Legal team to claim Assange in danger of US execution
Lawyers are set to argue against WikiLeaks founder's extradition
Published 12/01/2011 | 05:00
LAWYERS for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will argue extraditing him to Sweden to face questions over rape claims could result in him being sent to the US, where he could be executed.
His legal team claim the Swedish prosecutor seeking his extradition from Britain in a rape case doesn't have the power to make the request.
The case was outlined in arguments that were published yesterday on his lawyer's website. The arguments will be used at a hearing on the extradition request, to be held on February 7.
If Mr Assange is extradited to Sweden there is a "real risk" the US will then seek his extradition from there or attempt an "illegal rendition", according to the document.
The lawyers also claim that the Australian-born journalist could end up in Guantanamo Bay.
"It is well-known that prominent figures have implied, if not stated, that Mr Assange should be executed," according to the arguments outlined in the document.
This is a reference to Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who has said that those responsible for leaking the US embassy cables should be put to death, and former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin has said Assange should be "hunted down just like al-Qa'ida", according to the document, which cited newspaper articles.
Lawyers for Mr Assange have said the accusations in Sweden were politically motivated and tied to the actions of WikiLeaks.
Mr Assange faces allegations, by two separate Swedish women, of sexual molestation and rape.
In London, District Judge Nicholas Evans renewed Mr Assange's bail yesterday while he awaited the extradition hearing.
Overall the document is a "rather impressive, multi- pronged attack" on the extradition request, Dan Hyde, a criminal lawyer at Cubism Law in London, who isn't involved in the case, said last night. "But what we are dealing with now is a request from Sweden."
The arrest warrant was sought by Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny, who started her investigation on September 1, after another Swedish prosecutor dropped the rape charge and reduced the molestation charges.
In their arguments, Mr Assange's lawyers Geoffrey Robertson and John Jones said only the Swedish National Police Board had the power to request a European Arrest Warrant on behalf of Sweden, making Ms Ny's request invalid. Ms Ny has said in the past that she was seeking Mr Assange's extradition so she could interview him about the allegations.
"It is a well-established principle of extradition law, predating the introduction of the 'Extradition Act 2003', that mere suspicion should not found a request for extradition," his lawyers wrote in the document. "A person's extradition should not be sought merely in order for him to be questioned."
WikiLeaks has drawn condemnation for posting thousands of classified US military and diplomatic communications, including a video of a July 2007 helicopter attack in Iraq that killed a Reuters