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Swedish PM: Assange extradition a judicial matter

January 20, 2011

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LONDON—Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt insisted Thursday that his government will play no role in deciding whether WikiLeaks' founder, Julian Assange, should be extradited to the U.S.

Assange is in London, where he's battling extradition to Sweden over sex-crime allegations.

His supporters and lawyers have argued that if he's sent there, he may face extradition to the U.S., where he could be prosecuted and ultimately face the death penalty. It is not clear what charges U.S. authorities could bring against Assange.

Reinfeldt said that Sweden's policy is not to extradite people to nations with the death penalty. But he said Sweden's courts, not its government, would decide that.

"We should stay away from this," he told reporters in London, where he was attending a summit of Nordic and Baltic nations. "We should remember when we ask questions about this that these are legal systems talking to each other, not politicians."

Assange, 39, is wanted in Sweden to answer rape and molestation accusations stemming from encounters with two women during a trip to Sweden last summer.

American officials also are trying to build a criminal case against his organization WikiLeaks, which has published a trove of leaked diplomatic cables and secret U.S. military files on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Assange is on bail and living under curfew at a supporter's mansion in eastern England.

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