WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange allowed to appeal extradition to US

LONDON:  The High Court of London will allow WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to once again appeal the decision on his extradition to the US...


LONDON:  The High Court of London will allow WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to once again appeal the decision on his extradition to the US.

It also gave the US government three weeks to provide guarantees that the journalist’s rights will not be trampled on in court and that he will not face the death penalty.

Here is what is known about the situation at this point.

The WikiLeaks founder

In 2006, Assange founded the WikiLeaks website, specializing in publishing confidential information obtained from anonymous sources. In order to protect the identities of both informers and editors, Assange set up his server in Sweden, as Swedish law protects the anonymity of users.

The website published thousands of classified documents, including information about the US National Security Agency (NSA) wiretapping the phones of leaders of a number of countries.

In 2010, the US started investigating Assange for allegedly violating the law on espionage, an offense that could carry the death penalty.

Legal prosecution

Soon thereafter, an investigation against Assange was also initiated in Sweden after two women filed sexual assault complaints against him. Assange called these accusations politically motivated. On November 18, 2010, the Stockholm district court issued an arrest warrant for the Wikileaks founder. Wary of being extradited to the US, Assange fled to London.

In December 2010, Assange was detained and released on bail for the duration of the review of his extradition request. In February 2011, the court ruled to extradite Assange to Sweden, and, in June, 2012, the UK Supreme Court rejected appeals from Assange’s lawyers.

The WikiLeaks founder sought shelter in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and asked for political asylum. He stayed inside the embassy for almost 7 years. On April 11, 2019, President of Ecuador Lenin Moreno stripped Assange of his right to political asylum. The journalist was detained by the British police on the same day.

In the case against him, three out of four charges were dropped due to the statute of limitations. In May, 2017, the investigation against Assange was stopped, and the arrest warrant against him was thrown out. In May, 2019, the Swedish prosecution decided to open the investigation again. On May 20 of that year, a request was filed to arrest Assange in absentia, but the investigation was nixed later in November because of a lack of evidence, and unconvincing witness testimonies.

Arrest for violating bail

Assange was arrested on April 11, 2019 based on an arrest warrant issued for him by the Westminster Magistrates Court in 2012 for violating the terms of his bail. Assange was found guilty on the same day.

On May 1, London’s Southwark Court sentenced Assange to 50 weeks detention with a chance for parole after serving half of this term, if no further violations were found. Assange was sent to the Belmarsh high-security prison. His sentence expired on September 22, 2019, but the court ruled to deny his release until the case on extradition to the US was completed.

The charges

In the US, Assange is accused of crimes connected to the largest case of classified information leaks in the country’s history. If he is found guilty, the combined charges carry up to 175 years in prison.

The leading Western media, including The New York Times, The Guardian, The Times, Le Monde and El Pais called on the US government to drop the charges against Assange.

Extradition hearing

The US-requested hearings on Assange’s extradition started on February 24, 2020. On January 4, 2021, the court ruled that Assange cannot be extradited to the US, because he is on the Autistic spectrum, clinically depressed and is ready to commit suicide. Meanwhile, the judge called the charges put forth by the US authorities valid and justified.

In July, 2021, the US Department of Justice provided guarantees to the High Court of London that, should Assange be extradited, he will not be put into a maximum security prison and will not have his visiting or communication rights restricted. Based on that, the US side was allowed to appeal the denial of Assange’s extradition. On December 10, 2021, the England and Wales Court of Appeal satisfied the US appeal, authorizing the reporter’s extradition to the US. His lawyers challenged this verdict in the Supreme Court, but, on March 15, 2022, the highest judicial body rejected the appeal.

In June, 2022, based on the verdicts of British courts, UK Home Secretary Priti Patel approved the extradition. On June 6, 2023, the High Court of London rejected an appeal from Assange’s defense team.

The review of the last appeal for extradition started on February 20, 2024. President of the King's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice Victoria Sharp and Judge Jeremy Johnson listened to the sides. On March 13, Assange’s wife Stella announced that, should the court agree to the extradition, the defense will make an emergency attempt to block it via the European Court of Human Rights. However, she expressed concern that the US authorities could secretly move the WikiLeaks founder using a military airstrip in the UK within just a few hours.


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Local Glob: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange allowed to appeal extradition to US
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange allowed to appeal extradition to US
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