Julian Assange is in the “cross-hairs of the US administration” over his whistle-blowing activities, according to Labour.
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott raised this as the reason why the Wikileaks founder would be subject to an extradition warrant from the US.
Her remarks came after Home Secretary Sajid Javid updated MPs about the arrest of Assange following almost seven years of him living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Speaking in the Commons, Ms Abbott said she was glad Assange will be able to access medical care because there have been “worrying reports about his ill health”.
She said: “On this side of the House we want to make the point that the reason we are debating Julian Assange this afternoon, even though the only charge he may face in this country is in relation to his bail hearings, is entirely due to the whistle-blowing activities of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.”
Ms Abbott went on: “It is this whistle-blowing into illegal wars, mass murder, murder of civilians and corruption on a grand scale, that has put Julian Assange in the cross-hairs of the US administration.
“It is for this reason that they have once more issued an extradition warrant against Mr Assange.”
Ms Abbott said a “UN panel” ruled Assange was being “arbitrarily detained and should be allowed to walk free” from the Ecuadorian embassy.
And she linked the case to that of Chelsea Manning, saying the treatment she is receiving could be the sort of treatment the WikiLeaks founder could also face if he was imprisoned in America.
In response, Mr Javid said “the whole country will be pretty astounded by the tone she has taken”, saying Ms Abbott was “suggesting that we should not apply the rule of law to an individual”.
He accused her of “not giving quite correct information” over her claims the UN had ruled in Assange’s favour, saying “the UN has no view on the Assange case”.
He said the 2016 panel she referenced was a small independent group that “do not speak for the UN in any way whatsoever”.
Mr Javid said it came up with “a deeply flawed opinion suggesting somehow he was indefinitely detained in the UK by the British authorities, when in fact the only person responsible for Mr Assange’s detention is himself – it was entirely self-inflicted”.
He added: “Why is it whenever someone has a track record of undermining the UK and our allies and the values we stand for, you can almost guarantee that the leadership of the party opposite will support those who intend to do us harm?
“You can always guarantee that from the party opposite.”