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Updated: December 24, 2010 20:47 IST

Assange says he fears for his life if extradited to U.S.

Hasan Suroor
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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said on Thursday that it would be “politically impossible” for U.K. to extradite him to U.S., and that the final word on his fate if he were charged with espionage would rest with the British Prime Minister, David Cameron. File Photo
AP WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said on Thursday that it would be “politically impossible” for U.K. to extradite him to U.S., and that the final word on his fate if he were charged with espionage would rest with the British Prime Minister, David Cameron. File Photo

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Friday expressed fear for his life if he was extradited to America where authorities are reported to be exploring ways of charging him with espionage for releasing thousands of classified official documents.

Mr. Assange said that there was a "high risk" of him being killed "Jack Ruby-style" in the U.S. prison system, a reference to Jack Leon Ruby, a Texas nightclub operator who was jailed for the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin of John F. Kennedy, and died while awaiting a fresh trial.

The 39-year- old Australian whistleblower is on bail pending court proceedings to decide whether he should be extradited to Sweden to answer allegations of sexual assault made by two Swedish women.

Speaking to The Guardian, Mr. Assange made an indirect appeal to Prime Minister David Cameron to resist any American attempt to seek his extradition for alleged espionage.

"Legally the U.K. has the right to not extradite for political crimes. Espionage is the classic case of political crimes. It is at the discretion of the U.K. Government as to whether to apply to that exception," he said adding, "There’s a new government which wants to show it hasn’t yet been co-opted by the U.S." to the extent the previous Labour administration was.

Mr. Assange believed that if there was strong public support for him in Britain it would be "politically impossible" for the government to agree to his extradition to America.

"It's all a matter of politics. We can presume there will be an attempt to influence U.K. political opinion, and to influence the perception of our standing as a moral actor," he said.

Mr. Assange, who is under virtual house arrest as part of his bail conditions, was reported to have secured a huge advance for a book about himself and Wikileaks. The book is expected to be published in the spring both here and in America.

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