British MPs say WikiLeaks' Assange should face justice in Sweden


On 11 April WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested in the Ecuadorian embassy, following the revocation of his right for diplomatic asylum previously made by Ecuador's president Lenin Moreno.

The cost to taxpayers of policing Assange's stay in the Ecuadorean embassy and his failed attempt to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning on sexual assault allegations - which went all the way to the Supreme Court - is thought to have passed £15 million.

After Assange was arrested and dragged into a police van in the British capital, American officials unsealed an indictment against him for computer hacking as part of his WikiLeaks whistleblowing activities.

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.

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".

The official, who asked for anonymity when discussing the case, said USA authorities had already sent Britain a provisional arrest warrant regarding Assange's extradition to the United States.

Swedish prosecutors dropped a rape investigation into Assange in 2017 because they were unable to formally notify him of the allegations - a necessary step in proceeding with the case - while he remained in the Ecuadorian embassy.

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

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Speaking to the Guardian, Elizabeth Massi Fritz, the lawyer for the Swedish woman whose case remains without closure, said the news of Assange's arrest had come as a "shock" to her and her client.

He was arrested Thursday after Ecuador withdrew his asylum. "This extradition would be wrong so we oppose it".

"But the only extradition request is from US, because he's a whistle-blower on atrocities caused by USA military ops". The allegation of rape has a limitation period which expires in August 2020 under Swedish law.

He said a Grand Jury investigation included charges which could lead to decades in prison or even the death penalty under the Espionage Act 1917, although UK Government policy is to block extradition to countries where suspects might face capital punishment.

"Julian Assange can not be extradited to Sweden when the European arrest warrant against him was withdrawn as early as May 2017". He could be jailed for up to a year when he is sentenced at a later date.

As Assange settled in to his first night in British custody, his allies and enemies alike are gearing up for what promises to be a long, dogged legal slog, not only over his possible extradition to the USA but over how courts should view his actions.

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.