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Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange Can Be Extradited To The U.S., British Court Rules
TOPSHOT - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gestures from the window of a prison van as he is driven out of Southwark Crown Court in London on May 1, 2019, after having been sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for breaching his bail conditions in 2012. - A British judge on Wednesday sentenced WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to 50 weeks in prison for breaching his bail conditions in 2012. Assange took refuge in Ecuador's London embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden and was only arrested last month after Ecuador withdrew his asylum status.
DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images

Julian Assange, the controversial founder of Wikileaks, can be extradited from the United Kingdom to the United States, according to a High Court ruling in the UK. 

The US won its appeal against a January UK court ruling that he could not be extradited due to concerns over his mental health,” reported BBC News, with Judge Timothy Holroyde saying that the court “allows the appeal.”

“Judges were reassured by US promises to reduce the risk of suicide,” the BBC added.

“The background to the request for Mr Assange’s extradition is well-known,” according to court documents. “He is a founder of the Wikileaks website. He has been indicted in the USA on 18 counts connected with obtaining and disclosing defence and national security material through the website, primarily in 2009 and 2010 but also to some extent since.”

The U.S.-based charges were summarized as follows:

  • His complicity in illegal acts to obtain or receive voluminous databases of classified information;
  • His agreement and attempt to obtain classified information through computer hacking; and 
  • His publishing certain classified documents that contained the unredacted names of innocent people who risked their safety and freedom to provide information to the United States and its allies, including local Afghans and Iraqis, journalists, religious leaders, human rights advocates, and political dissidents from repressive regimes.” 

Assange can now be extradited to the United States to face Espionage Act charges, which carry significant jail time.

“Mr. Assange fled into the Ecuadorean Embassy in London in 2012 when he was facing an investigation on allegations of sexual assault in Sweden, which were eventually dropped. He said he feared his human rights would be violated if he was extradited in that case,” explained The New York Times. “He remained in the embassy for seven years until he was ejected in 2019. The United States unsealed an indictment against him on hacking charges on the day of his expulsion, and then charged him under the Espionage Act weeks later. He has been detained in London’s Belmarsh prison since 2019.”

“Assange, who was not permitted to attend the hearing in person, is wanted by U.S. authorities over the publication of hundreds of thousands of classified military documents and diplomatic cables in 2010 and 2011,” CNBC reported. “They say his actions put lives in danger and they accuse him of 18 counts, meaning he faces a 175-year prison sentence.”

Stella Morris, Julian Assange’s fiancée, said that they would appeal this decision “at the earliest possible moment.”

She described the High Court’s ruling as “dangerous and misguided” and a “grave miscarriage of justice.”

“How can it be fair, how can it be right, how can it be possible, to extradite Julian to the very country which plotted to kill him?” Morris added.

Amnesty International has called for the U.S. to drop these charges against Assange.

“Authorities in the USA must drop the espionage and all other charges against Julian Assange that relate to his publishing activities as part of his work with Wikileaks,” Amnesty International stated. “The US government’s unrelenting pursuit of Julian Assange for having published disclosed documents that included possible war crimes committed by the US military is nothing short of a full-scale assault on the right to freedom of expression.”

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