Mon, Jun 25, 2012 - Page 4 News List

Australian foreign minister sees ‘no hint’ of US plan to extradite Assange

AFP, SYDNEY

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr yesterday said there was “no hint” of a plan to extradite WikiLeaks front-man Julian Assange to the US should he be sent to Sweden.

Assange, an Australian, sought refuge in the Ecuadoran embassy in London on Tuesday last week to seek asylum so as to avoid his extradition to Sweden on allegations of rape because he fears Stockholm will turn him over to the US.

Carr said he had raised the issue of the possible extradition of Assange, a former computer hacker, to the US on two occasions with American officials.

“When I have raised it ... I’ve received no hint that they have got a plan to extradite him to the US,” Carr told Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) radio.

Assange says he believes the US wants to try him for divulging US secrets after WikiLeaks released a flood of classified US information about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as more than 250,000 classified US diplomatic cables.

However, he has conceded there is no current US indictment against him.

“Of course not, at the moment the matter is before the grand jury,” he told ABC on Friday. “Until it comes out of the grand jury there will not be such evidence afforded.”

Carr said he had no indication this was going to happen.

“There’s not the remotest evidence that that is the case. No US figure has confirmed that to us,” Carr said.

“I suppose you could argue they wouldn’t confirm it to us to the last moment. You could say that the [US] Justice Department is proceeding on this and US officials in state or in a diplomatic mission like in Canberra wouldn’t be aware of it. Certainly that can’t be discounted as a possibility,” he said.

“But I can say, when I’ve said to a senior US official: ‘Assange is an Australian citizen, we’ve got an interest in this. Have you got plans to extradite him?’ They haven’t said they have got plans to extradite him,” Carr said.

“They haven’t been able to rule out that one corner of the American administration might not be considering it, but I would suspect that the US would not want to touch this,” he said.

Carr said if the US had wanted to extradite Assange, they could have done it while he has been in Britain, with which Washington has a “robust extradition arrangement.”

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