Jul 7, 2021 - Politics & Policy

U.K court allows U.S. to appeal denial of Assange's extradition

Julian Assange.
WikiLeaks found Julian Assange speaks to the media from the balacony of the Embassy of Ecuador in 2017. Photo: Jay Shaw Baker/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The British High Court has granted the U.S. government permission to appeal a decision that barred the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange Wednesday.

Why it matters: Wednesday's decision comes months after a lower court judge ruled against the request to have Assange sent to the United States to stand trial for charges of espionage. The judge denied the request on health grounds, saying Assange would likely attempt to kill himself if held in U.S. custody.

The big picture: Assange is charged with 18 federal crimes in the U.S., including violating the Espionage Act and hacking government computers.

  • The U.S. case has raised significant questions about First Amendment protections for publishers of classified information, as Assange argues he was acting as a journalist when he published leaked military and diplomatic documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • As of yet, no date has been set for the High Court hearing in the U.K., per the Washington Post.
  • Assange is currently incarcerated in London’s Belmarsh prison, where he has been since Ecuador revoked his political asylum in 2019. He had spent nearly seven years holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London before he was arrested for skipping bail in a separate legal matter.

What they're saying: "I am appealing directly to the Biden government to do the right thing, even at this late stage," Stella Moris, Assange's fiancée, said Wednesday, per AP.

  • "This case should not be dragged out for a moment longer. End this prosecution, protect free speech and let Julian come home to his family," she added.
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