June 16, 2024

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Julian Assange awaits a ‘decisive day’ in his High Court extradition battle

Julian Assange awaits a ‘decisive day’ in his High Court extradition battle

  • author, Ian Aikman
  • Role, BBC News

Julian Assange is under “enormous pressure” as he awaits a ruling on his right to appeal his extradition to the US, his wife says.

Stella Assange told the BBC that Monday would be a “decisive” day in the WikiLeaks founder’s protracted legal battle.

If the Supreme Court rules against him, Ms Assange says the 52-year-old could be on a plane to the US in less than 24 hours.

She said her husband would then seek an emergency injunction from the European Court of Human Rights as a last-ditch effort to stop the extradition.

American authorities say that Assange endangered people’s lives by publishing thousands of secret documents.

His lawyers say the case against him is politically motivated.

Then-Home Secretary Priti Patel signed Assange’s extradition order in 2022, but he returned to the High Court in February 2024. To request leave to appeal.

At Monday’s hearing, the justices will decide whether the United States has provided sufficient assurances about the terms of Assange’s possible extradition.

After proceedings began, his lawyers told the Supreme Court they accepted he would not face the death penalty if extradited to the US – but other guarantees of a fair trial should not be trusted.

  • That Mr. Assange will be able to rely on the First Amendment to the US Constitution – which protects freedom of expression
  • His Australian citizenship will not count against him

If the court rules in favor of the US after hearing arguments from both sides on Monday, Mr Assange’s application to lodge a final appeal in the UK will be rejected. He will have exhausted all legal avenues in the UK.

If the court rules Mr Assange’s way, he will be allowed to appeal against his extradition to the High Court at a future date, meaning he will remain in the UK for the time being.

Comment on the photo, Stella Assange says she will “keep fighting until Julian is released”, whatever the judges’ ruling on Monday

Assange fought extradition from the UK for more than a decade after his WikiLeaks website published thousands of secret US documents in 2010 and 2011.

The US Department of Justice described the leaks as “one of the largest breaches of classified information in the history of the United States.”

The leaked files indicate that the US military killed civilians in unreported incidents during the war in Afghanistan.

US authorities say Assange put people’s lives at risk by failing to redact the names of intelligence agents in the documents, but his lawyers have said the case is a politically motivated form of “state retaliation”.

“He literally exposed war crimes,” Stella Assange told BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Monday. “This case is that country’s revenge against openness and accountability.”

“They don’t understand the concept of extradition or the idea that their father could be taken from them. So I just tell them that we are fighting for his release and making plans on what we will do when he is free.”

Dozens of people gathered outside the Royal Courts of Justice on Monday morning to support Assange.

Kayla Sandwell, who traveled from south-east London to attend the demonstration, said the issue had reached “crisis point”.

“He should be released because he has done nothing wrong,” she said. “If he is not released, we will no longer have a free press.”

Although Monday’s hearing may represent his last chance to fight extradition to the United States through the UK courts, Assange has another hope.