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1 Aug, 2012 20:12

WikiLawyer: US investigation against Assange 'unprecedented in size and scale'

A US criminal inquiry against WikiLeaks frontman has reached an “unprecedented” size and scale, Julian Assange’s lawyer told RT. Sweden, on the other hand, seems to have turned a deaf ear to all offers to interview Assange anywhere in the UK.

Sweden has turned down Ecuador's invitation to question Assange at its London embassy, WikiLeaks' Twitter reports. The news is yet to be confirmed by officials from either country.The frontman of the whistle-blowing site has been holed up in Ecuador's diplomatic mission for over six weeks now, seeking political asylum. Assange lost an extradition appeal in the UK Supreme Court in May and will be sent to Sweden once British law enforcement manages to get hold of him.In Sweden, prosecutors are investigating a sex crimes case against Assange. The scandal-stirring whistleblower is wanted for an interview, as no official charges have been put forward yet. Assange denies the sex crime allegations. He believes they are a pretext to hand him over to the US, where many officials have talked in favor of trying Assange in a court-martial as a terrorist and spy after a massive leak of secret diplomatic and military files.There are signs that the US has already lodged a sealed indictment to sue Assange, and that his case might outdo the one of Bradley Manning, Jennifer Robinson, Julian Assange's lawyer, told RT in an interview.RT: WikiLeaks' Twitter feed says Sweden has refused to question Assange in London. Are you aware of any confirmation from either side? And, why do you think Sweden would not want to talk to Assange in Ecuador's embassy?Jennifer Robinson: I have received confirmation from Mr. Assange himself that the request that was put to Sweden to question him in the Ecuadorian embassy has been denied. But we do not have any explanation for that, and we have never had an adequate explanation from Sweden as to why they have not used neutral legal systems to question Julian in relation to these allegations. He has been offering his testimony since well before the European Arrest Warrant was issued. And there have been other ways of obtaining his testimony. He’s offered it here in the Swedish embassy, at Scotland Yard, by telephone – by various means that are legal means available under the Swedish Treaty with Great Britain. As I’ve said, we have not had any clear explanation from Sweden as to why they have not used that today.RT: Ecuador will announce its decision on Assange's asylum application after the Olympics. What if it refuses? Do you and his legal team have a Plan B?JB: As was announced just last week, Baltasar Garzon, the very well respected international jurist, has been appointed as the head of the legal team managing this matter. We are now just waiting for the outcome of the asylum application with Ecuador.It is impossible to speculate about what might happen, depending on the outcome. RT: You met the Australian Attorney-General over Assange's case. Australia refuses to protect their citizen or make requests on his behalf. Why is Ecuador protecting him, and not his home country?JB: That is a very good question, and I think one that the Australian public is now asking of our government. We have been putting these questions to the Australian government for 18 months now, since the arrest warrant first came through.Julian’s main concern is and has always been the risk of onward extradition to the United States to be prosecuted for his publishing activities and his work with WikiLeaks.We have requested the Australian government to ask the very same assurances that we now see Ecuador ask, in accordance with their obligations in investigating a political asylum application. But it is a great shame; this is to my knowledge the first time in history that an Australian citizen has sought refuge with a foreign government, because our government refuses to take the actions which it was legally possible for our government to take.RT: The US Ambassador to Australia said Washington is not interested in what is happening with Assange. If that's the case why are they not giving any official assurances?JB: Again it is a very good question, and one we have been asking. Many suspect that there is an existing sealed indictment for Julian, and that they’re simply waiting for the appropriate time to implement that indictment. As a matter of US law, it is a criminal offense to reveal the existence of a sealed indictment. But what the US government has not done, and which is available to them – if they are not interested, as the US ambassador states, then it would be a simple matter for the US Attorney General to say it explicitly to confirm that the criminal investigation is over and that no charges will be laid and no extradition request will be made. But they have so far failed to do so. Unless and until they do that, we are very alert to the possibility that this is an ongoing criminal investigation. All of the evidence that is coming out of what we know about the Grand Jury and what is coming out of the Bradley Manning proceedings – confirm that there is, as the Australian government has been reported, by our own embassy in Washington, a criminal investigation of unprecedented size and scale.So unless and until the US government confirms that the criminal investigation is over and no charges will be laid, we have to be alert to that very real possibility.