The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would cooperate with Swedish authorities if they reopen a rape case against him but will continue to resist any bid to extradite him to the U.S., his lawyer said yesterday. "We are absolutely happy to answer those queries if and when they come up," Jennifer Robinson told Sky News television about the rape claims.
Assange is in custody in London awaiting sentencing for breaching his British bail conditions in 2012 by seeking refuge in Ecuador's London embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden. He was arrested at the embassy last Thursday after Ecuador gave him up, and is now also fighting a U.S. extradition warrant relating to the release by WikiLeaks of a huge cache of of- ficial documents.
The Australian has always denied the claims of sexual assault and rape in Sweden. The first expired in 2015 and the other was dropped in 2017, but the alleged rape victim has now asked for the case to be reopened. If Stockholm makes a formal extradition request, the British government will have to decide whether to consider it before or after that of the U.S.
Robinson said Assange would seek assurances from Sweden that he would not be sent on to America, saying: "That is the same assurance we were seeking in 2010 and the refusal to give that is why he sought asylum." "He's not above the law. Julian has never been concerned about facing British justice or indeed Swedish justice. This case is and has always been about his concern about being sent to face American injus- tice," she added.
The U.S. indictment charges Assange with "conspiracy" for working with former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning (previously known as Bradley Manning) to crack a password stored on Department of Defense computers in March 2010. He faces up to five years in jail.
The conspiracy charge against Assange seems intended to sidestep limits on prosecution potentially arising from the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment guarantee of press freedom. President Donald Trump's position is vaguer still. While there's no doubt his core fans are pro-Assange, he's been reluctant to outright support or condemn the man, despite the fact that he said he loves WikiLeaks during the 2016 race.
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