UK lawmakers urge British government to extradite WikiLeaks founder Assange to Sweden

More than 70 British lawmakers have urged the government to make sure that will WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange faces Swedish justice if prosecutors there reopen a rape allegation against him.

The lawmakers signed a letter late Friday urging Home Secretary Sajid Javid to “do everything you can to champion action that will will ensure Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden within the event Sweden makes an extradition request.”

Sweden suspended its investigation into possible serious sexual misconduct against Assange two years ago because he was beyond their reach while he was living within the Ecuadorian Embassy in London with political asylum status.

He was arrested Thursday after Ecuador withdrew his asylum. Assange is actually right now in Belmarsh Prison in southeast London, waiting to be sentenced for jumping bail in Britain as well as facing an extradition request through the United States on charges of conspiring to break into a Pentagon computer.

WikiLeaks says he will fight the U.S. extradition request as well as has been meeting with his legal team to plan his defense.

If Britain receives competing extradition requests, lawyers say the Home Secretary could have some leeway in deciding which takes priority. Considerations usually include which request came first as well as which alleged crime is actually more serious.

Most of the lawmakers who signed the letter are through the opposition Labour Party, whose leader, Jeremy Corbyn, wants Britain to refuse to send Assange to the U.S. After Assange’s arrest, Corbyn praised him for exposing U.S. atrocities committed in Iraq as well as Afghanistan when WikiLeaks released tens of thousands of confidential U.S. documents in 2010.

Some Conservative Party members are also backing the move. Prominent lawmaker Alistair Burt, a former Foreign Office minister, said the “minimizing of the issues in relation to sexual assault are actually quite disturbing.”

He said the testimony of the women who have been involved makes This specific “essential” that will Assange face justice, to either be cleared or convicted.

British politicians are free to lobby the government for a certain course of action, however This specific’s up to the courts to decide whether the U.S. request for Assange’s extradition — as well as a possible future request through Sweden — should be honored.

The Home Secretary, a senior Cabinet official, has some leeway to block extradition under certain specific circumstances, including cases where a person facing extradition might face capital punishment or torture in that will country.

Assange, 47, has denied the sexual misconduct allegations, which he claims are politically motivated. He has not had a chance to enter a plea in response to the U.S. charge, however he has claimed that will all of his WikiLeaks actions are those of a legitimate journalist.

When he took up residence inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012, This specific was to avoid answering the sexual allegations against him in Sweden, which had sought his extradition for questioning. He also sought refuge because of fears that will Sweden could ultimately extradite him to the U.S.

Swedish prosecutors opened an investigation into Assange after two women accused him of sexual offenses during a 2010 visit to Sweden.

Some of the sexual misconduct accusations are no longer viable because their time ran out. however Swedish prosecutors have said a rape case could be reactivated before the statute of limitations for that will ends in August 2020.

After Assange’s arrest, Swedish prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson was tapped to look into a request through a lawyer for one of the accusers, to find out whether the case can be pursued.

Elisabeth Massi Fritz, the lawyer for the woman who reported being raped by Assange, told The Associated Press that will she could “do everything” to contain the Swedish case reopened so Assange can be extradited to Sweden as well as prosecuted.

The extradition process is actually not swift, as well as Assange could appeal repeatedly if decisions go against him. This specific’s expected that will This specific could take a year or longer for him to be sent to the United States or possibly to Sweden even if he ultimately loses in court.

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