Assange wins right to fight extradition to US

The Wikileaks founder was granted a reprieve, as the US seeks to try him on espionage chargesAssange wins right to fight extradition to US

Assange wins right to fight extradition to US

FILE PHOTO: Julian Assange. ©  Getty Images / Carl Court

A court in London has ruled in favor of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Tuesday, granting him the opportunity to appeal his extradition to the US. The publisher stands accused of espionage and is facing up to 175 years in jail.

The hearing at the High Court could have been the last opportunity for Assange’s defense team to seek recourse within the British legal system, if the judges had decided against his bid. His attorneys have argued that the American case against him is political in nature, and that extraditing him to the US would put his life and well-being at risk.

Two British justices reviewing the situation decided that there was an arguable case against extradition and ruled that he should be granted a full appeal hearing again.

Assange has been held in the top-security Belmarsh prison since 2019, when Ecuador revoked his political asylum and allowed British police to arrest him at its embassy in London. At the time, he was jumping bail in a separate extradition request, which the Australian citizen claimed to be a ploy by the US to get him into Swedish jurisdiction, where he claimed an attempt to extradite him to the US would have been easiest. A US court indicted Assange under the Espionage Act of 2017 a month after his arrest in the UK.

A British judge in January 2021 ruled against handing Assange over to the Americans, saying that he may take his own life due to harsh prison conditions in the US. Washington’s lawyers appealed the decision and offered assurances of good treatment, which Britain decided were sufficient for extradition. Then-Home Secretary Priti Patel authorized it in June 2022. Assange has since lost one appeal against the pending transfer.

Supporters of the jailed publisher say he is being persecuted by the US and its allies for revealing secrets that were embarrassing for Western countries.

“We have to be clear about who the criminals are. Just because they are using the justice system to imprison him, it doesn’t mean that justice or the law – international law – is on their side,” his wife Stella said on Monday.


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