Assange reveals extradition fears

Assange reveals extradition fears

Julian Assange believes there is a “significant risk” of being extradited to the United States if he leaves the Ecuador embassy in London.


Speaking inside the embassy on Thursday on the second anniversary of his dramatic arrival, the WikiLeaks founder made it clear he will remain inside the building until the impasse over his future is broken.

He is wanted for questioning in Sweden over sex allegations by two women but fears being sent to the US if he leaves London.

He told a handful of journalists that threats had been made against his children and his mother since he has been living in the embassy.

A group of supporters held a vigil outside the embassy to mark the anniversary.

Mr Assange claimed the bill for mounting a round the clock police guard was STG6.5 million ($A11.9 million).

Assange said the work of WikiLeaks was continuing, even though he can not leave the building, adding that money was still being donated to the whistleblowing publisher despite a banking blockade.

He estimated that the ban on collecting money, imposed by leading credit card companies, had cost WikiLeaks tens of millions of pounds.

He spoke by videolink to Ecuador’s foreign minister Ricardo Patino in Quito, who assured him that Ecuador would continue to “protect” him after it granted Assange political asylum.

He said security at the London embassy had been increased, adding: “We will protect Julian Assange for as long as necessary, and as long as Julian wants.”

Patino met UK Foreign Secretary William Hague during a visit to London last year and agreed to set up a working group to try to break the deadlock.

He revealed the group had not yet met because no agreement could be reached on the “specific objectives”.

The process had “stalled”, while the legal situation had reached an “impasse”, he said.

The minister said the delay in dealing with Assange’s future was having an impact on his quality of life and his health.

“Imagine the anguish of his family.”

Assange fears that if he goes to Sweden he will be taken to the United States, where a long-running investigation is continuing into WikiLeaks and its involvement with former solder Chelsea Manning, who has been jailed for 35 years over the leaking of secret intelligence.

WikiLeaks has said a fresh challenge will be made next week to the Swedish authorities after “new information” was received.

Assange has offered to be interviewed by Swedish investigators inside the London embassy, but they have declined to travel to the UK to question him about the allegations.

“I am advised by my lawyers that there remains a serious risk of being extradited to the United States, given the ongoing criminal investigation by the department of justice. No person would willingly subject themselves to such risks.”