Noam Chomsky takes apart the ‘scandalous’ arrest of Julian Assange

Protest outside Assange trial at Westminster Magistrates Court

Protest outside Assange trial at Westminster Magistrates Court

He was arrested Thursday and is now in British custody facing an extradition request from the United States on charges of conspiring to break into a Pentagon computer.

Then she joked: "I do think it's a little ironic that he may be the only foreigner that this administration would welcome to the United States".

However, lawyer Rebecca Niblock said that, if Sweden made an extradition request, it would be for the home secretary to decide which would take precedence, considering factors such as which was made first and the seriousness of the offence.

"During his stay at the Ecuadorian Embassy, the government of the former president Rafael Correa, they tolerated things like Mr Assange putting faeces on the walls of the embassy and other types of behaviour of this kind that is far removed from the minimum respect a guest should have in a country which has generously welcomed him", she said.

The letter was also copied to Diane Abbott, the home affairs spokeswoman for the main opposition Labour party.

Tory former Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt told the BBC: "The minimising of the issues in relation to sexual assault are really quite disturbing".

"A kneejerk response that presumes that hacking is acceptable if the perpetrators can claim that their motives were journalistic is particularly risky when it emanates from those aspiring to become prime minister or home secretary, such as Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott". The battle between Assange and the USA government was always going to be epic, involving concepts like free speech, journalists' rights, national interests, even treason. "This extradition would be wrong so we oppose it".

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Assange's lawyers meanwhile confirmed that U.S. prosecutors have 65 days to submit a full set of charges, raising the prospect of additional criminal allegations being introduced that would result in a far longer sentence. He has not had a chance to enter a plea in response to the US charge, but he has claimed that all of his WikiLeaks actions are those of a legitimate journalist.

"You read the testimony and concerns of the women who have been involved, I have no view on the matter because it must come before a court, but it seems essential to me that he should face justice for what he has been accused of", Burt said.

Some of the sexual misconduct accusations are no longer viable because their time ran out.

"In this case, the suspected crime of rape would be subject to statute of limitation in mid-August 2020".

The alleged victim's lawyer, Elisabeth Massi Fritz, told the ABC she hoped prosecutors would "make the only correct decision to resume the preliminary investigation" and request Assange be extradited to Sweden.

Legal experts said on Friday that the case could take several years mired in British courts and, if appealed, potentially go all the way to the European Court of Justice.

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