Julian Assange May Appeal and Will Not be Extradited to the US for the Time Being

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The British Supreme Court has decided that Julian Assange will not be extradited to the United States for the time being. The Wikileaks founder can continue his appeal against extradition at a new hearing.

 

“No deportation!” sympathizers of the WikiLeaks founder chanted in front of the British Supreme Court on Tuesday morning. They hoped that London judges would allow Julian Assange to appeal the US deportation order. Those prayers were temporarily answered, but there is no conclusive answer yet.

Unless the United States provides further assurance that Assange can invoke the First Amendment of the US Constitution and avoid the death penalty, Assange and his legal team can file an appeal. A new hearing has been scheduled for May 20.

Punished for political opinions
In 2010 and 2011, the Australian whistleblower published hundreds of thousands of documents containing classified information from military and diplomatic sources. The leaked information and images allegedly prove that the US military committed war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition to fame, this leak also earned Assange lawsuits and imprisonment. He is facing eighteen charges in the United States—seventeen of these concern espionage and endangering the security services and informants. An eighteenth charge relates to the alleged misuse of computer systems.

Although US federal lawyers believe his prison sentence would not exceed six years, prosecutors could sentence Assange to up to 175 years in prison on these charges, which are unjustified and dangerous, according to his legal team. In February, the various parties had the opportunity to convince the judges of the British Supreme Court that they were right.

On February 20, Assange’s lawyers argued that their client was being prosecuted for “engaging in ordinary journalistic practices.” According to the lawyers, extradition would mainly be a punishment for his political opinions and a violation of human rights. They also expressed concern about Assange’s poor mental and physical health. “He will not survive isolation in the US,” he said. A day later, the American prosecutors were allowed to speak.

James Lewis, the US lawyer, pointed out the dangers Assange had caused: “He threatened to harm the strategic and national security interests of the United States.” According to the lawyer, he also risked the lives of individuals whose names were mentioned in the documents.

Washington now has three weeks to guarantee that Assange will not face the death penalty if extradited and that he will be able to invoke the First Amendment and the right to freedom of expression. The defendant’s wife, Stella Assange, calls that decision “stunning.” “While the Court recognizes that Julian’s rights are being violated, that he is being discriminated against and that he remains at risk of the death penalty, they are still allowing the United States to intervene,” Stella Assange said.

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