Assange fears 'death penalty or Guantanamo' if extradited

The full extradition hearing will begin on Feb. 7 and last two days.

Assange fears 'death penalty or Guantanamo' if extradited

The lawyer of Julian Assange, the founder of whistleblower website Wikileaks, has said that the journalist faces the threat of the death penalty or detention at Guantanamo Bay if he is extradited to Sweden on accusations of rape and sexual assault.

The Guardian quoted Assange's legal team as saying in a skeleton summary of their defence against attempts by the Swedish director of public prosecutions to extradite him, that there is a similar possibility that the US would eventually seek his extradition "and/or illegal rendition where there will be a real risk of him being detained at Guantanamo Bay or elsewhere".

"Indeed, if 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 Assange should be executed," they added.

The 35-page skeleton argument was released by Mark Stephens, Assange's lawyer, following a brief review hearing at Belmarsh magistrate's court on Tuesday, the paper said.

Assange, who is on conditional bail while his extradition case is being considered, appeared only for 15 minutes in the court.

Assange, who has protested his innocence over the sex offence allegations, sat behind a glass screen at London's top security Belmarsh Magistrates' Court during a hearing lasting less than half an hour.

Afterwards, Assange said his organisation would press ahead with its release of documents despite his own legal battle. WikiLeaks said in December it planned to release documents that would point to "unethical practices" at a major U.S. bank, widely thought to be Bank of America.

British police arrested Assange last month on a European warrant issued by Sweden. After spending nine days in jail, he was released on bail on Dec. 16 after his supporters raised a surety of 200,000 pounds ($312,000).

The full extradition hearing will begin on Feb. 7 and last two days. Even if he loses, Assange can appeal and the legal arguments could stretch on for months.

As part of his bail conditions, Assange was ordered to stay at a mansion in eastern England, abide by a curfew, report to police daily and wear an electronic tag.

However, the conditions were relaxed on Tuesday to allow him to stay at a journalists' club in central London on Feb. 6 and 7 to allow him to get to court on time.


Agencies

Last Mod: 12 Ocak 2011, 16:30
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