Politics

Julian Assange’s extradition to US granted by UK judges


Julian Assange’s extradition to US granted by UK judges

wikileaks

10.12.2021

WikiLeaks founder has been in prison or asylum for nearly a decade as US government to to prosecute him for releasing thousands of classified documents

WikiLeaks founder has been in prison or asylum for nearly a decade as US government to to prosecute him for releasing thousands of classified documents

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks on the balcony of the Embassy of Ecuador in London in 2017
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks on the balcony of the Embassy of Ecuador in London in 2017

Photo credit: AFP

The U.S. government moved a step closer to prosecuting Julian Assange on espionage charges, after London judges accepted that the WikiLeaks chief can be safely sent to America.

The decision reverses a lower court’s ruling that had blocked the WikiLeaks founder from being extradited to the U.S. to face criminal charges, for fear that prison conditions there would result in his suicide. The case will now be referred to the U.K. Home Office.

The judges accepted U.S. assurances to the U.K. that he won’t face solitary confinement or a supermax prison in Colorado if he’s jailed in the U.S. They said he can serve his sentence in Australia if convicted.

Assange, 50, has been in prison or in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, as he fought attempts to send him to face charges first in Sweden and then in the U.S. 

The Swedish case against him was dropped, but the U.S. government in 2019 charged him with espionage for his role in releasing hundreds of thousands of pages of classified documents via WikiLeaks, with the help of U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. Australian-born Assange is being held in London’s Belmarsh prison.

Assange’s fiancee Stella Moris said he will appeal the decision “at the earliest possible moment.” He has several appeal routes available to him, meaning he’s unlikely to be sent to the U.S. in the near future. 


Stella Moris, partner of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, makes a statement outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Friday.

Stella Moris, partner of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, makes a statement outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Friday.

AFP

Moris described the High Court’s ruling as “dangerous and misguided” and a “grave miscarriage of justice.”

Assange’s lawyers have said he might commit suicide in a U.S. jail, an argument that a lower court judge agreed with in January when she blocked his extradition. Assange would face “conditions of significant isolation,” Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled at the time, citing Jeffrey Epstein’s 2019 death as an example of when preventative measures weren’t able to protect inmates from self harm.

But the judges led by the Lord Chief Justice Ian Burnett ruled that they could accept the American offers that Assange will be treated humanely in custody.

WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said, “Julian’s life is once more under grave threat, and so is the right of journalists to publish material that governments and corporations find inconvenient.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.



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