Skip to main content
xYOU DESERVE INDEPENDENT, CRITICAL MEDIA. We want readers like you. Support independent critical media.

Support Pours in for Assange as Hearing Begins in UK on ‘Last Ditch’ Plea Against Extradition to US

Lawyers of Wikileak’s co-founder have accused the US of “state retaliation” saying that the extradition bid was “politically motivated”.
Lawyers of Wikileak’s co-founder have accused the US of “state retaliation” saying that the extradition bid was “politically motivated”.

Image Courtesy: Flickr

New Delhi: A huge crowd gathered in front of the High Court in London on Tuesday ahead of the two-day hearing of whistleblowing website Wikileaks’ co-founder Julian Assange’s plea against extradition to the US, adding to worldwide calls for his release. Similar solidarity protests were reported from other parts of the world, including Paris in France.

Assange, an Australian editor-activist, has been in Belmarsh, a UK prison, since 2019, and is wanted by the US authorities for disclosing secret military files in 2010 and 2011, that were related to war, spying and corruption.

“The files, widely reported in Western media, revealed evidence of what many consider to be war crimes committed by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. They include video of a 2007 Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed 11 people, including two Reuters journalists,” said a report in Al Jazeera.

Assange’s lawyers say that the files released by him exposed serious abuses by US armed forces, adding that the case against him was “politically motivated.”

“This trial is an attack on truth and the citizens' right to know. Julian is a political prisoner, and his life is in danger,” Assange's wife, Stella, said in a speech alongside Jeremy Corbyn, former leader of the British Labour Party,” while addressing the crowd, Telesur reported.

This hearing marks the “beginning of the end of the extradition case, as any grounds rejected by these judges cannot be further appealed in the UK – bringing Assange dangerously close to extradition,’ said  Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in a statement.

Assange will not be appearing for the hearing due to illness, his lawyers told the media.

Adding voice to the calls to #FreeAssange, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Dr Alice Jill Edwards, urged the UK government to halt the imminent extradition of Assange.

In a press statement, dated February 6, Edwards said if extradited, Assange “would be at risk of treatment amounting to torture or other forms of ill-treatment or punishment.

The risk of being placed in prolonged solitary confinement, despite his precarious mental health status, and to receive a potentially disproportionate sentence raises questions as to whether Mr. Assange’s extradition to the United States would be compatible with the United Kingdom’s international human rights obligations, particularly under article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as respective articles 3 of the UN Convention against Torture and the European Convention on Human Rights,” the Special Rapporteur said in the release.

Rebecca Vincet, RSF’s Director of Campaigns, in a statement said: “All eyes are on the UK High Court during this fateful hearing, but it remains to be seen whether the British judiciary can deliver some form of justice by preventing Assange’s extradition at this late stage. Regardless, none of this is inevitable – it remains within the US government’s power to bring this judicial tragedy to an end by dropping its 13-year-old case against Assange and ceasing this endless persecution. No one should face such treatment for publishing information in the public interest. It’s time to protect journalism, press freedom, and all of our right to know. It’s time to free Assange now.

According to RSF’s world ranking on press freedom, the US and UK 45th and 26th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2023 World Press Freedom Index

Meanwhile, the lawyers of Assange have accused the US of “state retaliation” and that the extradition bid was “politically motivated”.

Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.

Subscribe Newsclick On Telegram