Julian Assange fears death penalty in America
WikiLeaks founder believes extradition to Sweden could lead to illegal rendition and execution in America
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is living in fear of being illegally deported to the US, held at Guantanamo Bay and then executed by the American authorities, according to the defence team fighting his extradition from Britian to Sweden.
In their summary of arguments against Sweden's extradition request, Assange's lawyers state that there is a "real risk" that he could end up facing the death penalty on the other side of the Atlantic. They are concerned that if their client is sent back to Sweden, where he faces allegations of sexual assault, the US would subsequently seek his extradition and could even try to have him illegally seized.
The lawyers' 35-page submission to the court states: "There is a real risk that, if extradited to Sweden, the US will seek his extradition and/or illegal rendition to the USA, where there will be a real risk of him being detained at Guantanamo Bay or elsewhere."
It goes on: "If Mr Assange were rendered to the USA, without assurances that the death penalty would not be carried out, there is a real risk that he could be made subject to the death penalty. It is well-known that prominent figures have implied, if not stated outright, that Mr Assange should be executed."
The document goes on to quote Sarah Palin - who said he should be "hunted down just like al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders" - and Mike Huckabee - who has demanded his execution.
His legal team, led by Geoffrey Robertson QC, also claim that there have been abuses of process over his extradition and that the case against him in Sweden is politically motivated.
At a short hearing at Belmarsh magistrates court today, it was agreed that his extradition case should be heard on February 7 and 8. Assange's bail conditions were altered so that he can stay at the Frontline Club for journalists in Paddington while the hearing takes place.
After the hearing, Assange said he was "happy about today's outcome". Among his supporters in court were Bianca Jagger, Jemima Khan and Gavin MacFadyen, director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism. ·
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