Julian Assange would cooperate with Swedish authorities if they reopen a rape case against him but will continue to resist any bid to extradite him to the U.S., his lawyer said on Sunday. “We are absolutely happy to answer those queries if and when they come up,” Jennifer Robinson told Sky News television about the rape claims. “The key issue at the moment is U.S. extradition, which we have warned about for many years,” she added.
Mr. Assange is in custody in London awaiting sentencing for breaching his British bail conditions in 2012 by seeking refuge in Ecuador’s London Embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden.
U.S. extradition warrant
He was arrested at the Embassy on Thursday after Ecuador gave him up, and is now also fighting a U.S. extradition warrant relating to the release by WikiLeaks of a huge cache of official documents.
The Australian has always denied the claims of sexual assault and rape in Sweden. The first expired in 2015 and the other was dropped in 2017, but the alleged rape victim has now asked for the case to be reopened.
If Stockholm makes a formal extradition request, the British government will have to decide whether to consider it before or after that of the U.S. Ms. Robinson said Mr. Assange would seek assurances from Sweden that he would not be sent on to America, saying: “That is the same assurance we were seeking in 2010 and the refusal to give that is why he sought asylum.” She added: “He’s not above the law. Julian has never been concerned about facing British justice or indeed Swedish justice. This case is and has always been about his concern about being sent to face American injustice.”
The U.S. indictment charges Mr. Assange with “conspiracy” for working with former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to crack a password stored on Department of Defence computers in March 2010. He faces up to five years in jail.
The conspiracy charge against him seems intended to sidestep limits on prosecution potentially arising from the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment guarantee of press freedom. But Ms. Robinson insisted: “This indictment clearly engages news-gathering activities and the kinds of communications that journalists have with sources all the time.”