WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange wins High Court bid to appeal against extradition to the United States

20 May 2024, 12:40 | Updated: 20 May 2024, 13:32

Supporters of Julian Assange outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London,
Supporters of Julian Assange outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London,. Picture: Alamy
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Julian Assange has won a bid at the High Court to bring an appeal against his extradition to the United States

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The WikiLeaks founder faces prosecution in the US over an alleged conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information after the publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

During a two-day hearing in February, lawyers for the 52-year-old asked for the go-ahead to challenge a judge's dismissal of the majority of his case to prevent his extradition.

Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice after Julian Assange won a bid to bring an appeal against his extradition to the United States, his wife, Stella Assange, said that judges "reached the right decision" and called on the US to drop the "shameful" case.

She said: "The judges reached the right decision. We spent a long time hearing the United States putting lipstick on a pig, but the judges did not buy it.

"As a family we are relieved, but how long can this go on? The United States should read the situation and drop this case now.

"Now is the moment to do it. Just abandon this shameful attack on journalists, on the press and the public that has been going on for 14 years.

"This case is shameful, and it is taking an enormous toll on Julian. He is under enormous pressure. He has been in Belmarsh prison for over five years, it's been two years, two years, since the order was issued.

"The case should just be abandoned. The Biden administration should have dropped it from day one, but now is a right moment for the Biden administration to drop it. So please, those in the United States who are in a power to make a decision, please just drop this case now. Don't let this go on any longer."

Julian Assange's wife warns he ‘will die’ if extradited to US

In March, Dame Victoria Sharp and Mr Justice Johnson dismissed most of Assange's legal arguments but said that unless assurances were given by the US he would be able to bring an appeal on three grounds.

These assurances are that Assange would be protected by and allowed to rely on the First Amendment - which protects freedom of speech in the US - that he is not "prejudiced at trial" due to his nationality, and that the death penalty is not imposed.

Last month, the two judges confirmed the US had provided an assurance to the court and scheduled Monday's hearing where it is expected lawyers for the US and Assange will present arguments about the assurances.

If the assurances are found to be satisfactory by the judges, it is expected that Assange's bid for a final UK appeal will be refused and his extradition ordered.

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