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70 British lawmakers appeal to govt to hand over Assange to Sweden

ANI | April 13, 2019 07:04 PM
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appears at the Westminster Magistrates' Court on Thursday

London [UK], Apr 13 (ANI): Around 70 lawmakers on Saturday urged the British government to hand over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the Swedish authorities.

In the letter sent to Home Secretary Sajid Javid on Friday, the lawmakers said that the United Kingdom would "give every assistance to Sweden should they want to revive and pursue the investigation" into rape and sexual assault allegations against Assange, CNN reported.

They added that "the UK should tell Sweden that it will have our full cooperation" if they choose to reopen the rape case against Assange.

"We must send a strong message of the priority the UK has in tackling sexual violence and the seriousness with which such allegations are viewed," the letter said.

The British MPs in the letter noted that the investigation in Sweden was "discontinued only because of Assange's unavailability" while he was inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Assange was arrested by British Police from the Ecuadorian embassy in London on Thursday morning bringing to a dramatic end his seven-year stint here.

Metropolitan Police officers made the arrest after Ecuador withdrew Assange's asylum and invited authorities into the embassy, citing the Australian's bad behaviour.

Wikileaks on April 5 had reportedly indicated that its founder Assange is likely to be expelled from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has taken asylum since 2012, in the wake of INA papers leak.

The INA papers are the cache of documents published in February 2019, allegedly uncovering the operations of INA Investment Corp., an offshore tax haven created by the brother of Ecuadorian President.

Assange has been arrested for failing to surrender to the court over a warrant issued by Westminster Magistrates' Court in 2012, the New York Times reported quoting the London Police.

However, Assange denies the Swedish allegations, which have a limitation period that expires in August 2020.

Soon after the news broke that Assange had been arrested, the lawyer for the woman who accused him of rape took to social media saying that she and her client were shocked, but they had been "hoping and waiting" for it since 2012.

"We are going to do everything we possibly can to get the Swedish police investigation re-opened so that Assange can be extradited to Sweden and prosecuted for rape," lawyer Elisabeth Massi Fritz tweeted.

"No rape victim should have to wait 9 years to see justice be served," she added.

The Swedish prosecution authorities on Thursday said that they were considering to reopen the investigation against Assange.

If Sweden decides to go ahead with the investigation and submit its own extradition request, it would entirely be up to the UK court to decide on whether it should take precedence over the expected petition from the US.

Assange will anyway have to serve a prison sentence for skipping bail in 2012 for the sexual assault and rape allegations, which a judge will determine at a later date. (ANI)

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