A protester and his sign head to a pro-Assange rally in Sydney. Photo: Peter Rae/AAP

WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange he would rather face alleged sexual harassment in Sweden than to be extradited to the U.S, as his lawyer said.

We are absolutely happy to answer those queries if and when they come up,” his attorney Jennifer Robinson told Sky News television in an interview when asked about rape charge.

While the British government was urged to make sure that the Australian whistleblower can stand trial in Sweden for an alleged sexual harassment charge, which was already dropped by Sweden in 2017.

More than 70 British parliament members on Friday signed a letter to Home Secretary Sajid Javid. They asked the minister to do his best to extradite Assange to Sweden if the Scandinavian nation wants it.

“Tonight over 70 parliamentarians stand with victims of sexual violence, and are calling on both the Home Secretary and the shadow Home Sec to urge them both to be champions of action to ensure Julian Assange faces Swedish authorities and is extradited there if they so request,” said Labour Party politician Stella Creasy.

Most of the letter’s signatories are from the opposition Labour Party. The party’s leader Jeremy Corbyn does not want London to extradite Assange to the U.S where the 49-year-old whistleblower faces computer hacking charge.

Assange was arrested at the Ecuadorean embassy in London last Thursday after spending his life in the embassy complex for seven years. The Ecuadorean government withdrew his asylum and accused him of interfering in Quito’s international affairs and being rude to the embassy’s staff members.

Assange shocked the world when he leaked 250,000 classified diplomatic cables in 2010. He also conspired with former U.S intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning (formerly known as Bradley Manning) to access confidential files from the Pentagon website.

Julian Assange in custody image by AP

The extradition will take a long process

An article from Raphael Satter on the Associated Press on April 12 said that the extradition will not take place soon given both the lengthy process of the extradition and how U.S courts and judicial system see Assange’s action.

There is an extradition treaty between the U.S and the U.K which took effect in the Bush administration.  The pact states that nobody could be extradited for political offenses, but it does not explain more detail what political attack means.

During the interview with NPR, John Bellinger, former adviser of the U.S State Department, explained that historically, the political offense is defined as an offense against the state in forms of treason, espionage, and sedition.

But Assange’s lawyers will be trying their best to defend their clients by claiming that the charge is politically motivated. While the U.S Justice Department argues that Assange was charged with computer hacking, not espionage.

“Oh, absolutely. That’s going to be one of their chief defenses, I’m sure. And that’s one of the reasons I suspect that the charges by the Justice Department were very carefully tailored not to charge him under our espionage laws but instead to charge him with conspiracy to hack into a computer so that he’s not being charged with a political offense. But, of course, his defense lawyers are going to say that this is really all political, it’s politically motivated, and that he’s really being charged with a crime against the United States,” Bellinger told NPR.

Many activists believe that the U.S does not focus on the hacking itself, but what Assange did in 2010 had embarrassed Washington.

Bellinger, who served under the George W.Bush presidency, added that Washington could not change the charge except the charge for which Assange was extradited. Additional charges can be imposed after the extradition is done.

The court, but politicians have their decisions too. From the British government’s hearing to Swedish prosecutors who could reopen the case that had been canceled and the process could take one to two years, said Rebecca Niblock, a lawyer specializing at extradition law.