Julian Assange signals his arrival at the Court of Magistrates of Westminster, in London, after agents removed him from the Ecuadorian embassy and arrested him, on Thursday, April 11, 2019.

Victoria Jones / PA via AP

Labour Party says UK should oppose Assange extradition to US

April 12, 2019 - 10:07 am
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By Gregory Katz, Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — Key figures in Britain's opposition Labour Party said Friday the government should oppose the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States.

Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said in a tweet that the U.S. is trying to extradite Assange because he exposed "evidence of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan."

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Diane Abbott, Labour's spokeswoman for domestic affairs, told the BBC the government should block the extradition on human rights grounds, adding that much of the information that he brought into the public domain was in the public interest. Abbott said the U.S. case against Assange is about the "embarrassment of the things he's revealed about the American military and security services."

Police arrested the WikiLeaks founder Thursday at the Ecuadorian embassy in London after Ecuador withdrew his asylum.

He is in custody awaiting sentencing for jumping bail in 2012, and is also facing what is expected to be a lengthy extradition proceeding initiated by the United States.

U.S. Justice Department officials seek to put Assange on trial for allegedly conspiring to break into a classified government computer at the Pentagon. The charge was announced after Assange was taken into custody. If found guilty, Assange faces a maximum five years in prison.

It is also possible that Assange, 47, will face an extradition request from Sweden if prosecutors there decide to pursue allegations of rape and sexual misconduct against him.

Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012 after he was released on bail in Britain while facing extradition to Sweden on the allegations. He had stayed inside the embassy building for seven years.

Swedish prosecutors dropped the case against Assange in 2017, saying at the time there was no prospect of bringing him to Sweden because of his protected status inside the embassy.

Assange received a verbal rebuke in his first court appearance Thursday afternoon when District Judge Michael Snow found him guilty of breaching his bail conditions.

"Mr. Assange's behavior is that of a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interests," Snow said.

Assange's next court appearance was set for May 2 via prison video-link in relation to the extradition case, a process that involves several layers of appeal that could take years.

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