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WikiLeaks’ Assange Won’t Face Extradition to U.S., Witness Says

Tuesday, 08 Feb 2011 11:16 AM

 

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can’t be turned over to U.S. authorities if he is extradited to Sweden to face questioning over sexual-assault allegations, a former Swedish prosecutor told a U.K. judge.

Sven-Erik Alhem, a former prosecutor who now teaches law, testified it was “quite right” that, once in Swedish custody, the 39-year-old Australian couldn’t then be sent to the U.S., Alhem testified on the second day of Assange’s extradition hearing in London.

It is “my understanding” that Swedish law prevents people brought into the country on such warrants from being sent to another country, he said today when cross-examined by the U.K. prosecutor arguing on behalf of Sweden, Clare Montgomery.

Assange’s lawyers have argued the push to bring him to Sweden to be questioned over sexual misconduct claims by two women, may actually be politically motivated. They have said the case is related the activities of WikiLeaks, which drew condemnation for posting thousands of classified U.S. military and diplomatic documents. If extradited, the lawyers claim Assange could eventually be sent to the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and face a death sentence for espionage.

Alhem said any attempt to extradite Assange from Sweden to the U.S. would cause “a media storm.”

Montgomery told the judge yesterday that Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny, who issued the arrest warrant for Assange, was within her authority. The warrant prompted Assange to turn himself in to London police in December. His lawyers have argued the warrant was issued improperly.

Assange’s lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson, said at yesterday’s hearing his client would be unfairly tried in secret in Sweden if he were extradited, because rape trials in the Scandinavian country are frequently closed to the public and media.

WikiLeaks, which has two servers housed in a mountain cavity in Stockholm, is an organization that publishes secret government and corporate documents online. Prosecutors say the rape case isn’t related to the website’s activities.


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