By David Batty –
One of Julian Assange‘s most prominent supporters, Jemima Khan, has said she would like to see the WikiLeaks founder, who has made an asylum bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, confront the rape allegations made against him by two Swedish women.
The socialite and charity fundraiser, who faces losing the £20,000 she put towards his bail money after Assange took refuge at the Ecuadorean embassy in London and sought political asylum, said on Twitter that the women deserved a response to their allegations.
She wrote: “For the record, in response to those asking about Assange & bail money…. I personally would like to see Assange confront the rape allegations in Sweden and the 2 women at the centre have a right to a response.”
But Khan, one of several high-profile celebrities and activists who have supported Assange since his arrest in December 2010, said she also believed Assange was justified over his fears of being extradited to the US if he goes to Sweden.
“[T]here is no doubt that Assange has a real fear of being extradited to the US nor that the US gov is out to get WikiLeaks,” she tweeted.
Khan and other supporters of Assange, including film director Ken Loach and publisher Felix Dennis, posted bail totalling £200,000 to Westminster magistrates court, with a further £40,000 as promised sureties, to secure the WikiLeaks’ founder’s freedom when he first faced extradition proceedings in 2010.
Earlier this week, she voiced her surprise at Assange’s asylum bid, writing on Twitter that she had “expected him to face the allegations”.
Britain’s supreme court last month upheld a high court ruling from last year that Assange could be extradited to Sweden, where he faces accusations of raping a woman and sexually molesting and coercing another in Stockholm while on a visit to give a lecture in August 2010.
Assange says the sex was consensual and the allegations against him are politically motivated. His WikiLeaks website has published a huge quantity of US diplomatic and military cables, and his lawyers say that if he goes to Sweden he risks extradition to the US on espionage charges for which the penalty can be death.
Assange, an Australian national, has until 28 June to take his case to a European court in Strasbourg if he wishes to argue he did not receive a fair trial in Britain.
Oliver Lewis, partner at solicitors Powell Spencer and Partners, has said that as Assange’s asylum bid was a breach of the terms of his bail, his supporters would have to persuade the courts that they should not forfeit their money and prove they had done all they could to prevent him breaking the court order.
-The Guardian –