Sydney: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has said that he wants the Australian government to guarantee his safety and treat the issue of his extradition to Sweden with the seriousness that it requires.
Assange hopes his bid for political asylum at the Ecuadorean embassy will elicit diplomatic guarantees against him being prosecuted by the US on espionage charges.
In an interview with Fairfax Media, Assange argued that his circumstances were ‘a serious political matter, and that the Australian Government must handle the situation with the ‘required seriousness’.
“I have been attacked by the US, from the vice-president down, as a high-tech terrorist, and by the Swedish Prime Minister and foreign minister, surely that requires some direct response from the Gillard Government,” The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Assange, as saying.
The WikiLeaks publisher acknowledged that if granted asylum he could still be unable to leave the Ecuadorean embassy without the risk of arrest and extradition to Sweden to face questioning over sexual assault allegations.
“Ultimately it may be a matter of what guarantees the United Kingdom, the United States and Sweden are willing to provide,” the paper quoted Assange, as saying.
“`For example, if the US were to guarantee [it would] drop the grand jury investigation and any further investigation of WikiLeaks publishing activity, that would be an important guarantee. Diplomatic commitments do have some weight,” he added.