UK Should Provide Swedish Prosecutors Opportunity To Extradite Assange - Rights Group

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UK Should Provide Swedish Prosecutors Opportunity to Extradite Assange - Rights Group

WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 16th April, 2019) The United Kingdom should give Swedish prosecutors an opportunity to extradite WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange to face remaining sexual assault charges, Human Rights Watch Women's Rights Division Co-Director Heather Barr said in a statement on Tuesday.

On April 11, UK authorities arrested Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London based on a US extradition request related to hacking charges. Before Ecuador lifted political asylum last week, Assange had been residing in the embassy since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over the sexual assault allegations, which the WikiLeaks founder has denied.

"The rape charge was shelved, but can be restored until its statute of limitations expires in August 2020...The UK should provide the Swedish prosecutor with every opportunity to determine whether the remaining accuser should have her day in court," Barr said in a blog post.

In the meantime, Barr said, the United Kingdom should delay handing over Assange to the United States until Sweden is afforded this opportunity.

Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno said last week that the United Kingdom provided written guarantees that Assange would not be extradited to a country where he might face the death penalty or torture. US media reported earlier in the day that the United States gave Ecuador similar assurances verbally.

Assange if extradited to the United States could face up to five years in prison based on the current indictment - a single count of computer intrusion conspiracy. However, a US national security attorney and former intelligence official told Sputnik that the United States could impose additional charges on Assange after he is extradited, including espionage act violations punishable by death.

Assange's extradition hearings are set for May 2 and June 12.

Assange gained fame after WikiLeaks published a large number of classified documents, including some that exposed abuses of power and war crimes committed by US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, and at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

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