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Assange wins right to challenge US extradition

Assange wins right to challenge US extradition
20.05.2024
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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange can bring a new appeal against extradition to the US, the High Court has ruled.

He was granted permission to appeal against the order that he be sent to the US to stand trial for leaking military secrets.

The decision means Mr Assange will be able to challenge US assurances over how his prospective trial would be conducted and whether his right to free speech would be infringed.

Mr Assange’s lawyers hugged each other in court after this latest ruling in the legal saga.

They have argued that the case against him is politically motivated.

In a short ruling this morning, two senior judges granted him permission to appeal against an earlier order, ruling that he needs to be given a full appeal in the UK.

Mr Assange has resisted extradition from the UK for more than a decade, after his Wikileaks website published thousands of confidential US documents in 2010 and 2011.

Mr Assange, who is currently in Belmarsh Prison, will now have a number of months to prepare his appeal, which will concern whether or not the US courts will protect his right to free speech as an Australian citizen.

He argues that his disclosures in 2010 revealed war crimes by the US. Prosecutors say the revelations endangered lives.

Supporters of Mr Assange cheered as news of the decision filtered out of the court room.

It means he will remain in the UK for now.

The US has been seeking his extradition after the publication of thousands of classified documents – which the US Department of Justice described as “one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States”.

The files suggested the US military had killed civilians in unreported incidents during the war in Afghanistan.

US authorities say Mr Assange endangered lives by failing to redact the names of intelligence operatives in the documents, but his lawyers have argued that the case is a politically motivated form of “state retaliation”.

At a hearing in March, the US government was given additional time to make assurances to the court that Mr Assange would not receive the death penalty in the US and two other grounds:

  • that Mr Assange would be able to rely on the first amendment to the US constitution – which protects free speech

  • that his Australian nationality would not count against him

Last month, judges confirmed the US had provided assurances to the court.

Separately, last month, US President Joe Biden said he was considering a request from Australia to drop Mr Assange’s prosecution and return him to his native country.

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