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17 Apr, 2024 21:20

US promises not to execute Assange – reports

Washington has reportedly signed assurances that the death penalty will not be sought for or imposed on the WikiLeaks founder
US promises not to execute Assange – reports

Washington has allegedly agreed to a set of conditions regarding the potential trial of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange if he is extradited to the US to face espionage charges, several media outlets reported on Tuesday.

The signed guarantees, which have been shared on X by New York Times correspondent Megan Specia, apparently assure that the 52-year-old Australian national would be able to rely on the US Constitution’s first amendment, which protects free speech, would not be prejudiced at trial because of his nationality, and would not face the death penalty if convicted.

It’s noted, however, that while these assurances are “binding,” the decision on the “applicability of the First Amendment” would be “exclusively within the purview of the US courts.”

Washington’s promises come after the British High Court in London ruled last month that if the US failed to provide these guarantees, then Assange would be able to appeal against his extradition to the US to stand trial for publishing classified military documents.

Assange has been held in London’s top-security Belmarsh Prison for the past five years. He was initially arrested by British police in 2010 for sexual-offense allegations that he denied. In 2012, Assange jumped bail and was granted asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He was arrested again in 2019 when Ecuador revoked his asylum, and has remained in Belmarsh ever since.

The US, meanwhile, continues to demand that he be extradited to American soil to stand trial on 17 counts of espionage, over the publication of classified Pentagon military documents in 2010 that detailed alleged US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Assange faces up to 175 years in prison if extradited and convicted.

His legal team as well as his supporters have claimed that the case against him is political in nature and is being waged by the West as revenge for exposing its alleged war crimes. 

His attorneys have also been insistent against the sought extradition of Assange to the US, arguing that it would put his life and well-being at risk, and have previously dismissed any assurances given by Washington as meaningless, claiming it would be impossible to rely on them if their client is actually extradited.