Julian Assange 'must face Swedish justice' if country asks, say MPs
13 April 2019
More than 70 MPs have signed a letter urging the home secretary to ensure Julian Assange faces authorities in Sweden if they request his extradition.
The Wikileaks founder, who is now in UK custody, was arrested on Thursday after years in Ecuador's London embassy.
Sweden is considering whether to reopen an investigation into rape and sexual assault allegations against him.
And the US is seeking his extradition in relation to one of the largest ever leaks of government secrets, in 2010.
The whistle-blowing website Wikileaks has published thousands of classified documents covering everything from the film industry to national security and war.
The Swedish case
Assange sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over allegations of sexual assault, which he has denied.
At the time, the Australian-born 47-year-old said he had had entirely consensual sex with two women while on a trip to Stockholm, and that the Swedish claims against him were part of a smear campaign.
Swedish prosecutors dropped a rape investigation into Assange in 2017 because they were unable to formally notify him of the allegations while he stayed in the embassy.
Two other charges of molestation and unlawful coercion had to be dropped in 2015 because time had run out.
But Swedish prosecutors say they are now re-examining Assange's case
at the request of the lawyer acting for the alleged rape victim.
In their letter to both Sajid Javid, 70 parliamentarians - chiefly Labour MPs - urged them to "stand with the victims of sexual violence" and ensure the rape claim against the Wikileaks founder could be "properly investigated".
"We do not presume guilt, of course, but we believe due process should be followed and the complainant should see justice be done," it says.
Labour's Stella Creasy tweeted a copy of the letter sent to Mr Javid and Ms Abbott.
On Friday evening, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said he should be extradited to Sweden before any attempt to get him to the US. She said she was "disgusted" the US allegation had been "allowed to eclipse" the sex offence case.
Assange was dramatically arrested by UK police on Thursday after Ecuador abruptly withdrew its asylum.
Westminster Magistrates' Court found him guilty of a charge of breaching bail later that day. He faces up to 12 months in prison for that conviction.
The MPs' letter says both UK and US authorities seem to have been aware in advance of Ecuador's decision to rescind Mr Assange's political asylum, but said it was a matter of "grave concern" that Swedish authorities did not appear to be aware of the impending arrest.