Assange extradition unlikely: Australia

2012-08-22 09:02

Sydney - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was unlikely to be extradited from Sweden to the United States if there was a risk of the death penalty or a military court, Australia's foreign minister said on Wednesday.

British authorities won their case to extradite Assange to Sweden to face sex assault allegations, but because he sought asylum in Ecuador's embassy in London they have so far been unable to send him there.

Supporters of the 41-year-old Australian believe that if sent to Sweden, Assange could be extradited to the United States to face charges of espionage over WikiLeaks' publication of a vast horde of sensitive US papers.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr said Australia could not get involved in cases outside its jurisdiction but that Stockholm had indicated the former hacker was unlikely to be sent to the United States.

"It's not a subject for Australian diplomacy, it's a subject for consular support," he told the Australian Financial Review.

"We have sought assurances from Sweden [that] due processes will be accorded.

No extradition request received

"And the Swedes have said they don't extradite anyone if there's a capital offence or it's a matter to do with military or intelligence."

WikiLeaks has urged Sweden to guarantee it will not extradite Assange to the US, where he fears being pursued over the organisation's release of thousands of sensitive files, including on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Stockholm has received no extradition request from Washington and Swedish law and the European human rights convention ratified by Sweden ban the extradition of a person to a country where they could face the death penalty.

Washington has said it has had nothing to do with efforts by Britain to extradite Assange to Sweden, and on Tuesday denied Assange's "wild assertions" it had launched a witch-hunt for him.

Assange's anti-secrecy agenda has polarised opinion between those who regard him as a hero and others who claim he has been reckless and irresponsible by dumping confidential government documents on the internet.

The former head of Britain's MI5 security service Stella Rimington said on Wednesday that Assange's "naive" approach had placed lives at risk.

Unprotected secrets

"What is not tolerated or healthy, in my opinion, is the indiscriminate pouring out into the public domain of streams of leaked documents by Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks organisation," she told a conference in Brisbane.

But she also said the US should have better protected its secrets.

"One can criticise the United States for having a so-called secret database which was apparently available extensively ... including to a young soldier if the reports are true," she said in a reference to Bradley Manning, the US soldier accused of leaking sensitive information to WikiLeaks.

Rimington said the irony of the WikiLeaks furore was that it would now make governments more secretive "which must be absolutely the opposite effect of what WikiLeaks was seeking".

Rimington ran MI5 from 1992-1996, the first female director of the organisation. She is now an author.

  • nicholas.b.wallace.1 - 2012-08-22 10:30

    "Stella Rimington said on Wednesday that Assange's "naive" approach had placed lives at risk." and how many lives does America take away everyday in all the little wars its fighting and wants to fight!? imagine America shut up and didn't taunt or attack anyone and just focused on their nation and not wars - i think it would be a peaceful world after that!

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-22 10:37

      That would be a beautiful world indeed, except the US thrives on war. Perpetual war means jobs in the US war economy. The Military Industrial lobbyists would never allow Washington to forego its adventurism. The Pentagon is the biggest "corporation" in the world, accounting for +- $700 billion of that country's GDP. War, weapons design,development and manufacture, systems technology and strategic tactics for deployment are all jobs in the US capitalist model.

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-08-22 12:41

      Apple Inc's market value climbed past $623 billion US GDP - $15.09 Trillion US dollars here's a break down of US military spending : (including Wars in Iraq & Afgan) Components - Funding Operations and maintenance - $283.3 billion Military Personnel-$154.2 billion Procurement -$140.1 billion Research, Development, Testing & Evaluation-$79.1 billion Military Construction-$23.9 billion Family Housing -$3.1 billion Total Spending -683.7 billion US roughly spends 4% of its GDP on military ,around the same percentage as China and far less than the 10% of Saudi Arabia and Oman . Hardly the thorny node exposing war happy capitalists unless of course you want it to be.

      rick.kabose - 2012-08-22 13:00

      One nation will always climb the pile to become top dog,to fall in due course as every other major power did. The US is the current top dog.Majority Caucasian,christian and peace loving . The alternatives to them would be ? Who would you prefer was the world power?

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