government fears "evil" of extradition

Ecuador wants pledge from Sweden on Assange

Ecuador is demanding assurance from Sweden that it will not extradite Wikileaks frontman Julian Assange to the US after legal proceedings are over in Sweden, where he is accused of rape and sexual molestation.

The Ecuadorian government wants to save Assange from the "evil" of being extradited to the US, according to the British newspaper the Guardian. Ecuador is currently providing sanctuary for Assange, who is an Australian national, at its embassy in London. He has been living in the embassy since June 19th, and has sought asylum from the South American country.

Ecuador's embassy officials have asked for an answer from both the Swedish and British governments on whether Assange would be extradited if he goes to Sweden to face charges, but they have recieved no answers.

The Guardian reports that Ecuador's ambassadors have had several meetings with Swedish and British officials on the matter. Ecuador has now offered the Swedish prosecutors who are involved in the case entry to the embassy in London, so they can question the defendant.

Assange's lawyers believe that there are plans to extradite him to the US in order to face charges of conspiracy to commit espionage. If found guilty of these, Assange would face a prison sentence in the US of up to 40 years.

According to the Guardian, Assange's lawyer in the US, Michael Ratner, believes Assange has already been secretly indicted by a grand jury in Washington, and that the death penalty would be a possible punishment for him.

Legal advisors have reported, however, that in Assange's case, the so-called case of "specialty", individuals can only be extradited to one country. For Assange, this country would be Sweden.

It would then lie with the British home secretary Theresa May to decide whether to waive specialty under section 58 of the Extradition Act of 2003, and have Assange extradited from Sweden to the US.

The British Foreign Office has not commented on whether May intends to do this if Assange is extradited to Sweden.

The Guardian reports that a decision on Assange's asylum claim from Ecuadorian officials will not be reached until after the Olympic games in London are over.