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WikiLeaks: U.S. Cables Could Botch Assange Case

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange prepares to speak to reporters on the grounds of Ellingham Hall in Norfolk, England, Dec. 17, 2010. AFP/Getty Images

While the Justice Department reportedly works on building a conspiracy case against the founder of the document-dumping website WikiLeaks, newly released classified documents illustrate the U.S. government's disdain for the human rights standards that might prevent the founder's extradition to the United States.

US Trying WikiLeaks Conspiracy Case

Europe's human rights standards, which might be applied in an extradition appeal from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, were described by a U.S. official as an "irritant", the Guardian newspaper of London reported Friday evening.

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The disclosure comes from the trove of secret State Department cables released to a number of news outlets by WikiLeaks.

Cables from as recently as 2009 reflect the U.S. government's opposition to any attempts from Europe to block American extraditions on human rights grounds, the Guardian reported.

Assange is currently appealing in a British court an extradition request from Sweden for a sexual assault case. Assange denies the charges. He could appeal any extradition decision to the European court of human rights, which has banned deportations to countries that practice torture, the Guardian reported.

The Council of Europe, the highest authority for human rights in Europe, has opposed extraditions to the United States, prompting Vincent Carver, a consul general, to criticize the group, the Guardian reported.

"The Council of Europe (COE) likes to portray itself as a bastion of democracy, a promoter of human rights, and the last best hope for defending the rule of law in Europe - and beyond," Carver wrote from the U.S. embassy in Strasbourg, France. "[But] it is an organization with an inferiority complex and, simultaneously, an overambitious agenda.

"An investigation [by the Council of Europe] into renditions and 'secret prisons' in Europe connected to the US war on terrorism ... created a great deal of controversy and anti-US sentiment in the Council of Europe," Carver wrote.

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