THE Swedish prosecutor seeking Julian Assange’s extradition on sex assault allegations has been challenged to substantiate her claims against the Australian in a London court.
An extradition hearing for the WikiLeaks founder has levelled criticism at prosecutor Marianne Ny, who in September last year issued a European warrant for Assange to return to Sweden and answer claims made by two women.
Outside court one of Assange’s legal team, Mark Stephens, said Ms Ny should “subject yourself to the cross-examination”, when the hearing continues tomorrow.
“Today, we have seen a Hamlet without the princess, a prosecutor who has been ready to feed the media with information, but has been unwilling to come here,” Mr Stephens said colourfully to a gathering of more than a hundred media.
Ms Ny has been criticised for releasing to the media details of the investigation against Assange, which include allegations of “minor rape” against one woman and the violent sexual assault of another in August last year.
The appropriateness of the warrant Ms Ny issued has also been questioned by defence counsel.
Earlier yesterday, the court was told by witness and former Swedish prosecutor Sven-Erik Alhem that if he were unable to locate a suspect for questioning as was the case with Assange, he too would have issued a warrant and that Ms Ny’s actions were “lawful”.
Lawyers have told the court Assange left Sweden in late September at a time when he was “worried” about threats made by international politicians about the release of secret documents on his WikiLeaks website.
“There were a lot of threatening statements made by politicians in the US and, I think, from Australia … you should keep in mind that during this period I’ve known Julian he has actually received death threats in the media … that he should be given the death sentence,” Assange’s Swedish lawyer Bjorn Hurtig said in evidence through an interpreter.
“As a consequence of this Julian was duly worried.”
Assange’s lawyers fear that if extradited, their client will be interrogated, refused bail, and tried in a closed court, before Swedish authorities hand him over to the US where he is being investigated for leaking secret government documents on his controversial website.
Prosecutors have assured Assange’s rights in Sweden and say he won’t be handed to the US.
“The person must not be extradited, charged or convicted or in any other way imprisoned for any other … crime committed,” Mr Alhem said when asked of Assange’s possible transfer from Sweden to the US.
“The person may not be surrendered to another EU (European Union) country or extradited to a country outside the EU … my understanding is that you do not risk being extradited to the US but there are exceptions that I’m not aware of and cannot comment on.”
The court will resume tomorrow when District Judge Howard Riddle will hear closing submissions from prosecutors and Assange’s legal team.
Outside court Assange spoke positively about his progress in the hearing, but admitted “it’s not the end”.