US has two months to finalise Julian Assange case

Clay Curtis
April 13, 2019

Julian Assange may yet face rape charges in Sweden as the battle for extradition of the WikiLeaks founder heats up.

A man allegedly linked to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is arrested in Ecuador that, just hours after police dragged the whistleblower himself out of the South American country's embassy in London where he'd been holed up for nearly 7 years.

Those charges were dropped in May 2017, but Swedish prosecutors say they are now re-examining the case after a request by one of the alleged victim's lawyers.

A law change following the case of accused cyber-hacker Gary McKinnon, who has Asperger's, shifted responsibility away from ministers to the courts after then-home secretary Theresa May intervened to stop his extradition to the USA in 2012.

Ecuador had revoked the asylum he was granted after seeking refuge in the embassy in 2012, The Times reports.

In the court it was also announced Assange was facing a charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion in the United States for his alleged role in WikiLeaks' 2010 dumping of government secrets.

According to a criminal indictment against Assange which prosecutors in Virginia secretly obtained more than a year ago but only unsealed after Assange's arrest, Assange is charged with conspiring with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to gain unauthorized access to a government computer.

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Jeremy Corbyn has called for the UK Government to oppose Julian Assange's extradition to the United States over allegations that he conspired to hack into a classified Pentagon computer.

"It's not going to happen", Mr Samuelson told the Expressen newspaper.

Britain is bound by law not to extradite a suspect to a country where he or she could face execution for the crime, but this is not an issue at the moment because the crime Assange faces does not put him at risk of capital punishment, he said.

Extradition lawyer Ben Keith said the court will not assess the evidence against Assange in an effort to determine his guilt or innocence, but will scrutinise whether the offence he is accused of in the USA would be a crime in Britain.

Assange's next court appearance was set for May 2 via prison video-link in relation to the extradition case, a process that involves several layers of appeal that could take years.

He is now on remand in custody awaiting sentencing at Southwark Crown Court over his bail breach.

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