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Published Tuesday, the opinion piece joins the chorus of Assange advocates warning that Assange’s potential extradition to Sweden, where he faces sex assault charges, could also lead to a hand-off to the United States to be prosecuted over Wikileaks’ release of classified government information.
While Assange has been granted diplomatic asylum in Ecuador — he is currently camped at the country’s embassy in London — he runs the risk of being extradited to Sweden should he attempt to leave the embassy. Sweden has turned down requests to interview Assange in London, and the U.K. has said it is obligated to arrest Assange and extradite him to Sweden.
“Taken together, the British and Swedish governments’ actions suggest to us that their real agenda is to get Mr. Assange to Sweden,” Moore and Stone write. “Because of treaty and other considerations, he probably could be more easily extradited from there to the United States to face charges. Mr. Assange has every reason to fear such an outcome.The Justice Department recently confirmed that it was continuing to investigate WikiLeaks, and just-disclosed Australian government documents from this past February state that ‘the U.S. investigation into possible criminal conduct by Mr. Assange has been ongoing for more than a year.'”
In June, the filmmakers were among the prominent Hollywood figures who signed a petition in support of Assange’s request for asylum in Ecuador. The letter, also signed by Danny Glover and Bill Maher, argued that extradition to Sweden could lead to further extradition to the U.S. The U.S. government “has made clear its open hostility to WikiLeaks” would likely lead to the death penalty for Assange if he was charged and found guilty there. “The ‘crime’ that he has committed is that of practicing journalism,” the letter added.
Over the weekend, Assange, who is Australian, made his first public appearance in two months, speaking from the Ecuadorian embassy: “The United States must renounce its witch hunt against WikiLeaks” and whistleblowers, he said. “There must be no more foolish talk about prosecuting any media organization – be it WikiLeaks or the New York Times.”??
Moore and Stone, in their op-ed, write: “If Mr. Assange is extradited to the United States, the consequences will reverberate for years around the world. Mr. Assange is not an American citizen, and none of his actions have taken place on American soil. … We urge the people of Britain and Sweden to demand that their governments answer some basic questions: Why do the Swedish authorities refuse to question Mr. Assange in London? And why can neither government promise that Mr. Assange will not be extradited to the United States? The citizens of Britain and Sweden have a rare opportunity to make a stand for free speech on behalf of the entire globe.”
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