Last chance?: Assange wants to stop extradition to the USA with an appeal

Last chance?
Assange wants to stop extradition to the USA with an appeal

The Australian Julian Assange has been in London’s Belmarsh maximum security prison since his arrest in April 2019. photo

© Jeff Moore/PA Wire/dpa

The legal tug-of-war over the extradition of the Wikileaks founder from Great Britain, as demanded by the US judiciary, has been going on for years. Now things could happen very quickly.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange hopes for one last chance. At a court hearing in London today and Wednesday he wants to defend himself against extradition to the USA. If his application for an appeal to the High Court is not granted, legal recourse in Great Britain would be exhausted. The US Department of Justice wants to put the Australian on trial in the USA on espionage charges.

It was not clear until recently when exactly a decision would be made on the appeal. However, Assange’s wife Stella fears that the 52-year-old could be put on a plane to the USA within a few days, as she told journalists in London last week. If convicted in the United States, Assange faces up to 175 years in prison.

Stella Assange fears for her husband’s life

If his appeal in London were rejected, Assange’s only option would be to go to the European Court of Human Rights. Stella Assange announced that his team would immediately file an application for an interim injunction to prevent immediate extradition. However, there are concerns that the British government could ignore such an order. She fears for his life because of the harsh prison conditions expected in the USA and her husband’s unstable psyche.

Washington accuses him of having, together with whistleblower Chelsea Manning, stolen and published secret material from US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, thereby endangering the lives of US informants. Assange’s lawyers argue that no one was harmed as a result.

Supporters see Assange as a journalist who brought war crimes to light and who should now be made an example of. They consider the prosecution against him to be an attack on press freedom because Assange merely published the information leaked to him. They called for demonstrations outside the Royal Courts of Justice on both days of the hearing. A march to the government headquarters at 10 Downing Street was also planned for Wednesday.

Appeals for release also from Germany

Human rights organizations and journalists’ associations around the world are campaigning for the 52-year-old’s release. Shortly before the start of the hearing in London, the chairwoman of the German Journalists’ Union (dju), Tina Groll, called for an end to the prosecution. By rejecting the US extradition request, the British judiciary could send an “unmistakable signal for basic democratic values,” said Groll.

“Wikileaks played a significant role in ensuring that the world public learned the dirty side of the US war missions,” emphasized the federal chairman of the German Journalists’ Association, Mika Beuster. “Julian Assange deserves awards for this, not imprisonment.”

Assange also hopes for a political solution

The Australian has been in London’s Belmarsh maximum security prison since his arrest in April 2019. He had previously evaded law enforcement authorities for several years in the Ecuadorian embassy in the British capital. They initially targeted him because of rape allegations in Sweden. However, these allegations were later dropped due to lack of evidence.

In addition to success in the legal tug-of-war, Assange hopes for a political solution. The Australian government is now campaigning for the release of its citizen. Just last week, the Australian Parliament passed a resolution calling on the US and Britain to end the prosecution of Assange. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese emphasized that the matter had been dragging on for too long. However, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has repeatedly rejected calls for an end to law enforcement.


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