Court Rules Julian Assange Can Appeal Extradition Order To United States

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can appeal his extradition order to the United States on espionage charges, London’s High Court ruled.

High Court judges Victoria Sharp and Jeremy Johnson ruled in Assange’s favor after his lawyers argued the United States government provided “blatantly inadequate” assurances on how a trial would be conducted.

“Assange, 52, has been indicted on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse over his website’s publication of a trove of classified U.S. documents almost 15 years ago,” the Associated Press noted.

“Stella Assange speaking to reporters following today’s UK court decision to allow Julian Assange to appeal against US extradition,” WikiLeaks wrote.


The Guardian reports:

Two judges had deferred a decision in March on whether Assange, who is trying to avoid being prosecuted in the US on espionage charges relating to the publication of thousands of classified and diplomatic documents, could take his case to another appeal hearing.

On that occasion, Dame Victoria Sharp and Mr Justice Johnson ruled he would be able to bring an appeal against extradition on three grounds, unless “satisfactory” assurances were given by the US.

The assurances requested were that he would be permitted to rely on the first amendment of the US constitution, which protects freedom of speech; that he would not be “prejudiced at trial” due to his nationality; and that the death penalty would not be imposed.

There were gasps of relief from his wife and supporters at the high court in London on Monday as judges granted him leave to challenge his extradition on the grounds of whether removal would be compatible with the right to freedom of expression under the European convention on human rights, regarded as having the functional equivalent of the US first amendment, and on the grounds that he might be prejudiced at his trial or punished by reason of his nationality.

“The judges grant Mr. Assange the permission to appeal on grounds 4 and 5 (related to discrimination based on his nationality and the First Amendment),” journalist Taylor Hudak stated.

From the Associated Press:

Assange’s wife, Stella, said the U.S. had tried to put “lipstick on a pig — but the judges did not buy it.” She said the U.S. should “read the situation” and drop the case.

“As a family we are relieved but how long can this go on?” she said. “This case is shameful and it is taking an enormous toll on Julian.”

The Australian computer expert has spent the last five years in a British high-security prison after taking refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for seven years. Assange was not in court to hear the ruling because of health reasons, his lawyer said.

American prosecutors allege that Assange encouraged and helped U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to steal diplomatic cables and military files that WikiLeaks published.

Assange’s lawyers have argued he was a journalist who exposed U.S. military wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sending him to the U.S., they said, would expose him to a politically motivated prosecution and risk a “flagrant denial of justice.”

The U.S. government says Assange’s actions went way beyond those of a journalist gathering information, amounting to an attempt to solicit, steal and indiscriminately publish classified government documents.

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