13:01 GMT08 March 2021
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    WikiLeaks Founder Assange Arrested in London as Ecuador Withdraws Political Asylum (84)
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    Abbot said that the then-home secretary Theresa May had "blocked his extradition on what she said were human rights grounds," adding that "there may be human rights grounds in relation to Assange."

    UK shadow home secretary Diane Abbot urged Theresa May on Friday to block Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's extradition to the US as done for Gary McKinnon in 2012.  

    Mrs. May blocked his extradition request on the grounds that doctors warned he would have committed suicide if faced with a conviction in the US.  

    Mr. Assange, 47, was forcefully arrested on behalf of the US Department of Justice (DoJ), who charged the activist with his involvement in a "computer hacking conspiracy" with Chelsea Manning.

    Assange faces up to 12 months in a UK prison for breaching his bail conditions, but could face up to five years in the US, according to the DoJ. 

    "If you remember the Gary McKinnon case, the Americans insisted on extraditing him," Ms. Abbott told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Friday. "He had done this massive computer hack, but his real crime was to have embarrassed the American military and security service."

    — BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) April 12, 2019

    Whilst Ms. Abbott noted that Assange's sexual assault charges in Sweden were "serious", she said that the charges were never brought. "If the Swedish government wants to come forward with those charges, I believe that Assange should face the criminal justice system," Ms Abbott said. 

    "It is not the rape charges, serious as they are, it is about WikiLeaks and all of that embarrassing information about the activities of the American military and security services that was made public." 

    ​She said that he was at the very least a whistleblower and that "much of the information that he brought into the public domain, it could be argued, was very much in the public interest." 

    UK Labour and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn also urged the UK government to block Assange's extradition, stating that Assange had simply exposed evidence of US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Abbott said in an address to Commons on Thursday that Assange was in the "crosshairs of the US administration" over his work with Wikileaks. 

    She said: "On this side of the house we want to make the point that the reason we are debating Julian Assange this afternoon, even though the only charge he may face in this country is in relation to his bail hearings, is entirely due to the whistleblowing activities of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks."

    "It is this whistleblowing into illegal wars, mass murder, murder of civilians and corruption on a grand scale, that has put Julian Assange in the crosshairs of the US administration," she added. "It is for this reason that they have once more issued an extradition warrant against Mr Assange."

    READ MORE: Petition Urging UK Not to Hand Over Assange to US Gets Over 40,000 Signatures

    UK home secretary Sajid Javid responded, stating: "Why is it whenever someone has a track record of undermining the UK and our allies and the values we stand for, you can almost guarantee that the leadership of the party opposite will support those who intend to do us harm? You can always guarantee that from the party opposite." 

    Christine Assange, Mr. Assange's mother, launched a series of angry tweets against the Prime Minister and Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno accusing them of diverting "attention away from her Brexit dog's breakfast by cheering on the thuggish, brutal, unlawful arrest" of her "courageous, tortured multi-award winning journalist son Julian!"

    WikiLeaks Founder Assange Arrested in London as Ecuador Withdraws Political Asylum (84)


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