News World Julian Assange’s lawyer in no extradition plea

Julian Assange’s lawyer in no extradition plea

Julian Assange Mike Pence
Ecuador granted Julian Assange asylum in 2012 when he was seeking refuge to avoid extradition to Sweden. Photo: Getty
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A member of Julian Assange’s legal team says the impasse over the Australian WikiLeaks founder could be resolved immediately if the UK Government gave an assurance he would not be extradited to the United States.

Assange has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, fearing he will be extradited to the US for questioning over the activities of WikiLeaks if he leaves.

Jennifer Robinson told a conference in Barcelona that the 47-year-old had been under some form of restrictions on his liberty for almost eight years without ever being charged.

Robinson said: “It is difficult to see how this is going to be resolved because of the politics, though the solution is simple.

“We have used every legal avenue available to us, in the UK and at the UN, to challenge this situation.

“This is and has always been about the risk of US extradition. This case could be resolved tomorrow if the UK would give this assurance.”

Speaking at the World Ethical Data Forum, she added: “For more than eight years we have been fighting a number of landmark cases, in multiple jurisdictions, to protect something we thought was sancrosanct, that perhaps too many have taken for granted: the right to freedom of speech and the freedom of publishers to publish information in the public interest.”

These included the ongoing criminal investigation in the US, which she said was of “unprecedented size and scale”, and the risk of US extradition for Mr Assange, especially as the current US Attorney-General has said prosecuting him was a “priority”.

Robinson also spoke of the financial “blockade”, under which the world’s major credit card companies and payment transfer services banned WikiLeaks, cutting it off from the donations the organisation depends on to operate and to fight its legal battles.

She added that any prosecution of Mr Assange will be used as a precedent against other media organisations.

The Ecuador government cut off Mr Assange’s phone and internet access earlier this year and banned people visiting him.

Weekly vigils are still held outside the embassy and in cities in other countries including his native Australia.