Australia’s foreign minister has said that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is safer in the Swedish capital than London, despite his efforts to avoid extradition.
The 41-year-old Australian has been granted refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in the UK capital since June while fighting extradition to Sweden amid sexual assault accusations. Assange and his supporters claim he has done nothing wrong and that the charges are part of a plot to send him to Washington to face charges for the release of classified cables via his whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.
Now, Bob Carr, the Australian senator and foreign minister, has said that the belief that Washington is looking to extradite the controversial figure is “ludicrous” and that Assange is actually safer in Stockholm than in Britain.
The comments came during an interview with Australia’s ABC news agency, in which he said, “There is the sense that the United States are pursuing Julian Assange. Julian Assange was in London living freely for two years. If the United States had wanted to extradite him they could have done so.”
“The Swedes have won in the UK courts. It’s nothing to do with WikiLeaks. It’s about a criminal allegation made in Sweden and that’s why he’s in the Ecuadorian Embassy,” he said.
Carr went on to add, “If the Swedes had him in Stockholm he’d been even more…harder for the US to extradite, if that’s what they wanted to do then he’s been for the last two years in the United Kingdom.”
Mr Carr’s comments come despite Ecuadorian foreign minister Ricardo Patiño saying last year that Assange was given asylum because there was “strong evidence” that he is likely to face retaliation from the US and other countries that had produced the classified information released on WikiLeaks.