STOCKHOLM - Julian Assange feared Sweden would hand him over to the United States where he would be jailed for life if he returned to the Nordic country to answer rape allegations, his lawyer said on Thursday, after Ecuador granted the Wikileaks founder asylum.
Assange, an Australian, has been holed up in Quito's embassy in London for eight weeks after he lost a legal battle to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over alleged rape, sexual molestation and illegal coercion.
Per Samuelsson, a lawyer representing Assange in Sweden, said his client was relieved by Ecuador's decision to grant him asylum, as he felt Stockholm would ultimately hand him over to the United States which is still furious that his Wikileaks website leaked hundreds of thousands of secret military and diplomatic cables.
"Who would want to spend the rest of their life in prison. Especially if it were as a result of the work he has done as a journalist?" Samuelsson said.