Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Sunday (Maroochydore, Australia)

,CyGillard Could Get Me Killed' Death Penalty for Espionage Charge

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Sunday (Maroochydore, Australia)

,CyGillard Could Get Me Killed' Death Penalty for Espionage Charge

Article excerpt

WIKILEAKS founder Julian Assange says Prime Minister Julia Gillard has put his life and freedom at risk by publicly pre-judging his actions as "criminal".

In written correspondence between Mr Assange and the Australian Government, made available exclusively to the Daily, Mr Assange highlights serious fears that Ms Gillard's statements questioning the legality of WikiLeaks would violate his right to a fair trial.

He said he feared he and his staff could be killed as he was aware senior figures in the United States, including politician Sarah Palin, had been calling for his arrest and assassination.

The 39-year-old Queenslander is currently in solitary confinement in Wandsworth Prison in England for his own safety.

He is due to appear in court for a second time on Tuesday after being arrested on a Swedish warrant.

PROSECUTORS want to question Julian Assange about allegations of rape and sexual molestation made by two women.

WikiLeaks supporters insist the allegations are politically motivated because of the sensitive nature of the leaked cables.

The US Government is considering extraditing Mr Assange for espionage or charges involving obtaining stolen property.

The charge of espionage involves the death penalty. Either charge would be the first of its kind.

Despite pleas from Mr Assange's Sunshine Coast-based mother Christine, the Australian Government has yet to commit to stepping in and bringing him back to Australia or assuring he won't be passed on to a third country .

Prime Minister Gillard was on holiday yesterday, leaving the Attorney-General's Department to answer a series of questions from the Daily about whether the government's stand was putting Mr Assange's life at risk.

But the answers were less clear than the allegations.

"Mr Assange has the same rights as any other Australian citizen," a department spokesman said. …

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