Business Standard

Sweden must get priority on Assange: UK MPs

IANS  |  L0ondon 

Over 70 lawmakers in the UK have signed a letter urging the to give priority to a possible Swedish extradition request for founder to face rape allegations over a request from the US for hacking charges.

Assange, 47, remains in British custody after he was arrested on Thursday at the in London, where he was holed up for almost seven years after breaching bail in 2012 over fears that sexual assault allegations lodged in could ultimately lead to his extradition to the US to face trial over the leaking of secret information.

In 2010, dumped thousands of confidential documents covering everything from the film industry to national security and war.

In the Friday letter, predominantly signed by members of the opposition and parliamentarians, was urged to "do everything you can to champion action that will ensure that can be extradited to in the event makes an extradition request", news reported.

"This would be so the formal investigation into an allegation of rape can be concluded and, if appropriate, a charge can be made and any trial can take place," the letter said.

"We do not presume guilt, of course, but we believe due process should be followed and the complaint should see justice be done," the letter, coordinated by Labour MPs and Jess Phillips, added.

Assange has been accused of rape and other sexual offences, against two women, following a conference in in 2010. He has always denied the allegations, saying the sex was consensual.

Swedish prosecutors will now re-examine the rape case to decide whether to resume it before the statute of limitations runs out in August 2020, the said.

The letter by parliamentarians said it appeared that Swedish prosecutors had not been alerted in advance of Ecuador's plans to withdraw asylum from Assange.

"The decision to rescind the political asylum of Assange by the Ecuadorian authorities seems to have been something of which both the UK and US authorities were made aware in advance," it said.

"We would welcome clarity as to what actions the UK authorities took to ensure that the Swedish prosecutors were informed in advance of this decision."

The letter came after the in the UK said that in the case of competing extradition requests, it was up to the to decide which to enact first.

On Thursday, a court found Assange guilty of breaching bail conditions seven years ago when he was due to answer for cases of sexual assault he allegedly committed in Sweden.

Assange is due to appear via video conference at the on May 2 to begin proceedings for his possible extradition to the US, who want to investigate his links to Chelsea Manning, a former US soldier who supplied WikiLeaks with confidential information.



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First Published: Sat, April 13 2019. 19:04 IST