WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Wins Right to Appeal US Extradition Decision

( – On Monday May 20, U.K. High Court decided in WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s favor to allow him to launch a full appeal against his extradition to the U.S. on espionage charges. The ruling is the culmination of more than 13 years of legal battles Assange has been fighting. Many arguments have been made over the years to not extradite Assange, including the risk of the United Stated imposing the death penalty.

The United States has already indicted Assange on 17 counts of espionage and computer misuse. He has been accused of collaborating with former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning) to steal classified documents. James Lewis, a lawyer for the U.S, has argued that Assange may have caused serious damage to “strategic and national security interests”. He further explained that those who were identified in the leaked documents could now face serious risks of physical harm. If Assange is convicted in the U.S., his sentence could be up to 175 years imprisonment.

The Australian parliament has called for Assange to be returned to his home country. Officials have been lobbying for the U.S. to either drop the extradition efforts entirely, or to work with Australia on a diplomatic solution that would allow him to return. American prosecutors have assured the British courts that they will not seek the death penalty. However, Assange’s legal team assert that with the possibility of spending the remainder of his life in prison, extradition to the U.S. could pose a suicide risk for him.

Now that the U.K. High Court has decided to allow Assange a new appeal, he and his legal team will have a few months to prepare their arguments. In the interim he will continue to be held in London’s Belmarsh prison, where he has been since he was forced to leave London’s Ecuadorian embassy in 2019. Assange has many supporters worldwide, and his case is considered by many to have vital implications for journalistic freedom and integrity. However, for his family and friends the battle is more personal. Assange’s wife Stella has vowed that they will continue to fight until her husband is finally free.

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