Letters support claim Assange would not face death penalty

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UK foreign secretaries wrote to assure Ecuador president over WikiLeaks founder???s extradition

Spanish MEP Ana Miranda holds up a placard in support of Julian Assange outside Belmarsh prison.
Spanish MEP Ana Miranda holds up a placard in support of Julian Assange outside Belmarsh prison. Photograph: Alastair Grant/AP

Ecuador???s president, Len??n Moreno, was assured by two British foreign secretaries that Julian Assange would not be extradited to a country where he could face the death penalty, according to letters seen by the Guardian.

Letters signed by the foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and his predecessor Boris Johnson, dated 7 March 2018 and 10 August 2018 respectively, confirm a person cannot be extradited if they could face the death penalty, according to British legislation.

The letters appear to back up Moreno???s claim that he had written undertakings from Britain that Assange???s fundamental rights would be respected in his first interview with English-speaking media since the WikiLeaks founder was ejected from the embassy.

Assange is expected to fight extradition to the US over an allegation he conspired with former army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to break into a classified government computer. Sweden is also expected to decide whether to reopen an investigation into rape and sexual assault allegations against him.

When there are competing extradition requests in the UK, the home secretary decides which country should take priority.

The letters, which are virtually identical, read: ???You have expressed concern that, should Julian Assange be extradited from the UK, there would be a risk that he could be subject to the death penalty. I can confirm that under UK law, a person???s extradition cannot be ordered if the person concerned will be subject to the death penalty.???

The letters go on to explain that the home secretary first must have received ???adequate assurances from that country that the death penalty will not be imposed or carried out??? if an extradition request is received from a country where the punishment is possible.

???There is further protection under UK law which is if the home secretary accepts an assurance as adequate, the person concerned may also seek leave to appeal to the hi