Scott Ludlam in Europe to ‘protect Julian Assange’s human rights’

December 26, 2011 12:00AM

SWEDISH officials have met an Australian senator to discuss the future of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Julian Assange

As extradition proceedings against the 40-year-old Australian continue in London, Greens Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam has embarked on a European mission to secure guarantees about Assange’s human rights, should he be extradited to the Nordic nation.

Swedish prosecutors want Assange in Stockholm for questioning over allegations that he sexually assaulted two women in the capital in August 2010.

Assange denies the claims and is refusing to return to Sweden, fearing that the country will hand him over to the United States, where his secret-leaking website is the subject of a major investigation.

During the time he spent in Sweden, Senator Ludlam was able to meet justice officials and discuss the process faced by people being extradited to Sweden.

“For us it was a chance to get our heads clear about how it would work if and when (Assange) is ordered to return to Sweden,” Senator Ludlam said.

“There is nothing out of the ordinary in that respect, if he is sent there … it appears his human rights will be protected.”

Senator Ludlam also saw photographs of the remand centre where Assange would be held while Swedish prosecutors decide if he will be charged and was given a full briefing about it.

But his hopes of securing a guarantee from the Swedish government that Assange would not be handed on to the US were not realised.

“It didn’t seem appropriate to raise it with the officials I met with. I needed to speak with the foreign minister for that,” Senator Ludlam said.

Following the trip to Sweden, the Greens communications spokesman met with Assange for several hours to discuss what he had learned.

The pair met at Assange’s new base at Kent, about an hour out of London.

Since a short time after his arrest on December 7, 2010, Assange was bailed to live at a lavish country estate at Norfolk.

Senator Ludlam said “logistical” issues led to Assange’s recent relocation and he still wears an electronic tracking device and has to report daily to police as part of his bail conditions.

From February 1, Assange will face a panel of seven British supreme court justices for a two-day hearing where he will appeal the rulings of lower courts that he should be extradited to Stockholm.

Senator Ludlam plans to take the information he has learned in Stockholm to the Australian Parliament and seek cross-party support for the Government to do “everything possible to prevent this extradition”.

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