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UK Court Allows Assange to Appeal Extradition to the US

UK Court Allows Assange to Appeal Extradition to the US

Mar 26, 2024

UK Court Allows Assange to Appeal Extradition to the US

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been granted permission to appeal his extradition to the United States. This ruling means that Assange will not face immediate extradition and could potentially pursue a new hearing. The decision was issued by the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Tuesday.

The court's ruling hinges on assurances from the U.S. government regarding Assange's treatment and rights. Specifically, the U.S. has been given three weeks to provide "satisfactory assurances" that Assange's First Amendment rights will be respected, that he will not be discriminated against due to his nationality, that he will receive the same protections as a U.S. citizen, and that he will not face the death penalty.

If the U.S. fails to deliver these assurances, Assange will be entitled to an appeal hearing. The court has scheduled a further hearing for May 20 to assess the adequacy of any assurances provided by the U.S.

Assange, 52, has been fighting extradition for over a decade. During this period, he spent seven years in self-imposed exile in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and nearly five years in Belmarsh, a high-security prison on the outskirts of London.

Facing 18 charges in the U.S., including 17 under the Espionage Act and one under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Assange could be sentenced to up to 175 years in prison. These charges are linked to WikiLeaks' publication of a vast trove of leaked military files and diplomatic documents related to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

The U.S. claims that Assange's actions represent "one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States." Despite the charges, Assange denies any wrongdoing, and his legal team argues that the case is politically motivated.

WikiLeaks rose to fame in 2010 after releasing footage of a 2007 U.S. helicopter attack in Baghdad that resulted in the deaths of two Reuters journalists and other civilians. This was followed by further disclosures of classified information that often put the U.S. government in an uncomfortable position.

Outside the Royal Courts of Justice, Stella Assange, Julian Assange's wife, addressed the crowd and the press, stating, "Today’s decision is astounding." She highlighted the court's recognition of the potential infringement on her husband's freedom of expression and the discrimination he faces due to his Australian nationality. Stella Assange also expressed her astonishment at the court's decision to seek political intervention from the U.S.

Assange did not attend a two-day hearing in February due to "serious poor health," as announced by WikiLeaks on the X social media platform.

Protesters supporting Assange's release gathered outside the court, and social media was abuzz with discussions around the case. The final decision on Assange's ability to appeal his extradition to the U.S. has been adjourned until May 20. Until then, Assange remains detained at the U.K.'s top security prison, separated from his family.

The outcome of the upcoming hearing and the U.S. government's response will be closely monitored, as they bear significant implications for Assange's fate and broader issues of press freedom and international law.

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