Tuesday 16 January 2018

WikiLeaks founder fails in bid for French asylum

Julian Assange remains in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London
Julian Assange remains in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London

Rory Mulholland in Paris

France has rejected Julian Assange's request for asylum, saying the Wikileaks founder who has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for three years did not face "immediate danger".

Mr Assange had written an open letter to the president, asking to be taken in by France because he was being "pursued and threatened with death by the US authorities because of my professional activities".

"France cannot act on his request," President François Hollande's office said. "The situation of Mr Assange does not present an immediate danger. Furthermore, he is subject to a European arrest warrant."

He has previously said he is afraid of leaving the Ecuadorian embassy, where he took refuge to avoid extradition to Sweden over alleged sex crimes which he denies, because he fears Swedish or British authorities may send him to the US.

An inquiry is ongoing in America into the release by the whistleblower site in 2010 of 500,000 classified US military files on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and 250,000 diplomatic cables. In his letter to Mr Hollande Mr Assange noted that WikiLeaks had last month revealed that the US National Security Agency spied on the French president and his two predecessors.

Prominent French voices, including soccer legend Eric Cantona and star economist Thomas Piketty, had appealed to the French government to take in the former computer hacker, who turned 44 yesterday.

Irish Independent

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