Sweden aims to extradite Assange to US: Lawyer

Last Updated: Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - 21:07

Berlin: Julian Assange`s lawyer in
Britain has accused Swedish authorities of secretly planning
to extradite the WikiLeaks founder to the United States, in an
interview with a German newspaper to appear tomorrow.

Attorney Mark Stephens told the weekly Die Zeit that
he believed Swedish officials were cooperating with US
authorities with an eye to extraditing Assange as soon as the
Americans have built a criminal case against him.

"We are hearing that the Swedish are prepared to drop
the rape charges against Julian as soon as the Americans
demand his extradition," he said, citing sources in Washington
and Stockholm.

Stephens called the Swedish charges against his client
a "holding case" to buy time until the United States can
prosecute him themselves over WikiLeaks` mass release of
classified US documents.

He said Assange did not believe he would receive a
fair trial in Sweden which was why he was fighting his
extradition from Britain.

The Australian has been living at a supporter`s
country estate in England since being released on bail on
December 16 after his arrest by British police on a Swedish
warrant.

Stephens said that he believed the "last station" of
an extradition to Sweden would be "a high-security prison in
the United States".

Assange`s lawyers released documents yesterday saying
that if the Australian is extradited to Sweden there is a
"real risk" he will face extradition or illegal rendition to
the United States where he could be detained at Guantanamo Bay
or elsewhere and subject to the death penalty.

A British judge ruled yesterday that Sweden`s bid to
have him extradited would be heard in full on February 7-8.

Swedish authorities want to question Assange about
charges brought by two women that he sexually assaulted them,
but the 39-year-old says the extradition attempt is
politically motivated and linked to WikiLeaks` activities.

The whistleblowing website has released classified
documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and from US
diplomats stationed around the world.

A US court has reportedly subpoenaed the Twitter
accounts of four WikiLeaks supporters as part of a widening
criminal investigation into the leaks.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - 21:07

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