Julian Assange’s European defence team has said it will try to seek asylum in France for the WikiLeaks founder, whose trial for extradition to the US on spying charges starts next week in London.
“We consider the situation is sufficiently serious that our duty is to talk about it” with President Emmanuel Macron, prominent French lawyer Eric Dupont-Moretti said.
He was one of a team of lawyers lined up at a Paris news conference to explain why they view the case against Assange as unfair, evoking his poor health and alleged violations of his rights while in jail in London.
They also warned of “consequences for all journalists” if Assange is extradited and jailed in the US.
French members of the team said they have been working on a “concrete demand” for Mr Macron to grant Assange asylum in France, where he has children and where WikiLeaks was present at its founding.
“It is not an ordinary demand,” lawyer Antoine Vey said, noting that Assange is not on French soil.
Baltasar Garzon, the Spanish co-ordinator of Assange’s team, reiterated his client’s plan to claim during his extradition hearing that the Trump administration offered him a pardon.
The alleged condition was that Assange must agree to say that Russia was not involved in leaking Democratic National Committee emails during the 2016 US election campaign.
The White House has firmly denied the claim.
Assange spent seven years in Ecuador’s London embassy before being evicted in April 2019.
He was arrested by British police for jumping bail in 2012.
In November, Sweden dropped a sex crimes investigation against him because so much time had elapsed.