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Julian Assange Wins Right to Appeal Extradition to the US

Julian Assange Wins Right to Appeal Extradition to the US

May 20, 2024

Julian Assange Wins Right to Appeal Extradition to the US

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has been granted permission to appeal his extradition to the United States. The decision was made by two High Court judges in London, Dame Victoria Sharp and Mr. Justice Johnson, following a deferral in March.

Assange seeks to avoid prosecution in the US on espionage charges linked to the release of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents. His legal team argued that assurances provided by the US regarding his trial were insufficient. Assange's lawyers are concerned about his ability to invoke the first amendment, potential prejudice at trial due to his nationality, and the exclusion of the death penalty.

During the court session, Assange's barrister Edward Fitzgerald KC contended that the US prosecutor's assurances about Assange's rights under the first amendment were inadequate. "The assurance was not that Assange could 'rely' on first amendment rights but 'merely that he can seek to raise' them," Fitzgerald said. He also highlighted the absence of specific promises from US prosecutors on how they would approach Assange's trial.

In contrast, James Lewis KC, representing the US, urged the judges not to be swayed by Assange's legal arguments. Lewis asserted that Assange's actions are not protected under the first amendment, regardless of his citizenship or where the conduct occurred.

Assange, who is currently detained in the UK due to health reasons, did not attend the court hearing. However, his wife Stella and his father John Shipton were present. Outside the High Court, Stella Assange spoke to supporters, calling on US President Joe Biden to cease the legal proceedings against her husband. WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson expressed hope following the ruling and mentioned the possibility of seeking bail for Assange.

If extradited and convicted, Assange faces 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse, which carry a maximum sentence of 175 years. As the legal battle continues, Assange's health and well-being remain a concern for his family and supporters, who have been rallying outside the Royal Courts of Justice. President Biden is reportedly considering a request from Australia to drop the case and allow Assange to return to his home country, a decision that could signal an end to his prolonged legal struggles.

AP News Article

The Guardian Article


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