Oct 27, 2021 - World

U.S. appeals U.K. court's decision to prevent Julian Assange extradition

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in London in May 2019.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in London in May 2019. Photo: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

The United States asked the United Kingdom's High Court to overturn a judge's decision to prevent Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's extradition to the U.S. on espionage charges because of health concerns, according to AP.

Why it matters: If the lower court decision is overturned and Assange is ultimately extradited to the U.S., he could receive a sentence of up to 175 years in prison if found guilty of all charges in the 18-count indictment.

  • The U.S. government has accused Assange of violating the Espionage Act by leaking U.S. military and diplomatic documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, though Assange claims he was acting as a journalist.
  • Because of this, his case has raised significant questions about First Amendment protections for publishers of classified information.

The big picture: District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled in January that Assange could not be sent to the U.S. because he faces a high risk of dying by suicide if he was placed in U.S. custody and sentenced to serve time in an American prison.

  • James Lewis, an attorney representing the U.S., told the U.K.'s High Court Wednesday that Baraitser's ruling was flawed because the U.S. had promised Assange that he would not be confined to isolation while awaiting trial and would be allowed to serve his sentence in Australia if convicted, according to AP.
  • Assange’s lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald, said Australia has not agreed to hold Assange if he is convicted and that he would likely be held in the U.S. for years while awaiting and going through his trial.

Go deeper: U.S. offers condolence payments to families of civilians killed in Kabul airstrike

Go deeper