Lawyers for Julian Assange have filed a new appeal to the Swedish court, as the WikiLeaks founder continues to be stuck in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for over two years.
In the submission presented to the Swedish Court of Appeal last Friday, Assange’s lawyers say that, “Residence in the embassy is, in other words, a result of the deprivation of liberty imposed on Assange by Sweden.” It goes on to say that his embassy sojourn is already nearly as long as the “maximum sentence for the suspected crime.”
The lawyers believe that to “break the deadlock,” the 43-year-old Australian should be questioned at the embassy in Knightsbridge, where he is staying, rather than go to Sweden, which he believes could lead to his extradition to the US. Swedish prosecutors, however, think it’s a “far-fetched idea”. But in the US this May, Julian Assange was still under “active and ongoing” criminal investigation, which started in 2010 due to WikiLeaks activity. There he may face a 35-year prison sentence for revealing classified documents on the country’s military activities in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The defense also urged the Swedish side to hand over text messages, sent by one of Assange’s accusers, which they believe could serve as evidence that there was no ground for the arrest warrant. Assange says they reveal the woman’s ambiguity over his arrest and even her opposition to the case, based on sexual assault allegations.
The WikiLeaks claim adds that Assange “is most likely under auditory surveillance,” meaning he suspects that the Ecuadorian Embassy has been bugged by the UK. In the summer of last year, a hidden microphone was found beneath a desk in the Ecuadorian ambassador’s office.
The embassy is under constant surveillance by police stationed outside. The officers involved in the operation that has so far cost £7 million have orders to arrest Assange, should he try to leave.
Assange’s lawyers warned “should he be forced to seek hospital care he will lose his political asylum and will be arrested.” Previously, Assange complained about serious health issues he had developed during his embassy confinement that began in August 2012 – a potentially life-threatening heart defect and a chronic lung condition.