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UK Court Allows Julian Assange to Appeal Extradition to Supreme Court

DW Staff |
A London court says WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can appeal a point of law on his extradition to the United States. However, his lawyers will have to ask the Supreme Court directly if it will review the actual case.

Julian Assange making a speech from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy

The High Court of Justice in London on Monday ruled that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can seek permission to appeal to the UK Supreme Court on a point of law.

Assange is charged with publishing swaths of US military records and diplomatic cables which US authorities claim put lives in danger.

What was the decision?

The court agreed to a request from Assange's lawyers arguing that the country's highest court should rule on "points of law of general public importance."

"The respondent's application to certify a point of law is granted," the court said. "The respondent's application for leave to appeal to the supreme court is refused."

That means the Supreme Court itself will have to decide whether or not it should hear Assange's challenge.

A crowd of Assange's supporters gathered outside the court welcomed the decision.

"Julian won," Stella Morris, his fiancee and the mother of his two young children, wrote on Twitter.

"It is now for the Supreme Court to decide whether it will hear Julian's appeal."

What's been happening with the case?

The decision is the latest step in a long legal battle to stop the extradition of Assange to the US to face espionage charges over the publication of classified documents by his WikiLeaks organization.

Just over a year ago, a British magistrates' court ruled that it would be "oppressive" to extradite the 50-year-old Australian to the US justice system. It cited fears about his mental health and the risk of suicide.

Last month, the High Court of Justice in London reversed that decision. The same court will now decide whether to allow Assange, who is facing 18 charges relating to the release of hundreds of thousands of secret US files, to appeal that decision to the UK Supreme Court.

Assange could be jailed for up to 175 years in the United States for WikiLeaks' publication in 2010 of classified documents relating to the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Assange has been detained at London's high-security Belmarsh prison since 2019, despite having served a previous sentence for breaching bail conditions.

US offers assurances on treatment

Washington has provided written promises that Assange would not be detained at the ADX Florence prison in Colorado, which houses criminals such as al-Qaida extremists in near-total isolation.

Assange would also receive any psychological assistance recommended, and would eventually be eligible to apply for a transfer to a jail in his native Australia.

He previously spent seven years at the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden where he faced allegations of sexual assault that were subsequently dropped. 

rc/rs (Reuters, EFE, AFP)

Courtesy: DW

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