THE Australian government should step in to make sure that Julian Assange gets a fair trial in Sweden, said the WikiLeaks founder’s legal counsel Geoffrey Robertson, QC.
Assange lost his appeal in London against extradition to Sweden to answer sex crime allegations after judges rejected claims that moves to return him to Scandinavia were unfair and unlawful.
Mr Robertson told the ABC’s Lateline that his client fears Sweden may extradite him to the United States where his whistleblowing website released a huge cache of leaked US diplomatic cables infuriating Washington.
Mr Robertson said if an appeal attempt is unsuccessful “he may be patting reindeers by Christmas”.
“The problems he is going to face, and which Canberra has to do something about because it has a duty to help Australians in peril in foreign courts … Sweden doesn’t have bail for foreigners, so he is likely to be held in custody,” Mr Robertson said.
He said Assange was likely to be held in Gothenburg Prison which has been attacked by the European Commission Against Torture for the way it treats its foreign prisoners.
Mr Robertson said Assange’s trial in Sweden would be held in secret because it is a rape trial.
He said the real problem for Assange is not the rape trial, but the fear he could be extradited to the US.
“It’s really America, it’s the politicians who last year said, Sarah Palin said, he should be hunted down like bin Laden – that would give him nine years of freedom,” Mr Robertson said.
He said there was no evidence that Assange “wooed” whistleblower, American soldier Bradley Manning, who is in a military jail in the US awaiting possible court martial on charges that include “aiding the enemy.”
He said Assange invented an electronic dead letter box where sources could send him material in complete confidence.