Monday 20 November 2017

Nicholas Wapshott: Julian Assange has reason to fear US extradition

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Photo: PA
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Photo: PA

NO ONE is emerging well from the Julian Assange extradition circus playing out in London. As the Wikileaker in chief sits tantalizingly beyond the reach of British police in the Ecuador embassy, he can congratulate himself on a rare trifecta.

By holing up in some corner of a foreign field that is forever Ecuador, he is embarrassing the British government, which prides itself on upholding the law. By resisting Sweden's demands that he return to Stockholm to face rape charges, he continues to besmirch the justice system of a country otherwise famous as a beacon of liberality and progressivism. And by picking Ecuador, he is drawing attention to his reluctant host's cruel, despotic regime, which thumbs its nose at democratic governments everywhere.

Add to that a fourth motive - and to Assange perhaps the most important - for his failure to turn himself in: his reproach of America. The reason he cites for not answering sexual assault accusations against him by two women is that Sweden may extradite him to America, where he fears he will be tortured and put to death.

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