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26 Mar, 2024 10:10

Assange’s wife issues ‘fair trial’ warning ahead of UK extradition decision

The WikiLeaks founder, who is wanted by Washington, could exhaust his legal options on Tuesday
Assange’s wife issues ‘fair trial’ warning ahead of UK extradition decision

Two British judges will deliberate on Tuesday whether to grant WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange a new chance to fight against a US request to extradite him for trial on espionage charges. The incarcerated publisher is being targeted for exposing Western criminality, his wife Stella has said.

Assange faces up to 175 years in prison if he is transferred to US custody, for allegedly helping whistleblower Chelsea Manning steal classified documents. His supporters say he is being victimized for the publication of leaked materials by WikiLeaks that were humiliating for the US and its allies.

”We have to be clear about who the criminals are. Just because they are using the justice system to imprison him, it doesn’t mean that justice or the law – international law – is on their side,” Stella Assange told a group of journalists in Italy on Monday, as she received an award for journalism on behalf of her husband.

The prosecution of Assange has already had a chilling effect on journalism in the West, as it demonstrates that in a liberal democracy, a publisher can face consequences for telling inconvenient truths, Stella said.

If extradited to the US, “there is no prospect for either a fair trial or Julian being safe in that country,” she warned. This would also mean that the media is subject to this type of treatment, and “there is no coming back from this.”

Assange has been held at the top-security Belmarsh prison in the UK since 2019. A court in northern Virginia indicted him under the US Espionage Act, which does not allow a defense on public interest grounds, a month after his arrest.

According to his wife, “administrative excuses are being used to treat Julian in a cruel and unusual manner” in the UK, which serves as evidence of the political nature of his case. In this regard, Britain is an accessory to his persecution, she said.

Britain agreed to extradite Assange in 2022. His defense team has lost one appeal since. If the High Court in London rules against him again, no legal recourse will be left in the British system. If this happens, he intends to seek intervention by the European Court of Human Rights.