Status: 10.12.2021 12:18 p.m.
Serious setback for Assange and his supporters: an appeals court in London has overturned the extradition ban of the Wikileaks founder. It has not yet been decided whether it will actually be extradited to the USA.
An appeals court in London has overturned the rejection of the US extradition request for Julian Assange. This was announced by a judge at the London High Court.
A British court had banned the extradition of the 50-year-old Wikileaks founder at the beginning of the year, taking into account his mental and health condition and the expected prison conditions in the USA. Washington had challenged this decision, however.
The London judge said the assurances given by the US in the meantime were sufficient to allay concerns about Assange’s health.
Seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy
Assange is in a British prison for violating legal requirements after spending around seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid extradition to the United States.
Assange’s family members have been describing his health as poor and worrying for months. At the last hearings, the 50-year-old participated in part via video switch from the London maximum security prison Belmarsh, but at times did not feel able to follow what was happening.
Assange faces 175 years imprisonment in the United States
The US judiciary wants to bring Assange to trial on allegations of espionage. The native Australian could face up to 175 years in prison if convicted. He is accused of stealing and publishing secret material from US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan together with whistleblower Chelsea Manning. He put the lives of US informants in danger.
His supporters, however, see him as an investigative journalist who brought war crimes to light.
The case will now be returned to the court of first instance with instructions to leave the decision on extradition to the Minister of the Interior, the judge continued. It was not immediately clear whether the tug-of-war over Assange was over. His supporters had already announced that they would appeal again for this case.
Solidaritätsbekundungen in London
Dozens of Assange’s supporters who had gathered outside the courthouse in London were disappointed and indignant. Many chanted “Shame, Shame” and announced that they would continue fighting for Assange’s release.
“If the US is successful, it will have alarming consequences for press freedom. This case is not just about Assange, but about the right of all journalists to do their job and the right of the public to be informed,” the London representative for Reporters Without Borders, Rebecca Vincent, said on Thursday.