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23 Dec, 2021 21:53

Assange appeals his extradition to US

Assange appeals his extradition to US

WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange has requested permission to appeal his extradition to the US with the same British court that ordered it in the first place. He argues that Washington’s assurances are invalid and unreliable.

Assange filed his “application for leave to appeal” on Thursday morning, his fiancee Stella Moris announced on social media. The High Court that ruled in favor of his extradition on December 10 will now decide whether he will be allowed to appeal it to the Supreme Court. The decision is not expected before the third week of January.

Earlier this year, Magistrate Judge Vanessa Baraitser had ruled Assange would be subjected to conditions that would cause his mental health to deteriorate to the point of high risk of suicide. The State Department responded the US was offering assurances not to place Assange under Special Administrative Measures (SAM) or send him to the Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX) in Florence, Colorado – but explicitly reserved the right to do so at any time based on its own assessment of Assange’s words or actions after January 4, 2021.

Moris cited an Amnesty International article from July, declaring these conditional assurances “inherently unreliable” and that SAM amount to torture. According to Moris, Assange’s appeal intends to argue that this clashes with section 91 of the UK Extradition Act, which bans “oppressive” extraditions.

Under English law, the same High Court judges that ordered the extradition must certify that at least one of Assange’s three grounds for appeal is of “general public importance” that would allow the Supreme Court to take the case, Moris said.

Assange was charged with violating the US Espionage Act over WikiLeaks’ publication of the Pentagon’s documents on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2010. If convicted, he would face up to 175 years in prison.

The WikiLeaks publisher sought asylum from Ecuador in 2012, suspecting – correctly, as it turned out – that the US sought his arrest and extradition via unsubstantiated charges pressed in Sweden. He ended up stranded at Ecuador’s embassy in London for years, until his asylum was revoked under pressure from Washington, and British police arrested him in April 2019. He has been held in the maximum-security Belmarsh prison in south London ever since.