April 14 (UPI) — More than 70 British lawmakers have urged their government to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to Sweden to face a rape allegation.
The rape allegation against Assange in Sweden faces a statute of limitations that expires in August 2020. The accusation first surfaced in 2012, but was eventually dropped.
“The current investigation in Sweden has been discontinued only because of Assange’s unavailability,” lawmakers said in the letter.
He was unavailable because he was in asylum for seven years in Ecuador’s embassy in London.
Assange sought asylum at the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden after skipping bail over fears he would not receive a fair trial. Then, he feared an arrest for a bail breach would allow him to be extradited to the United States for publishing classified documents on WikiLeaks.
However, on Thursday, Ecuador withdrew its offer of asylum at the embassy because he violated international conventions and protocol, according to President Lenin Moreno, which led to his arrest that same day.
Swedish authorities are now considering whether the 2012 rape case can be re-opened.
A judge found Assange guilty of breaching bail Thursday, and he will remain in jail for the next three weeks. The judge ordered him to return May 2 for an extradition hearing to determine if he should be extradited to the United States to face computer hacking charges.
“We urge you to stand with the victims of sexual violence and seek to ensure the case against Mr. Assange can now be properly investigated,” the letter from Members of Parliament said.
Labor MP Stella Creasy tweeted that the 70 lawmakers were calling on government officials to be “champions of action” to make sure Assange faces justice in Sweden if authorities there request extradition.
Parliament members did not weigh in on whether Assange should be extradited to the United States in the letter, saying only that the matter was up to the courts to decide. But they clearly pressed for him to be extradited to Sweden if the rape allegation is resumed.
Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn told the BBC on Saturday that “if there are allegations which Julian Assange needs to answer, of sexual issues, sexual attacks that may or may not have taken place in Sweden, then it’s a matter for the courts to decide – but I do think he should answer those questions.”
Still, he stood by his position that Assange should not be extradited to the United States.
“My objection was to his extradition to the United States because I do believe that WikiLeaks told us the truth about what was actually happening in Afghanistan and in Iraq,” Corbyn said.