03/09/2012

Assange Death Penalty Fears 'Unfounded' - Hague

The UK's Foreign Secretary William Hague has said that fears Julian Assange will face the death penalty if extradited from Sweden to the US are "without foundation".

Mr Assange has been granted asylum by Ecuador.

But he has been living in the South American nation's embassy for months as he fights extradition to Sweden on sexual assault allegations.

The Wikileaks founder's supporters say the charges in Sweden could lead to him facing trial in the US in connection with documents he disclosed.

Mr Assange, a 41-year-old Australian citizen, denies assaulting two women in Stockholm in 2010 and says the sex was consensual.

Mr Hague said that both the UK and Sweden would seek assurances from the US that it would safeguard Mr Assange's human rights if he were to face trial there.

The Human Rights Act prevents the UK or Sweden from extraditing people for trial in countries where they could face the death penalty.

And in a written statement to Parliament, Mr Hague said: "As we have discussed with the government of Ecuador, the United Kingdom and Sweden robustly implement and adhere to the highest standards of human rights protection.

"The suggestion that Mr Assange's human rights would be put at risk by the possibility of onward extradition from Sweden to a third country is also without foundation...

"In practice, this means that the United Kingdom could only consent to Mr Assange's onward extradition from Sweden to a third country if satisfied that extradition would be compatible with his human rights, and that there was no prospect of a death sentence being imposed or carried out."

(NE)

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