US Denies Role in Legal Battle Over Assange

Supporters of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange march in front of the embassy of Ecuador in London, where Assange has asked for asylum.

The United States said Wednesday it has no role in a legal battle over the fate of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has sought political asylum at Ecuador's embassy in London.

"To my knowledge, we are not involved in any of these discussions," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.

Assange outraged Washington in 2010 by using his WikiLeaks website to publish a massive trove of classified U.S. documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as more than 250,000 secret U.S. diplomatic cables.

In the U.S., Army Pvt. Bradley Manning is facing trial on a slew of charges alleging he was behind the huge document dump, passing on secret files to Assange's website.

Vaughan Smith, a supporter of Assange who hosted him at his country mansion for 13 months, told BBC television: "I genuinely believe that he fears for his life and he fears that if he goes to Sweden he'll be sent to America."

The 40-year-old Assange sought refuge at the Ecuadoran embassy in Britain on Tuesday in a last-ditch bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over alleged sex crimes.

Assange alleges the moves to extradite him to Sweden are politically motivated and that the ultimate aim is for him to be handed over to U.S. authorities.

But the State Department insisted the United States was not part of the legal wrangling.

"This is a UK-Ecuador-Sweden issue," she said.

Asked if the U.S. government had an opinion on Assange's case, she said: "We want to see justice served, let's leave it at that."

British police said Assange had breached bail conditions by spending the night at the embassy and now faces arrest.

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