More than 70 MPs call for Sajid Javid to extradite Julian Assange to Sweden to face rape allegations

  • Video report by ITV News' Romilly Weeks

More than 70 MPs and peers are urging the Home Secretary to prioritise extraditing Julian Assange to Sweden to face an allegation of rape.

Labour's Stella Creasy MP wrote to Sajid Javid in a bid to mount pressure amid concerns the Assange's WikiLeaks activities would overshadow the longstanding sex offence accusation.

Sharing the letter on her social media pages, Ms Creasy wrote: "More than 70 MPs and peers have written to Javid and the shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, urging them to focus attention on the earlier Swedish investigations that Assange would face should the case be resumed at the alleged victim’s request."

Labour former lord chancellor Lord Falconer told BBC Radio 4: "I think this is really a matter for the courts to decide, isn't it?"

He added: "I don't think politicians should be saying he should or should not be... extradited."

The letter hopes that the formal investigation into an allegation of rape can be concluded, highlighting the limitation period the allegation has in Sweden, which expires in August 2020.

The letter was coordinated by Stella Creasy MP. Credit: PA

The letter says: "There is a serious risk that if the UK does not give every cooperation to any renewed request from Sweden there could be a further injustice. This would be unacceptable."

Assange's arrest on Thursday prompted the lawyer for a Swedish woman, who alleged she was raped by the Wikileaks Founder during a visit to Stockholm in 2010, to ask for the case to be reopened.

In May 2017, Sweden’s top prosecutor dropped the long-running inquiry into the claim against Assange, which he has always denied.

The alleged victim's lawyer, Elizabeth Massi Fritz, said she would do "everything we possibly can," to have the case reopened.

Ms Creasy's letter continues: "The decision to rescind the political asylum of Mr Assange by the Ecuadorian authorities seems to have been something of which both the UK and US authorities were made aware in advance.

"It is therefore of grave concern to us that it appears that the Swedish authorities were not aware of the plans made to arrest Mr Assange yesterday in London, and we would welcome clarity as to what action the UK authorities took to ensure that the Swedish prosecutors were informed in advance of this decision."

Julian Assange arrives at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London. Credit: PA

Meanwhile, an individual linked to WikiLeaks has been arrested trying to leave Ecuador, the country's interior ministry has said.

The person, who has not been identified, was preparing to travel to Japan, interior minister Maria Paula Romo told a local radio station.

Assange is currently in custody after being convicted of breaching bail following a dramatic arrest at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He is facing extradition to the US on charges of conspiring to break into a classified government computer which, on conviction, could attract a maximum jail sentence of five years, according to the US Department of Justice.

But WikiLeaks editor Kristinn Hrafnsson expressed concern there could be more serious charges awaiting Assange.

He said: “We believe this indictment presented in the extradition request is only a part of the story – that there will be more later, that will be added on, more charges.

“It probably adds to the likelihood that he will be extradited from the UK if it’s on relatively smaller charges.”

Earlier on Friday, Jeremy Corbyn said Britain must oppose any attempts by the US to extradite Assange.

The Labour leader said Assange should not be sent to America "for exposing evidence of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan".

His stance is in direct contrast to that of the prime minister, Theresa May, and several ministers who had welcomed the arrest of the 47-year-old whistleblower.