WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange may appeal extradition to US

LONDON (AP) — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can appeal his extradition to the United States on espionage charges, a London court ruled Monday — a move that is likely to drag on an already lengthy legal process.

High Court judges Victoria Sharp and Jeremy Johnson said Assange had grounds to challenge the UK government’s extradition order.

52-year-old Assange has been Indicted on 17 counts of espionage An allegation of computer misuse in the release of a trove of classified US documents on his website nearly 15 years ago.

His supporters cheered and clapped outside the court as news of the verdict reached them from inside the royal courts.

The Australian computer expert has spent the past five years in a British high-security prison after seeking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for seven years. The WikiLeaks founder was not in court to discuss his fate. His lawyer said he was not present due to health reasons.

Advocates Assange It argued on Monday that the United States had provided “grossly inadequate” assurances that the WikiLeaks founder would have free press protection if extradited to the United States.

Lawyer Edward Fitzgerald said the lawyers had failed to ensure that Assange, who is an Australian citizen and seeking immunity as a journalist for disclosing classified US information, could rely on the press protections of the US Constitution’s First Amendment.

“The real issue is whether adequate assurance has been provided to eliminate the real danger identified by the court,” Fitzgerald said. It is stated that no adequate guarantee has been provided.

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US prosecutors allege Assange encouraged and aided US military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to steal diplomatic cables and military files released by WikiLeaks.

Assange’s lawyers argued that he was the journalist who exposed the wrongdoings of the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan. They said extraditing him to the US would expose him to a politically motivated prosecution and risk a “flagrant denial of justice”.

The U.S. government said Assange’s actions went beyond a journalist’s information-gathering effort to subpoena, steal, and indiscriminately release classified government documents.

In March, two High Court judges rejected most of Assange’s arguments but said He may take his case to the Court of Appeal Unless the U.S. guarantees that he will not face the death penalty if extradited and will have the same free speech protections as a U.S. citizen.

The court said that if Assange could not rely on the First Amendment, his extradition would be inconsistent with the European Convention on Human Rights, which also provides free speech and media protections.

The U.S. has made those pledges, but Assange’s legal team and supporters argue they are insufficient to send him to the U.S. federal court system because First Amendment promises fall short. The US said Assange could rely on the amendment but a judge would have to decide whether he could.

Attorney James Lewis, representing the United States, said Assange’s conduct was “simply unprotected” by the First Amendment.

“No U.S. citizen or foreign national has the right to rely on the First Amendment disclosure of the names of innocent sources in connection with the disclosure of illegally obtained national security information, at grave and imminent risk of harm to them,” Lewis said.

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Some held a large white banner aimed at President Joe Biden, exhorting, “Leave him alone Joe.”

Assange’s lawyers say he could face up to 175 years in prison if convicted, although US officials have said any sentence would be minimal.

Assange’s family and supporters say his physical and mental health has deteriorated Over a decade of legal battles, From 2012 to 2019, he spent seven years at the Embassy of Ecuador in London. He has spent the last five years in a British high security prison.

Passengers emerging from a Tube stop near the court were greeted with a photo of Assange and the words “Publication is not a crime. are war crimes.” Crowds of supporters gathered outside the neo-Gothic royal court chanting “Freedom Julian Assange” and “Freedom of the press, freedom of Assange”.

Biden said last month He considered that Australia’s claim Assange should be allowed to drop the case and return to his home country.

Officials did not provide any other details, but Stella Assange said it was “a good sign” and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the comments were encouraging.

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