The lawyer for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has vowed to fight moves to extradite his client from the UK to Sweden.
Swedish authorities are seeking to question Mr Assange regarding sex allegations, which his lawyer Mark Stephens has denounced as a “political stunt”.
Mr Stephens said Mr Assange would “certainly” fight deportation on the grounds that it could lead to him being handed over to the US, where senior politicians have called for him to be executed.
He said that the WikiLeaks site – which was last week forced to move to a Swiss host after being dumped by US internet companies – had come under siege from “a huge number of cyber-attacks”. The organisation held further secret material which it regarded as a “thermo-nuclear device” to be released if it needs to protect itself, he said.
Mr Assange, who is staying in Britain, has come under growing pressure from politicians in the US and around the world after his WikiLeaks site started publishing excerpts from a cache of 250,000 secret American diplomatic cables last week.
Former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin has described him as “an anti-American operative with blood on his hands” and called for him to be hunted down like a Taliban leader, while another senior Republican Mike Huckabee has said that “anything less than execution is too kind a penalty” for what he has done.
Swedish prosecutors have sent an international arrest warrant to the Metropolitan Police, seeking his extradition for questioning on allegations – which he strongly denies – of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion.
International police agency Interpol has issued a “Red Notice” urging people to contact police with information about his whereabouts.
But Mr Stephens on Monday said that Sweden’s chief prosecutor had told Mr Assange in September that there was no case for him to answer, following complaints against him by two women, but the investigation was revived following the intervention of a Swedish politician. He said that Swedish prosecutors knew where Mr Assange was and urged them to call him to discuss the case.
Meanwhile, the Australian government said it would give consular help to Assange if he is arrested abroad. However, the administration again condemned WikiLeaks’ publication of secret US diplomatic documents, saying doing so threatens the security of the United States and its allies.