Julian Assange extradition is ‘dark day for press freedom’: WikiLeaks

Julian Assange
Julian Assange

Julian Assange extradition: WikiLeaks on Friday criticized the UK government approving the extradition of Julian Assange and vowed to appeal the decision. It is a dark day for press freedom and British democracy, the group said in a statement, insisting Assange, 50, “did nothing wrong” and was “being punished for doing his job”.

Julian Assange extradition:

Britain on Friday approved the US government’s request for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to face trial over the publication of secret military files, which has angered his supporters.

Home Secretary Priti Patel’s home ministry said Assange had 14 days to appeal against the decision, which came after a UK court issued a formal order to remove him in April.

Assange’s supporters have held frequent rallies to oppose the planned deportation, which they claim is a defense of media freedom and freedom of expression.

His wife Stella has pleaded for his release from custody after secretly having two children after hiding for years at the London embassy in Ecuador.

WikiLeaks called Patel’s decision a “dark day for press freedom and British democracy” and vowed to pursue an appeal in the High Court.

It accused the United States of “conspiracy to assassinate him”.

Julian Assange extradition

“Julian did nothing wrong. He has committed no crime and is not a criminal. He is a journalist and publisher, and is being punished for doing his job,” the group said in a statement.

WikiLeaks said the case was “political”, as Assange published evidence that the United States had “committed and covered up war crimes”. The extradition was an attempt to “make them disappear for the rest of their lives in the darkest places of their prison system to prevent others from blaming governments”.

The head of Amnesty International said the government’s approval of the extradition “sends a cold message” to journalists.

“If extradition goes ahead, Amnesty International is extremely concerned that Assange is at high risk of prolonged solitary confinement, which would violate restrictions on torture and other ill-treatment,” said Agnes Callamard.

“The diplomatic assurances provided by the US that Assange will not be held in solitary confinement cannot be taken at face value given past history,” he said, calling for the charges to be dropped and Assange to be released.

Julian Assange extradition:

No grounds

A Home Office spokesperson said there was no ground to block Patel’s extradition order, which was made on April 20 following a long-running legal saga in the hierarchy of UK courts.

“In this case, the UK courts did not find that it would be oppressive, unjust or abuse of process to extradite Mr Assange,” the spokesman said.

“Nor have they found that extradition would be inconsistent with their human rights, including their right to a fair trial and freedom of expression, and that they would be treated fairly with respect to their health in the US.”

Legal experts assess that Patel’s decision is unlikely to be the end of the road for Assange, with months of court challenges likely.

Assange would first need consent to appeal from the High Court. If that is approved, the hearing may not take place until early next year.

“He may also apply to the European Court of Human Rights,” said Kate Gould, an extradition lawyer for London firm Bindmans.

“Once you get to the European Court of Human Rights, it’s a very slow process,” said Rebecca Nieblok, another expert at lawyers Kingsley Naples.

“Extradition is a very long procedure and there is little chance that this will be the end of it.”

Julian Assange extradition

Cause celebrate

Assange’s case has become a cause for media freedom, with his supporters accusing Washington of trying to suppress reporting of legitimate security concerns.

He wanted to face trial in 2010 for breaching the US Espionage Act by publishing military and politic lines, and could face up to 175 times in imprisonment if condemned, although the exact judgment is delicate to estimate.

 He has been remanded in a top- security captivity in south- east London since 2019 to serve bail in a former case indicted of sexual assault in Sweden.

That case was revoked, but he was not set to free from prison after serving time for violating bail on grounds of flight risk in a US extradition case.

His follower have tried to secure his release and block his extradition on the grounds that he was a suicide risk if he was held to serve a punishment in US custody.

Assange, who married in prison in March, spent seven years at the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid going to Sweden.

He was arrested and his diplomatic security revoked after the change of government in Quito.


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