More than 70 British MPs have urged the government to make sure WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange faces Swedish justice if prosecutors there reopen a rape allegation against him.
The lawmakers signed a letter late on Friday urging Home Secretary Sajid Javid to “do everything you can to champion action that will ensure Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden in the event Sweden makes an extradition request.”
Sweden suspended its investigation of serious sexual misconduct two years ago because Assange was beyond their reach while living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London with political asylum status.
He was arrested Thursday after Ecuador withdrew his asylum and is now in British custody facing an extradition request from the United States on charges of conspiring to break into a Pentagon computer.
He is in Belmarsh Prison in southeast London waiting to be sentenced for jumping bail in Britain, and plans to fight extradition to the US
If Britain receives competing extradition requests, lawyers say the Home Secretary would have some leeway in deciding which takes priority.
Considerations would usually include which request came first, and which alleged crime was more serious.
Most of the lawmakers who signed the letter are from the opposition Labour Party, whose leader, Jeremy Corbyn, wants Britain to refuse to send Assange to the US After Assange’s arrest,he praised Assange for exposing U.S. atrocities committed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Assange, 47, has denied the sexual misconduct allegations, which he claims are politically motivated.
When he took up residence inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012, it was to avoid answering the sexual allegations against him in Sweden, which had sought his extradition for questioning.
He also sought refuge because of fears he would ultimately be extradited to the US.
Swedish prosecutors opened an investigation into Assange after two women accused him of sexual offenses during a 2010 visit to Sweden.
Some of the sexual misconduct accusations are no longer viable because of statute of limitations restrictions. But Swedish prosecutors have said a rape case could be reactivated before the statute of limitations ends in August 2020.