Date set for next Assange hearing
Westminster Magistrates’ Court will convene on April 20 and issue the order to extradite Assange to the United states, WikiLeaks said on Saturday. The order will then go to UK Home secretary Priti Patel for approval.
The Wikileaks founder was denied permission last month to appeal against the decision to extradite him to face espionage charges in the US. The UK Supreme Court said that his case “didn’t raise an arguable point of law.” Amnesty International described the decision as “a blow to Assange and justice.”
“Prolonged solitary confinement is a key feature of life for many people in US maximum security prisons and amounts to torture or other ill treatment under international law,” said Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s deputy research director for Europe. “The ban on torture and other ill-treatment is absolute and empty promises of fair treatment such as those offered by the USA in the Assange case threaten to profoundly undermine that international prohibition.”
After the court’s decision, the case was expected to be turned over to Priti Patel, who is ultimately to decide whether or not Assange will be sent to the US to face up to 175 years in prison.
Assange is currently being kept in London’s maximum security Belmarsh prison following his arrest in April 2019. He had previously spent seven years locked inside Ecuador’s embassy in London, before a new government in Quito revoked his asylum.
On March 23, Assange married Stella Moris, with whom he has two children. The ceremony was conducted inside the prison, and only a limited group of people was allowed to attend.
Moris said she believed the authorities feared that people “will see Julian as a human being. Not a name, but a person.”
“Their fear reveals that they want Julian to remain invisible to the public at all costs, even on his wedding day, and especially on his wedding day. For him to disappear from public consciousness,” wrote Moris in an article published by The Guardian.
Julian Assange has been a target for the US since 2010, when Wikileaks published a trove of State Department cables and Pentagon documents that depicted alleged war crimes committed by US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has been accused of attempting to hack Pentagon computers and has been charged under the Espionage Act, which prohibits obtaining information related to national defense which can be used to undermine US interests or benefit foreign nations.
Assange has denied all the charges against him, with his legal defense team arguing that he had not been under US jurisdiction and had engaged in completely legal journalism. They also deny allegations of conspiring to hack Pentagon computers, insisting that the case is based on discredited testimony of the convicted Icelandic criminal ‘Siggi the Hacker’.