United States being blocked.

But Labour leader Mr Corbyn said Assange should not be extradited to the USA to face a charge of conspiring with former army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to break into a classified government computer.

Extradition lawyer Ben Keith said the court will not assess the evidence against Assange to determine his guilt or innocence but will scrutinize whether the offence he is accused of in the US would be a crime in Britain.

The U.S. official said that within the 60-day period, U.S. authorities could modify or add to the current charges they have filed against Assange.

I've just been with Mr. Assange in the police cells.

However, legal experts have said the Government has very limited powers to block extradition even if there is the political will to do so. "Julian's spirit stays strong", Mrs Assange said in a tweet to "warriors" for her son. But after seven years, Ecuador abruptly withdrew its asylum and invited the police to arrest him on Thursday.

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US 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.

If Britain receives competing extradition requests, lawyers say the Home Secretary would have some leeway in deciding which takes priority.

Prosecutors in Sweden have since confirmed that, while the investigation has not been resumed, they are looking into the case.

After his dramatic arrest, Assange was taken to Westminster Magistrates' Court and found guilty of a British charge of breaching bail.

The 47-year-old's Swedish lawyer, Per E Samuelson, told local media it would be "highly unlikely" Assange would face a Swedish courtroom, and that the US's extradition request would trump Sweden's.

The UN has called for his right to a fair trial to be respected during any extradition process.

A coalition of campaigners representing survivors of sexual violence urged the home secretary to focus on the unresolved rape allegations emanating from Sweden against Assange.

British MPs say WikiLeaks' Assange should face justice in Sweden