Assange: I could die in a US jail
Published 24/12/2010 | 00:00
Julian Assange has said it would be "politically impossible" for Britain to extradite him to the United States for espionage.
In an interview with The Guardian, the WikiLeaks founder also claimed there was a "high chance" that he would be killed if he was imprisoned in an American jail.
Mr Assange is currently on bail facing extradition proceedings to Sweden on charges of sexual assault.
However there are reports that the US authorities are considering whether they could extradite him to stand trial for espionage over the leak of tens of thousands of diplomatic cables.
Mr Assange said that he believed that it would be difficult for the British to hand him over to the Americans if there was strong public support for him in the UK.
"It's all a matter of politics. We can presume there will be an attempt to influence UK political opinion, and to influence the perception of our standing as a moral actor," he said.
He added: "Legally the UK has the right to not extradite for political crimes. Espionage is the classic case of political crimes. It is at the discretion of the UK government as to whether to apply to that exception."
He also said that if was extradited to the US, there was a "high chance" of him being killed "Jack Ruby-style" - a reference to the man who killed Lee Harvey Oswald before he could stand trial for the murder of President John F Kennedy.