World · June 17, 2022

Julian Assange will appeal the UK decision on extradition to the US

Julian Assange’s legal team is moving quickly to appeal British Interior Minister Priti Patel’s decision to extradite the founder of WikiLeaks to the United States.
Ms Patel on Friday approved the extradition of Mr. Assange in the United States, where he is wanted on 18 criminal charges, including espionage and hacking, linked to the publication in 2010 of US military documents relating to the conflict in Afghanistan.

If convicted, lawyers for the Australian-born Wikileaks founder said he could face a 175-year prison sentence. US lawyers said they believed the prison sentence would be more like four or six years.

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A UK Home Office spokesperson said a number of factors were taken into consideration.
“In this case, the UK courts have not found that it would be oppressive, unfair or an abuse of process to extradite Mr Assange.
“Nor did they feel that extradition would be incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and freedom of expression, and that while he is in the United States he will be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health. “.
Ms. Patel has been considering the decision since last month after provided by the US authorities on how Mr. Assange could be treated.

Assange’s team moves quickly to appeal

Ms. Patel’s decision does not mean the end of Mr. Assange’s legal battle, which has been going on for more than a decade.
The Interior Ministry said that while the extradition request was approved, Mr. Assange has 14 days to appeal the decision.
Assange’s Australian campaign counsel Greg Barns SC said there will be an appeal to try to overturn the ruling.

“The matter will return to the courts, but it is still an opportunity to remind Australians of the need to ensure that this Australian citizen does not face 170 years for disclosing war crimes committed by the United States,” he told SBS News.

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“We were strongly in favor of the Prime Minister’s recent comments [Anthony] Albanian and foreign ministers [Penny] Interested in the need for an early resolution of this case and once again we urge them to get involved, especially at this time, to ensure that Julian Assange can get out of Belmarsh prison. “
Mr Assange can appeal to the London High Court and ultimately take his case to the UK Supreme Court.

But if an appeal is denied, Mr. Assange must be extradited within 28 days.

“A dark day for press freedom”

Wikileaks condemned the decision as a “dark day for press freedom and British democracy”.
“Anyone who cares about freedom of expression in this country should be deeply ashamed that the Interior Minister approved Julian Assange’s extradition to the United States, the country that plotted his assassination,” the organization said in a statement.
“Make no mistake, this has always been a political case. Julian has published evidence that the country that tried to extradite him committed war crimes and covered them up … Their revenge is to try to make him disappear into the darkest recesses of the world. their prison system for the rest of his life to dissuade others from holding governments accountable. “
Independent MP Andrew Wilkie urged Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to pick up the phone and “call for an end to this madness”.

“The UK government’s decision to approve Julian Assange’s extradition to the United States is an outrageous betrayal of the rule of law, media freedom and human rights,” he said in a statement posted on Twitter.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong said the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will provide consular assistance and that Australian officials will communicate to the US and British authorities the importance of Assange having “a fair trial, humane and equitable treatment”.
“The Australian government has been clear in our opinion that Mr Assange’s case has dragged on for too long and should be closed,” he said in a joint statement with Attorney General Mark Dreyfus.
“We will continue to convey our expectations that Mr. Assange is entitled to a fair trial, humane and equitable treatment, access to adequate medical care and access to his legal team.”
The 50-year-old has been detained in London’s Belmarsh Prison for the past three years as he fights an extradition request from the United States. Previously, he spent seven years at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Sweden initiated a case in 2010 seeking the extradition of Mr. Assange on sex crime charges, but the lawsuit has since been dropped.