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Corbyn wades into row over WikiLeaks man's arrest saying UK should 'oppose' Assange's US extradition

11 Apr 2019 Daily Mail Online

Jeremy Corbyn waded into a row over Julian Assange's arrest this evening, calling on the Government to oppose an extradition request by the US.

The Labour leader added his voice to claims made by Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, who caused a storm when she defended Assange as a whistleblower who had been 'exposing wrongdoing'.

Mr Corbyn wrote on Twitter: 'The extradition of Julian Assange to the US for exposing evidence of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan should be opposed by the British government.'

His post was retweeted by Assange's lawyer Jennifer Robinson, who has been romantically linked to Mr Corbyn's controversial aide Seumas Milne.

Earlier Miss Abbott had told the Commons that there should be 'protection afforded to those who take personal risk to disclose wrongdoing where that disclosure serves the public interest' and the US request to extradite Assange should be refused. 

Barrister Jennifer Robinson and Kristinn Hrafnsson, editor in chief of Wikileaks talk to the media outside the Westminster Magistrates Court after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested today

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, pictured, told the House of Commons today Julian Assange was only being pursued by the US for 'exposing wrongdoing' 

Jeremy Corbyn tweeted alongside Diane Abbott's Commons speech that Assange's extradition should be opposed 

She is likely to be Labour's home secretary – and thus in charge of such decisions – if Mr Corbyn ever becomes prime minister.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said people would be 'astounded' by her comments. US prosecutors accuse Assange of helping leak classified information.

Miss Abbott told the Commons: 'It this whistleblowing activity into illegal wars, mass murder, murder of civilians and corruption on a grand scale that has put Julian Assange in the crosshairs of the US administration. It is for this reason that they have once more issued an extradition warrant against Mr Assange.'

Seumas Milne and Jennifer Robinson at Courthouse Hotel in Shoreditch in June 2017

He had become a target of the authorities because he had 'exposed wrongdoing by US administrations and their military forces', she said. 

'Julian Assange is at risk of extradition to the US precisely because, on this side of the House we believe, he disclosed material which is the utmost public interest.'

In response, Mr Javid said: 'The whole country will be pretty astounded by the tone she has taken. She started talking about the reason for Mr Assange's arrest and tried to come up with all sorts of justification herself which have nothing to do with the reason.

'She is implying, actually quite clearly, that Mr Assange should be not subject to UK law. And that is something that should worry every British citizen should she ever become home secretary.' 

Tory MP Jack Lopresti said: 'Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks organisation he leads have, according to the Associated Press, endangered innocent lives with their reckless disclosure of sensitive information. 

Labour Party's Executive Director of Strategy and Communications Seumas Milne (left) with Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer and Shadow Secretary of State for Business Rebecca Long Bailey

Corbyn's post supporting Assange was retweeted by his lawyer Jennifer Robinson (pictured), who has been romantically linked to Mr Corbyn's controversial aide Seumas Milne

Human rights organisations have repeatedly made pleas that they be more discerning with their disclosures and these have been ignored.

'Diane Abbott's comments in defence of Assange are troubling from any Member of Parliament, but it is particularly concerning that she hopes one day to be in charge of MI5 and keeping us safe from exactly the kinds of dangers this man poses.'


Independent MP Mike Gapes, who quit Labour in February, said: 'Nothing surprises me from the Labour frontbenchers. It's par for the course, of course the Labour leadership would spout this ridiculous anti-American fantasy story when the reality is he not a nice man.'

Tory MP Bob Seely said: 'Diane Abbott was beyond bad. It as a truly awful performance in which someone who aspires to be home secretary dog-whistled to the Hard Left.

Assange winks and gives a thumbs up gesture as a police vehicle ferries him to Westminster Magistrates

'Abbott appeared to imply that Assange was a hero for helping to hack the US government.

'She needs to be arguing to uphold the law, not undermine it. Her performance was lamentable.'

Assange's lawyer Miss Robinson said his treatment 'sets a dangerous precedent for all journalists and media organisations in Europe and around the world'. 

She spoke to reporters alongside WikiLeaks editor in chief Kristinn Hrafnsson outside Westminster Magistrates Court

The 38-year-old human rights barrister seen her profile grow, particularly in Left-wing and celebrity circles, since she started representing Assange in 2010.

Nearly two years ago she was pictured canoodling with Mr Milne at a £300-a-night London hotel. 

The spin doctor and his wife reportedly separated months later. Miss Robinson's father described her encounter with Mr Milne as 'more like a friendship than anything else'.

Miss Robinson is friends with fellow human rights lawyer Amal Clooney and her film star husband George, and was a bridesmaid at their 2014 wedding in Venice. 

She practises at Doughty Street Chambers in London alongside her mentor, fellow Australian lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC, and has been linked to campaign group Hacked Off

Today she posted regular updates about Assange's arrest to her 31,500 Twitter followers. 

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