Julian Assange lands new appeal against his extradition to the United States


Julian Assange won a victory on Monday in his long legal battle against his extradition to the United States, with British justice granting the Wikileaks founder the possibility of a new appeal.

The 52-year-old Australian is being prosecuted for having made public since 2010 more than 700,000 confidential documents on American military and diplomatic activities, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan. He faces up to 175 years in prison in the United States. After multiple legal twists and turns, at the end of March, two judges of the High Court of London, Victoria Sharp and Jeremy Johnson, asked the United States for new guarantees on the treatment that would be reserved in this country for Julian Assange, before ruling on the WikiLeaks founder’s request for a new appeal against his extradition.

The two judges in charge of the case heard the parties debate the response of the American authorities on Monday. Mr. Assange’s defense accepted a guarantee from the United States that the Australian would not face the death penalty.

The United States provided an “unambiguous promise not to charge a capital offense,” defense attorney Edward Fitzgerald said in written submissions. But the debates mainly focused on the first amendment of the American Constitution, which protects freedom of expression, and the possibility for Julian Assange to benefit from it in the event of extradition.

Mr. Fitzgerald was concerned that this amendment did not apply to his client, as he was not American. “There is no guarantee that he can rely on the First Amendment,” he said. “There is a real risk of discrimination,” added the lawyer. Although James Lewis, the lawyer representing the US government, assured that in the event of extradition, Mr. Assange would be “entitled to the full range of defense rights, including the right to invoke and seek to to invoke the First Amendment as a defense,” the British judges were not convinced.

Julian Assange was arrested by British police in April 2019 after seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. In January 2021, British justice initially ruled in favor of the WikiLeaks founder, citing a risk of suicide if he were extradited. But this decision was later reversed.

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