Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has lodged an appeal to prevent his extradition to the United States. If successful, this would mean he would not face criminal charges in relation to the publication of classified material by WikiLeaks. The material in question relates to government and military activities, and its publication has been credited with sparking a number of official investigations. Assange is currently serving a 50-week sentence in a British prison for breaching his bail conditions. He was arrested in April 2019 after Ecuador withdrew its offer of asylum. US prosecutors have charged Assange with 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act and one count of conspiring to commit computer intrusion. If convicted, he could face up to 175 years in jail. Assange’s lawyers have argued that the charges are “an unprecedented attempt to criminalise journalism” and that he would not receive a fair trial in the US. The appeal is due to be heard at the High Court in London later this month.
WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange has appealed to the High Court in London to block his extradition to the United States to face criminal charges, his brother has said. This is the latest step in Assange’s legal battle that has dragged on for more than 10 years.
Australian-born Assange, 50, is wanted by US authorities on 18 counts, including a spying charge, relating to WikiLeaks’ release of vast troves of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables which Washington said had put lives in danger. If extradited and convicted, he faces up to 175 years in a US prison. Assange’s lawyers argue that he would not get a fair trial in the United States.
Assange, an Australian native, has been holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over rape allegations, which he has always denied. He fears that if he is extradited to Sweden he could be sent on to the United States where he could face charges relating to the publication by WikiLeaks of classified U.S. military and diplomatic cables.
In June 2012, Ecuador granted Assange political asylum but British authorities said they would arrest him if he stepped outside the embassy. A impasse ensued and in 2015, Sweden’s director of public prosecutions dropped the rape investigation against Assange because she said there was no chance of arresting him anytime soon.
However, days after his arrest last month, Swedish prosecutors announced they were reopening an investigation into a rape allegation against Assange dating from 2010. They have until August 2020 to question him or bring charges. If charged and convicted in Sweden, Assange faces a maximum sentence of four years in jail for rape. His possible extradition to the United States also remains a possibility.
The extradition of Julian Assange to the United States has been a highly anticipated event. The saga began at the end of 2010 when Sweden sought Assange’s extradition from Britain over allegations of sex crimes. When he lost that case in 2012, he fled to the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he lived for seven years. In 2019, Ecuador revoked his asylum, and he was arrested by British police. Since then, he has been held in a British prison while awaiting extradition to the United States on charges of conspiracy to hack into a government computer. The case has been complicated by Assange’s poor health and concerns about his treatment if extradited to the United States. However, a recent ruling by a British judge has cleared the way for Assange’s extradition, and it is expected to take place within the next few weeks.
Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, was arrested in London on April 11th, 2019. He was jailed for breaching British bail conditions, although the Swedish case against him had been dropped. In June of 2019, he was extradited to the US where he remains in jail. If found guilty, he could face decades in jail. However, supporters portray him as a martyr to press freedom. Assange’s wife, Stella, told reporters after Patel approved his extradition that they would “use every appeal avenue” available to them. It remains to be seen what the outcome of this case will be.
On Friday, a small group of supporters gathered outside Belmarsh prison to protest the continued detention of Julian Assange. Among the protesters was Gloria Wildman, a 79-year-old woman who has been a vocal supporter of Assange since his arrest in April. “He’s been in prison for telling the truth,” Wildman told the AFP news agency. “If Julian Assange is not free, neither are we, none of us is free.” Wildman has been increasingly outspoken in her criticism of the British government’s handling of Assange’s case, and she has vowed to continue protesting until he is released from prison. “This is not about Julian Assange, this is about our freedom of speech,” she said. “If they can silence him, they can silence any one of us.”