On December 10, the high court of justice ruled Washington’s appeal against a first-instance decision opposing the extradition of the founder of WikiLeaks admissible.
The American authorities intend to prosecute the 50-year-old Australian on 18 counts linked to the publication by WikiLeaks, from 2010, of 700,000 American military documents and confidential diplomatic cables classified on American military and diplomatic activities, in especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, which they say has put lives at risk.
Julian Assange is at risk if he is tried in the United States up to 175 years in prison. This case represents, according to his supporters, a very serious attack on press freedom.
British justice opposed the extradition at first instance on the grounds of risks to Julian Assange’s health (risk of suicide in particular), but the United States had appealed in October against this decision by bringing
guarantees on his conditions of detention.
The magistrates of the High Court had then underlined that the assurances provided by the United States were
solemn commitments offered by one government to another.
The Supreme Court is the UK’s final appeal court.
Two and a half years in a high security prison
Stella Moris, Julian Assange’s lawyer who became his partner and mother of two children, said the High Court ruling raised three legal issues of general interest.
Under English law, in order for the claim to have a chance to be considered by the Supreme Court, the same High Court justices who ordered Julian Assange’s extradition must first certify that at least one of the grounds for appeal from the Supreme Court is a point of law of general interest, she said in a statement.
Stella Moris clarified that the application for leave to appeal is currently being considered by the judges of the High Court. A decision is not expected until the third week of January.
Incarcerated in a high security prison near London for two and a half years, Julian Assange was arrested by British police in April 2019 after spending seven years in the London Embassy in Ecuador where he had taken refuge while ‘he was out on bail.