Philip Dorling August 16, 2012
Foreign Minister Bob Carr is confident Julian Assange will receive a fair trial if extradited to Sweden, despite a Swedish cabinet minister attacking the WikiLeaks publisher as a "sick" and a "pitiable coward".
Swedish Social Affairs Minister Göran Hägglund engaged in a Twitter diatribe yesterday in response to premature media reports that Ecuador President Rafael Correa had granted Assange political asylum.
Mr Hägglund condemned Assange as "Sick. A coward who dare[s] not have his case tried by a court. If he had done what he is accused of, he is a wretch."
In an interview with Swedish newspaper Expressen, the minister said a grant of asylum by Ecuador would be "astonishing" and that Assange was a "miserable wretch".
Assange sought asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in London on June 19 after Britain's highest court rejected his final appeal against extradition to Sweden to face questioning about sexual assault allegations.
The WikiLeaks publisher fears extradition to Sweden will facilitate his extradition to the US on espionage charges arising from the alleged leaking of classified US military and diplomatic reports.
President Correa is expected to announce his decision on Assange's asylum application soon.
Senator Carr denied that Mr Hägglund's remarks, and previous strident criticism of Assange by Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and Foreign Minister Carl Bilt, had prejudiced Assange's prospects of a fair trial.
"Mr Hägglund's reported remarks are a matter for him," Senator Carr said. He remained satisfied with Swedish officials' assurances that Assange would be treated in accordance with due process.