Julian Assange granted permission by UK High Court to proceed with extradition appeal to US

The United Kingdom’s High Court has granted Julian Assange permission to continue appealing his extradition to the United States. This decision represents a significant impediment to the U.S.’s ongoing attempts to prosecute the founder of WikiLeaks on espionage charges.

Assange stands accused by the United States of colluding with Chelsea Manning, an intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army. Manning, who leaked hundreds of thousands of classified documents to Assange, including approximately 250,000 U.S. Department of State cables. The publication of these documents by WikiLeaks commenced in 2010.

In 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice revealed an 18-count indictment that accused Assange of violating the Espionage Act. The indictment alleged that he had obtained, received, and disclosed classified information. A superseding indictment was issued in 2020, which included additional allegations that Assange had conspired with the Anonymous hacking group.

In March of this year, the U.K. court ruled that an extradition could proceed if the U.S. could offer enough assurances that Julian Assange’s case would be handled with full respect for the protections of the First Amendment and that he would not face the death penalty.

In April, the United States Embassy in London reportedly provided assurances to the United Kingdom, including the guarantee that Julian Assange would not be subjected to the death penalty.

Assange has spent the past five years confined in Belmarsh Prison, a highly secure facility located in southeastern London. In 2022, Assange tied the knot with his longtime partner, Stella Assange.

“Please continue to fight for Julian until he is free,” Stella Assange urged on Monday, regardless of the outcome of the High Court’s decision.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has recently voiced his support for Julian Assange, an Australian citizen, by urging the United States to withdraw its extradition request. In a strong statement, Albanese emphasized that it is time to put an end to this prolonged ordeal.

According to the Associated Press, U.S. President Joe Biden stated in April that he was “considering” Australia’s request.

The Committee to Protect Journalists recently urged the U.S. government to withdraw the extradition request for Julian Assange. In an open letter dated May 17, the organization expressed concerns that extraditing Assange would set a dangerous precedent and could lead to the prosecution of journalists for simply carrying out their duties of reporting on matters of public interest.

Both the White House and the State Department officials have refrained from commenting on the potential extradition. In April, reporters questioned U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller about the possibility of extradition during two different press briefings.

During one of the briefings, Miller expressed that he would defer to the Department of Justice for the specifics of the potential extradition. However, he also stated that the United States views the allegations against Assange as falling outside the scope of “legitimate journalistic practice.” Miller highlighted that Assange is accused of aiding Manning in unlawfully accessing government systems to obtain classified information.

A collective of European Parliament members has recently penned an open letter urging U.K. Home Secretary James Cleverly to cease the process of extradition.

The 31 members of the elected representatives, who have closely followed this case, express their view that there is no valid reason for the ongoing persecution of Mr. Assange. They firmly believe that he should be granted the opportunity to reunite with his family.

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MBS Staff
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