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WikiLeaks’s Julian Assange will not be immediately extradited to US, rules British court

2024-03-26 12:54:13

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was on Tuesday granted permission by a UK court to appeal his extradition to the United States, where he is facing spying charges and is wanted over the alleged leak of classified documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Assange will therefore not be extradited immediately,” the British court ruled in what could be his final legal challenge in British courts.

The ruling from the Royal Courts of Justice in London means that Assange will be given the opportunity to pursue a fresh hearing unless the US provides “satisfactory assurances” on certain aspects that would address his grounds of appeal. A further hearing on May 20 will now determine whether the assurances provided are satisfactory, the court said.

The court held that it would give the US a stipulated duration of three weeks to provide assurances that Assange is permitted to rely on the First Amendment of the US Constitution and that he is not prejudiced at trial owing to his nationality. The court has sought assurance that Assange is afforded the same First Amendment protections as a United States citizen and that he would not be subject to the death penalty.

Assange, 52, is wanted in the US on trial on criminal charges relating to WikiLeaks’s high-profile release of vast troves of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables. While the US argue the leaks imperilled the lives of their agents and there was no excuse for his criminality, Assange’s supporters hail him as a hero of journalism who is being prosecuted for exposing US wrongdoing.

Assange has been asking the UK court to grant him a new appeal — his last legal roll of the dice in the long legal saga that has kept him in a British high-security prison for the past five years.

Assange, who is wanted in the US on 18 charges, has been battling extradition for more than a decade. In this duration, he has spent seven and a half years in self-exile in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and the last nearly five years in a jail in Belmarsh in the UK.

Assange’s lawyers argued on the first day of the hearing in February this year that American authorities are seeking to punish him for WikiLeaks’ “exposure of criminality on the part of the US government on an unprecedented scale,” including torture and killings.

Published By:

Srishti Jha

Published On:

Mar 26, 2024

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