France could offer Julian Assange political asylum

Craig Murray

Craig Murray

USA prosecutors have just under two months to present British authorities with a final and detailed criminal case to justify the possible extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, a US government official said on Friday.

The letter, signed late on Friday by mostly Labour Party MPs, urged UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid to "stand with the victims of sexual violence" and ensure the rape claim against him can be "properly investigated".

The struggle has taken him through a "mansion arrest" in the English countryside; a dramatic escape into the Ecuadorian Embassy in London; a multimillion-pound United Kingdom police siege of the embassy that has strained government coffers; and even a freaky attempt to turn him into a Moscow-based diplomat. Assange was arrested earlier Thursday at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and the US has charged him with conspiring with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to break into a classified government computer at the Pentagon.

Sweden suspended its investigation of serious sexual misconduct two years ago because Assange was beyond their reach while at the embassy.

"A kneejerk response that presumes that hacking is acceptable if the perpetrators can claim that their motives were journalistic is particularly unsafe when it emanates from those aspiring to become prime minister or home secretary, such as Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott".

He was arrested Thursday and is now in British custody facing an extradition request from the United States on charges of conspiring to break into a Pentagon computer.

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Corbyn warned on Friday that Assange should not be extradited "for exposing evidence of atrocities [by the USA military] in Iraq and Afghanistan".

The official, who wished to remain anonymous, says USA authorities have already sent Britain a provisional arrest warrant regarding Assange's extradition.

He was retweeted by Pamela Anderson - one of Assange's most famous supporters - who has previously described Mr Corbyn as "clearly a decent and fair man".

The alleged victim's lawyer said she would do "everything we possibly can" to get the investigation reopened.

In a statement on Friday, Assange's legal time said that USA prosecutors have 65 days to submit a full set of charges.

In May 2017, Sweden's top prosecutor dropped the long-running inquiry into a rape claim against Mr Assange, which he has always denied.

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"Though the Secretary of State does have very limited powers to interfere, I don't see that discretion being used", she said. "We've ended the asylum of this spoiled brat", President Lenin Moreno said Thursday explaining his decision to withdraw protection of Assange.

Meanwhile, prosecutors in Sweden have confirmed that while the investigation has not yet been officially resumed, they are looking into the case.

However, lawyer Rebecca Niblock said that, if Sweden made an extradition request, it would be for the home secretary to decide which would take precedence, considering factors such as which was made first and the seriousness of the offence.

His separate extradition case on charges of computer hacking is set to be next heard by video-link at Westminster Magistrates' Court on May 2.

On Friday, several dozen people demonstrated in support of Assange outside the British embassy in Berlin.

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