UK court docket orders delay to extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to US on espionage fees


LONDON — A British court docket dominated Tuesday that Julian Assange can’t instantly be extradited to the USA on espionage fees, giving the WikiLeaks founder a partial victory in his lengthy authorized battle over the positioning’s publication of categorised American paperwork.

Two Excessive Courtroom judges stated they’d grant Assange a brand new attraction until U.S. authorities give additional assurances inside three weeks about what’s going to occur to him. The ruling means the authorized saga, which has dragged on for greater than a decade, will proceed — and Assange will stay inside London’s high-security Belmarsh Jail, the place he has spent the final 5 years.

Judges Victoria Sharp and Jeremy Johnson stated that if no assurances are filed by the U.S., they’ll grant Assange permission to attraction extradition on grounds together with breach of freedom of expression, and since he may obtain the demise penalty.

“If assurances are given then we’ll give the events a chance to make additional submissions earlier than we make a remaining resolution on the appliance for go away to attraction,” they stated.

They stated a listening to might be held Could 20 if the U.S. makes these submissions.

Assange’s supporters say he’s a journalist protected by the First Modification who uncovered U.S. army wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan that was within the public curiosity. They’ve argued his prosecution is politically motivated and he can’t get a good trial within the U.S.

Assange’s spouse Stella Assange stated the WikiLeaks founder “is being persecuted as a result of he uncovered the true value of struggle in human lives.”

“The Biden administration shouldn’t concern assurances. They need to drop this shameful case, which ought to by no means have been introduced,” she stated exterior the Excessive Courtroom in London.

The ruling follows a two-day listening to within the Excessive Courtroom in February, the place Assange’s lawyer Edward Fitzgerald stated American authorities had been in search of to punish him for WikiLeaks’ “publicity of criminality on the a part of the U.S. authorities on an unprecedented scale,” together with torture and killings.

The U.S. authorities stated Assange’s actions went past journalism by soliciting, stealing and indiscriminately publishing categorised authorities paperwork that endangered harmless lives.

The judges rejected six of Assange’s 9 grounds of attraction, however stated they’d grant attraction on three points: freedom of speech, Assange’s declare that he faces drawback as a result of he isn’t a U.S. citizen, and the chance he might obtain the demise penalty.

U.S. authorities have promised Assange wouldn’t obtain capital punishment, however the judges stated that “nothing within the current assurance explicitly prevents the imposition of the demise penalty.”

Assange, 52, an Australian pc skilled, has been indicted within the U.S. on fees over Wikileaks’ publication in 2010 of a whole bunch of 1000’s of categorised paperwork.

U.S. prosecutors say he conspired with U.S. military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to hack right into a Pentagon pc and launch secret diplomatic cables and army recordsdata on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Assange faces 17 espionage counts and one cost of pc misuse. If convicted, his legal professionals say he might obtain a jail time period of as much as 175 years, although American authorities have stated any sentence is prone to be a lot decrease.

Assange’s spouse and supporters say his bodily and psychological well being have suffered throughout greater than a decade of authorized battles, together with seven years in self-exile within the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and the final 5 years in a high-security jail on the outskirts of the British capital.

Assange’s authorized troubles started in 2010, when he was arrested in London on the request of Sweden, which needed to query him about allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two ladies. In 2012, Assange jumped bail and sought refuge contained in the Ecuadorian Embassy.

The connection between Assange and his hosts finally soured, and he was evicted from the embassy in April 2019. British police instantly arrested and imprisoned him for breaching bail in 2012. Sweden dropped the intercourse crimes investigations in November 2019 as a result of a lot time had elapsed.

A U.Ok. district court docket choose rejected the U.S. extradition request in 2021 on the grounds that Assange was prone to kill himself if held underneath harsh U.S. jail situations. Larger courts overturned that call after getting assurances from the U.S. about his therapy. The British authorities signed an extradition order in June 2022.


Related Press author Brian Melley contributed to this report.

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