Julian Assange Set To Ignore Surrender Notice

Julian Assange is unlikely to comply with a surrender notice sent to him yesterday by the Metropolitan Police Service.

The WikiLeaks founder told BBC Newsnight it was highly unlikely he would submit to the Met’s request to turn himself in to the nearest police station.

The Embassy of Ecuador confirmed yesterday that officers from the Met delivered a letter to Assange, but said it was still assessing his application for asylum.

Application under consideration

Assange has been seeking asylum in Ecuador since he lost his final plea to avoid extradition from the UK to Sweden, where he currently faces allegations of raping a woman and sexually molesting and coercing another in Stockholm in August 2010.

He claims the sex was consensual and that the accusations against him are politically motivated. Assange has not been charged in Sweden, but is wanted for questioning.

Ecuador’s ambassador has returned to South America for discussions on the application. Ecuador itself has said Assange is under the country’s protection whilst the application is considered.

Assange has plenty of backers. A petition of 4,000 was delivered by campaign group Just Foreign Policy to the Ecuadorian Embassy, urging President Correa of Ecuador to grant the WikiLeaks’ founder asylum. A letter signed by a number of prominent left-wing Americans, including documentary maker Michael Moore, philosopher Noam Chomsky and Lethal Weapon actor Danny Glover, was also handed to the embassy.

“We believe Mr. Assange has good reason to fear extradition to Sweden, as there is a strong likelihood that once in Sweden, he would be imprisoned, and then likely extradited to the United States,” the letter read.

“As US legal expert and commentator Glenn Greenwald recently noted, were Assange to be charged in Sweden, he would be imprisoned under ‘very oppressive conditions, where he could be held incommunicado,’ rather than released on bail. Pre-trial hearings for such a case in Sweden are held in secret, and so the media and wider public, Greenwald notes, would not know how the judicial decisions against Mr Assange would be made and what information would be considered.

“We also call on you to grant Mr. Assange political asylum because the ‘crime’ that he has committed is that of practicing journalism. He has revealed important crimes against humanity committed by the US government.”

A TechWeekEurope poll has shown a quarter of  our readers see Assange as a freedom fighter, with a total of 42 percent opting for positive descriptions including “hero” and “pin-up”. Opinion was deeply divided however: 40 percent opted for less flattering descriptions including “loser” and “terrorist”.

Eighteen percent of readers opted for the factual but impartial description: “Australian”.

Meanwhile, some onlookers have noted the irony that Ecuador is home to a number of human rights’ abuses – something Assange has been a vocal opponent of.

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Thomas Brewster

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

View Comments

  • If an allegation has been made then it does need to be investigated although it does look very dubious based on the 'convenient' timings of the allegations.

    The worrying thing is he is only required for questioning - why spend all this time and money when they could simply catch a plane and question him here - or even a video call.
    So suspect Mr. Assange does have something to worry about as it looks like a ruse to get him to a place where he can be extradited to the US.

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