WikiLeaks founder Assange to request asylum in France after rape allegation dropped

2017-05-19 15:55:58 GMT2017-05-19 23:55:58(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

PARIS, May 19 (Xinhua) -- Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, will appeal for asylum in France to avoid extradition to the United States where he could face trial over the publication of classified documents, his lawyer Juan Branco said Friday.

Branco told France Info radio that since the allegations over sex crimes were dropped in Sweden, Assange would now try to leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been staying since 2012, and ask for political asylum in France.

"It would be the responsibility of France to give him political asylum," Branco said.

Assange has been living at the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden over alleged rape which he had denied.

Since the investigation surrounding rape charges was dropped on Friday, the Australian computer programmer now risks being extradited by Sweden to the United States to stand trial for allegedly leaking military U.S. reports and documents showing Washington had spied on world leaders, his defense lawyer said.

"Threats have been stated by (U.S. President) Donald Trump himself a few weeks ago aiming to jail Julian Assange for life because of his activities as a journalist and his revelation of corruption scandals and crime against humanity," he added.

In 2015, Assange asked France to grant him political asylum status, but his request was rejected.

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