Julian Assange Appeals to European Court of Human Rights to Block Extradition to US
Julian Assange. Image Courtesy: NDTV
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has submitted an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to block the go-ahead given by Britain for his extradition to the US.
Earlier, in 2021, a British judge had ruled against the extradition of Australian-born Assange, citing a risk of suicide given his mental health – if he was convicted in the US and held in a maximum-security prison. The decision was overturned later when the US authorities gave several assurances including a possible transfer to Australia to serve any sentence. The extradition was then ratified by then British Home Secretary Priti Patel.
Assange has launched an appeal at London’s High Court against the British government’s decision and the hearing of the case is expected early next year, according to a report by ABC News. The report further quoted Assange’s partner, Stella, as saying that she hoped ECHR would not be needed to consider the case and that it could be “resolved in Britain”.
The 51-year-old is wanted by the US authorities for allegedly cracking a password hash and for receiving and leaking classified documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as US diplomatic cables. He could face up to 175 years in prison in the US.
The hearing of his case before ECHR could bolster Assange’s chances as the European media and people are believed to be more sympathetic to his cause than in the UK and the US. His supporters deem him an anti-establishment hero who is being persecuted for exposing the US’ wrongdoings in conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many see Assange’s targeting as an attack on free speech and journalism.
According to the ABC report, major media outlets that had originally worked with Assange over the leaked material have written an open letter to say his prosecution should end. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has also raised the issue with US officials, saying that the matter should be “brought to a close”.
Thousands of people formed a human chain around the UK Parliament on October 8 to demand freedom for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Actions in solidarity with the imprisoned journalist were held across the world, including in Morocco, Brazil, Australia, and the US. Labour Party MP Jeremy Corbyn, who was a part of the human chain, stated that in exposing the truth – his “life’s work” – Assange had taken “enormous risks and made enormous sacrifices” and faced “horrible personal abuse and attacks”, “but there are millions of people all over the world who support you, and today we are just some of those.”
Assange had spent seven years in Ecuador's embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden where he was wanted for questioning over a sexual assault investigation that was later dropped, said the ABC report. However, he was dragged out and jailed in 2019 for breaching bail conditions and has been held in prison in London ever since.
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