Lawyers for WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange argue against his extradition to the US

The WikiLeaks founder is facing charges of spying in the United States. Julian Assange’s lawyers filed their final legal challenge in the United Kingdom on Tuesday, arguing that extradition would be a “flagrant denial of justice” and that Assange’s actions had exposed serious criminal acts by U.S. authorities.

Assange did not appear in court. He was allowed to leave Belmarsh Prison, where he had been detained for five years, according to Judge Victoria Sharp, although he had choose not to attend. Edward Fitzgerald, Assange’s primary attorney, stated that the 52-year-old Australian was ill but did not provide further details.

For over ten years, Assange has been resisting extradition; he spent the first seven of those years in self-exile at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and the next five years in a high-security facility outside of the British capital.

He has been charged with 17 counts of espionage and one count of computer abuse in connection with the disclosure of sensitive U.S. information on his website. According to US authorities, Assange put lives in danger by assisting U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in stealing military records and diplomatic cables that WikiLeaks later made public.

Assange is seen by his admirers as a journalist who broke with secrecy and revealed misbehavior by the US military in Afghanistan and Iraq. They contend that he won’t receive a fair trial in the United States and that the prosecution is acting politically.

Hundreds of supporters staged a boisterous demonstration outside the Neo-Gothic High Court in London, where Assange’s lawyers are pleading with judges to grant a new appeal hearing, his final chance at justice in the United Kingdom, while brandishing signs that read “Free Julian Assange” and shouting “there is only one decision – no extradition.” There were additional protests in other cities all around the world, such as Berlin and Brussels.

Assange’s wife Stella addressed the gathering, “We don’t know what to expect, but you’re here because the world is watching.” They are simply unable to get away with this. We all need the truth, and Julian needs to be free.”

Stella Assange, who wed the creator of WikiLeans while he was incarcerated in 2022, revealed last week that her husband’s health had declined due to his years of detention and that “if he’s extradited, he will die.”

Assange’s supporters fear that since the British government has already signed an extradition order, he may be sent to the United States before the judges rule against him. If they do, Assange will be able to approach the European Court of Human Rights to block his extradition.

“He is being prosecuted for engaging in ordinary journalistic practice of obtaining and publishing classified information, information that is both true and of obvious and important public interest,” Fitzgerald, his attorney, told the judge.

“Julian Assange and WikiLeaks were responsible for the exposure of criminality on the part of the U.S. government on an unprecedented scale,” the attorney stated in written comments.

Assange “will suffer a flagrant denial of justice” if extradited to the United States, according to Fitzgerald.

According to Assange’s attorneys, if found guilty, he could get a sentence of up to 175 years in jail; however, US officials have stated that the actual term will probably be far lower.

Assange’s attorneys are attempting to present fresh grounds in order to win an appeal, even though a number of his arguments against extradition have already been dismissed by British courts.

Assange is allegedly being politically prosecuted for disclosing “pervasive criminality,” and extradition between the United States and Great Britain would be violated if Assange were to be sent over the Atlantic.

“It is an abuse of process to seek extradition for a political offense,” Fitzgerald stated.

In addition, Assange’s attorneys are requesting the judges reevaluate claims that while he was in the Ecuadorian Embassy, plots to abduct or murder Assange were hatched by the CIA and other American officials. Although the charges have been rejected by a lower court judge, Assange’s lawyer Mark Summers stated on Tuesday that “there is compelling evidence that the plot was real.”

“There was a plot to kidnap Mr. Assange, to rendition him to America, or else straightforwardly murder him,” the attorney said.

WikiLeaks’ release of thousands of sensitive papers, according to Assange’s attorneys, was “protected by universally recognized and entrenched principles of free speech.”

The United States’ attorney, James Lewis, stated that Assange was facing charges “because he is alleged to have committed serious criminal offences.”

In written arguments, he contended that Assange’s conduct “threatened damage to the strategic and national security interests of the United States” and exposed the people named in the documents, including Afghans and Iraqis who had provided assistance to the United States, to “serious physical harm.”

Assange’s legal problems started in 2010 when Sweden requested that he be detained in London so that it could question him on claims of rape and sexual abuse made by two women. 2012 saw Assange breach bail and take sanctuary inside the Ecuadorian Embassy, putting him out of the reach of the law but making him essentially a prisoner inside the tiny diplomatic outpost.

Assange’s relationship with his hosts progressively deteriorated, and in April 2019, he was forced to leave the embassy. In 2012, British authorities detained him right away after he violated his bail. Due to the passage of time, Sweden ended its investigation into sexual crimes in November 2019, but Assange has remained detained throughout his fight for extradition.

In 2021, a U.K. district court judge denied the U.S. plea for extradition, citing Assange’s propensity to commit suicide under severe U.S. jail rules. After receiving guarantees from the United States about his care, higher courts reversed that ruling. In June 2022, the British government issued an extradition decree.

Assange’s return to his own country was demanded last week by the Australian parliament.

After the two-day hearing on Wednesday, the judges, Jeremy Johnson and Sharp, may issue a verdict, but it’s more likely that they will deliberate for several weeks before making a choice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *