George Bush boycotts conference after hearing Julian Assange is also on the bill
George W Bush has cancelled a scheduled appearance at a conference tomorrow because Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is on the same bill.
The former U.S. president was due to attend an education discussion in Denver but today released a statement saying he did not want to share the same forum with someone who has 'wilfully and repeatedly done great harm to the interests of the U.S'.
Assange is in Britain, where he is fighting extradition to Sweden where he will have to face charges of rape.
Boycott: George Bush said he would never have accepted the invitation if he had known the whistleblower was on the same bill
He was due to appear today via video conference but it was unclear whether or not it went ahead.
WikiLeaks has released tens of thousands of secret U.S. government and military documents and it is strongly believed that if he is extradited to the U.S. from Sweden, he could face the death penalty.
Spokesman for George Bush David Sherzer said he learned of Assange's invitation only this week.
He said: 'Six months ago, President Bush accepted an invitation to speak to the YPO Global Leadership Summit in Denver on February 26, 2011.
Rape Charges: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrives with his lawyer Jennifer Robinson at court in London yesterday to discover if he was to be extradited to Sweden
'This week, upon learning that Julian Assange had recently been invited to address the same summit, President Bush decided to cancel his appearance.
'The former president has no desire to share a forum with a man who has wilfully and repeatedly done great harm to the interests of the United States.'
Approximately 2,000 members and invited guests from more than 75 countries were due to attend the annual YPO Global Leadership Summit.
The two-day event will focus discussions on the latest developments in globalization, the role of visionary leadership, and global political and social conflicts.
World-renowned speakers will discuss key issues in business, politics, philanthropy and humanities.
President Bush was scheduled to give a closing keynote during the last day of the summit, at the closing ceremony.
Assange appeared in court in London yesterday where a judge ruled he is to be extradited to Sweden to answer the sex attack allegations.
The 39-year-old Australian is accused of sexually assaulting one woman and raping another during a week-long visit to Stockholm in August.
He denies any wrongdoing and has sought to fight the case on the grounds that if he is sent to Sweden, he could ultimately be sent to the U.S. where he claims he could face the death penalty for leaking diplomatic secrets.
However, the judge at Belmarsh Magistrates Court in London said he would have to answer the allegations in Sweden.
Announcing his decision, District Judge Howard Riddle said extraditing Assange to Sweden would not breach his human rights.
He also disagreed with defence lawyers' claims that what Assange is accused of doing would not actually amount to rape in this country.
And he dismissed the argument that the whistleblower would not receive a fair trial, despite a certain amount of negative publicity surrounding the case.
Lawyers for Julian Assange will now lodge an appeal within seven days of the hearing.
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