Julian Assange: WikiLeaks founder may challenge extradition to US

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  • author, Dominic Cassiani
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The High Court has ruled that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can make a fresh appeal against his extradition to the United States.

He was allowed to appeal against an order sending him to the US to stand trial for leaking military secrets.

The decision means Mr Assange can challenge US guarantees about how his future trial will be conducted and whether his right to free speech will be breached.

The 52-year-old lawyers hugged each other in court.

They argued that the case against him – related to the release of top-secret documents that alleged US war crimes nearly 15 years ago – was politically motivated.

The US argues that the WikiLeaks files – which released information about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – could endanger lives.

In a narrow ruling on Monday morning, two senior judges allowed him to appeal against an earlier order allowing him to be extradited to the United States. He was ruled to have a full appeal in England.

Mr Assange has resisted extradition from the UK for more than a decade after his website WikiLeaks published classified US documents in 2010 and 2011.

Mr Assange, who is currently in Belmarsh prison, has months to prepare his appeal on whether US courts will protect his free speech rights as an Australian citizen.

It means he will be in England now.

If the court had ruled in favor of the US, Mr Assange would have exhausted all legal avenues in the UK.

‘turning point’

Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice after the verdict, Ms Assange welcomed the verdict and branded it a “turning point”.

He called on the United States to “stop this 14-year-old brazen attack on journalists, journalists and the public.”

The US Department of Justice described the leak as “one of the largest compromises of classified information in US history”.

The leaked files claimed the US military killed civilians in undeclared incidents during the war in Afghanistan.

US officials say Mr Assange put lives at risk by failing to redact the names of intelligence operatives in the documents. They also argue that he has not been prosecuted for any disclosures he claims expose war crimes.

Mr Assange’s legal team argued the case was a politically motivated form of “state retaliation”.

“He really exposed war crimes,” Ms Assange said on BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Monday.

“This case is a reprisal of the country against transparency and accountability.”

image caption, Stella Assange, wife of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, outside the High Court after the verdict

The hearing in March gave the US government more time to make assurances Mr Assange will not receive the death penalty in the US for two other reasons:

Last month, the judges upheld the US guarantee to the court.

Mr Assange and his legal team are accepting assurances that he will not face the death penalty if he is charged with other offences.

Earlier on Monday, James Lewis KC, representing the US government, said in written submissions to the court that there was “no question” Mr Assange would be entitled to “full trial rights” – including the First Amendment. – If handed over.

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