Julian Assange to Appeal U.S. Extradition Order

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(BrightPress.org) – Judges Victoria Sharp and Jeremy Johnson with the UK High Court in London ruled on Monday, May 20th, that Julian Assange may appeal an extradition order to the United States on espionage charges. Hundreds of supporters outside the courthouse cheered when the ruling was announced.

Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, is wanted in the United States on espionage charges for publishing thousands of classified documents in 2010 and 2011, some related to U.S. national defense information. He was indicted on 18 charges in 2019 by a federal court in Virginia. The charges include 17 counts of espionage and one charge of “computer intrusion.” If convicted, he could face a prison sentence of up to 175 years; 10 years for each espionage charge and 5 years for the computer intrusion charge.

The London court delayed making a decision on extradition in March. Judges requested assurances from the United States that Assange, an Australian national, would receive First Amendment protections and would not be subject to the death penalty. The High Court Judges decided the assurances submitted by the U.S. were insufficient, granting Assange the right to a full appeal.

Assange, 52, has spent the past five years trapped in the UK after sequestering himself away in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for seven years. Assange’s wife Stella has publicly stated many times that the lack of freedom and stress over the legal battle has taken its toll on Assange’s physical and mental health.

U.S. Attorney James Lewis said that some of Assange’s criminal actions were “simply unprotected” by the First Amendment. Lewis said that no one, including U.S. citizens, is protected by the First Amendment for illegally obtaining and publishing classified documents that put innocent sources at risk of death.

The Australian Parliament passed a motion in February asking for the charges against Assange to be dropped and for him to be returned to his family in Australia. President Joe Biden said in April that he was “considering” the request.

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