Yet another twist, if you wish to call it that, in the case of Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange: The Guardian reports that a police letter has informed him he must present himself to a London police station on Friday at 11:30 am. Since last week, Assange has been seeking political asylum at Ecuador’s embassy in London, to avoid extradition to Sweden where he would face police questioning about allegations of sexual assault in August of 2010 brought by two Swedish women.
Assange has claimed that the sex was consensual and that the two women’s allegations are politically motivated. He has also accused Sweden of being a “Saudi Arabia of feminism.”
A spokesman for London’s Metropolitan police said that a surrender notice had been served this morning “upon a 40-year-old man that requires him to attend a police station at a date and time of our choosing.” The police also noted that “this is standard practice in extradition cases and is the first step in the removal process.” If Assange fails to surrender, the spokesman said that it would be “a further breach of conditions” and that Assange would be “liable to arrest.”
Ecuador has said that Assange is under its protection while it considers his asylum application and, indeed, so long as he remains in the embassy’s building he is “beyond the reach of the police,” according to the British Foreign Office. Ecuador’s ambassador to the UK left London on Sunday to return home to discuss Assange’s application for asylum.
A number of well-known Americans — including Michael Moore, Oliver Stone, Noam Chomsky, Danny Glover, Naomi Wolf and Bill Maher — have signed a letter supporting Assange’s application for political asylum in Ecuador. Daniel Ellsberg, the military analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971 and who has long supported Assange, has also signed the letter, as have about 4,000 others. On Monday, Robert Naiman, the policy director of Just Foreign Policy, delivered the letter to the Ecuadorian embassy.
Stating that the US government had made no secret about its “hostility” to Wikileaks, the letters notes that “there is a strong likelihood that once in Sweden, [Assange] would be imprisoned, and then likely extradited to the United States.” Assange and his supporters have said that, were he to be extradited to the US, he could be charged and found guilty under the Espionage Act and sentenced to the death penalty.
Wikileaks is responsible for the largest leak of classified US military and diplomatic documents ever.
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