The lawyer of Julian Assange, the founder of whistleblower website Wikileaks, has said that the journalist faces the threat of the death penalty or detention at Guantanamo Bay if he is extradited to Sweden on accusations of rape and sexual assault.
The Guardian quoted Assange's legal team as saying in a skeleton summary of their defence against attempts by the Swedish director of public prosecutions to extradite him, that there is a similar possibility that the US would eventually seek his extradition "and/or illegal rendition where there will be a real risk of him being detained at Guantanamo Bay or elsewhere".
"Indeed, if Assange were rendered to the USA, without assurances that the death penalty would not be carried out, there is a real risk that he could be made subject to the death penalty. It is well known that prominent figures have implied, if not stated outright, that Mr Assange should be executed," they added.
The 35-page skeleton argument was released by Mark Stephens, Assange's lawyer, following a brief review hearing at Belmarsh magistrate's court on Tuesday, the paper said.
Assange, who is on conditional bail while his extradition case is being considered, appeared only for 15 minutes in the court.
"Our work with WikiLeaks continues unabated. We are stepping up our publications for matters relating to Cablegate and other materials. These will shortly be available through our newspaper partners around the world -- big and small newspapers and human rights organisations," he said after the hearing.
Swedish DPP Marianne Ny reportedly sought Assange's extradition following accusations from two women whom he had allegedly sexually assaulted in separate incidents in August last year.
The Australian-born journalist's legal team would reportedly make their case on February 7 and 8, when Assange will return to court for the full extradition hearing.